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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 5/12/22

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips May 12, 2022

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PIPELINE NEWS

  • Bloomberg: Trudeau’s Oil Pipeline Gets Government-Backed $7.7 Billion Loan

  • National Observer: What we do and don’t know about Chrystia Freeland’s Trans Mountain claims

  • Lethbridge News Now: UN committee criticizes Canada over handling of Indigenous pipeline opposition

  • Roanoke Times: Parent company of Roanoke Gas records $29.6 million impairment on pipeline

  • West Central Tribune: Environmental group urges west central Minnesota counties to take hard look at proposed carbon pipeline

  • Bloomberg: A 67-Foot Pipeline Rupture in Texas Triggered Massive Methane Plume

  • KTAL: Gas pipeline explosion prompts evacuations, road closures in Panola Co.

  • Law360: Industry Backs Enbridge Bid To Trim Wis. Tribe’s Line 5 Suit

  • Daily Kos: Enbridge still desperate to endanger Indigenous communities with Line 5 reroute proposal

  • WLUC: National Wildlife Federation fights Line 5 one year after Michigan orders shut down

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • Washington Post: Biden pulls 3 offshore oil lease sales, curbing new drilling this year

  • E&E News: White House issues ‘action plan’ to speed up energy reviews

EXTRACTION

  • Axios: Chevron invests $150M into Carbon Clean

  • CBC: Imperial Oil yet to clean property in Fort Simpson after 2021 floods

CLIMATE FINANCE

  • E&E News: SEC gets aggressive in demanding climate data

  • Global Trade Review: Governments face US$340bn investor backlash over fossil fuel restrictions

OPINION

  • Financial Post: Donna Kennedy-Glans: Should Suncor bet the farm on the oilsands?

  • Northern News: Rosenberg: Alberta’s economic turnaround is the real deal, and it’s about more than just energy

  • The Hill: How could the US incentivize investors to decarbonize the economy?

  • The Hill: From climate to plastics, Big Oil faces a reckoning

PIPELINE NEWS

Bloomberg: Trudeau’s Oil Pipeline Gets Government-Backed $7.7 Billion Loan
Brian Platt, 5/11/22

“The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project has secured up to C$10 billion ($7.7 billion) in private-sector financing, but it comes with a loan guarantee provided by the Canadian government,” Bloomberg reports. “The financing was announced after multiple news organizations, including Bloomberg News, inquired about public disclosures appearing to show the government committing billions of dollars to the pipeline project despite Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s edict two months ago that no more public money be spent on it… “They also showed the government put forward C$1.75 billion in “working capital support” to Trans Mountain Pipeline LP, the entity building an expansion that will more than double the capacity of the oil pipeline between Alberta and British Columbia. However, the finance department said Wednesday those funds were bridge financing approved in December, and meant to tide Trans Mountain over until the private-sector financing was arranged. That money has now been repaid in full with interest, the government said. State ownership of the pipeline has put Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in an awkward position as he promises to deliver on ambitious climate-change goals, including imposing a 42% emissions cut on the oil and gas sector by 2030… “In February, as Trans Mountain announced that the cost to build the expansion had jumped 70% to C$21.4 billion, Freeland told reporters that the government would not be putting any more public funds into the project. “There will be no additional public money invested in TMC,” Freeland said the time, referring to the company. “TMC will secure necessary funding to complete the project through third-party financing, either in the public debt markets or with financial institutions.” In Wednesday’s statement, the finance department said the loan guarantee “does not reflect any new public spending,” and is “a common practice which puts in place an insurance policy for the institutions that have invested in the project.”

