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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 4/4/22

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips April 4, 2022

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PIPELINE NEWS

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • E&E News: Biden unveils strongest fuel efficiency rule yet

  • E&E News: Manchin, Kelly urge Biden to open new Gulf oil leasing

  • Politico: SENATORS URGE 

  • E&E News: Biden admin defends Interior royalty rule in court

STATE UPDATES

  • Inforum: With cost upped to $1.45B, Project Tundra seeks funds from North Dakota energy board

  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Public Service Commission approves natural gas-fired power plant near Wausau that was opposed by consumer and environmental groups

EXTRACTION

  • Bloomberg: OPEC+ Ditches IEA Data for Assessing Compliance Amid Rift

  • Globe and Mail: Tax credit can boost carbon capture’s role in fighting climate change

  • Guardian: Climate protesters block oil depot near Heathrow as action enters fourth day

CLIMATE FINANCE

OPINION

PIPELINE NEWS

Associated Press: Appeals Court Won’t Revisit Panel Ruling on Pipeline Project
4/3/22

“A federal appeals court has refused to revisit a ruling that struck down a key permit for a proposed natural gas pipeline running through Virginia and West Virginia,” the Associated Press reports. “The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Friday that it would not revisit a February ruling by a three-judge panel that invalidated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s opinion that the Mountain Valley Pipeline would not jeopardize two endangered fish species. The panel found “serious errors” with the agency’s conclusion that construction of the pipeline wouldn’t pose a threat to the Roanoke logperch or the candy darter. The February ruling came one week after the same three-judge panel rejected a permit that would have allowed the pipeline to pass through a 3.5 mile (5.6 kilometer) section of the Jefferson National Forest. In both cases, the judges faulted the U.S. Forest Service and the wildlife agency for failing to adequately assess the pipeline’s environmental impact. The Roanoke Times reports that Mountain Valley now has little hope of obtaining the required approvals without going through a renewed permitting process.”

The Gazette: Environment, ethanol, jobs, profits all at issue in C02 pipeline debate
James Q. Lynch, 4/3/22

“Proposals for three more pipelines across Iowa are highlighting divisions over the use of eminent domain to acquire access to private property, and producing alliances between groups more often at odds with one another,” The Gazette reports. “On one side are investors and developers who say they want to deliver the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from Iowa ethanol plants to underground sequestration sites. In an unusual pairing, they’ve been joined by some labor unions… “About 100 “unusual bedfellows” — environmentalists, farmers, landowners and property rights advocates as well as opponents of large-scale farming and ethanol — called for the Iowa Utilities Board to reject construction of the pipelines, which Ames environmental lawyer Carolyn Raffensperger called a “sewer system for the fossil fuel industry.” “…However, unlike the CO2 in the breath people exhale or what they drink in carbonated beverages, the CO2 in pipelines is concentrated and pressurized, pipeline opponents warn. “Those differences pose unique safety hazards and greatly increase the possible affected area” if a pipeline should rupture, according to a Pipeline Safety Trust report issued in March. “CO2 pipeline ruptures can impact areas measured in miles, not feet.” “…Somewhere between the pipeline companies and those who agree with Raffensperger are people like Mike Main of Sioux City, who waved a “No Easement. No Eminent Domain” sign in the Capitol rotunda. His 80 acres of Woodbury County farmland could be crossed by a $4.5 billion, 2,000-mile Iowa-to-North-Dakota pipeline proposed by Iowa-based Summit… “But I’m dead set against eminent domain for the gain of private investors,” he said. That may be the glue that binds the coalition. Companies proposing pipelines “cannot build this or run this or make their money without using other people’s property,” according to Raffensperger, executive director of the Science & Environmental Health Network and former state chair of the Sierra Club.

