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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 5/18/22

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips May 18, 2022

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PIPELINE NEWS

  • Globe and Mail: Alberta Premier Kenney touts energy security, pitches new pipeline in U.S. Senate hearings

  • CBC: Republicans bash Biden’s energy policies during Jason Kenney’s committee appearance

  • Reuters: Alberta premier says Canada could boost oil export to U.S., calls for major new pipeline

  • Gizmodo: Carbon Dioxide Pipelines Are Going Dangerously Unregulated

  • KELO: Minnehaha County waits on pipeline moratorium

  • Watertown Public Opinion: Pipeline easement granted

  • Grist: Jessica Reznicek set fire to Dakota Access Pipeline construction. Is she a terrorist?

  • Reuters: Kinder Morgan takes another step to expand Permian gas pipes

  • KGET: Lawsuit filed over deadly pipeline explosion set for trial

  • Bloomberg: Gas Industry Objects to Pipeline Agency Rules on Smaller Lines

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • Politico: NOT SO FAST ON NEPA

  • E&E News: Judge reverses Trump-era ESA sage grouse move

  • Politico: COURT SCHEDULES SCC ARGUMENTS

STATE UPDATES

  • Associated Press: In US, states struggle to replace fossil fuel tax revenue

  • Anchorage Daily News: ConocoPhillips sues Alaska agency to keep well data from giant North Slope oil discovery secret

EXTRACTION

  • Reuters: Permian oil output forecast to hit record high in June -EIA

  • Science Daily: Policymakers underestimate methane’s climate and air quality impacts

CLIMATE FINANCE

  • Financial Post: Activist investor who went after Shell takes stake in Suncor

OPINION

  • Galesburg Register-Mail: LETTER: CO2 pipeline would negatively impact western Illinois

  • The Hill: Biden can make good on EU gas supply and climate pledges by ending methane leaks

  • Utility Dive: Calls for increased natural gas production ignore US infrastructure needs

  • The Hill: Congress: No fossil-fuel bailouts

  • Center for American Progress: These Top 5 Oil Companies Just Raked In $35 Billion While Americans Pay More at the Pump

  • New York Times: Why Do We Swallow What Big Oil and the Green Movement Tell Us?

PIPELINE NEWS

Globe and Mail: Alberta Premier Kenney touts energy security, pitches new pipeline in U.S. Senate hearings
NIALL MCGEE, 5/17/22

“Embattled Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is calling on American policy-makers to consider allowing construction of a new pipeline that would ship heavy oil from the province to the United States, as North America grapples with tight energy supplies in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” the Globe and Mail reports. “Mr. Kenney made the plea on Tuesday in Washington, where he was testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The hearing was called by Republican John Barrasso and chaired by Joe Manchin, a pro-fossil-fuels Democrat. Mr. Kenney made his remarks the day before his United Conservative Party was set to reveal the results of a leadership review vote that will determine whether he remains as head of the party… “Mr. Kenney said new Canadian pipeline construction would “forever allow the United States to free itself from imports from hostile regimes.” “…But despite the much tighter supply environment in the U.S., the chances of the Biden administration considering another major Canadian pipeline project appear slim. In an interview with The Globe and Mail earlier this week, Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Federal Minister of Natural Resources, said Ottawa “has heard nothing from the Americans that they are actually interested in seeing a new oil pipeline.” As Mr. Kenney pushed for a new pipeline, he also called on the U.S. to accept more of Alberta’s existing heavy oil production, and urged Mr. Biden to forget about engaging with OPEC countries. “We find it inexplicable that the President of the United States has been more focused on encouraging additional OPEC production than Canadian production,” Mr. Kenney said. “We have no record of any effort by the administration to reach out to Alberta.” “…Mr. Kenney also used his Senate testimony to call on the U.S. government to oppose Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s efforts to shut down the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline over fears of a potential leak.”