National Observer: What we do and don’t know about Chrystia Freeland’s Trans Mountain claims
By Natasha Bulowski & John Woodside, 5/12/22

“Finance Canada has helped Trans Mountain secure $10 billion in new financing to complete construction of the controversial pipeline by promising investors that if the Crown corporation can’t pay back the loans, the public will,” the National Observer reports. “The federal loan guarantee decision was made on April 29, the same day a United Nations human rights committee urged Canada to stop construction of the pipeline over alleged human rights violations. By guaranteeing the Crown corporation’s debt, Finance Canada says it was able to help find unnamed third-party financiers for the project. But ultimately, the decision puts even more public dollars on the line because if Trans Mountain (TMX) defaults on its payments, Ottawa will assume the debt. Loan guarantees are a way governments can make risky projects attractive to private investors by promising that if things go sideways, the public will shoulder the costs. It should also help lower the cost of borrowing for Trans Mountain because a federal debt guarantee leverages Canada’s strong credit rating… “The federal government may say it’s not spending any more cash directly, but it is still asking taxpayers to take on the risk, Tom Sanzillo, director of financial analysis with the Institute for Energy Economic and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), told the Observer. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s previous assertion that Canada will invest no more public money in TMX is “grossly misleading,” he said. Taxpayers may not pay now, but they will if Trans Mountain defaults on the loan, Sanzillo told the Observer… “Freeland insists the project is still commercially viable, but her department refuses to cough up the evidence to prove it.” “…Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux told Canada’s National Observer the federal government is “very unlikely” to recoup its initial $4.5-billion investment, and it will likely mean losses for Canadian taxpayers when the government eventually sells the pipeline.”

Lethbridge News Now: UN committee criticizes Canada over handling of Indigenous pipeline opposition
5/11/22

“A United Nations human rights committee focused on combating racism has reiterated its call for Canada to stop construction of two pipelines until it obtains consent from affected Indigenous communities in British Columbia,” Lethbridge News Now reports. “The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination says it has received information about the policing of Wet’suwet’en and Secwepemc people opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline being built in northern B.C. and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from Alberta to B.C.’s coast. A letter from committee chair Verene Shepherd says the information alleges that surveillance and use of force have escalated against those opposed to the pipelines in order to intimidate and push them off their traditional lands. The April 29 letter addressed to Leslie Norton, Canada’s representative to the UN in Geneva, points to a 2019 decision by the committee calling on Canada to “immediately cease forced evictions” of Wet’suwet’en and Secwepemc protesters by police and halt construction on the two pipelines. The B.C. and federal governments and the RCMP had yet to respond to requests for comment on the concerns outlined by the UN committee. Indigenous leaders responded to the committee’s letter at an online news conference on Wednesday, saying their nations have never signed treaties and their territories have never been ceded to the Canadian government… “Kanahus Manual with the Tiny House Warriors, a group opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline, told the news conference that the federal government created the system of First Nation reserves and band councils don’t hold the rights to 180,000 square kilometres of unceded Secwepemc territory.”

Roanoke Times: Parent company of Roanoke Gas records $29.6 million impairment on pipeline
Laurence Hammack, 5/11/22

“Construction of the often-delayed and increasingly expensive Mountain Valley Pipeline has left its mark on the balance sheet of the corporate parent of Roanoke Gas Co.,” the Roanoke Times reports. “In a conference call Wednesday to discuss second-quarter earnings, RGC Resources reported an impairment charge of about $29.6 million related to the investment by one of the company’s subsidiaries, RGC Midstream, in the natural gas pipeline… “The $29.6 million impairment is essentially a write-down of the value of the company’s role in Mountain Valley, which has been hampered by legal challenges from environmental groups. Since work on the pipeline began in 2018, the cost has nearly doubled and completion has been delayed by four years. RGC Resources President and CEO Paul Nester said the after-tax impairment loss reduces the pipeline’s $66 million value to the company by about 60%. Other partners in the project have recorded larger impairments — commensurate with their more expansive stakes in the 303-mile interstate pipeline — with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, following a series of setbacks that include a federal appeals court’s rejection of two key Mountain Valley permits earlier this year… “Pipeline opponents — who cite the environmental damage caused by construction as well as the finished project’s contribution to climate change — say its investors should abandon a failing venture. But Nester said Wednesday that RGC continues to support a pipeline that is nearly completed. He said that an additional source of fuel is needed for the Roanoke region and that Mountain Valley would relieve a shortage caused by geopolitical events and help bring prices down.”