Chronicle Times: Pipeline surveying in County
Paul Struck, 4/1/22

“At last week’s Cherokee County Board of Supervisors meeting, County Engineer Sarah Tracy presented a letter from Summit Carbon Solutions informing the County of current survey work within a proposed pipeline project corridor,” the Chronicle Times reports. “…The exact pipeline route has intentionally not been announced and developers are encountering stiff opposition from landowners to the pipeline and the threat of using eminent domain to complete the project. The Supervisors advised Tracy to contact the Project Manager for Summit Carbon Solutions to inform them of the County’s concern for safety of the traveling public and to require traffic control, high visibility clothing, and appropriately marked vehicles when crews are working on or near County roadways.”

Forbes: In A David Versus Goliath Battle Between NGOs And A Pipeline Company, Goliath Is Losing
Steve Banker, 4/2/22

“…Proponents of pipelines argue that when pipelines are properly constructed and maintained they have fewer carbon emissions associated with moving natural gas and oil than trucks or railcars. But pipelines are facing headwinds from advocacy groups; these nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) argue that all too often pipelines are not properly constructed or maintained,” Forbes reports. “Big investment funds are starting to see increasing risks associated with investing in companies and sectors that do not have strong environmental, social, and governance (ESG) records. NGOs willing to engage in lawsuits are certainly one nexus of those increased risks. These lawsuits pit small, often thinly funded advocacy groups against large corporations and high paid law firms. And in these battles, the Davids are increasingly beating the Goliaths. Mountain Valley Pipeline is in trouble… “While not the largest of the NGO’s, Wild Virginia played a vital role in this fight. In the last annual report Equitrans Midstream complained that “the majority of environmental justice litigation matters appear to be focused on whether state or federal agencies with permitting or other decision-making responsibility have adequately considered environmental justice issues during the decision-making process.” Advocacy organizations, like Wild Virginia, raise environmental justice issues in connection with permitting legal challenges… “Investment firms, like Seeking Alpha, made the rather obvious point that “The unfavorable court decision sharply increased the investment risk of these securities.” But they also made the point that “Any time you have a major project delay … skittish banks may cut off additional funding and (this may) considerably raise capital costs. The minute any court issues an unfavorable opinion, like this one, then … the stock (is) no longer an investment grade vehicle…”

Physicians for Social Responsibility Iowa: Examining Carbon Capture Through a Public Health & Environmental Justice Lens
4/1/22

“Carbon capture projects and CO2 pipelines are being planned across thousands of miles in the US and Canada, causing communities to fear the loss of their land. As the debate surrounding carbon capture intensifies, discussions of the public health hazards have remained in the background. Two national public health organizations aim to shift this paradigm. The Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN) and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) are collaborating on an instructive webinar for health care professionals and the general public. The webinar will include presentations from experts in the field, followed by panel discussion and a question & answer session. “The urgent need to decarbonize the economy and halt climate change requires us to stop supporting industries that produce climate and environmental destruction,” says Dr. Maureen McCue, MD, PhD, Board Chair of PSR-Iowa. “Building a dangerous pipeline system to funnel some of their CO2 emissions underground even as they create more, will not halt rapidly growing threats to public health.” The webinar: Examining Carbon Capture Through a Public Health & Environmental Justice Lens will take place on Friday, April 8, 2022, from 10:30a – 12:00p CT.” 

Pipeline Fighters Hub: Landowners United to Stop Pipelines (April 12, 2022)
4/1/22

“Register to join us and get details on the launch of a new “Landowners Rapid Response Guide & Videos” from the Property Rights & Pipeline Center, as well as a new report on the safety risks and lack of regulation of carbon pipelines, commissioned by the Pipeline Safety Trust and Bold Alliance. Attorney Brian Jorde, with Domina Law Group and Nebraska Easement Action Team, will also give an update on organizing landowners into legal co-ops to fight eminent domain in the impacted states. SPEAKERS: Jane Kleeb, Bold Alliance & Pipeline Fighters Hub; Jill Averitt, Property Rights and Pipeline Center; Paul Blackburn, Attorney, Bold Alliance; Bill Caram, Pipeline Safety Trust; Brian Jorde, Attorney, Domina Law Group & Nebraska Easement Action Team.”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