CBC: Republicans bash Biden’s energy policies during Jason Kenney’s committee appearance
Mark Gollom, 5/17/22

“Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said Tuesday he didn’t invite Jason Kenney to appear before the U.S. Senate’s energy and natural resources committee to “relitigate the past” — namely, President Joe Biden’s scrapping of the Keystone XL pipeline,” the CBC reports. “Yet that’s what many of the committee’s Republican members seized on, taking advantage of the Alberta premier’s appearance today as an opportunity to bash the Biden administration’s energy policy in general and its decision to scuttle Keystone XL. Since gas prices have soared, Republicans have been vocal about linking the price at the pump to its cancellation, though Kenney’s presence also gave those senators the opportunity to criticize the administration for reaching out to unfriendly regimes to boost oil production. On both those issues, Kenney seemed more than willing to oblige the Republicans, while refraining from coming down too hard on the U.S. president… “Kenney said his government was perplexed that the administration’s response to sky-high gas prices was to plead with OPEC to produce and sell more oil “while working to lift sanctions on dictatorships like Iran and Venezuela.” Kenney said, with political will from Washington, “we could also get another major pipeline built that would forever allow the United States to free itself from imports from hostile regimes.” “…Wyoming Republican John Barrasso, the ranking member on the committee, asked a series of questions about Biden’s decision to kill Keystone. “Is it fair to say that President Biden’s decision to kill the Keystone pipeline, increased cost, harmed the environment and added to our supply chain chain troubles?” he asked. “I think that’s a reasonable conclusion,” Kenney said. “Does Biden’s policy make any sense for the people of the United States or of Canada?” Barraso asked. “It’s for you to figure out what works for people in the United States,” Kenney said.  “But I’ll just say this. We find it inexplicable that the government of the United States has been more focused on encouraging additional OPEC production than Canadian production.”

Reuters: Alberta premier says Canada could boost oil export to U.S., calls for major new pipeline
By Nia Williams, 5/17/22

“Canada could add over a million barrels per day (bpd) of oil export capacity to the United States over the next two years, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney told a U.S. Senate committee on Tuesday, while also calling for a new cross-border oil pipeline,” Reuters reports. “However, federal Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said there was little discussion in Ottawa or Washington about a new oil pipeline, and warned that narrowly focusing on fossil fuel security risked hindering climate goals… “Their contrasting remarks illustrate how the federal Liberal government is often at odds with conservative politicians like Kenney over how best to manage Canada’s vast oil and gas wealth while also reducing climate-warming carbon emissions… “Kenney said an extra 200,000 bpd could be shipped south by rail, while technical improvements from midstream companies could add as much as 400,000 bpd of pipeline capacity by next year. The Canadian government-owned Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project is expected to be finished late next year, and will add another 600,000 bpd, he said. Wilkinson told Reuters after the Senate hearing that this was the first he had heard of a potential increase in rail capacity or technical improvements, and any increase in oil exports to help offset lost Russian supply would need to be consistent with Canada’s climate goals… “Canada exports around 3.8 million bpd of oil to the United States and until recently faced pipeline constraints that left crude bottlenecked in Alberta. U.S. President Joe Biden revoked a key permit for the Keystone XL pipeline in early 2021, infuriating the Canadian energy industry. However with the start-up of Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement project last year, Canadian export capacity is now broadly in line with production.”

Gizmodo: Carbon Dioxide Pipelines Are Going Dangerously Unregulated
Molly Taft, 5/17/22

