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Extracted

EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 9/21/22

Mark Hefflinger, Bold Alliance (Photo: Bryon Houlgrave/Des Moines Register

By Mark Hefflinger

September 21, 2022

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PIPELINE NEWS

  • E&E News: Va. Lawmakers Push Pipeline Bill Amid Mountain Valley Drama

  • Law360: Group Asks Justices To End ‘Musical Chairs’ In Pipeline Case

  • Appalachian Voices: Report outlines the many challenges and risks to the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline

  • The Tyee: A Pipeline, a River and an Indigenous Nation

  • KTIV: Carbon pipeline companies respond to safety concerns

  • Manchester Press: ‘This is winnable’

  • KCCR: Group Of Landowners Forming To Fight Proposed Carbon Dioxide Pipeline

  • Moody County Enterprise: CO2 Pipeline: The waiting game

  • KMA: Montgomery County backs ISAC pipeline petition

  • KCAU: Board supervisors express a concern over carbon pipeline

  • AgWeek: Summit Carbon Solutions files for pipeline permit on part of Minnesota route

  • Grist: The long legal saga of alleged DAPL arsonist Ruby Montoya is coming to an end

  • Burnaby Beacon: ‘An existential threat’: Anti-TMX rally held at site of Stoney Creek pipeline trenching

  • PolitiFact: Pro-GOP ad in Arizona Senate race falsely links Keystone pipeline to gasoline prices

  • S&P Global Commodity Insights: New Pipeline Projects Appear Enough to Solve Recurring Capacity Constraints for Canadian Crude–But Permanent Relief is Not Guaranteed

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • E&E News: Manchin vows permitting bill text tomorrow; GOP shrugs

  • E&E News: Manchin: ‘Revenge politics’ could sink permitting reform

  • InsideEPA: EJ Groups Blast Senate Allies For Engaging In Permitting Bill Negotiations

  • Civil Beat: Manchin’s Environmental Permitting Plan Splits Hawaii Democrats In Washington

  • InsideEPA: Environmentalists Seek EPA Help In Bid To Toughen Drilling Permit Reviews

  • E&E NewsClimate Law May Spur Higher Methane Fees Than Estimated

STATE UPDATES

  • Houston Chronicle: Massive methane leak found in Gulf of Mexico as Biden admin tries to hold oil companies accountable

  • Colorado Springs Gazette: Colorado Supreme Court considering the legal status of dormant oil and gas well leases

  • Casper Star Tribune: How much methane should oil and gas companies let go?

  • NBC: At least two injured by oil refinery fire in Ohio

EXTRACTION

  • SDPB Radio: Ethanol’s future unclear as electric vehicles grow in popularity

  • CBC: Oil trumps climate change in UCP leadership race to determine Alberta’s next premier

CLIMATE FINANCE

  • Financial Times: US banks threaten to leave Mark Carney’s green alliance over legal risks

  • Reuters: Investors see U.S. oil between $80 and $100/bbl next year -survey

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

  • DRGNews: South Dakota FFA Foundation awards $2,600 in grants for FFA Chapter service-learning projects

OPINION

  • Guardian: We need to be told the true climate cost of Schumer and Manchin’s pipeline side deal

  • Wall Street Journal: Where’s the Permitting Bill, Senator Manchin?

  • Common Dreams: Does Manchin’s ‘Permitting Reform’ Plan Help Clean Energy?

  • The Hill: Should taxpayers gamble on blue hydrogen and carbon capture?

  • Bloomberg: IRA-Driven Carbon Capture Needs Better Strategies

  • Environmental Defence: Why Canada’s inaction on the oil sands toxic tailings might cost us more than our biodiversity

PIPELINE NEWS

E&E News: Va. Lawmakers Push Pipeline Bill Amid Mountain Valley Drama
Jeremy Dillon, 9/20/22

“Members of Virginia’s congressional delegation introduced legislation last week to revamp the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s pipeline permitting system in an attempt to enable more public participation,” E&E News reports. “S.4864, from Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, comes as Old Dominion lawmakers have resisted backing permitting reform legislation poised to be attached to a stopgap spending bill to prevent a federal shutdown. Republican Reps. Morgan Griffith and Ben Cline are sponsoring the House companion, H.R. 8847… “‘Communities and landowners who would be impacted by an energy project deserve to have their concerns heard — especially if a green light from FERC means their land would be taken away,’ Kaine and Warner said in a joint statement. The bill is one Virginia lawmakers have introduced in the past, only to see it languish. It would revamp FERC’s requirements for notifying and inviting public participation when reviewing energy infrastructure projects… “Notably, the language would prevent the use of eminent domain to seize land along the pipeline route until all needed permits and environmental reviews have been completed.”

Law360: Group Asks Justices To End ‘Musical Chairs’ In Pipeline Case
Nate Beck, 9/20/22

“A group of landowners are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to order a trial court to take up their challenge to a private company’s use of eminent domain on the $6 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline project in Virginia and West Virginia,” Law360 reports.

Appalachian Voices: Report outlines the many challenges and risks to the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline
9/20/22

“Today, Appalachian Voices released a report detailing the unique and complex obstacles standing in the way of completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, despite its backers’ false assertion that construction is nearly complete. The report, “The Status and Impact of the Mountain Valley Pipeline,” describes the work ahead for MVP, including 429 water crossings, which are among the most difficult parts of a pipeline to construct. MVP is currently 55.8% complete to full restoration, and is currently lacking authorizations from four federal agencies. Communities along the pipeline route have already experienced harms such as degraded drinking water, damaged farmland and harm to Indigenous sacred sites. With 75% of the MVP routed through land that is “moderately high” or “high” landslide risk, people living nearby face safety risks if the project is ever put in service. “As Sen. Joe Manchin and Majority Leader Schumer work to force a vote on an unwilling Congress to try to mandate approval of this destructive, unnecessary and expensive project, it’s important to understand that some of the most difficult and dangerous work is yet to be done,” said Chelsea Barnes, Appalachian Voices legislative director. “This report also makes clear that the delays and mounting costs of this pipeline are not the fault of environmental laws that have protected Americans for more than 50 years, but the fault of the pipeline developer for its unwillingness or inability to construct this pipeline in a manner that complies with those laws.”