West Central Tribune: Environmental group urges west central Minnesota counties to take hard look at proposed carbon pipeline
Tom Cherveny, 5/11/22

“Area counties are being urged to take a hard look at the proposed Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline for the possible risks and financial burdens it may bring,” the West Central Tribune reports. “Peg Furshong, operations and director of programs for the Montevideo-based nonprofit Clean Up the River Environment, told the Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that the organization has a number of concerns about the proposed pipeline… “We’ve never had a project like this before in the state. There are a lot of unknowns,” Furshong told the commissioners. The CURE organization — which works in areas that include climate, energy and water — has two chief concerns: What Furshong said was a lack of transparency by company officials, and the risks that a pipeline rupture, spill or leak could create… “Furshong said CURE has been hosting meetings for affected landowners. The easements sought by Summit Carbon Solutions are permanent, and could be sold by the company if the pipeline project does not occur. She said there have been instances where the out-of-state company has attempted to purchase some farmland that has come up for sale at auctions, including one sale in Yellow Medicine County. This had made some landowners disgruntled, she said. Furshong said counties should also be mindful of the costs they could incur in inspecting a pipeline and responding to concerns from landowners and others. Counties in some states have discussed assessing annual “community benefits” fees on the company as compensation for the costs… “Rural communities are front-line communities,” Furshong said. “We want to be sure if this pipeline happens, rural communities aren’t compromised so out-of-state companies can make millions of dollars.” “…Commissioner Gary Johnson questioned CURE’s opposition to the pipeline and noted that without a pipeline, the carbon dioxide would continue to be emitted into the atmosphere. He also noted that hazardous materials — from propane to anhydrous ammonia — are routinely transported today, and that first responder and law enforcement units are trained to respond to emergencies involving them.”

Bloomberg: A 67-Foot Pipeline Rupture in Texas Triggered Massive Methane Plume
Aaron Clark and Naureen S Malik, 5/11/22

“A pipeline rupture longer than a bowling lane was responsible for a massive release of the potent greenhouse gas methane over Texas in March, spewing the equivalent of annual emissions from 16,000 American cars into the atmosphere,” Bloomberg reports. “Photos of the rupture show a nearly 67-foot (20-meter) long tear along the 16-inch diameter Big Cowboy natural gas pipeline excavated from a dirt road in a remote corner of Texas. The images were obtained through a public information request to the Railroad Commission of Texas, the regulator that oversees oil and gas production in the state. The pipeline operator, a unit of Energy Transfer LP, has said in regulatory filings that the rupture resulted in a release of 52.15 million cubic feet of gas. Big Cowboy is part of a vast web of gathering lines in the US that have operated outside the purview of federal authorities because historically they were smaller diameter, low pressure lines deemed less of a risk than the transmission conduits that cross state boundaries. But the massive gas release in March underscores how the failure of even small parts of the US gas network can have profound consequences for the climate. The pipeline likely experienced a “longitudinal seam rupture failure” based on the photos, although a scientific metallurgical forensic analysis is needed to confirm that assessment, Richard Kuprewicz, a chemical engineer and president of Accufacts Inc., which specializes in gas and liquid pipeline investigations, told Bloomberg. The only way to reliably avoid that sort of failure is to perform a spike hydrotest, which isn’t mandated for gathering lines under federal requirements, he told Bloomberg.

KTAL: Gas pipeline explosion prompts evacuations, road closures in Panola Co.
Carolyn Roy, 5/11/22

“Residents are back in their homes and roads are back open after a gas pipeline explosion Wednesday morning in Panola County,” KTAL reports. “It happened around 11:30 a.m. along US 59 North in Grand Bluff north of Carthage. There are no reports of any injuries. Deputies reportedly went door-to-door urging residents to evacuate as a precuation until the pipeline company could get on site and confirm the gas pipeline is shut in. The sheriff’s office confirmed just before 2 p.m. that the all-clear was given after authorities were able to confirm it was safe to return.”