“In February 2020, a cloud of gas washed over Sartartia, Mississippi, causing residents to pass out on the spot and sending nearly 50 people to local hospitals. Unbeknownst to the residents, a carbon dioxide pipeline half a mile away from the town had ruptured, sending a cloud of CO2 washing over the community. Rescuers were forced to don protective gas masks as cars stalled, unable to run without oxygen,” Gizmodo reports. “As carbon capture and storage—the process of capturing CO2 emissions from power plants and other industrial sites, then storing it permanently underground—is increasingly floated as an important component of decarbonization, pipelines carrying CO2 like the one in Sartartia could become more common. And there are disturbingly few national safety regulations in place, despite the pace of changes being made. “There are so many gaping regulatory holes that need to be filled, and so much R&D that needs to be done,” Bill Caram, the deputy director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, a nonprofit that focuses on safety issues and regulations, told Gizmodo. While the Trust has investigated the potential dangers of pipelines for years, a report on the Sartartia accident published last year in the Huffington Post, Caram said, was a wake-up call for them to look at regulations around CO2 pipelines in particular. The fossil fuel and pipeline industries scrambled to respond to the Trust’s report, issued earlier this year, on the almost total lack of safety regulations for these critical pieces of infrastructure… “While CO2 pipelines may have a good safety record now, that’s not saying a lot. Currently, there are only about 5,000 miles of CO2 pipelines in the U.S.—a tiny number compared to the 2 million miles of natural gas pipelines. The vast majority of those pipelines, Caram explained, exist to transport CO2 from one point, usually from natural reservoirs, to oilfields a relatively short distance away, for what’s known as enhanced oil recovery, or the process of injecting CO2 into a well to get more oil out of it… “Unfortunately, PHMSA’s solution was pretty simplistic, Caram said—adding CO2 as an afterthought to existing regulations for hazardous materials, despite the numerous factors that make CO2 distinct from other substances we send through pipelines. CO2 is odorless and colorless, meaning people can’t smell or see a leak, is heavier than air, and is unable to ignite like other hazardous materials. But even if safety improvements are tightened, over the longer term, there’s a larger question of whether so many new pipelines just to transport and store CO2 are actually necessary—and whether that’s where we should be spending time and effort to act on climate.”

KELO: Minnehaha County waits on pipeline moratorium
Rae Yost, 5/17/22

“A request to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to delay any final action on a carbon dioxide pipeline application will delay any action by Minnehaha County on a moratorium on CO2 pipelines and similar,” KELO reports. “Tyler Klatt, the assistant commission administrator officer, presented a draft moratorium ordinance at Tuesday’s county commissioners meeting. Klatt said there were only three commissioners at the meeting so no action was taken but since Summit Carbon Solutions applied for a delay, the county will put the moratorium on the June 21 meeting agenda… “The moratorium would give the county time to consider any regulations that would cover pipelines, including CO2 pipelines. Existing county ordinances do not cover transmission pipelines. If the PUC grants the delay rather than sticking with a fall decision, the county would then be able to adjust any moratorium it would approve. The draft moratorium ordinance says it would be in place for 12 months… “Lincoln County did discuss at its May 10 meeting the county’s ability to affect the proposed pipeline. The county did apply for party status on the permit which means it would be an intervener and have the same legal rights to discovery and other material and could present material to the PUC. Commissioner Joel Arends suggested Lincoln County be the host of a public forum in which proponents of the pipeline could speak as well as those with concerns or opposed.”

Watertown Public Opinion: Pipeline easement granted
Kerry Kulkarni, 5/17/22

“The council unanimously granted Summit Carbon Solutions an easement for a carbon dioxide pipeline from Glacial Lakes Energy in Watertown through a section of city-owned property,” Watertown Public Opinion reports. “The motion is contingent on the pipeline project receiving approval by the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission. Summit Carbon Solutions has proposed a 2,000-mile pipeline that would pump liquefied carbon dioxide from 31 ethanol plants in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska so it could be stored a mile underground in western North Dakota. The plan is not without controversy as residents in the state have questioned its benefit and whether the private, for-profit company should be granted the use of eminent domain by the state to gather the land it needs.”

Grist: Jessica Reznicek set fire to Dakota Access Pipeline construction. Is she a terrorist?
Naveena Sadasivam, 5/18/22

