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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 5/11/22

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips May 11, 2022

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PIPELINE NEWS

  • KELO: CO2 pipeline sponsor seeks SD delay

  • KPVI: Hundreds more sign up to speak out about proposed carbon dioxide pipeline

  • Press release: Navigator CO2, Big River Resources, and Big River United Energy Execute Letter of Intent for the Capture, Transportation, Storage, and Value Optimization of up to 1,000,000 Metric Tons of CO2 per year, for Twenty (20) Years

  • Reuters: Alberta court rules Canada’s environmental impact law is unconstitutional

  • Law360: FERC’s Phillips Says Pipeline Policy Can’t Shirk Climate Effect

  • Reuters: U.S. oil pipeline operators gear up for higher shale output

  • National Post: Police investigating if anti-pipeline anarchists torched cars of RBC executive who was an ex-Tory minister

  • Bucks County Courier Times: Sunoco plans to replace pipeline under Delaware River near Washington Crossing. Here’s why residents are worried

  • Press release: Inter Pipeline Assessing Blue Ammonia & Blue Methanol Projects

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • E&E News: Biden administration urges Supreme Court to reject social cost of carbon challenge

  • The Advocate: Federal agency approves extension for Lake Charles LNG project opposed by environmental groups

  • E&E News: Why Biden isn’t preaching energy conservation

  • Politico: NO EXCEPTIONS FOR CRYPTO

STATE UPDATES

  • Associated Press: California lays out ambitious climate goals, cutting use of oil and gas by 91% by 2045

  • CPR: Colorado’s oil and gas industry withdraws proposed 2022 ballot initiatives

  • Daily Herald: Infrastructure funding to include pipeline repairs in Utah

EXTRACTION

  • Guardian: Avoid using gas as ‘transition’ fuel in move to clean energy, study urges

  • GlobalNews.ca: Calgary company looks to bring carbon capture hub to Pincher Creek (VIDEO)

CLIMATE FINANCE

  • New York Times: Oil Giants Sell Dirty Wells to Buyers With Looser Climate Goals, Study Finds

  • E&E News: Cash gushes for Big Oil. But climate investments plateau

  • Wall Street Journal: Activist Investor Third Point Continues Push for Shell to Restructure

  • CBC: Suncor looks to turn the corner amid American investor pressure

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

  • Press release: Digging in to Help Reforest the Minnesota Million: Enbridge supports carbon offset program by seeding ambitious state-wide tree planting initiative

OPINION

  • The Hill: Trillion-dollar question: How do we finance climate solutions?

PIPELINE NEWS

KELO: CO2 pipeline sponsor seeks SD delay
Bob Mercer, 5/10/22

“The Iowa company that hopes to run a carbon-dioxide pipeline through eastern and central South Dakota to a site in North Dakota now wants regulators to slow down,” KELO reports. “SCS Carbon Transport has asked the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission to extend the deadline for deciding whether to grant a permit. State law gives the commission one year to reach a decision unless the project sponsor requests an extension. SCS filed its original application on February 7, 2022. The company now wants the commission to take more time. The company’s latest proposal calls for the commission to hold a public hearing after the 2023 legislative session. Those proposed hearing dates would be March 28 through April 5, 2023. The company also now says it plans to file an updated application and route, along with supporting testimony, on October 13… “The company on Tuesday filed a letter explaining several additional re-routes… “The commission on Tuesday meanwhile allowed more than 50 additional people, businesses and organizations to formally intervene. The intervenors now number approximately 400.”