The Tyee: A Pipeline, a River and an Indigenous Nation
Amanda Follett Hosgood, 9/21/22

“Members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline say they fear the company is about to begin drilling under the Morice River, known to Wet’suwet’en as Wedzin Kwa,” The Tyee reports. “The river, and the potential for impacts from pipeline construction, have been central to the conflict that has been unfolding on Wet’suwet’en territory for more than a decade. “We’ve been trying to protect the river for so many years,” Molly Wickham, a Gidimt’en Clan member whose Wet’suwet’en name is Sleydo’, told The Tyee this week. “It’s just really challenging to wrap your head around it and then to see the images of the drill and what’s going on there.” According to Wickham, it appears that drilling equipment has been hauled into a worksite about 65 kilometres down the Morice Forest Service Road, southwest of Houston, B.C. It’s there that TC Energy, the company building the 670-kilometre pipeline through northern B.C., intends to tunnel under the river… “Wickham, who lives near the pipeline route, is among those facing criminal charges. She told the Tyee it’s made travelling on the territory or undertaking cultural activities, which are allowed under the conditions of her release, difficult as she’s constantly surveilled by police and pipeline security… “While she said police are no longer doing sweeps through Gidimt’en Camp, something that began after February’s attack on the drill site, Coastal GasLink security continues round-the-clock surveillance of the camp. Unist’ot’en Healing Centre, which hasn’t actively interfered with pipeline activities since arrests in February 2020, also said in recent social media posts that residents are under constant surveillance by RCMP and Coastal GasLink security. “They record everything we do,” the post said. “They recorded our elders and children changing out of their rafting gear & swimsuits after a cultural trip down the river. They follow us when we harvest & hunt. They record every visitor. We can’t sit at our own Widzin Kwa without being watched by strange men with binoculars.” “…Wickham told the Tyee she and other pipeline opponents are frequently pulled over and ticketed by RCMP officers who patrol the Morice road. Some are arrested and charged with mischief, she added. During one recent arrest, a vehicle was searched and a drone used to monitor pipeline activity was confiscated, she told the Tyee. RCMP did not respond to The Tyee’s questions about the incident.

KTIV: Carbon pipeline companies respond to safety concerns
Matt Hoffmann, 9/20/22

“Last night we told you about concerns opponents to two carbon pipelines had about the safety of the projects,” KTIV reports. “After a rupture in Mississippi in 2020, and a government report released this year, fears about carbon dioxide exposure have risen. The companies say there are really three main changes: Making sure the pipelines are built inside solid ground, working with first responders on how to evacuate the area, and using a central command center to immediately notify authorities if a rupture occurs… “Both Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator CO2, the two local pipeline companies, say they’ll build their infrastructure to avoid difficult ground conditions. The federal government found the pipeline company in Mississippi failed to tell authorities what could happen if their pipe broke. The local pipeline companies say that won’t happen this time around. “There’s an awareness and an acknowledgment and plans in place with all of those teams so that you don’t have the surprises, frankly, that took place in Satartia (Mississippi),” Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, the Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for Navigator CO2, told KTIV… “Here’s a spokesperson for Summit Carbon Solutions when asked if a potential leak could be dangerous. “It can be. And so one of the things that we’re in the process of doing is we’re doing computer modeling… what those risks are, what the area would look like, perhaps for, you know, some a dangerous area versus a nondangerous area,” John Satterfield, director of Regulatory Affairs and Social Governance, told KTIV.”

Manchester Press: ‘This is winnable’
Dylan Kurt, 9/21/22

“On Aug. 15, several hundred farmers, landowners, parents and activists assembled at the Gathering Place in Manchester to make their opposition to a proposed carbon capture pipeline in Delaware County known,” the Manchester Press reports. “Representatives from the right-leaning John Birch Society and the left-leaning Sierra Club, along with a journalist who saw firsthand the devastation caused by a carbon capture pipeline rupture in rural Mississippi and a lawyer who has spent more than a decade fighting for landowner rights joined forces to inform the public on the issues and provide them the tools needed to resist the pipeline’s construction. Jess Mazour, the conservation program coordinator with the Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club, told the Press she believes the melding of passionate people from both sides of the aisle shows this fight has merit. “We have built the biggest unlikely coalition of allies, and that is what it is going to take to stop this pipeline,” Mazour told the Press… “She noted one of the reasons the Keystone XL pipeline was stopped in Nebraska was due to a strong, united coalition where landowners all hired the same lawyer and brought in other organizations to create a united strategy… “Brian Jorde, of Domina Law Group, is a lawyer who has been fighting pipelines in federal court for 12 years and represents hundreds of landowners around the country… “Jorde agreed the opposition’s greatest weapons will be strength in numbers and unrelenting political pressure. “We have to understand the end game to know how to put forward the best strategies and how to talk about this with our neighbors and friends who might not be dialed in with the real problems here,” Jorde told the Press… “Jorde told the Press while an effort to create a moratorium on pipelines within the county would likely be tossed in court, adding a zoning ordinance that requires setbacks from things like schools, nursing homes and hospitals can act as a roadblock. As for what individuals can do, Jorde agreed to not give the pipelines any voluntary wins. “Hold out on surveys for as long as you can, do not sign any easements,” Jorde said. “You have no legal compulsion to sign things or even talk to them — think of them as telemarketers, you can hang up .”

KCCR: Group Of Landowners Forming To Fight Proposed Carbon Dioxide Pipeline
9/20/22

“A group called the “South Dakota Easement Team” has been formed to counter the development of underground liquid carbon dioxide pipelines,” KCCR reports. “Spokesman Brian Jorde says he has been involved in pipeline battles for years. Jorde told KCCR Summit Carbon Solutions, the company planning the pipeline across eastern South Dakota, is attempting to intimidate landowners. Jorde says landowners need to take steps to protect themselves. Jorde is a member of the Domina Law Group in Omaha, which has been active in opposing eminent domain cases.”

Moody County Enterprise: CO2 Pipeline: The waiting game
Carleen Wild, 9/20/22

“We just want to see if you know anything more about the pipeline going in,” Clayton Rentschler said, sitting before Moody County Commissioners earlier this month,” the Moody County Enterprise repots. “Rentschler was there to learn the latest on the proposed Heartland Greenway carbon capture pipeline… “Rentschler has concerns about the technology that aims to give ethanol plants a near net-zero carbon footprint in the future. He’s paying close attention to how similar pipelines, like the Summit line to the west, are being handled and how Navigator is handling property owners in Iowa who aren’t willing to grant them access to their properties. He’s not alone… “Heartland Greenway had not filed with the state yet at the time the paper went to press on Monday but a spokesman for the line did state that the company intends to stick to its timeline and file with the PUC by the end of the month… “A moratorium is in place through next March in Moody County on any new pipeline projects being approved. That moratorium can be extended. Moody County isn’t alone in imposing a moratorium as similar pipelines are proposed elsewhere across the state. The county plans in the coming months to revise or put in place new zoning ordinances. These would be in an effort to best protect county residents from any potentially harmful, hazardous or concerning projects moving forward… “Rentschler isn’t certain any of it is worth the risk to human lives, area livestock or the environment. The carbon byproduct that would run underground through the lines has already proven itself dangerous if not deadly. He and others want assurance that our first responders will know how to handle a break in the line, should one ever happen, and who will pay for that training. Rentschler is equally concerned about the county’s water supply. What would happen to the aquifers it would cross in Moody County alone if there were ever a break? “It’s not a landowner issue, it’s a community issue,” he said.”