“On election night in 2016, Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya set fire to a bulldozer and construction equipment at a Dakota Access Pipeline construction site in Iowa,” Grist reports. “Over the next few months, the activists used oxy-acetylene torches to melt holes in pipeline valves at three other locations in the state. It was at the height of the Indigenous-led protests against the 1,172-mile-long pipeline, which opponents like the Standing Rock Sioux tribe argued would pollute local water sources and contaminate soil. When Reznicek and Montoya’s actions failed to halt pipeline construction, they held a press conference and publicly took responsibility for their actions. The two women were subsequently indicted on nine felony counts of intentionally damaging energy infrastructure, and Reznicek ultimately pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to damage an energy facility. She was sentenced to eight years in prison by a district court in Iowa last year. Reznicek is now appealing her sentence. Before an Iowa appellate court last week, her attorneys argued that the district court had inappropriately decided that her actions constituted a federal crime of terrorism and applied a “terrorism enhancement” to her sentence. Had the enhancement not been applied, sentencing guidelines would’ve capped her prison term at a little under four years… “And at the state level, in part responding to the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, lawmakers in at least 17 states have passed legislation to increase jail terms and monetary penalties for offenses such as vandalizing and tampering with so-called critical infrastructure. In recent years, nonviolent climate protesters have been charged with trespassing, theft, and terrorism.”

Reuters: Kinder Morgan takes another step to expand Permian gas pipes
5/17/22

“Kinder Morgan Inc (KMI.N) added another project to the list of proposed pipes seeking to move growing amounts of natural gas from the Permian shale in Texas with its announced open season for an expansion of the Gulf Coast Express pipe in Texas,” Reuters reports. “If the solicitation generates enough interest, Kinder said in a release on Monday that Gulf Coast Express will increase the pipe’s capacity by nearly 0.570 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd). The open season for the Gulf Coast Express expansion follows another open season by Kinder in April to expand the Permian Highway gas pipe by nearly 0.650 bcfd… “With Permian associated gas production also growing fast and demand for gas rising from new liquefied natural gas export plants on the Gulf Coast, several companies are looking to add new gas pipes in the region, including units of Energy Transfer LP (ET.N) and MPLX LP (MPLX.N).”

KGET: Lawsuit filed over deadly pipeline explosion set for trial
Jason Kotowski, 5/17/22

“A defamation lawsuit filed against PG&E in connection with a deadly pipeline explosion in south Bakersfield is expected to soon go to trial,” KGET reports. “Jeff Alexander of Big N Deep Agricultural Development in McFarland alleges PG&E made false statements in a news release, accusing him of multiple “illegal and unsafe” excavations and showing “complete disregard for the law.” The suit says PG&E, not Alexander, is responsible for the November 13, 2015, explosion near Wible and Houghton Roads that killed bulldozer operator Joseph Michael Ojeda, inflicted second- and third-degree burns to nearby resident Gloria Ruckman and her mother and sent flames soaring above power lines. According to the suit, Ojeda was digging within coordinates PG&E had cleared after marking its gas line. Alexander claims PG&E’s remarks cost him millions of dollars in business.”

Bloomberg: Gas Industry Objects to Pipeline Agency Rules on Smaller Lines
5/17/22

“Two natural gas trade associations pledged to challenge the Biden administration’s new safety requirements on more than 400,000 miles of smaller gas gathering lines that were previously unregulated but have grown in importance with the shale drilling boom,” Bloomberg reports. “Pipeline safety advocates have praised the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s gas gathering rule, which went into effect Monday, as necessary to keep people safe and crack down on methane leaks from gas infrastructure. But the American Petroleum Institute and GPA Midstream Association have argued it imposes an unreasonable and costly rule without evidence that smaller lines require the new…”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

Politico: NOT SO FAST ON NEPA
Matthew Choi, 5/17/22

“As the Biden administration revisits its predecessor’s overhaul of NEPA regulations, clean energy advocates are defending some of President Donald Trump’s moves that softened the bedrock environmental policy,” Politico reports. “Trump’s 2020 NEPA update garnered backlash for whittling away environmental guardrails for potentially polluting projects, and the Biden administration has taken steps to shore up considerations of their indirect and cumulative environmental impacts. But many clean energy backers are pushing to keep the changes that sought to shorten the time it takes for federal environmental reviews and to centralize government permitting. Rolling back the provisions could mean more bureaucratic bottle-necking, stifling clean energy projects needed to reach Biden’s goal of a net-zero emission power grid by 2035, they say. “NEPA can be reformed to reduce permitting delays without diminishing the intent of the act to consider the environmental effects of federal actions,” said Gene Grace, general counsel for the American Clean Power Association, a trade group. “The reality is that it will be impossible for our nation to achieve the administration’s climate and economic goals without expediting the time it takes to do NEPA reviews.” The administration appears on board with cutting down permitting time, releasing a five-part action plan earlier this month on accelerating the permitting process for projects getting funds from the bipartisan infrastructure package, including electric vehicle charging stations and transmission lines (though of course FERC has its own set of challenges).”