KPVI: Hundreds more sign up to speak out about proposed carbon dioxide pipeline
Merrilee Gasser, 5/10/22

“The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission approved more applications for party status Tuesday concerning a proposed carbon dioxide transmission pipeline project that would span about 2,000 miles,” KPVI reports. “The commission has received hundreds of requests for party status from individuals, property owners, farmers, companies, municipalities, and at least one school district. Party status grants those who have demonstrated a vested interest the ability to have more of a say in the proceedings… “Some landowners wrote in their applications their objections to having the pipeline cross through their property. Others expressed concern over the pipeline possibly devaluing their land. Valley Springs Township said it was worried about more than just the potential damage that could be done to roads and land. “We are also very concerned about the use of eminent domain for private gain,” the Valley Springs Township wrote… “Safety concerns were also cited in multiple applications. “The proposed location of the pipeline poses potential grave economic and human health risk should there be a disruption/breach in this high-pressure CO2 pipeline,” wrote Frank Alvine with Wild Water West. “The potential damages to human lives, the environment along with economic loss mandates the pipeline not be constructed where it is currently proposed.” Several water systems, including Big Sioux Community Water System, Inc., Kingbrook Rural Water System Inc. and WEB Water Development Association Inc., among others, said they wanted party status in order to closely monitor and protect their water systems. Dan Prunty with Prunty Farms Family Limited Partnership said his concerns were for farmers’ livelihoods like himself and how the project could impact operations now and in the future. “We’ve been through this process when Dakota Access came through several years ago,” said Prunty. “That company used scare tactics, threatened our neighbors, lied directly to us, and forced the project for their own profits and agenda. We are not against progress. However, we are against private companies that take advantage of the State of SD, our PUC and family-owned farms to turn a profit.”

Press release: Navigator CO2, Big River Resources, and Big River United Energy Execute Letter of Intent for the Capture, Transportation, Storage, and Value Optimization of up to 1,000,000 Metric Tons of CO2 per year, for Twenty (20) Years
5/10/22

“Navigator CO2 Ventures LLC (“Navigator”) announced today a long-term agreement with Big River Resources, LLC and Big River United Energy, LLC (“Big River”) to provide turnkey carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) services on Navigator’s Heartland Greenway system, to capture, transport and utilize or permanently store CO2 from three Big River ethanol biorefineries located in West Burlington, IA; Dyersville, IA; and Galva, IL. The letter of intent signed by both companies outlines the key terms for Navigator to provide capture-to-end use CCUS services, including realization of environmental attributes related to permanent removal of CO2 from the atmosphere and finding key value optimization opportunities for captured CO2, for an initial term of twenty (20) years and an annual volume of 1,000,000 metric tons of CO2, which is equivalent to offsetting the carbon emissions of 215,469 vehicles driven annually. Start of operations is expected at the beginning of 2025… “Once fully expanded, the Heartland Greenway will be able to capture and sequester 15 million metric tons of CO2 annually, which, according to EPA estimates, is equivalent to eliminating the annual carbon footprint of the Des Moines metro area three times over.”

Reuters: Alberta court rules Canada’s environmental impact law is unconstitutional
Nia Williams, 5/10/22

“Alberta’s highest court ruled on Tuesday that a Canadian law assessing how major infrastructure projects like pipelines impact the environment is unconstitutional because it interferes with the power of the provinces,” Reuters reports. “The Alberta Court of Appeal said the Impact Assessment Act (IAA), passed in 2019, was a “classic example of legislative creep” and intrudes on provincial jurisdiction. The decision is a win for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and his United Conservative Party government, which brought the legal challenge against the act. However, the federal government plans to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court of Canada. “Our view is the legislation is constitutional and we will be appealing,” Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson told reporters. Kristen van de Biezenbos, associate professor of law at the University of Calgary, told Reuters she expected the Supreme Court to reverse the Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision, much like it upheld the legality of the federal carbon-pricing act last year… “Kenney, who has long argued that Alberta is treated unfairly by Ottawa, welcomed the court decision on Twitter. “An historic victory, and central part of our strategy to fight for a fair deal!” he wrote.