KMA: Montgomery County backs ISAC pipeline petition
Mike Peterson, 9/20/22

“A majority of Montgomery County’s supervisors support the Iowa Association of Counties’ possible involvement in the controversial carbon pipeline issue,” KMA reports. “By a 4-to-1 vote Tuesday morning, the supervisors approved a resolution in support of a petition allowing ISAC to intervene in issues surrounding planned CO2 pipelines across the state, with a cap of $500 on the county’s expenses. Supervisor Donna Robinson says ISAC’s supervisors executive board is surveying counties on whether the organization should intervene in the application documents to the Iowa Utilities Board regarding proposed liquid pipelines by not only Summit Carbon Solutions, but also Navigator CO2 Solutions and Wolf Carbon Solutions. “This action would allow the supervisors’ association to participate as a party to the proceedings by the carbon pipeline counties before the Iowa Utilities Board,” said Robinson, “and allow the supervisors’ association to request information from the pipeline companies, submit evidence and make requests of the Iowa Utilities Board.” Robinson says the intervention would be done through legal counsel retained by the supervisors’ association, and would be an addition to any decision by individual counties regarding intervention in the proceedings. She says county officials in all areas of the state have expressed interest in the petition… “Supervisor Mike Olson cast the lone dissenting vote against the petition proposal.  “As we implement negative or anti-pipeline situations like this,” said Olson, “it’s viewed as anti-pipeline, the eminent domain pipeline letter we sent–although I agreed with it–that would be anti-pipeline, and if our ordinance, wherever that is, that would be anti-pipeline, we’re going to get sued. And, the amount of money–and I can guarantee you this–the amount of money we’ve invested now is relatively zero. And, I do not want to get into a four-to-five year litigation over something we have no control over.” “…County Attorney Drew Swanson recommended the county retain assistance in developing its pipeline ordinance, whether it’s ISAC or a law firm like Ahlers and Cooney, which is working with other counties impacted by potential CO2 retention projects.”

KCAU: Board supervisors express a concern over carbon pipeline
John Murphy, 9/20/22

“A contentious issue involving Iowa farmers was before the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors tuesday evening. Carbon capture pipelines,” KCAU reports. “No official action came out of the meeting, but supervisors did express their displeasure over a lack of local control concerning land use for the proposed pipelines… “The county itself has relatively little power because it’s all regulated through state and federal regulations, but anything that we can do through the conditional use process to protect citizens is something that the county would be interested in doing,” said Board Chair Keith Radig. At issue is the use of eminent domain, a legal measure that allows private property to be taken for public use.”

AgWeek: Summit Carbon Solutions files for pipeline permit on part of Minnesota route
Jeff Beach, 9/21/22

“Summit Carbon Solutions, the company behind a plan to capture carbon emissions from ethanol plants in five states and pipe it to western North Dakota for storage, has filed for its first permits in Minnesota,” AgWeek reports. “Summit has filed documents with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for pipeline permits in Otter Tail and Wilkin counties… “At $85 per ton, 12 million tons would mean more than $1 billion in federal tax credits alone. Summit says it would also get a share of the price of the ethanol sold into low-carbon markets. The project has drawn objections from landowners who don’t want a hazardous materials pipeline on their property and fear that Summit will use eminent domain to obtain right-of-way. Environmental groups, such as Minnesota-based CURE (Clean Up the River Environment) also have criticized the project and others like it. “These companies are racing to put pipelines in the ground to take advantage of lucrative federal subsidies. But the ability of private corporations to make a profit is not a sound basis for deciding whether we need these large-scale, disruptive, and dangerous pipelines,” Maggie Schuppert, campaigns director for CURE said in a news release. “All Minnesotans — but especially those on the frontlines of these risky projects — need to be at the decision-making table.”

Grist: The long legal saga of alleged DAPL arsonist Ruby Montoya is coming to an end
Julia Shipley, 9/21/22

“A week after FBI agents ransacked her bedroom in August 2017, Ruby Montoya sat before a videographer. Just steps away from the rooms where FBI agents had hauled dozens of bags and boxes from the Des Moines Catholic Worker House where Montoya lived, the 27-year-old addressed his questions with a preternatural calm,” Grist reports. “You really put your life on the line. How do you feel about the whole ordeal?” he asked. “I don’t have kids,” she explained. “I don’t have any obligations like that, and I saw a necessity to act in a different way that I believe is more effective.” That “way” entailed a series of arsons that Montoya and her friend and Catholic Worker housemate, Jessica Reznicek, committed along the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline a few months earlier. Beginning on election night 2016 and continuing intermittently through early May 2017, the women ignited oil-soaked rags to try to destroy heavy machinery. They also lit acetylene torches to burn holes in the 1,172-mile-long pipeline, which at the time was under construction but nearing completion… “By that month’s end, however, a grand jury had indicted both women on nine identical federal felonies. Each faced a maximum 110 years in jail — one of the most aggressive prosecutions of environmental activists in U.S. history. After accepting a plea deal, Reznicek was sentenced to eight years in prison last year. Half of those years are the result of a controversial  terrorism enhancement that the government applied to her sentence. On Wednesday, more than five years after admitting to her crimes, Montoya is scheduled to be sentenced at a federal courthouse in Des Moines, Iowa… “If Montoya now regrets her means — claiming that the traumatic violence of her childhood led her to engage in destructive acts as an adult — Montoya’s ends remain the same: “Now, as an adult, I wished to act in a way that was protecting all children, from the violence perpetuated on our very existence — we all need clean, drinkable water to grow into healthy, well-adjusted members of society.”