E&E News: Judge reverses Trump-era ESA sage grouse move
Scott Streater, 5/17/22

“A federal judge has struck down a 2020 Fish and Wildlife Service decision that a distinct subpopulation of greater sage grouse found along the Nevada-California border does not warrant federal protection,” E&E News reports. “Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a ruling late yesterday concluding that FWS did not use the best available science in withdrawing a near decade-old decision to list the so-called bi-state population of grouse as a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act. Corley, a Biden appointee, ruled that the Trump-era FWS decision in March 2020 — which quickly led to a federal lawsuit filed by a coalition of environmental groups — had “erred” in several significant ways. Among them, she said, FWS was wrong in “concluding that the effective population size” of the bi-state grouse “was above the minimum threshold for viability,” as determined by the service. Thus, FWS was also wrong in “determining that the bi-state sage grouse is not likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout a significant portion of its range,” Corley wrote… “The judge remanded the issue of ESA protections for the bi-state grouse to FWS “to issue a new final listing decision.” In the meantime, Corley reinstated the 2013 determination that the bi-state grouse warrants federal protections as a threatened species… “These rare dancing birds have a chance at survival thanks to this court decision,” Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, which was one of the plaintiffs in the case, told E&E.

Politico: COURT SCHEDULES SCC ARGUMENTS
Matthew Choi, 5/17/22

“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit has calendared arguments for June 16 in a lawsuit brought by Missouri and other red states against Biden’s social cost of carbon metric. Unlike Louisiana’s similar but separate lawsuit, a district judge ruled last year Missouri and friends lacked standing, and the states are appealing,” Politico reports. “The panel includes Judges James Loken, a George H.W. Bush appointee; Jane Kelly, an Obama appointee; and Katherine Menendez, a Biden appointee who was confirmed to the Minnesota district court in December. By June 16, the Supreme Court almost certainly will have ruled in Louisiana’s attempt to revive its injunction against the SCC, which the Biden administration last week urged against. The high court’s decision could come any day now and, since it will focus on Louisiana’s standing, likely will play a guiding role in the Missouri case.”

STATE UPDATES

Associated Press: In US, states struggle to replace fossil fuel tax revenue
Morgan Lee and Mead Gruver, 5/16/22

“Government budgets are booming in New Mexico: Teacher salaries are up, residents can go to an in-state college tuition-free, moms will get medical care for a year after childbirth, and criminal justice initiatives are being funded to reduce urban violence. The reason behind the spending spree — oil. New Mexico is the No. 2 crude oil producer among U.S. states and the top recipient of U.S. disbursements for fossil fuel production on federal land. But a budget flush with petroleum cash has a side effect: It also puts the spotlight on how difficult it is to turn state rhetoric on tackling climate change into reality,” the Associated Press reports. “State governments in the nation’s top regions for producing oil, natural gas and coal have by far the highest per-capita reliance on fossil fuels — led by Wyoming, North Dakota, Alaska and New Mexico. The revenue bankrolls essential public services, from highway maintenance to prisons. In Carlsbad, New Mexico, oil infrastructure property taxes are underwriting a high school performing arts center, expanded sports facilities and elementary school renovations. None of that would be possible without oil revenue, schools superintendent Gerry Washburn told AP.  “We can’t slow down in that area and what we do to fund schools until we have a legitimate replacement” for oil and natural gas income, he told AP. “Whether you’re in the middle of the oil patch or in an area with no oil and gas drilling going on, those policies are going to impact revenue in every school district in the state.” Federal, state and local governments receive an estimated $138 billion a year from the fossil fuel industry, according to a study from the Washington-based nonpartisan economics group Resources for the Future, which does not advocate on energy policies. That’s equivalent to the annual state spending of New York and Texas combined. The cashflow is dominated by gasoline and diesel retail taxes in every state, but energy-producing states have the deepest dependence on fossil fuel income through a gamut of taxes, royalties, lease sales and fees. Because that revenue helps pay for government services, they tend to tax residents less, Daniel Raimi, a fellow at Resources for the Future, and co-author of the study, told Reuters. “That’s a really challenging dynamic if you think about a shift away from fossil fuels,” he told Reuters. “They’re going to be faced with the question: Do we raise our taxes on our residents or do we reduce the level of services we provide?”