E&E News: Biden unveils strongest fuel efficiency rule yet
Arianna Skibell, 4/1/22

“The Transportation Department today released a new fuel economy rule to prevent 5.5 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere and save billions of gallons of gas by midcentury,” E&E News reports. “The new corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards require an 8 percent annual increase in fuel efficiency for model years 2024 and 2025 and a 10 percent annual increase for model year 2026. While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rule is not the strongest option the agency considered, it marks the most aggressive standard to date and will result in a fleetwide average of 49 mpg by 2026, up from today’s standard of 36 mpg, according to NHTSA. “Car manufacturers will be required to produce cars, minivans, SUVs and pickup trucks that get better mileage than ever before, and the benefits are going to be real for drivers across America,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said during a press conference announcing the rule. “Today’s rule is going to save 234 billion gallons of fuel by 2050 and move us into a less dependent future,” he added.

E&E News: Manchin, Kelly urge Biden to open new Gulf oil leasing
Heather Richards, 4/1/22

“Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Kelly of Arizona are urging the Biden administration to develop a new five-year oil and gas leasing plan in the Gulf of Mexico,” E&E News reports. “In a letter yesterday to President Joe Biden, the lawmakers argued that a new schedule for the sale of federal oil and gas drilling rights in the Gulf would help ease high energy prices. “Increasing domestic oil production to meet demand is a critical step to lowering gas prices and reducing our reliance on foreign sources,” Manchin and Kelly wrote. Tapping the Gulf of Mexico should “enable the United States to become more energy independent to meet emerging geopolitical threats,” the letter states. The current five-year plan, inked under President Barack Obama, expires in June, but the Biden administration has yet to release details on what comes next. A Trump administration plan to allow greater oil and gas development in untapped waters in the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific oceans fell apart after sparking significant resistance from coastal states and a legal battle over potential drilling in waters protected by an Obama-era moratorium. A revised five-year proposal was never released.  The Biden administration froze new oil and gas leasing last year during a review of the federal oil and gas program. It was forced to restart leasing by a federal judge, but its first and only oil auction — in the Gulf of Mexico in November — was overturned by a different judge for not doing a strong enough assessment of climate impacts.”

Politico: SENATORS URGE 
Catherine Morehouse, 4/1/22

“Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) called on Biden to boost U.S. LNG exports as means to fight climate change,” Politico reports. “ In a letter released today, the pair argue that displacing dirtier Russian natural gas in favor of U.S.gas — which emits less methane and has an overall lower greenhouse gas footprint — “will have the dual benefit of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions while diminishing the leverage of bad actors.” More broadly, the senators ask Biden to consider trade policies that would lower global emissions — including through a carbon border adjustment mechanism, which the pair has also worked on together. The Europe Union is working on its own carbon border mechanism, and the lawmakers fear such action could leave the U.S. behind if the administration doesn’t step up to the plate.”

E&E News: Biden admin defends Interior royalty rule in court
NIINA H. FARAH, 4/1/22

“The Biden administration this week defended a reinstated Obama-era Interior Department rule that sets royalty rates for oil and gas development on public lands and federal waters,” E&E News reports. “The Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) told the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday that the American Petroleum Institute doesn’t have grounds to overturn the agency’s “modest” changes to its valuation regulations. The 2016 rule is back on the books after a federal district court last year blocked the Trump administration’s effort to undo it. The U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming “correctly concluded that the oil and gas provisions of the 2016 Valuation Regulation changes were a permissible and reasoned exercise of ONRR’s discretion, and this Court should likewise affirm,” the Biden administration said in a brief to the 10th Circuit. Those changes included imposing hard caps on transportation and processing allowances and establishing an alternative valuation methodology for natural gas.”