Law360: Industry Backs Enbridge Bid To Trim Wis. Tribe’s Line 5 Suit
Morgan Conley, 5/11/22

“Business and energy industry advocates backed Enbridge Energy Co.’s efforts to significantly trim down a suit aiming to shut down the company’s Line 5 pipeline, telling a Wisconsin federal court that closing the pipeline would be disastrous for the economies of the U.S. and Canada. American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, American Petroleum Institute and Association of Oil Pipeline Lines’ Wednesday amicus brief comes one day after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce joined with Wisconsin Manufacturers…”

Daily Kos: Enbridge still desperate to endanger Indigenous communities with Line 5 reroute proposal
April Siese, 5/11/22

“Enbridge isn’t just threatening hundreds of waterways with its proposed rerouting; the company has also been attempting to go after individual tribe members and staff,” Daily Kos reports. “A potential rerouting of 12 miles of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline has Indigenous communities outraged over the havoc the proposed 41-mile section could wreak on the environment. Leaders from nine Indigenous groups—all women—submitted a 22-page letter last month calling on agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers to reject permits for the project, citing Enbridge’s troubling history of violations. The leaders provided concrete examples of how the company has consistently prioritized fossil fuels over the community it claims to serve… “Unfortunately, the polluter has chosen to fight back using tactics that include targeting individual tribal members and staff. As Indian Country Today reported this week, Enbridge demanded that community members be questioned under oath about their opposition to renewing the easement that brought the original 12-mile section through the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa reservation in the first place. Luckily, a judge denied that request. The legal tactics stem from a countersuit brought by Enbridge in 2021 following the tribe’s decision to sue the company in 2019—two years after voting against renewing the easement. Calls to completely eliminate Line 5 have been only growing louder within the community; more than 200 organizations signed the tribal leaders’ letter in a show of incredible support.”

WLUC: National Wildlife Federation fights Line 5 one year after Michigan orders shut down
Vinny La Via, 5/11/22

“Line 5 is back in the spotlight. It has been a year since the state of Michigan ordered Enbridge to stop its operation. Some are fighting to ensure the company does just that,” WLUC reports. ““Enbridge was required to shut down Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac last May due to a revoked easement,” National Wildlife Federation Great Lakes Fresh Water Campaigns Manager Beth Wallace told WLUC. A year later, Enbridge is still operating the oil pipeline. The Canadian company invoked the country’s 1977 pipeline treaty to allow it to continue. “Until or unless there is an emergency, in other words until there’s a spill on Line 5, Enbridge has the right to continue to operate Line 5 because of this treaty,” Wallace told WLUC… “The National Wildlife Federation, however, said it does not think Line 5 is essential. “Long term we need to start thinking about ways that we can go to electrification,” Wallace told WLUC.  “…The NWF told WLUC the best chance of shutting down Line 5 is with federal intervention from the Biden administration.”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

Washington Post: Biden pulls 3 offshore oil lease sales, curbing new drilling this year
Anna Phillips, 5/11/22

“The Interior Department confirmed Wednesday that it will not hold three oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska that had been scheduled to take place, taking millions of acres off the auction block,” the Washington Post reports. “The decision, which comes as U.S. gas prices have reached record highs, effectively ends the possibility of the federal government holding a lease sale in coastal waters this year. The Biden administration is poised to let the nationwide offshore drilling program expire next month without a new plan in place. While President Biden has spoken in recent weeks about the need to supply oil and gas to Europe so those nations can stop importing energy from Russia in light of the ongoing war in Ukraine, the move would mark a victory for climate activists intent on curbing U.S. fossil fuel leasing. Barring unexpected action, the current five-year offshore drilling program will lapse at the end of June. Interior cannot hold any new oil and gas lease sales until it has completed a replacement plan. But though the federal government is legally obligated to prepare one, the administration has not released its proposal — nor have officials said when it might be coming. The program’s looming expiration means the government doesn’t have enough time left to hold the three remaining oil and gas lease sales scheduled under the current plan. Interior spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz cited a lack of interest from oil companies, as well as legal obstacles and a time crunch, as reasons for nixing the planned auctions… “The decision is likely to frustrate, but not surprise, the oil and gas industry. Its trade groups and lobbyists have sought to raise the alarm for months about the leasing program’s June 30 expiration date. A study commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute found that a lapse in the program would cost tens of thousands of jobs and billions in lost state and local revenue… “Conservationists, meanwhile, have argued that the environmental risks posed by offshore drilling outweigh the benefits of future leases. Offshore oil and gas production accounts for a relatively small percentage of the nation’s overall supply, they argue, and the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf crippled the seafood industry, hurt tourism and depleted tax revenue in southeastern states. “Big Oil is using anything they can find to try to extend the life of a dying fossil fuel industry. They are lying when they say they need more leases,” Diane Hoskins, a campaign director with the environmental group Oceana, told the Post. “We cannot drill our way out of high gas prices, and it would take years or decades for any new leases to begin producing.”