Anchorage Daily News: ConocoPhillips sues Alaska agency to keep well data from giant North Slope oil discovery secret
Alex DeMarban, 5/17/22

“ConocoPhillips is suing the state of Alaska to stop it from publicly releasing well data associated with its huge Willow oil discovery, located on the western edge of the state’s North Slope oil fields,” the Anchorage Daily News reports. “State law requires that data associated with wells be made public after two years, with minimal exceptions. But ConocoPhillips is arguing that the wells were drilled in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, and are therefore subject to federal laws around confidentiality, not state laws, said the 17-page complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Anchorage. The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the state agency that permitted the wells in the reserve, will publicly release the data unless it is stopped from doing so by a court decision, the complaint says. In its lawsuit, the oil company says it has spent tens of millions of dollars to acquire its leases and could lose its competitive advantage if the well data is released. The data contains valuable trade secrets and other proprietary information, the company argues.”

EXTRACTION

Reuters: Permian oil output forecast to hit record high in June -EIA
By Stephanie Kelly and Scott Disavino, 5/16/22

“Oil output in the Permian in Texas and New Mexico, the biggest U.S. shale oil basin, is due to rise 88,000 barrels per day (bpd) to a record 5.219 million bpd in June, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its productivity report on Monday,” Reuters reports. “Total output in the major U.S. shale oil basins will rise 142,000 bpd to 8.761 million bpd in June, the most since March 2020, EIA projected. In the Bakken in North Dakota and Montana, EIA projected oil output will rise 17,000 bpd to 1.189 million bpd in June, the most since December 2020. In the Eagle Ford in South Texas, output will rise 27,000 bpd to 1.176 million bpd in June, its highest since April 2020. Total natural gas output in the big shale basins will increase 0.8 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) to a record 91.8 bcfd in June, EIA forecast. In the biggest shale gas basin, output in Appalachia in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia will rise to 35.7 bcfd in June, its highest since hitting a record 36.0 bcfd in December 2021. Gas output in the Permian and the Haynesville in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas will rise to record highs of 20.0 bcfd and 15.1 bcfd in June, respectively.” 

Science Daily: Policymakers underestimate methane’s climate and air quality impacts
Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies e.V. (IASS), 5/16/22

“Methane emissions have been increasing rapidly in recent years, contributing significantly to global warming. Despite this, methane is not adequately treated within existing national and international governance frameworks. Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam highlight the urgent need for action in a new study,” Science Daily reports. “Under the Paris Agreement, the effect of greenhouse gases, including methane, is expressed in terms of “CO2 equivalents,” a unit that reflects their warming effect over a period of 100 years. The researchers argue in the study that this approach both fails to adequately represent the climate impact of methane and neglects its impacts on human health and ecosystems.”Governing methane based on assigning it a ‘CO2 equivalence’ means that only its climate impact on a 100-year timescale is robustly taken into account — including within carbon pricing schemes, for example. This neglects methane’s critically important role in near-term climate — over the course of the next 20 years — during which time methane’s warming impact is roughly 80 times greater than that of CO2. Methane’s short atmospheric lifetime means that efforts to reduce emissions can rapidly reduce atmospheric concentrations and, as a consequence, global warming,” the study’s lead author, IASS research group leader Kathleen Mar, told Science Daily. In addition, the Paris Agreement and other governance frameworks do not sufficiently consider methane’s contribution to air pollution.”