Burnaby Beacon: ‘An existential threat’: Anti-TMX rally held at site of Stoney Creek pipeline trenching
Srushti Gangdev, 9/20/22

“Members of several environmental activist groups held a rally at Stoney Creek over the weekend to protest Trans Mountain construction work over the small but vital salmon stream,” the Burnaby Beacon reports. “As part of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project, the company is currently conducting work across the creek in the area of Government Street… “These days, the gently coursing brook along the foot of Burnaby Mountain and north of the Brunette serves as an important route for salmon returning from the Pacific Ocean. It remains one of the only urban areas in the region where you can witness a salmon run for yourself. And activists are concerned that Trans Mountain’s work in the area poses a deadly threat to that rare and fragile ecosystem. “What Trans Mountain is doing at Stoney Creek is just trenching right across it. And that is an abomination for a treasure like Stoney Creek,” Takaro told the Beacon… “The corporation pointed to its “environmental protection plan” (EPP) and its “reclamation management plan,” which it says provide instructions to workers for carrying out their work in a way that avoids or reduces environmental impacts… “Nevertheless, Takaro and his fellow activists are outraged by the encroachment of what he calls a truly “magical” waterway in the heart of Burnaby and are determined to show their displeasure–even at the risk of arrest… “Takaro told the Beacon before the rally that risking arrest is a very personal decision for an activist. But he said the relatively heavy sentences handed down recently to environmentalists in BC have actually “fir[ed] people up.” He feels also that Trans Mountain is not held to the same standard of rule-following—often allowed by the Canada Energy Regulator to violate its own rules or local bylaws. And he said in the face of undeniable evidence on the health impacts of climate change (around which he’s centred much of his career in health sciences), he felt he needed to take action. “Once we realized that evidence was not going to carry the day for this project, that’s when nonviolent civil disobedience is required. This is an existential threat to my children and their children’s children. And the government not only is not really doing anything, but they’re doing just the opposite of what is required by building new fossil energy infrastructure,” he told the Beacon. “So in the face of that existential threat, and the destructive action by the government, there’s really nothing left for citizens to do except stand up. So I’m prepared to do that—[and] if necessary, go to jail again. But this is the right fight in the right place, and at the right time for me.”

PolitiFact: Pro-GOP ad in Arizona Senate race falsely links Keystone pipeline to gasoline prices
9/20/22

“In the Arizona Senate race, a $1.5 million ad buy accuses Democrat Mark Kelly of worsening pain at the pump,” PolitiFact reports. “Mark Kelly voted against the Keystone pipeline, which caused higher gas prices,” the ad from the political action committee Saving Arizona said. It also said the Republican candidate Blake Masters, whom Saving Arizona backs, supports the pipeline and “energy independence.” “…The ad’s statement is flawed, because the Keystone pipeline had no connection to the 2021 rise — and subsequent fall — in gas prices. Even if the pipeline project had continued, it would not have been constructed in time to have any effect on 2021 or 2022 oil production. And if it had been built, it would not have boosted crude oil supplies enough to impact gas prices… “The pipeline shutdown has absolutely nothing to do with gas prices,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, a fuel pricing information and data provider, told PolitiFact in December 2021. “Prices are higher because production has lagged behind, not because there isn’t enough pipeline capacity — there is.” “…In a campaign ad, Saving Arizona said Kelly “voted against the Keystone pipeline, which caused higher gas prices.” Biden stopped additional construction of the pipeline in early 2021, and that did not require congressional action. Kelly later voted against two amendments and one motion that could have restarted construction. But two of those measures lacked the force of law. Even if construction had continued, the project was years from completion and its status had no connection to the rise or fall in gasoline prices. We rate this claim Mostly False.”

S&P Global Commodity Insights: New Pipeline Projects Appear Enough to Solve Recurring Capacity Constraints for Canadian Crude–But Permanent Relief is Not Guaranteed
9/20/22

“One of the main challenges for the growing western Canadian oil industry—a recurring shortfall in export pipeline capacity and the oil price instability that comes with it—has been alleviated by major capacity additions, with another project that would provide more breathing room close to completion. However, a S&P Global Commodity Insights analysis finds that the situation may not last, and may experience tightness again in the future, depending on various factors… “Nevertheless, by the late 2020’s overall pipeline system utilization could exceed 90% on an annualized basis, leaving little cushion to adjust to any system upsets should they occur… “The system appears it may run quite full later this decade, raising the risk of future regional price instability should upsets occur in the transportation system through to end-refineries,” said Aaron Brady, vice president, energy oil market services, S&P Global Commodity Insights. The Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project (completed in 2021) and the soon-to-be-completed Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project, along with potential expansions to existing systems could increase pipeline capacity by more than 1.2 million barrels per day by 2030. However, western Canadian crude production is expected to continue to grow through the decade and could exceed 5.3 million barrels per day (MMb/d) by 2030—growth of about 715,000 b/d compared to 2021… “Existing pipeline export capacity can decline over time – Pressure limits can be required as pipelines age, reducing throughput capacity. Aging pipelines can be replaced with the latest technology, as was the case with the Line 3 Replacement Project. However, even projects that are designed to increase safety and address any previous shortcomings have met opposition.”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

E&E News: Manchin vows permitting bill text tomorrow; GOP shrugs
Jeremy Dillon, 9/20/22

“Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said text of his permitting reform agreement that has split Democrats and failed to garner Republican backing will come out Wednesday,” E&E News reports. “…Delays in the text, along with its ties to the Democrats’ budget reconciliation bill, have made Republicans skeptical of endorsing the effort. “Tomorrow you will have the text in full,” Manchin told reporters. “That’s a week before I think we will probably move or do anything on the CR, so there will be no ifs, ands, in betweens, guessing or assuming. That gives everyone plenty of time.” “…Manchin held a news conference Tuesday morning to rebut Republican attacks on the permitting push. He called it “political retaliation” for his support of the climate- and health-care-focused reconciliation package.”

E&E News: Manchin: ‘Revenge politics’ could sink permitting reform
George Cahlink, Nico Portuondo, 9/21/22

“Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Joe Manchin is decrying forces aligning against his permitting overhaul effort, a sign of the long odds the legislation likely faces in passing Congress,” E&E News reports. “I got to be honest with you, I’ve been around for a long time in state and federal politics, I’ve never seen stranger bedfellows than the Bernie Sanders and the extreme liberal left siding up with Republican leadership in Congress,” Manchin (D-W.Va.) said of opposition to the plan Tuesday. “I’ve never seen this.” He added, “It’s revenge toward one person — me.” Manchin’s comments on what he called “revenge politics” reflect the growing sentiment on Capitol Hill that the permitting plan won’t move on stopgap spending legislation, due by Oct. 1, as the West Virginia Democrat and his allies had hoped. While no lawmakers declared the legislation dead, they acknowledged both policy and political differences are complicating the effort, which might not be settled until after the November election or even into the next Congress… “I think the situation he’s in right now is entirely of his own making,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), who like most Republicans has expressed frustration with Manchin for supporting the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act only after being promised a future vote on the permitting bill, told E&E. Thune told E&E it’s unclear if the Manchin proposal could get the support of 10 to 12 Senate Republicans needed to move the bill as part of the stopgap without the threat of a filibuster… “Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), the chamber’s top GOP energy appropriator, told E&E he may back permitting reform on the CR depending on what’s proposed. But he acknowledged there’s “no question” that some GOP senators are mad at Manchin over the deal on the Inflation Reduction Act… “If Manchin is unable to attach his permitting package to the CR, it is possible that the annual National Defense Authorization Act could be seen as the next option to get the package passed before the end of the year. “They’ve been talking about it,” Senate Armed Services Chair Jack Reed (D-R.I.) told E&E when asked about the possibility of permitting reform being included in the defense bill. “They’re looking for any place for it.” “…House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith (D-Wash.) told E&E, “Once we get to the end of the session, every idea in the world is considered to be put in the NDAA.” “…Senate Armed Services ranking member Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) shot down the possibility. “It’s the first I’ve heard about it, and I don’t like that idea,” Inhofe told E&E.