STATE UPDATES

Inforum: With cost upped to $1.45B, Project Tundra seeks funds from North Dakota energy board
Adam Willis, 3/31/22

“Project Tundra, the expensive proposal to slash greenhouse gas emissions from a North Dakota coal plant, is one of eight projects seeking money from a recently established state fund aimed at fostering cleaner energy production,” Inforum reports. “The venture by Minnkota Power Cooperative is seeking $150 million in low-interest loans through the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority’s second funding round, according to a list provided by authority director Al Anderson, looking to tap a fund that lawmakers established last year with Project Tundra specifically in mind. Minnkota’s application estimates a substantially higher total cost for Project Tundra than previously released figures, at $1.45 billion, compared to the Grand Forks-based co-op’s earlier projections of roughly $1 billion. Minnkota spokesperson Ben Fladhammer told Inforum global supply chain limitations have increased Tundra’s costs from original estimates. Though it’s unclear whether those inflationary costs will last, Fladhammer told Inforum the co-op is factoring them into their revised estimates “out of an abundance of caution.” The co-op is planning to make a decision by the end of this year about whether to move forward with the fundraising stage of its project, Fladhammer told Inforum… “Engineering delays have recently pushed back Minnkota’s decision on whether to green light Project Tundra. The project has received a total of $50 million in state and federal funding, Fladhammer told Inforum, though some of that money has benefited other carbon capture projects in addition to Tundra… “The Forum reported last year that the Bank of North Dakota, the country’s only state-owned bank, initially declined to support the loan program , citing its size, subsidized interest rates and the risks of carbon capture technology, but later agreed to an arrangement that could shift the liability off their own balance sheet and onto taxpayers.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Public Service Commission approves natural gas-fired power plant near Wausau that was opposed by consumer and environmental groups
Corrinne Hess, 3/31/22

“The Public Service Commission on Thursday approved a controversial $171 million gas power plant near Wausau from Milwaukee and Green Bay utilities,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. “…WEC Energy Group, Wisconsin’s largest utility, plans to retire 1.8 gigawatts of coal and natural gas generation as part of its effort to become carbon neutral by 2050.  But the utilities say they still need to use fossil fuels during the transition. “When the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing there is a need for reliable, dispatchable natural gas to keep the lights on,” the application states. “The RICE Project will play an especially important part in maintaining reliability during the transition to renewable energy resources like solar and wind.” “…The Citizens Utility Board, Clean Wisconsin and Sierra Club opposed the project. CUB urged the PSC to vote against the plant, citing concerns over the utilities’ overly optimistic assumptions about future natural gas prices and the utilities’ failure to analyze the value of the projects in their “generation reshaping plan” in a variety of future economic scenarios… “The Sierra Club said the utilities can’t continue to go unchecked while building new fossil fuel infrastructure. “We have seen the utilities double-down on fossil fuels by proposing new gas plants instead of clean energy,” the club said in a written statement. “The science is clear that we can’t allow this to happen if we are to stop a climate catastrophe. Given the cost of fossil fuels is at an all-time high, it’s all the more critical we move to sustainable clean energy.”

EXTRACTION

Bloomberg: OPEC+ Ditches IEA Data for Assessing Compliance Amid Rift
Salma El Wardany and Grant Smith, 3/31/22

“The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies will no longer use oil data from the International Energy Agency to assess compliance with production quotas amid a deepening rift between the two institutions,” Bloomberg reports. “…The group’s Joint Technical Committee — which represents a broader alliance between OPEC and non-members — resolved on Wednesday to replace the IEA’s numbers amid concerns that the reliability of the agency’s overall data is being undermined by its views on climate change and lack of political neutrality, according to delegates… “After working together more closely for several years, the severe energy crisis that’s gripped markets for the past six months and the growing push to curb carbon emissions has made cooperation more difficult.  Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman has derided the IEA’s proposals for how the world could avoid damaging climate change as “La-La-Land.” 