CLIMATE FINANCE

Financial Post: Activist investor who went after Shell takes stake in Suncor
Barbara Shecter, 5/17/22

“A second major U.S.-based activist investor has disclosed a stake in Canadian energy firm Suncor Energy Inc., which last month became a target of a campaign by Elliott Investment Management,” the Financial Post reports. “According to a regulatory filing, Third Point LLC held 3.5 million shares of the Calgary-based energy firm at the end of March, valued at more than US$114 million… “Elissa Doyle, chief communications officer and head of ESG engagement at Third Point, declined to answer questions about the fund’s intentions for the Suncor holding… “The Canadian energy sector is ripe territory for Third Point, which also made investments in Calgary-based Cenovus Energy and Ovintiv Inc. (formerly EnCana), according to the filing. When it comes to energy firms, Loeb has been public about his push to shake up Royal Dutch Shell PLC through a US$750-million holding, calling on the firm to spin off liquefied natural gas and renewable operations into a separate company, thereby separating them from the firm’s legacy energy operations. Less clear are his intentions with regards to Suncor, which faced harsh criticism from Elliott Investment Management in April.”

OPINION

Galesburg Register-Mail: LETTER: CO2 pipeline would negatively impact western Illinois
Marilyn Shelley, Colchester, 5/17/22

“Driving through rural West Central Illinois, one can see signs “No Easement, CO2 Carbon Pipelines, No Eminent Domain,” Marilyn Shelley writes for the Galesburg Register-Mail. “…Ruptures do happen! In 2020, a break occurred near Satartia, Mississippi. Dozens of people were sickened by the green fog of escaping CO2. Few regulations exist for CO2 pipelines. This company proposes constructing hazardous liquid pipeline going through agricultural land. Productive land, pastures, woods inhabited with wildlife and birds would be affected. Agriculture land issues include lower crop farm yields, damaged top soil, and severed drainage tiles. All of these issues will reduce property values. More than land owners and farm operators would be affected:  emergency medical services, hospitals, and the public will need emergency response plan. Local EMS will need special training and equipment. While this private company will receive huge tax credit and funding from the federal government, they will give landowners a token payment for permanent usage of their property. More information and videos can be found at Coalition to Stop CO2 Pipelines: https://noillinoisco2pipelines.org.”  

The Hill: Biden can make good on EU gas supply and climate pledges by ending methane leaks
Mark Brownstein is senior vice president of energy at Environmental Defense Fund, 5/17/22

“Russia opened a new front in its energy war with Europe last week, as Russian state gas company Gazprom moved to completely shut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria and threatened to do the same to others. This heightens the urgency of the Biden administration’s new commitment to replace Russian gas in Europe with U.S.-produced liquified natural gas (LNG). But the administration’s goal of becoming the EU’s new gas supplier is not without its challenges,” Mark Brownstein writes for The Hill. “The announcement comes on the heels of yet another major warning from top climate scientists to sever our dependence on fossil fuels, raising concern that U.S. LNG exports are at odds with the urgent need to cut greenhouse emissions. Fortunately, we can make progress on both challenges with one relatively simple improvement: capturing the mind-boggling amount of natural gas — aka methane — wasted each year by U.S. oil and gas producers. Operators effectively throw away at least 35 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually, enough to fuel over 17 million homes. The most egregious waste is flaring, simply setting excess gas on fire because producers feel it’s too much trouble to capture it. In other instances, they vent or leak it freely into the atmosphere unburned… “Our calculations show that proven, technically feasible fixes to mitigate leaks and end routine flaring could yield over half of the LNG pledged to Europe by 2030, fulfilling U.S. economic and diplomatic assurances while dramatically reducing methane pollution. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), two-thirds of these cuts could be achieved at no net cost by actions as simple as closing hatches or tightening valves. If operators are sincere in their stated desire to stave off a global energy crisis, they would be keeping their valuable, increasingly expensive assets in the pipe. But the Biden administration, rightly, isn’t waiting for producers to act of their own goodwill. Last fall, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new methane standards that will apply to nearly 1 million wells across the country, requiring operators to drastically reduce methane waste… “Taking action to end methane leaks, venting and flaring at oil and gas operations offers a win-win-win for producers, the planet and the public. It will help regular people make ends meet, deny Russian President Vladimir Putin fossil fuel revenues, and support the urgent goal of protecting the climate. The rewards are there for the taking.”