InsideEPA: EJ Groups Blast Senate Allies For Engaging In Permitting Bill Negotiations
9/19/22

“Dozens of environmental justice (EJ) groups are criticizing the three founders of a Senate EJ caucus for reportedly negotiating a ‘side deal’ to ease permitting policies for energy projects with Democratic leadership and moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), while also warning the lawmakers not to inject pro-EJ provisions to ease adoption of the broader agreement,” InsideEPA reports. “In a Sept. 19 letter to Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tom Carper (D-DE) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), 87 frontline EJ groups say: ‘Reports that the three of you are currently negotiating with Majority Leader [Chuck] Schumer [D-NY] without the inclusion of EJ organizations are troubling and we, therefore, must be clear in no uncertain terms — the process that led to expanding fossil fuels and other harmful technologies becoming locked into the [Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)] against the wishes of [EJ] communities must not be replicated.’ The reference to the IRA alludes to aspects of that law’s $370 billion in climate spending that EJ groups oppose, including federal support for low-carbon hydrogen and carbon capture and storage projects… “EJ groups warn the agreement would largely advance fossil fuel projects, though other observers say it would also advance power transmission, renewables and other projects necessary to achieve significant greenhouse gas reductions. The EJ groups’ letter also demands that the senators ‘do not attempt to amend this side deal by adding some provisions of’ the Environmental Justice for All Act. That bill — sponsored by Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Donald McEachin (D-VA) and Duckworth — ‘is the result of an inclusive and collaborative process.”

Civil Beat: Manchin’s Environmental Permitting Plan Splits Hawaii Democrats In Washington
Nick Grube, 9/19/22

“With a potential government shutdown looming at the end of the month, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin has once again put his party in an awkward position. The divisions even extend to Hawaii’s federal delegation,” Civil Beat reports. “…Hawaii Congressman Ed Case is among those expressing concern about the deal. Case was one of 72 Democrats who signed a letter to Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this month opposing Manchin’s permitting reforms… “Case told Civil Beat that he worries that Manchin’s proposal would limit public consultation on projects that could have significant environmental and social impacts… “His position on the Manchin proposal aligns with many in the most progressive wing of the party, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has called the permitting proposal a “disastrous side deal.” It stands in stark contrast to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, who is considered a climate hawk. Schatz is a member of Schumer’s leadership team and has said he will vote in favor of Manchin’s proposal. He told Civil Beat streamlining the environmental permitting process is necessary to meet Democrats’ goal of curbing U.S. carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 because it will quicken the pace of updating the nation’s electrical grid… “While Schatz acknowledges that Manchin’s proposal is not perfect — he doesn’t like the fact that he’ll be voting in favor of a natural gas pipeline — he also understands that his support was a necessary concession to secure the West Virginia senator’s vote on the Inflation Reduction Act.”

InsideEPA: Environmentalists Seek EPA Help In Bid To Toughen Drilling Permit Reviews
9/20/22

“Environmentalists are seeking to enlist EPA and other administration officials as part of a new effort to force the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to conduct robust environmental reviews when it issues oil and gas drilling permits, charging BLM plays a ‘shell game’ at various stages of its leasing and drilling approval processes that ultimately evade mandates that it consider the effects of its actions and invite meaningful public scrutiny,” InsideEPA reports. “The groups recently filed two lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia where plaintiffs are seeking precedential rulings forcing BLM to comply with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements when issuing drilling permits. The also sent a letter to administration officials, including EPA Administrator Michael Regan, flagging specific permit approvals in Bakersfield, CA, an environmental justice (EJ) area. Until now, much of environmentalists’ litigation focus has been on BLM and other agencies’ broader leasing efforts, where they have sought to force agencies to review the climate and other potential impacts of their planned actions when they conduct lease sales. But the most recent suit, Powder River Basin Resource Council, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), et al., filed Sept. 7, challenges more than 225 individual application for permits to drill (APD) that BLM issued for the Converse County Oil Project in Wyoming.”

E&E News:  Climate Law May Spur Higher Methane Fees Than Estimated
Camille Bond, 9/20/22

“The Inflation Reduction Act’s methane fees could cost the oil and gas industry three times more than previously projected, according to an analysis by climate data company Kayrros,” E&E News reports. “The climate law calls for levies against oil and gas facilities emitting the greenhouse gas above a threshold, starting at $900 per metric ton of methane in 2024. That would rise to $1,500 per metric ton of methane in 2026. Kayrros found that the total cost of methane emissions for the industry could rise to $3.3 billion by 2024, if undercounted sources of the greenhouse gas are included. That’s a threefold increase over the $1.1 billion that the Congressional Research Service estimated the law would cost the industry in 2026. ‘Recent advances in satellite-based monitoring show many more facilities could be subject to IRA methane fees than those currently regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,’ Kayrros said in a news release… “In an email, Antoine Halff, co-founder and chief analyst at Kayrros, told E&E that the climate law requires EPA to use empirical measurements of methane within two years.”

STATE UPDATES

Houston Chronicle: Massive methane leak found in Gulf of Mexico as Biden admin tries to hold oil companies accountable
Amanda Drane, 9/20/22

“Scientists detected a massive methane release in the Gulf of Mexico using satellites, potentially charting a path for monitoring offshore pollution,” the Houston Chronicle reports. “The study, conducted by the Polytechnic University of Valencia and published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, used satellite technology to trace a methane plume to an offshore oil and gas production platform belonging to Petroleos Mexicanos, the Mexican state-owned oil and gas company known as Pemex. The 17-day release over Mexican waters in December of last year sent 40,000 metric tons of methane into the atmosphere, according to the report, which is equal to one year’s emissions from 400,000 cows, said Daniel Cohan, atmospheric scientist and associate professor of environmental engineering at Rice University. The company called the scientists’ findings false, asserting that the pollution documented in the study was not as bad as scientists reported. The study described by scientists as a breakthrough comes as the Biden administration is under increasing pressure to stop companies from releasing large amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, as a way to fight climate change. President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador issued a joint statement in July outlining shared climate goals, including a pledge to cut methane emissions both onshore and offshore… “There have been lots of satellite observations of methane ultra-emission events over land, but this is novel to be able to observe one over the ocean,” Cohan told the Chronicle. “Satellites have a tougher time observing methane over water, and these scientists developed innovative approaches to make those observations possible.”