Globe and Mail: Tax credit can boost carbon capture’s role in fighting climate change
EMMA GRANEY, 4/4/22

“Carbon capture’s role in reducing Canada’s environmental footprint will come into sharp focus in this week’s budget, with Ottawa expected to release details of a new investment tax credit to make the technology more economically attractive,” the Globe and Mail reports. “The federal Liberal government announced its intention to create an investment tax credit for carbon-capture projects a year ago. While critics argue that carbon capture is an expensive technology that doesn’t incent the structural changes to the energy system needed to address climate change, proponents say Canada needs to use every tool in its emissions-reduction toolbox if it’s to meet its goal of net zero by 2050… “In Alberta’s oil sands, CCUS anchors a plan to make production net zero by 2050… “Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage told The Globe and Mail that Ottawa’s new tax credit will have to cover at least half of project construction costs for carbon-capture projects to be remotely feasible. That’s because CCUS is both expensive and lacks revenue streams outside of enhanced oil recovery (in which captured carbon is pumped into mature wells to boost production). The tax credit must also be stackable, she said in a recent interview, so that proponents can combine it with other incentives and grants offered at a provincial level… “A key part of that is CCUS, and Ms. Savage is adamant Ottawa won’t see the take-up it needs if the tax credit doesn’t hit 50 per cent. “It’s their climate plan, it’s their targets, and there’s no way for them to reach it without CCUS,” Ms. Savage said. “I guess we’ll see how badly they want to reach their own targets by the ambition of their tax credit.”

Guardian: Climate protesters block oil depot near Heathrow as action enters fourth day
Damien Gayle, 4/4/22

“Environmental activists have blocked a major oil terminal near Heathrow airport, as protesters’ blockades of fuel distribution facilities around England enter a fourth day,” the Guardian reports. “About 30 members of Extinction Rebellion (XR) arrived at the Esso West facility in west London at about 4am, where they erected two bamboo lock-on structures, XR said. According to the environmental protest group’s statement, once they had blocked the entrance, the group unfurled two large banners that said: “Join Us – London 9th April” and “Stop Fossil Fuels Now”. Andrew Smith, from Extinction Rebellion, said: “We’re here to say that climate action cannot wait. Right now, governments are choosing to exploit the crisis in Ukraine to hand out oil licences and continue the fossil fuel economy that’s destroying us. “They are exploiting public fear and disorientation at a time of crisis when people’s bills are going up to advance corporate-friendly policies incapable of attracting democratic support.” It is the fourth time since Friday that XR has blockaded the same oil terminal, while other environmental protesters struck at nine other oil terminals over the weekend as part of a campaign to disrupt the UK’s fuel distribution infrastructure which activists have dubbed “Just Stop Oil”. Just Stop Oil has vowed to continue “civil resistance” protests until the government agrees a moratorium on all new fossil fuel projects and claims it has more than 1,000 supporters willing to be arrested for taking part… “More than 80 people were arrested in Essex over the weekend, while 14 were held in Staines in Surrey, and six were arrested in Birmingham, according to PA Media. Just Stop Oil said it had recorded more than 290 arrests among supporters taking part in actions.”

CLIMATE FINANCE

Politico: Climate groups push back 
Kate Davidson, Aubree Eliza Weaver, 4/4/22

“In a letter to Dimon on Monday shared with MM, more than two dozen climate advocacy groups blasted the JPMorgan CEO over his so-called Marshall Plan, saying it “would further lock us into energy sources that are overly expensive and subject to wild price swings, and that exacerbate rather than ease global conflict,” Politico reports. “Among the signatories to the letter: The Sierra Club, Public Citizen, Greenpeace, Amazon Watch, Revolving Door Project, Rainforest Action Network and the Center for International Environmental Law. They argued that the Biden administration and the private sector should be driving investments in renewable energy that help reduce emissions, and said more investments in fossil fuel expansion would do nothing to relieve short-term supply constraints. It’s not just bad for the planet, they said, it’s financially unsound. “Lobbying for fossil fuel expansion, including expanded liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities, pits JPMorgan Chase’s short-term, profit-driven interests against the safety and stability of a world facing an unfolding climate crisis,” they wrote.