Law360: FERC’s Phillips Says Pipeline Policy Can’t Shirk Climate Effect
Keith Goldberg, 5/10/22

“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s newest commissioner said in an interview Tuesday that scientifically backed reviews of climate change impacts must remain part of any revision to the agency’s pipeline approval policies,” Law360 reports. “Speaking exclusively to Law360 after a speech at the Energy Bar Association’s annual meeting and conference, Democratic Commissioner Willie Phillips said he laid out his views on FERC’s climate obligations in a joint concurring statement he issued with Republican Commissioner Mark Christie in March on FERC’s approval of a trio of gas projects…”

Reuters: U.S. oil pipeline operators gear up for higher shale output
Arathy Somasekhar, 5/11/22

“The volume of crude oil flowing on pipelines from the top U.S. shale field to export hubs on the U.S. Gulf Coast could surge to pre-pandemic levels by October, analysts said, signaling the end of desperate days for some Texas oil pipeline operators,” Reuters reports. “The pandemic doused a shale-oil pipeline construction boom that had added 2.5 million barrels per day export capacity from West Texas to hubs on the U.S. Gulf Coast. As oil prices collapsed in early 2020, that overcapacity led pipeline companies to provide cut-rate deals and sweetened terms. Oil production in the Permian basin of West Texas and New Mexico is climbing toward a predicted 5.7 million bpd next year with U.S. crude trading around $100 a barrel. That would still be below the capacity available on pipelines of about 6.6 million bpd, energy research firm East Daley Capital told Reuters… “Magellan Midstream Partners LP (MMP.N), which operates the Longhorn oil pipeline and has stakes in several other running to the coast, told investors that given rising Permian oil output it may revisit its plans to convert its Permian to Gulf Coast oil pipeline to move natural gas or products. Utilization of pipelines from the Permian to the Gulf Coast is set to rise to the pre-pandemic level of about 77% by October this year, and climb to 80% by the end of the year, estimates energy data provider East Daley Capital… “I think this is a great story or a great position to be in as a midstream operator, in that they’re not facing as much risk like a year or two ago, when the situation was pretty dire,” AJ O’Donnell, a director at East Daley Capital, told Reuters.

National Post: Police investigating if anti-pipeline anarchists torched cars of RBC executive who was an ex-Tory minister
Christopher Nardi, 5/10/22

“Montreal police are investigating if anti-pipeline anarchists are behind a fire that destroyed two luxury vehicles at the home of former Conservative Minister and current RBC executive Michael Fortier,” the National Post reports. “The incident is just the latest of a rash of attacks against Royal Bank of Canada and its executives’ properties over the last few months by anarchists opposed to the organization’s funding of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline in British Columbia. They claim to be acting in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders, who oppose the project. Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) confirmed they were investigating how a Jaguar and a Land Rover caught fire during the night last Wednesday. On Tuesday, police spokesperson Gabriella Youakim said police sent both vehicles to a specialized garage for analysis to determine if they were destroyed by arson. She also confirmed that police were analyzing both surveillance footage from the property as well as at least one video she said was circulating online involving the incident… “But the project has received strong opposition from both environmental groups and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs. The latter recently travelled to Toronto to express their opposition to RBC’s financing of the project during the bank’s latest annual shareholder meeting… “In April, anti-Coastal GasLink activists proudly announced that they had “a good time vandalizing” the home of RBC Quebec President Nadine Renaud-Tinker using a paint-filled fire extinguisher, according to another post on MLT Counter-info. The same month, a group of Montreal anarchists shared a video of them sneaking into downtown RBC offices and spray painting anti-pipeline messages and putting stickers on the walls. The video also shows them unfurling a banner that reads, “RBC divest from CGL.”

Bucks County Courier Times: Sunoco plans to replace pipeline under Delaware River near Washington Crossing. Here’s why residents are worried
Damon C. Williams, 5/10/22