Colorado Springs Gazette: Colorado Supreme Court considering the legal status of dormant oil and gas well leases
Scott Weiser, 9/19/22

“Boulder County is appealing a Boulder District Court ruling rejecting its claim of control over oil and gas well leases belonging to Crestone Peak Resources Operating, LLC, saying the leases are voided by the fact that the wells haven’t actually been pumping oil or gas for long periods,” the Colorado Springs Gazette reports. “The appeal comes amid the county’s effort to prevent new drilling on the leases, many of which are more than 40 years old. The County appealed the 2019 district court ruling in its lawsuit against Crestone Peak to the Colorado Supreme Court, where oral arguments can be heard here Tuesday beginning at 10 a.m… “In a nutshell, the issue is whether standard oil and gas leases require the actual production of oil and gas to remain viable… or whether they can be maintained with idle wells,” Kate Burke, Senior Assistant County Attorney told the Denver Gazette Monday. If the state Supreme Court rules that the statutory definition of oil and gas production requires actual extraction of the minerals “for long periods,” Burke told the Gazette, then the leases automatically expired decades ago and the county “will have full control over the mineral rights, to the extent possible under state law.”.

Casper Star Tribune: How much methane should oil and gas companies let go?
Nicole Pollack, 9/19/22

“As persistently high natural gas prices renew a dispute between environmental and industry groups over conservation practices at oil and gas wells, there remains little overlap on how losses of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, should be regulated,” the Casper Star Tribune reports. “Wells that produce often also produce some natural gas. And in the weeks after a well is drilled, before operators are equipped to capture that gas and transport it to buyers, that natural gas — a highly flammable fuel composed mostly of methane — is often released or burned off in order to protect workers and equipment. The same may happen even after the necessary infrastructure is in place if excess gas becomes a safety risk. Lacking substantive federal standards, states have imposed a patchwork of regulations designed to protect air quality and minimize the noise and visibility of flaring. But environmental groups are advocating, increasingly, for stricter standards to be set at the federal level… “For now, at least, Wyoming regulators retain more responsibility to oversee flaring and venting at oil and gas wells than the federal government. Multiple agencies, however, are developing rules that would apply nationally, if finalized. The Bureau of Land Management has yet to propose a methane rule under President Joe Biden. But the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule, released in November, was quickly applauded by environmental groups and criticized by some oil and gas industry representatives… “Environmental groups are hopeful — and the oil and gas industry is worried — that the forthcoming federal rules, paired with the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act, which contains penalties for high methane emissions along with incentives to reduce them, could override Wyoming’s resistance to taxing venting and flaring.”.

NBC: At least two injured by oil refinery fire in Ohio
9/21/22

“At least two people were injured after a giant fire broke out at a BP oil refinery in Toledo, Ohio, on Tuesday night,” NBC reports.

EXTRACTION

SDPB Radio: Ethanol’s future unclear as electric vehicles grow in popularity
Joshua Haiar, 9/19/22

“When it comes to South Dakota agriculture, corn is king. Part of the reason for that is corn-based ethanol — an alcohol that’s mixed in gasoline,” SDPB Radio reports. “In South Dakota, two out of every three rows of the state’s corn crop become ethanol according to SDSU’s extension service. However, some South Dakotans are growing concerned about ethanol’s future considering the rising popularity of electric vehicles… “Former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle, the co-founder of a bipartisan political strategy group, spearheaded legislation to create the nation’s ethanol industry… “I don’t think anybody should expect the current situation, the status quo, is going to be something we can expect to see for many more years into the future,” Daschle told SDPB. “We’ve got to be resilient. We’ve got to be innovative. We’ve got to find ways to adjust and adapt to the new market, and if we fail to do that, I think that it’s going to be a real tragedy for American agriculture,” Daschle told SDPB… “Politicians need to see South Dakota’s corn used for ethanol as part of the electric vehicle energy transition, Silvia Secchi, a natural resource economist at the University of Iowa, told SDPB “What I’m afraid of is that this is gonna hit us like a brick at some point,” Secchi told SDPB. “This is happening whether we like it or not. And so we shouldn’t resist it. We should embrace it and think about ways to make it work for our economy.” “…But this energy transition is happening in a political climate with enormous pressure, lobbyist Doug Durante told SDPB. “The political reality will be, if you try to do all-electric, then there’s going to be people that can stop that,” Durante told SDPB.

CBC: Oil trumps climate change in UCP leadership race to determine Alberta’s next premier
Kyle Bakx, 9/21/22

“To hear some of the candidates seeking to become the leader of Alberta’s governing UCP — and the province’s next premier — one would think the oil and gas industry was in the doldrums, struggling to make a buck,” the CBC reports. “In fact, Canada’s oilpatch is enjoying its most lucrative year on record. Its profits have been described as a broken cash machine, as the largest companies collect billions in profit every few months. Still, one major challenge hasn’t gone away: finding a way to lure back the global banks, insurance firms, and investors that don’t want to be associated with an industry — particularly the oilsands — that’s become a target in the global climate crisis. It’s one reason why the biggest oilsands producers have made pledges to wipe out their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (a pledge a number of environmental groups find dubious). But while big oilsands players are busy talking up their efforts to slash emissions, on the campaign trail for the UCP, there is little focus on the environment, let alone acknowledging global warming or climate change… “Candidate Todd Loewen, who has largely been aligned with Smith, was adamant he didn’t even want to talk about net zero and give any more oxygen to the discussion. “It’s all bull. It’s all B.S.,” he said, during a debate last month. “We need to quit talking about these money-wasting ideas. There’s nothing good that will come with those things.” “…More pipelines is a common point of emphasis from candidates, especially to transport natural gas to what they hope will be more export terminals on any coastline, whether that’s in the east, west, or even the north… “On this campaign trail, there is a recurring theme when discussing the environment: let’s pump more oil and natural gas out of the ground… “Some candidates lament how some pipelines proposals in the past decade failed and point the finger at the federal government. They are also concerned about how some federal policies could impact the oilpatch, such as the proposed cap on emissions.”