E&E News: White House issues ‘action plan’ to speed up energy reviews
Kelsey Brugger, 5/11/22

“The White House this morning announced an “action plan” to speed up energy and other infrastructure construction at a time when renewable developers say uncertainties remain a key barrier to growth,” E&E News reports. “Biden officials revealed a multi-step plan to streamline environmental review for infrastructure development as the federal government looks to implement the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law enacted last fall… “We are going to get more projects built on time and in the right way from the start,” said Brenda Mallory, the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Officials sought in a press briefing yesterday to promote the transition to a clean energy future as well as extensive environmental scrutiny and community input — which they stressed are not mutually exclusive… “The action plan will perhaps raise the profile of the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council, formerly known by its acronym, pronounced FIP-see. It is a tiny agency that was originally created from the 2015 highway bill but did not get up and running until well into the Trump administration. Its purpose is to facilitate faster decisions for covered project proposals, even if that decision is a denial. Environmentalists have scoffed at the notion of quick approvals for major projects like pipelines as well as renewables or hydrogen. But in recent months, bipartisan support for the agency has grown, and tucked into the infrastructure law was a provision to extend the life of the agency indefinitely.”

EXTRACTION

Axios: Chevron invests $150M into Carbon Clean
Megan Hernbroth, 5/12/22

“Carbon Clean, a carbon capture startup for heavy industry, raised $150 million in Series C funding led by Chevron,” Axios reports. “Why it matters: Carbon Clean’s funding round is among the largest for a carbon capture startup serving specific industries, indicating the buzz hasn’t yet worn off. Driving the news: The round included a heavy dose of strategic investors for Carbon Clean in addition to Chevron. New investors were AXA Investment Managers, Samsung Ventures, Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures and TC Energy… “Carbon Capture has units at 40 sites across the country — including a cement plant in Japan and a steel facility in India — and has captured 1.5 million tonnes of carbon to date, Sharma says. The intrigue: Sharma says that Carbon Clean does not touch the carbon credit market and instead leaves the potential revenue generated from its projects to its customers. For large emitters like Chevron, that could translate to billions of dollars in credits back into its bottom line. What’s next: As part of the funding round, Carbon Clean is taking on a carbon capture project with a Chevron coal burning plant in California’s San Joaquin Valley.”

CBC: Imperial Oil yet to clean property in Fort Simpson after 2021 floods
Luke Carroll, 5/11/22

“A year after flood waters in Fort Simpson, N.W.T., rose overtop of Imperial Oil’s property, the company has yet to clean up its destroyed fence. An environmental technician in the N.W.T. worries that the flooding of the site has caused widespread contamination,” the CBC reports. “The fence surrounding Imperial Oil’s property still lays on the ground, a visual reminder of the devastation that took place during the 2021 flood. Fort Simpson’s Mayor Sean Whelly, driving by the damaged property, told CBC it’s strange that one year later, the mess still hasn’t been cleaned up by Imperial Oil, “one of the richest companies in the world.” Imperial Oil is a Canadian petroleum company worth over $33-billion dollars. Dean Holman is an environmental management coordinator with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. He has over 30 years of experience in the field as environmental health and safety technician, including work in the oil sands. He told CBC he “absolutely” believes the flood water running over Imperial Oil’s land resulted in contamination to areas of the island.”

CLIMATE FINANCE

E&E News: SEC gets aggressive in demanding climate data
Avery Ellfeldt, 5/12/22

“Public companies may not have much time to get a handle on the risks posed to their bottom lines by a warmer planet,” E&E News reports. “The Securities and Exchange Commission in March unveiled a landmark proposal that would push the business world to lay bare its exposure to rising temperatures — a controversial process that will take months to unfold. But the agency isn’t waiting for the final rule to zero in on companies’ climate-related disclosures. Since last fall, the SEC has sent multiple rounds of comment letters to more than two dozen businesses asking for additional details — and data — on their climate risk exposures, plans and expenses. Notably, many of the comments — which were sent to companies including Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Phillips 66 Co. and Amazon.com Inc.— didn’t just request additional disclosure. The SEC also asked companies to justify their own claims that certain information doesn’t need to be disclosed because it would be “immaterial” to their investors. The agency appears to have two goals, observers tell E&E. The first is to gather more information about the market’s current climate disclosure practices. The second is to send a signal that companies shouldn’t wait for the agency’s final climate disclosure rule to shore up the information they include in their securities filings.”