“Kathy Vosgang is coming to terms with the plan to repair the natural gas pipeline that runs close to her Upper Makefield home, crossing under the Delaware River into New Jersey,” the Bucks County Courier Times reports. “But, she’s not happy about it and concerns remain with Sunoco Pipeline L.P.’s proposal that is under review by the township zoning board. Its members could render a decision as soon as their May 24 meeting or wait till next month. “I guess it’s better they fix it than we all blow up from a damaged pipe,” Vosgang told the Times. “We have no control. It is what it is.” The 14-Inch Twin Oaks to Newark Jacobs Creek Pipeline Relocation proposal calls for a section of the pipeline, which runs through Upper Makefield in Bucks, and Hopewell and Ewing in New Jersey, to be repaired and relocated several dozen feet from its current location… “While a gas explosion would be a worst gas scenario, Vosgang sees a clear and present danger in the impact the project will have on her home and immediate neighborhood… “Vosgang told the Times she fears flooding from the creeks on her side of the river. Two creeks wind their way through her neighborhood… “Although Vosgang has come to realize the repair is necessary, she says her concerns related to the bigger issues of water disturbance, traffic and noise still haven’t been alleviated. “I understand progress and stuff, but this just feels inevitable as a little person,” Vosgang told the Times. “I don’t want to stop progress, but I just think these issues need to be addressed.”

Press release: Inter Pipeline Assessing Blue Ammonia & Blue Methanol Projects
5/11/22

“Inter Pipeline Ltd. is pleased to announce it is partnering with ITOCHU Corporation and PETRONAS Energy Canada Ltd. to evaluate the development of world-scale integrated blue ammonia and blue methanol production facilities. If sanctioned, this project would represent an exciting opportunity for Canada to play a key role in global efforts to establish a low-carbon economy through the production of thousands of metric tonnes per day of blue ammonia and blue methanol. Blue ammonia is an efficient method of transporting hydrogen, a much sought-after energy source that contains no carbon. Blue methanol serves as a versatile building block for countless everyday products, including adhesives and construction materials and is being evaluated for use as a low-carbon fuel for industries such as shipping. The feasibility study for this project includes the evaluation of plans to minimize emissions through integration of the facilities, and to permanently sequester CO2 emitted during operations in underground storage. Economic and certain access to adequate pore space for carbon emissions from this project is an essential part of the feasibility planning… “One of the target markets for blue ammonia is Japan, which has set a target to reach net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. As part of that plan, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) announced that ammonia and hydrogen will play key roles in meeting its national clean energy targets in part by replacing coal as fuel in thermal power generation.”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

E&E News: Biden administration urges Supreme Court to reject social cost of carbon challenge
Alex Guillén, 5/9/22

“The Biden administration on Monday urged the Supreme Court to avoid a legal dispute over the social cost of carbon and effectively keep in place the metric it uses as part of its cost-benefit calculation in federal regulations,” E&E News reports. “Background: Louisiana and other Republican-controlled states are challenging President Joe Biden’s interim social cost figure issued last year as well as ongoing work to overhaul and update the metric. A district court judge blocked it with a surprise injunction in February, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit restored it a month later after concluding the states lacked standing to challenge the social cost directly. The states are now asking the Supreme Court to get involved. Biden’s brief: Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar argued in a 41-page brief that the 5th Circuit got it right in ruling that the states lack standing and their lawsuit is premature.”

The Advocate: Federal agency approves extension for Lake Charles LNG project opposed by environmental groups
ROBERT STEWART, 5/10/22

“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a construction timeline extension for a Lake Charles area expansion project that was opposed by a trio of environmental advocacy groups,” The Advocate reports. “Lake Charles LNG — an LNG import facility that is being converted to an export terminal by its owner, Dallas-based Energy Transfer LP, now has until the end of 2028 to complete the expansion. The scheduled work includes building facilities to liquefy natural gas and export it, as well as modify the pipelines that feed natural gas to the complex… “Sierra Club, Healthy Gulf and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade had protested the extension. In a February FERC filing, the organizations argued the project was not commercially viable anymore because market conditions were no longer favorable for LNG. Their argument was made shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine, which has resulted in economic ripple effects including increased calls for U.S. LNG production to offset European dependence on Russian natural gas. The environmental agencies also argued that, since the project was originally approved in 2019, “new environmental information has come to light that, in conjunction with LNG market changes, demonstrate the project will cause unnecessary disruptions to the environment.” But in its latest ruling, FERC said the project’s environmental findings are still valid and that that Lakes Charles LNG was changing “the timing, not the nature” of the project. FERC said demand is still there for LNG and the global LNG market has rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