CLIMATE FINANCE

Financial Times: US banks threaten to leave Mark Carney’s green alliance over legal risks
Stephen Morris, Kenza Bryan and Owen Walker, 9/21/22

“Wall Street banks including JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America have threatened to leave Mark Carney’s financial alliance to tackle climate change because they fear being sued over increasingly stringent decarbonisation commitments,” the Financial Times reports. “In tense meetings in recent months, some of the most significant members of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero have said they feel blindsided by tougher UN climate criteria and are worried about the legal risks of participation, according to several people involved in internal discussions. “I am close to taking us out of these global green commitments — I’m not going to allow third parties to create legal liabilities for us and our shareholders. It is immoral and irresponsible,” one senior executive at a US bank said. “What if we get it wrong, make a mistake or someone lies? Then the bank can be sued, that is an unacceptable risk.” “We spent one hour in our last call discussing [US banks quitting]. It was extremely tense,” one of the people involved in recent Gfanz bank talks said. European banks including Santander have also expressed misgivings. The potential loss of some of the world’s biggest and most influential banks would be a serious blow for Carney’s Gfanz group, which was formed last year and took centre stage at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow in November. More than 450 finance companies accounting for $130tn of assets have joined Gfanz, which is co-led by the Canadian ex-Bank of England governor and current Brookfield Asset Management executive. The banks’ biggest concern is over strict targets on phasing out coal, oil and gas introduced over the summer by the UN’s Race to Zero campaign, a UN-led net zero standard-setting body that accredits pledges made by Carney’s alliance. The body will soon be able to take action against financial companies for failing to hit targets, which could lead to them being kicked out of Gfanz, the FT reported last month. Banks’ legal departments are particularly anxious about tougher US Securities and Exchange Commission rules around climate-risk disclosures and commitments proposed by SEC chair Gary Gensler in February.”

Reuters: Investors see U.S. oil between $80 and $100/bbl next year -survey
Liz Hampton, 9/19/22

“U.S. crude oil prices will average between $80 and $100 per barrel next year, investors attending a Barclays conference this month estimated, suggesting a stronger outlook than future prices suggest,” Reuters reports. “Oil futures for October traded at $85 a barrel on Monday, with the outlook for 2023 at about $79 a barrel . Prices had traded over $100 a barrel earlier this year on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions. Oil has cooled on concerns of an economic slowdown. Separately, the Bank of America today boosted its 2023 U.S. oil price forecast by $4 to $94 a barrel, pointing to what it called a “modest but demonstrable production cut at the last OPEC+ meeting.”

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

DRGNews: South Dakota FFA Foundation awards $2,600 in grants for FFA Chapter service-learning projects
Jody Heemstra, 9/20/22

“The FFA motto all FFA members learn includes the words,” Living to Serve”, making service a core value taught to SD’s over 10,000 high school Agriculture Education students through their FFA participation. With state educational budgets becoming tighter all the time, FFA chapters are forced to choose which worthwhile activities they can still participate in. Sometimes that means service projects do not happen,” DRGNews reports. The SD FFA Foundation recognizes the value of local chapter service-learning projects and wants to enable Agriculture Education programs to focus on student and community development. As a result, the SD FFA Foundation provides up to $500/chapter for service projects in their local communities… “These grants were made possible, as a special project of the SD FFA Foundation, thanks to funds provided by the TC Energy Foundation.” 

OPINION

Guardian: We need to be told the true climate cost of Schumer and Manchin’s pipeline side deal
David Sirota is a Guardian US columnist and an award-winning investigative journalist. He is an editor at large at Jacobin, and the founder of The Daily Poster. He served as Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign speechwriter. Julia Rock is a reporter for The Lever, 9/21/22

“As climate change batters America with heatwaves, droughts and floods, lawmakers should be asking a simple question about any bill: does it increase or decrease the greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling the ecological emergency?” David Sirota and Julia Rock write for the Guardian. “Somehow, though, that query is still not being asked right now in Washington, even as Democratic leaders are promising to advance a bill to gut environmental laws and expedite oil and gas pipelines. Congressional staffers and environmental groups tell The Lever that they have seen no reliable analyses comprehensively quantifying the climate effects of the initiative. In short: lawmakers appear to be proceeding without any data, even though a draft version of the pipeline bill has been in the public domain since early last month. This is a deliberate deception. After all, last month, Democratic leaders waved around projections of emissions reductions to portray their Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) as a weapon to combat climate change. Indeed, to deflect questions about why fossil fuel companies were lauding the bill, party leaders and their media acolytes pointed to studies – one by an institution with ties to fossil fuel giants – asserting that even with its provisions expanding oil and gas development, the legislation would result in a huge net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. That was the bait, now here’s the switch: those studies did not take into account the pipeline legislation that the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, says was an integral “part of the IRA”. And now neither Schumer nor the groups that created the previous emissions reductions projections are releasing similar analyses about the pipeline proposal that Congress could vote on as soon as this week… “The fact that emissions projections for Schumer’s side deal have not been discussed either in private or in public point to the reality of what’s at stake here,” said Jim Walsh of the environmental group Food and Water Watch. “Schumer and Manchin’s deal is not talking about clean energy; it’s a fossil fuel payday. The leaked draft specifies the fast-tracking of 19 fossil fuel-related infrastructure projects. Any effort to spin that increased pollution as emissions reduction would be just that – spin.”

Wall Street Journal: Where’s the Permitting Bill, Senator Manchin?
The Editorial Board, 9/19/22

“If a week is a long time in politics, then it has been an eon since Sen. Joe Manchin cut his supersecret permitting deal with Democratic leaders. Yet Mr. Manchin still hasn’t told the public—or even many of his Senate colleagues—what exactly he negotiated. To re-use a famous phrase from Nancy Pelosi, does Congress have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it?” the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board writes. “Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer plans to attach the permitting reform to a government-funding vehicle called a continuing resolution that needs to pass by the end of this month. Mr. Manchin said last week that the text of his deal probably will be “released in the CR,” according to the Hill. It sounds as if the strategy is to prevent anyone from pondering the details too long. The permitting changes might be unveiled at the last minute, as pressure to avoid a government shutdown peaks. West Virginia’s other Senator, Republican Shelley Moore Capito, got tired of waiting last week and released a permitting package backed by 46 other Republicans… “The Capito bill would grant states “sole authority” to regulate fracking, including on federal lands in their borders. For other energy development on available federal lands, each state would get the opportunity to displace the feds as the primary regulator and permitter. It’s a good idea, putting federalism to work… “Sen. Capito would also save the Mountain Valley Pipeline from legal purgatory… “Ms. Capito’s legislation would expedite the pipeline’s federal approvals and declare them exempt from judicial review. That’s also a step better than the summary from Mr. Manchin, which says he’d “give the DC Circuit jurisdiction.” “…With so many Democrats opposed, Mr. Manchin will need Republicans to pass his bill. But Republicans should make sure its details are worth the political advertising, and worth lending it their credibility.”