Investors for Paris Compliance: Canadian banks facing climate votes at AGMs starting this week
4/4/22

“This annual general meeting season Canada’s banks will face shareholder proposals aimed at moving their climate pledges off paper and into reality. The results from these votes will not only influence the banks but will serve as an indicator of how much the wider investment community is walking its talk on going green. The results could also accelerate action by bank regulators on managing climate risk. Investor scrutiny of our banks on climate change is warranted… “But aren’t the banks on top of this shift with their net zero commitments and pledges to sink billions into sustainable finance? Unfortunately, when you scratch the surface, you’ll find many of their claims misleading or full of wiggle room… “Whether the large asset managers – including the banks themselves – will vote in favour of these resolutions is an open question. While some of them have joined Mark Carney’s Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, many are also heavily invested in fossil fuel companies, and therefore have conflicts of interest. The gatekeepers of shareholder reform are also in need of reform… “Meanwhile, investors who’d rather ward off increased regulation can vote in favour of the shareholder proposals at the upcoming AGMs. Let’s see if banks and their investors can self regulate their fossil fuel financing toward a credible path to net zero.”

OPINION

The Gazette: We need a pipeline to pump courage into the Statehouse
Todd Dorman, 4/3/22

“Iowa lawmakers are poised to kick the debate over carbon pipelines down the road, and past the November election. Maybe we need a pipeline to pump some political courage into the Golden Dome of Wisdom,” Todd Dorman writes for The Gazette. “As you may have heard, three planned pipeline projects would pump carbon spewed by ethanol production into underground storage. The main goal of the multibillion dollar projects is to toss an economic lifeline to the biofuels industry by making its products more environmentally attractive in an energy market increasingly looking to cut carbon emissions warming the planet… “Ethanol interests are powerful in Iowa. But so is the impulse to protect property rights. The collision of these two priorities has created a political minefield, particularly for Republicans who are watching rural constituents agitate against the use of eminent domain. Rural opponents, their local elected officials and environmental advocates have fallen into an unusual coalition to fight the projects… “Opponents are unlikely to stand down. They make a compelling argument that eminent domain, a power intended for projects that are a public necessity, was never intended to grab land for a for-profit venture. They point to billions of dollars in federal tax credits carbon pipeline projects are set to receive and say the dollars could be better spent on proven efforts to fight climate change. They contend a pipeline break could be a disaster for nearby residents. They’re skeptical of promises that the sequestered carbon won’t be used for oil extraction… “So it’s hard to see how these power dynamics change during an 11-month moratorium. It’s mostly political cover. The smart money is ethanol triumphant, again. Property rights be damned. On a related note, the political courage pipeline has been delayed indefinitely.”

Las Cruces Sun News: ​​Let’s not be fooled by the oil and gas industry
New Mexico Sen. Carrie Hamblen, D-Las Cruces, represents District 38, 4/3/22

“As we approach next week’s special session of the state legislature, I have been thinking a great deal about how to provide relief to hardworking New Mexicans who are paying more at the pump, while creating long-term solutions for transitioning our economy away from our boom-and-bust dependence on oil and gas. Like many of us, I’ve been closely following the senseless invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin — a war that among other issues includes oil and gas,” Sen. Carrie Hamblen writes for the Las Cruces Sun News. “Unfortunately, the oil and gas industry and their allies have been using the invasion of Ukraine to advance misleading, “drill more” rhetoric that provides no tangible steps to provide sustainable relief or solutions for New Mexicans. To be sure, gasoline prices are hitting our wallets right now and it hurts. But let’s not be fooled that it is the oil and gas companies that need some sort of “relief” right now from state and federal policies in order to increase production… “As I testified to Congress last year, we can no longer ignore the negative effects the oil and gas industry has on our state and our future… “True energy independence means diversifying away from the volatility of fossil fuels. Only through a clean energy economy — that maintains high standards for health, safety, and environmental and consumer protection — can we protect both the pocket books of our communities and the land in which they thrive.”

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