E&E News: Why Biden isn’t preaching energy conservation
Adam Aton, 5/11/22

“President Joe Biden says he’s not urging Americans to use less energy in response to soaring gas prices. Rather, Biden insisted yesterday that his top priority is cutting prices — an approach designed to help boost Democratic prospects ahead of a tough midterm campaign,” E&E News reports. “In the face of double-digit inflation, Biden bragged that his first year in office saw “record levels” of drilling that surpassed former President Donald Trump’s first year. And he said his administration has taken steps to increase oil supplies through Strategic Petroleum Reserve releases. But the White House isn’t preaching energy conservation, Biden said, because most Americans cannot easily adjust how much energy they use. “Well, if you ever raised a family like mine, you don’t have to tell them. They’re doing everything in their power to figure out how not to have to show up at the gas pump,” Biden said after a speech in which he argued he has a better plan to cut inflation than Republicans. Biden was responding to a question about encouraging people to use mass transit instead of driving. In most of the country, he said, riding buses or trains simply isn’t feasible. “The truth is they don’t have that many options, in terms of transportation, around the country right now,” he said. 

Politico: NO EXCEPTIONS FOR CRYPTO
Matthew Choi, 5/10/22

“Some of the country’s biggest environmental groups are calling on the Biden administration to subject cryptomining to environmental regulations including the Clean Air Act to rein in the sector’s emissions,” Politico reports. “Cryptomining requires large amounts of consistent electricity, which disincentivizes miners from using renewables and pushes them toward fossil fuel generation. The amount of electricity used for Bitcoin mining is greater than the electricity consumed by all of Sweden, according to Cambridge University estimates. The groups, which include the League of Conservation Voters, Earthjustice and Sierra Club, urged EPA to implement strict reviews on air and water permits for mining operations and regulations on the sector’s high e-waste, which rivals the e-waste of the entire Netherlands. They also call on the Energy Department to set energy efficiency standards for mining operations.”

STATE UPDATES

Associated Press: California lays out ambitious climate goals, cutting use of oil and gas by 91% by 2045
5/10/22

“New homes built in California starting in 2026 need to be powered by all-electric furnaces, stoves and other appliances if California is to meet its ambitious climate change goals over the next two decades, according to a state pollution-reduction plan released Tuesday,” the Associated Press reports. “The roadmap by the California Air Resources Board sets the state on a path to achieve “carbon neutrality” by 2045, meaning as much carbon is removed from the air as is emitted. The state’s timeline is among the most ambitious in the nation; Hawaii has a similar goal and some other states have a 2050 deadline. California could reach its goals through a drastic transition away from fossil fuels that power cars, trucks, planes, ships, homes, businesses and other sectors of the economy. The board staff recommends the state cut the use of oil and gas by 91% by 2045 and use technology to capture and store carbon emissions from remaining sources… “But neither environmental justice advocates nor the oil industry were happy. Environmental groups blasted the plan for its reliance on carbon capture technologies, which they say allows oil refineries, cement plants and other industries to continue polluting in disadvantaged neighborhoods. They also pointed to a little-noted element of the plan that calls for the expansion of natural gas capacity as a failure by the air board. “At a time when we need to be planning for a phaseout of fossil fuels, our top air regulators are instead planning for a massive expansion of dirty gas-fired power plants,” Ari Eisenstadt, campaign manager for Regenerate California, told AP. 

CPR: Colorado’s oil and gas industry withdraws proposed 2022 ballot initiatives
Sam Brasch, 5/9/22