Common Dreams: Does Manchin’s ‘Permitting Reform’ Plan Help Clean Energy?
Mitch Jones is the Policy Director at Food & Water Action, 9/19/22

“The so-called “side deal” struck by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) as part of the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act is undoubtedly designed to benefit fossil fuel interests. This is hardly surprising, given that Manchin’s political career and personal wealth depend on boosting fossil fuels,” Mitch Jones writes for Common Dreams. “Though the text of any actual plan has still not been released, some backers of the deal are trying to make a very different argument: The ‘permitting reform’ at the heart of the Manchin deal will benefit clean energy projects, in particular the new high voltage transmission projects that are essential to getting renewables on the grid. Deliberately or not, the argument appears to be conflating the ‘reform’ laid out in the deal—limiting environmental reviews and prioritizing fossil fuel infrastructure—with changes that would speed up the development of renewables. This is a dangerous misdirection. There is no logical reason to think that the Manchin deal would be a win for clean energy just because there are some clean energy projects that have faced permitting delays… “Contrary to widely held assumptions, we found that a less rigorous level of analysis often fails to deliver faster decisions. Delays, we found, are often caused by factors only tangentially related to the act, like inadequate agency budgets, staff turnover, delays receiving information from permit applicants, and compliance with other laws. Improving NEPA efficacy, we argue, should therefore focus on improving agency capacity. A more meaningful ‘reform’ of this process would be to fully fund the regulatory agencies tasked with evaluating the impacts of new proposals. Suffice it to say, this is not something the fossil fuel industry would support… “Reducing the public’s ability to weigh in on such projects is not ‘reform’—it’s what the pipeline companies and polluters want.”

The Hill: Should taxpayers gamble on blue hydrogen and carbon capture?
Shanti Gamper-Rabindran is a professor at the University of Pittsburgh and author of “America’s Energy Gamble: People, Economy and Planet,” 9/20/22

“Americans have an important decision to make: Do we fully embrace renewable energy, or do we divert scarce public funding to explore unproven technologies like blue hydrogen (hydrogen produced using natural gas ) and carbon capture that can double down on fossil fuel dependency?” Shanti Gamper-Rabindran writes for The Hill. “That question is at the heart of the 13th Clean Energy Ministerial, being hosted in Pittsburgh, Pa., this week. Politicians, CEOs and energy leaders will meet to discuss how to accelerate the clean energy transition. Featured prominently are several events that promote blue hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies or carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies. In parallel to the ministerial, grassroots organizations have convened the Clean Energy Justice Convergence to warn against “clean” energy pathways that can perpetuate the reliance on fossil fuel industries… “The vision is to produce hydrogen from natural gas and then use CCUS technologies to capture the carbon dioxide byproduct. The carbon dioxide would be transported via a network of pipelines either to be injected underground for storage or to be put to use in some form. The Inflation Reduction Act’s heightened financial incentives for CCUS have similarly spurred excitement about those technologies. Taxpayers need to ask the hard question: Do investments into blue hydrogen and CCUS have a reasonable chance of yielding financially viable enterprises without more demands for taxpayer subsidies?.. “CCUS can serve to capture carbon dioxide from several hard-to-decarbonize industries such as steel and cement. However, it is not financially sound to look to CCUS to prolong reliance on coal or natural gas power plants… “Advocates for blue hydrogen and CCUS technologies argue that these technologies can prolong the longevity of natural gas and coal, and therefore save jobs. However, putting hopes for stable jobs in financially risky ventures is imprudent. Rather, diversifying the economies of fossil fuel regions by deploying renewable energy and energy efficiency and beyond, would be more prudent.”  

Bloomberg: IRA-Driven Carbon Capture Needs Better Strategies
Sidley Austin, 9/21/22

“Inflation Reduction Act tax credit reforms and federal funds are a significant change for the economics of carbon capture and sequestration projects in the US.,” Sidley Austin attorneys write for Bloomberg. “Yet many questions remain about how to navigate permitting approvals to get CCS projects up and running and fully realize tax and climate benefits. The IRA’s goal of quickly advancing CCS should be tempered by the extensive review of environmental and legal issues, including how to permit carbon dioxide sequestration wells, obtain pore space rights, and construct CO2 pipelines… “A viable CO2 pipeline network will also be crucial to support large-scale adoption of CCS, and the IRA is silent on the issue. Right now, fewer than 5,000 miles of pipelines are dedicated to CO2 transport, and they are limited in scope, moving CO2 from discrete natural or industrial sources to mature oil fields for enhanced oil recovery. Some project developers are exploring how to deploy these existing systems for CCS purposes while others are considering conversions of other types of existing pipelines to transport CO2. Developing a sufficiently sized interstate CO2 pipeline network for CCS requires regulatory certainty. First and foremost are siting concerns and whether federal or state governments will be deputized to oversee it. States currently control siting decisions. There is no federal eminent domain, as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission already disclaimed jurisdiction over CO2 pipelines under the Natural Gas Act. The Surface Transportation Board is presumed by some to have jurisdiction under a statute that requires pipelines to be common carriers. Because the STB has yet to assert jurisdiction, developers are unsure how it will approach projects built with support from “anchor” shippers using long-term contractual commitments. The federal government does have regulations in place over CO2 pipeline safety, and more robust regulations may be deemed essential. Without additional guidance, however, developers will need to continue to incorporate CO2 pipeline regulatory risk into their planning scenarios. Beyond sequestration wells and pipelines, CCS projects funded with federal grants or otherwise triggering a major federal action will be subject to environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act. While Congress has the authority to exempt projects from NEPA, it chose not to exempt CCS projects from such review.”

Environmental Defence: Why Canada’s inaction on the oil sands toxic tailings might cost us more than our biodiversity
Alienor Rougeot, Program Manager, Climate and Energy, 9/20/22

“Canada cultivates a misleadingly good reputation abroad. I would know; I moved here because of it. However, this advantageous position is increasingly under threat as Canada keeps putting industry interest over environmental stewardship,” Alienor Rougeot writes for Environmental Defence. “September 4th marked the second anniversary of when the international Commission for Environmental Cooperation’s (CEC) Factual Record documented overwhelming evidence that Canada’s oil sands tailings “ponds” are leaking toxic pollutants into groundwater and tributaries of the Athabasca River. The CEC concluded that these leaking tailings violate the Fisheries Act since the Act forbids the industry from putting toxic substances in places where they enter or may enter fish-bearing water. The record further found no reason for the Federal government not to take legal action against the operators of the tailings. In short, a law is in place to protect the environment from leaks, but it is not enforced… “Their continued inaction has allowed potentially billions of additional litres of toxic waste to leak from the tailings “ponds,” which now hold a staggering 1.4 trillion litres of fluids and cover an area of more than 300 km² – enough to cover Paris three times over… “New plans to allow oil sands operators to release the content of the tailings into the environment are now on the table, with the oil industry making the unverified claim that they can treat the acutely toxic fluids to safe levels. With this series of bad press, does Canada stand a chance to tip the scale in its favour ahead of international environmental meetings such as the UN-led talks on climate and biodiversity later this year? Sure, but it must stay away from environmentally unsound ideas such as allowing the release of trillions of litres of toxic waste into the drinking water of Indigenous communities and instead focus on bringing all parties at the table to decide on a safe, responsible and timely strategy to clean up the oil sands region.”

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