Global Trade Review: Governments face US$340bn investor backlash over fossil fuel restrictions
JOHN BASQUILL, 5/11/22

“Countries that block fossil fuel projects as part of their green transition plans could face retaliatory legal action from investors, with potential claims totalling more than US$300bn, researchers have found,” Global Trade Review reports. “Following warnings from the International Energy Agency that an immediate halt to all new fossil fuel projects is required to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, governments are increasingly putting an end to energy-related projects already underway, such as oil or gas pipelines and coal-fired power plants. However, this could result in huge liabilities to investors. A paper published by academics last week says foreign backers of such projects may be able to bring legal claims under international agreements, notably the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) and the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). The paper estimates that under such agreements, countries could be liable to pay out up to US$340bn in damages – greater than the total level of public climate finance pledged globally in 2020 – resulting in a “chilling effect” on climate action… “The paper gives several examples of legal action currently underway. Four pending cases are being brought under Nafta, a trade agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico in effect between 1994 and 2020. Two relate to the Canada-US Keystone XL oil pipeline, and are being brought against the US by TC Energy and the Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission.”

OPINION

Financial Post: Donna Kennedy-Glans: Should Suncor bet the farm on the oilsands?
Donna Kennedy-Glans was Alberta’s associate minister of electricity and renewable energy, 2013-14, 5/12/22

“Suncor Energy is one of the biggest players in the Canadian energy sector. Last year, it produced 743,000 barrels of oil per day, about 15 per cent of Canadian production. It has squared off against climate-change crusaders and tar sands opponents for decades but now faces an entirely different foe, an activist investor who wants to extract more value from the extraction business,” Donna Kennedy-Glans writes for the Financial Post. “A campaign launched by hedge fund Elliott Management isn’t questioning Suncor’s ambitions as a good corporate citizen, it’s challenging the company’s profitability relative to its peers… “To focus on its core business, the oilsands, Suncor last month announced some asset pruning, including divestiture of wind and solar projects and interests in Norway and the United Kingdom. This “portfolio optimization” strategy makes it very clear Suncor is focused on its crown jewels, the oilsands, which have decades of production life ahead… “But another big question, one that needs to be placed squarely on the boardroom table, is whether Suncor’s decision to concentrate investment in the oilsands is smart… “Many environmental advocates would like to see the “tar sands” shut in, immediately and permanently. And Steven Guilbeault, the federal environment minister, is reluctant to approve Suncor’s planned Base Mine expansion because it may conflict with the government’s climate targets. But that’s not my main concern; serious money is being invested to decarbonize production from the oilsands. Domestic carbon politics may eventually resolve itself. What’s of greater concern is how the pumping of oil from these gigantic reservoirs in northern Alberta may be constrained by American politicians and policy insiders, people who see the reserves as a long-term strategic asset to be held onto, like a security blanket, until needed in a crisis… “Elliott is right to lead an activist campaign to force improvements in Suncor’s fiscal discipline and decision-making and to help everyone understand more fully what, if any, premium investors are willing to pay for environmental leadership. But the bigger question that needs asking is whether it’s wise to bet the farm on the oilsands.”