“Colorado’s ballot truce over oil and gas issues remains intact for this election season. Don’t expect it to last forever, though,” CPR reports. “Sponsors withdrew a set of pro-industry initiatives proposed for the November ballot last month. One set of possible ballot measures would have limited the ability of local governments to restrict natural gas access. Another proposal would have codified recent rules increasing the amount oil and gas companies must insure to cover well cleanup, limiting the possibility of even more expensive bonds and tougher regulations in the future. The main group exploring the measures was Protect Colorado, a nonprofit operating as the political arm of the state’s fossil fuel industry. Spokesperson Laurie Cipriano said the organization decided those efforts weren’t necessary after environmental groups and other oil and gas opponents did not propose their own ballot efforts. “Since none of the rumored anti-industry ballot measures aimed at limiting choice for reliable and affordable natural gas materialized, the measures explored by Protect Colorado were not needed at this time,” Cipriano told CPR. The move guarantees Colorado voters won’t see another bruising battle over oil and gas this November. The latest statewide ballot brawl played out in 2018 over a plan to push drilling operations farther from homes and waterways. Industry groups spent more than $40 million to oppose the initiative, which voters rejected by more than 10 points.”

Daily Herald: Infrastructure funding to include pipeline repairs in Utah
Ashtyn Asay, 5/10/22

“The Department of the Interior announced Monday that it will invest $240.4 million for infrastructure repairs for the 2022 fiscal year, including pipeline repairs in Utah,” the Daily Herald reports. “This investment is a part of President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and is facilitated through the Bureau of Reclamation. “President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is making a historic investment in drought resilience and water infrastructure,” Secretary Deb Haaland said in a press release. “As western communities face growing challenges accessing water in the wake of record drought, these investments in our aging water infrastructure will safeguard community water supplies and revitalize water delivery systems.” Other funded projects include pipeline replacements, canal lining repairs and dam spillways, all found in the major river basins and regions where the Bureau of Reclamation operates. Forty-six total projects will be funded in states like Arizona, California, Nevada, Wyoming, Nebraska and Montana… “These water systems work because of this federal to non-federal partnership, and this funding will help to complete necessary extraordinary maintenance keeping projects viable and partnerships strong,” David Palumbo, acting Bureau of Reclamation commissioner, told the Herald.

EXTRACTION

Guardian: Avoid using gas as ‘transition’ fuel in move to clean energy, study urges
Fiona Harvey, 5/9/22

“Countries should move from coal to renewable energy without shifting to gas as a “transition” fuel to save money, as high gas prices and market volatility have made the fossil fuel an expensive option, analysis has found,” the Guardian reports. “Natural gas has long been touted as a “transition” fuel for economies dependent on coal for their power needs, as it has lower carbon dioxide emissions than coal but requires similar centralised infrastructure, and gas-fired power stations take only a couple of years to build. Earlier this year, before Russia invaded Ukraine, the European Commission angered green campaigners by including gas as a “bridge” to clean energy in its guidebook for green investment. High prices for gas, and the plummeting cost of renewable energies such as wind and solar power, have reversed that logic, according to analysis from TransitionZero. The cost of switching from coal to renewable energy has plunged by 99% since 2010, according to its report published on Tuesday. The findings call into question the economic viability of the scores of gas and coal-fired power plants that are planned or under construction around the world… “Matt Gray, the co-founder of TransitionZero, told the Guardian it no longer made sense to think of gas as a transition fuel, and countries should opt for renewables in place of coal. “Despite some regional variation, our analysis shows a clear deflationary trend in the cost of switching from coal to clean electricity. Independent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this trend will accelerate, presenting governments with an economic opportunity to protect electricity consumers from continued fossil fuel volatility.”

GlobalNews.ca: Calgary company looks to bring carbon capture hub to Pincher Creek (VIDEO)
5/10/22

“A Calgary energy company is seeking a permit from the province to evaluate a potential carbon capture sequestration hub near Pincher Creek. Danica Ferris has more on the proposal, which suggests the project could fill a need for cabon capture, utilization and storage in southern Alberta and the northwest United States,” GlobalNews.ca reports.

CLIMATE FINANCE

New York Times: Oil Giants Sell Dirty Wells to Buyers With Looser Climate Goals, Study Finds
Hiroko Tabuchi, 5/10/22

“When Royal Dutch Shell sold off its stake in the Umuechem oil field in Nigeria last year, it was, on paper, a step forward for the company’s climate ambitions: Shell could clean up its holdings, raise money to invest in cleaner technologies, and move toward its goal of net zero emissions by 2050,” the New York Times reports. “As soon as Shell left, however, the oil field underwent a change so significant it was detected from space: a surge in flaring, or the wasteful burning of excess gas in towering columns of smoke and fire. Flaring emits planet-warming greenhouse gases, as well as soot, into the atmosphere. Around the world, many of the largest energy companies are expected to sell off more than $100 billion of oil fields and other polluting assets in an effort to cut their emissions and make progress toward their corporate climate goals. However, they frequently sell to buyers that disclose little about their operations, have made few or no pledges to combat climate change, and are committed to ramping up fossil fuel production. New research to be released Tuesday showed that, of 3,000 oil and gas deals made between 2017 and 2021, more than twice as many involved assets moving from operators with net-zero commitments to those that didn’t, than the reverse. That is raising concerns that the assets will continue to pollute, perhaps even at a greater rate, but away from the public eye. “You can move your assets to another company, and move the emissions off your own books, but that doesn’t equal any positive impact on the planet if it’s done without any safeguards in place,” Andrew Baxter, who heads the energy transition team at the Environmental Defense Fund, which performed the analysis, told the Times.

E&E News: Cash gushes for Big Oil. But climate investments plateau
Benjamin Storrow, 5/11/22

“The oil giants are practically printing money,” E&E News reports. “With crude prices soaring, companies reported earning dizzying profits during the first three months of the year. Not even costly write-downs for those with business ventures in Russia were enough to dent their balance sheets. The gusher of cash comes at a time of transition for the industry. European companies like BP PLC, Equinor ASA, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and TotalEnergies SE have all committed to achieving net-zero emissions by midcentury, and they have started investing in low-carbon initiatives focused on renewables, hydrogen and electric vehicle charging. Their American counterparts have largely declined to follow suit. Analysts told E&E first-quarter earnings showed that the oil industry’s transformation to clean energy will be slow, if it happens at all, despite their soaring profits. Most companies refrained from sanctioning a wave of new oil and gas drilling projects, but they also held back from pumping more money into their emerging low-carbon businesses. Instead, they elected to plow profits back to shareholders in the form of share buybacks and higher dividends. Some analysts argue that high oil prices can benefit the transition by underwriting green investments, while buybacks can placate restive shareholders who are worried about abandoning hydrocarbons. But others are skeptical, noting that oil giants’ green spending has risen slowly even as their profits have soared. “I have yet to see any quarter where higher profitability flows through to higher capital expenditures on energy alternatives,” Charlie Donovan, a finance professor at the University of Washington and a member of the team that helped launch BP’s initial renewable energy business in 2005, told E&E. 

Wall Street Journal: Activist Investor Third Point Continues Push for Shell to Restructure
Jenny Strasburg, 5/9/22

“Activist hedge fund Third Point LLC told clients it has increased its stake in Shell and is still pushing the oil giant to restructure, six months after calling for a breakup of the company,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “Daniel Loeb’s New York-based hedge fund took a $750 million stake in Shell last year as of the third quarter, and called on it to separate into multiple companies—one focused on legacy businesses such as fossil-fuel refining and another on renewables and liquefied natural gas…”

CBC: Suncor looks to turn the corner amid American investor pressure
Kyle Bakx, 5/11/22

“Amid investor discontent, Suncor Energy announced its latest financial results and the numbers were a blockbuster as profits tripled to nearly $3-billion for the first quarter of this year,” CBC reports. “Still, investor response was lukewarm as the company’s stock lost value on Tuesday. Rosy financial results for the first quarter of the year just aren’t enough to turn the murky sentiment around the oilsands giant and Petro-Canada gas station owner, following poor operational performance, a series of workplace fatalities and a stock price that has under-performed some other Calgary-based oil majors. The sharp rise in profits could show that Suncor is beginning to turn the corner or it could represent a brief moment of relief from some investor calls for a major shake-up of the company. Last month, U.S.-based Elliott Investment Management expressed frustration in Suncor for what it called a recent decline in performance including a recent string of operational difficulties — due to equipment failure and cold weather — as well as worker fatalities. Elliott’s letter also pointed out the company’s share price has lagged that of its closest oilsands peer, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., by 137 per cent over the last three years. The firm pointed to these factors as it made a case to Suncor to consider an overhaul of the company’s board and management… “Suncor’s stock likely fell, Murphy told CBC, because some investors, including Elliott, may be interested in Suncor selling the Petro-Canada chain of gas stations. At this point, that’s not a consideration for Suncor. “It’s intertwined with our wholesale and industrial business as well,” Little said during a conference call to discuss the company’s first quarter financial results. “(Petro-Canada) is a very strong performer and can go head-to-head with other retail businesses … We think we have the best downstream business in North America, and we think it’s important that it stays together,” he said.