Northern News: Rosenberg: Alberta’s economic turnaround is the real deal, and it’s about more than just energy
David Rosenberg is founder of independent research firm Rosenberg Research & Associates Inc., Julia Wendling and Alena Neiland are economists there, 5/11/22

“Alberta’s economy is poised for a secular economic growth phase, and it’s not just the outlook for energy but also the tremendous strides made toward industry diversification that are responsible,” David Rosenberg, Julia Wendling and Alena Neiland write for Northern News. “What used to be a largely energy-growth-dependent economy prior to the double oil-price shocks following the Global Financial Crisis and the 2014 oil crash is now more diversified, with further advances in technology expected to boost this trend over the coming years… “And, with the recent pick-up in oil prices boosting the province’s revenues, funding for these new initiatives has strong support. That bodes well for the province’s growth potential in a future that is becoming less carbon-friendly over time… “As a result, the Government of Alberta acknowledged that there has been an “over-reliance” on energy and started the groundwork for an innovation pick-up in the province, with an aim to be proactive rather than reactive to future economic risks… “Meanwhile, the energy sector is taking on a new approach to stage its comeback — clean-energy innovation. The most recent budget revealed that oil-and-gas investment will remain below the 2014 peak and announced plans of $1.192 billion of spending in the technology innovation and emissions-reduction sectors.”

The Hill: How could the US incentivize investors to decarbonize the economy?
Ismael Arciniegas Rueda has over 20 years of experience in the energy industry and is a senior economist at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation, as well as a professor of public policy at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Nihar Chhatiawala is a doctoral student at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and assistant policy researcher at RAND. Mark Stalczynski is a quantitative analyst at RAND, 5/11/22

“The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last month proposed requiring publicly traded companies to disclose their climate-related risks and greenhouse gas emissions. If the proposal is enacted, companies might have to hire third-party auditors to verify emissions not just from their own operations, but also from supply chains and customers’ end use,” Ismael Arciniegas Rueda, Nihar Chhatiawala and Mark Stalczynski write for The Hill. “The SEC wants this transparency and consistency in reporting so that investors might make risk-informed decisions. The information would allow investors to direct capital away from products and services that are carbon-intensive or at risk of damage from climate change impacts. While there are plenty of objections, if this goes through it might over time shift billions toward firms that are helping reduce climate change or making moves toward becoming net-zero emitters themselves. Mandatory disclosures also could reduce greenwashing and opportunistic marketing… “Examples of policies worth further research include: Bonds: Tax exemptions for green bonds, similar to those for municipal bonds, would increase returns on projects and could possibly bring benefits to both issuers and investors. Capital requirements: Differentiated capital requirements (e.g. Green Supporting Factor and/or Dirty Penalty Factor) could lead banks and other financial institutions to hold more environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) assets. Carbon pricing: In such regulated carbon markets, emitters pay for costs with a cap-and-trade mechanism or carbon tax. On its own, no single approach will be enough to make significant investment gains toward a decarbonized economy. But a framework of policies (financial, fiscal, monetary, macro-prudential) that amplify one another could mobilize private investment toward meeting emissions goals more quickly and effectively than just climate-related disclosures.”

The Hill: From climate to plastics, Big Oil faces a reckoning
Richard Wiles is president of the Center for Climate Integrity, 5/11/22

“It’s the subject of congressional investigations, state and municipal lawsuits, a new television documentary, as well as an upcoming Hollywood docu-drama: a series of lies told by one industry, with consequences so far-reaching that they have triggered a profound and existential crisis facing every person on Earth,” Richard Wiles writes for The Hill. “The script may sound familiar. Many corporations, from tobacco companies to opioid manufacturers, have lied about the danger of the products they sold and advertised. But in the span of human history, none hold a candle to the harm caused by the oil and gas industry, which appears, at long last, to be facing a reckoning for deceiving the public for decades about the “catastrophic” risk of their fossil fuel products (their own words)… “ Big Oil is also a central character in the plastic trash problem that is plaguing the planet, because —wait for it — they apparently lied about the recyclability of plastics as well… “Once again, Big Oil’s lies are at the heart of the problem: we’re hooked on fossil fuels because these companies misled the public about the dangers of their product, running a multi-decade disinformation campaign designed to undermine any and all efforts to shift toward cheaper, cleaner, more reliable energy. If Exxon and other corporate polluters had not kept the world addicted to fossil fuels, the transition to renewables would be much further along, the world would be less dependent on Russian gas, and high gas prices would be far less disruptive to people’s lives. From climate change to recycling, lying has long been Big Oil’s business model. But in the face of new investigations, lawsuits, and public exposure, the industry’s days of escaping accountability for its deception are clearly numbered.” 

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