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

Press release: Digging in to Help Reforest the Minnesota Million: Enbridge supports carbon offset program by seeding ambitious state-wide tree planting initiative
5/10/22

“How many millions of trees can be planted in a million acres? The state of Minnesota is going to find out. A group of partners, including non-profits and government organizations, has set a goal to reforest one million acres by 2040. Projections indicate the campaign – called the Minnesota Million – will reduce the state’s yearly carbon emissions by nearly 20%… “Through the reforestation project, the MARC&D enrolls private landowners to reforest portions of their land and then protect it for decades through conservation easements. Credits are issued for the reforestation efforts—credits which are then purchased by corporations and entities looking to offset future greenhouse gas or carbon emissions. Trees get planted—doing good for the state and planet—and provide an economic return for landowners… “And as part of our commitment to achieve net-zero GHG emissions by 2050, Enbridge has stepped up to the plate as the first company to join MARC&D’s project. Enbridge has invested $100,000 toward establishing this reforestation program, which will generate credits and offset future emissions. In addition to our own efforts to reduce emissions from our operations, we’re proud to support this nature-based solution that advances sustainability and helps realize a lower-carbon future.”

OPINION

The Hill: Trillion-dollar question: How do we finance climate solutions?
Andreas Karelas is the author of “Climate Courage: How Tackling Climate Change Can Build Community, Transform the Economy, and Bridge the Political Divide in America.” He is also the founder and executive director of RE-volv, a nonprofit climate justice organization that helps fellow nonprofits across the country go solar, 5/10/22

“According to a recent analysis by Goldman Sachs, we need to invest another $2.8 trillion per year in climate solutions in order to reach the world’s net-zero emissions goals,” Andreas Karelas writes for The Hill. “So, what are the mechanisms to shift trillions of dollars into new climate investments? Goldman’s suggestions: “A global carbon price, continued focus on sustainability in the capital markets and improved emissions disclosures from consumer companies.” The first item on Goldman’s list: Putting a price on carbon. This idea has overwhelming support from economists across the political spectrum, as well as nearly three in four Americans, according to the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. If you set a price on carbon that increases over time and redistribute those funds to offset the higher prices on energy and carbon-intensive goods, you create an economy-wide incentive for lower-carbon technology. So, what’s holding us back? Millions of dollars from the fossil fuel industry used to lobby decision-makers… “On the bright side, the bipartisan infrastructure bill included $80 billion of clean energy and climate investments… “The shining star when it comes to government action is at the state, city and local levels. So far, 23 states have participated in the design or implementation of greenhouse gas (GHG) cap and trade programs. Meanwhile, 14 green banks, with more on the way, are lending capital to get clean energy and climate solution projects built on the ground, like the New York, Connecticut, Washington, D.C. and Montgomery County, Md. green banks… “To complement fossil fuel divestment, we’re also seeing innovations that allow everyday citizens to invest in climate solutions, including climate-friendly banks like Atmos, online climate investment platforms like Carbon Collective, as well as crowd-investment platforms democratizing finance for climate solutions like Raise Green. These climate finance strategies, despite their limitations, are beginning to move the needle. If we push hard in each of these areas, we can continue to influence markets, which will put further pressure on our government to act, and hopefully give us the momentum we need to rapidly decarbonize the economy in the fleeting time we have left.”

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