Utility Dive: Calls for increased natural gas production ignore US infrastructure needs
Amy Andryszak, president & CEO of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, 5/16/22

“Over the past two months, the Biden administration has called on domestic natural gas companies to ramp-up production to assist our allies in Europe through increased exports of liquefied natural gas, or LNG. But missing from the conversation is approving infrastructure that will safely transport that additional supply from where it is produced to export facilities,” Amy Andryszak writes for Utility Dive. “Put simply, we must expand our natural gas transmission system to accommodate increased production. This increase in infrastructure capacity will require an honest evaluation of the permitting challenges currently plaguing natural gas infrastructure development in our nation… “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s track record is just one of many proof points of the already difficult and lengthy process to build infrastructure in this country. From June 2021 until March 2022, FERC did not approve any major natural gas projects. Since then, FERC has approved six, but there are still 8 major natural gas projects pending approval before the commission with the combined potential to provide more than 11.3 million cubic feet of natural gas per day in additional capacity. Without this additional transportation capacity, some of the additional gas supply policymakers are calling on developers to produce may not reach American consumers or LNG terminals. In addition to this project backlog, FERC recently introduced updates to its 1999 certificate policy statements that will make it more difficult to build the required infrastructure to get additional production to market… “INGAA strongly encourages the Biden administration to signal to markets and their own federal agencies that they value the strategic importance of natural gas in helping achieve our nation’s security goals, and also our climate goals. Now is not the time to be throwing up additional regulatory roadblocks. Rather, permitting agencies like FERC need to take action today by moving pending projects forward. By doing so, we can ensure the reliable transport of natural gas necessary to meet our country’s energy and climate goals both at home and abroad.”

The Hill: Congress: No fossil-fuel bailouts
William S. Becker is a former U.S. Department of Energy central regional director, 5/17/22

“The Guardian, a British newspaper, reports the world’s biggest fossil energy companies are planning scores of oil and gas projects that would push global carbon emissions beyond the limits of the Paris climate accord,” William S. Becker writes for The Hill. “…If oil companies can’t resist big new bets on fossil fuels, the world’s governments and investors must insist. Economic security is also at risk. Analysts have warned for some time that the fossil energy sector is creating a “carbon bubble” not unlike the real estate bubble that triggered the Great Recession. As governments put more constraints on carbon pollution and as the use of cost-competitive renewable energy surges, today’s supply-side investments in fossil energy will be stranded. In other words, the industry will have to abandon new wells, pipelines and other infrastructure long before investors recover their capital and expected profits. When the bubble bursts, fossil-energy companies are likely to appeal for rescue like those the federal government gave financial institutions during the Great Recession. U.S. taxpayers spent nearly $500 billion to bail out the financial industry. The principal beneficiaries were large institutional investors. It’s not too soon for Congress to prevent a similar bail-out of fossil-energy investors… “First, it should pass a law that forbids the use of public funds to bail out fossil energy companies and investors when their assets become worthless. Private industries should not count on the American people to be a safety net for reckless corporate behavior… “Next, Congress should finally stop subsidizing fossil fuels. Taxpayers have subsidized oil for more than a century. Today, fossil energy subsidies cost the nation more than $20 billion a year, or $662 billion annually when we count social and environmental costs. That’s more than $2,000 annually for every American… “Third, as the IEA points out, “Governments need to provide credible step-by-step plans to reach their net-zero goals, building confidence among investors, industry, citizens and other countries.” So, Congress should direct the Department of Energy and the federal Global Change Research Program to lead the development of a U.S. roadmap to net-zero carbon no later than 2050, drawing on the many transition plans already proposed by the IEA, think tanks, universities, advocacy organizations, national laboratories and the National Academies, plus the regulatory approaches of other nations.”

Center for American Progress: These Top 5 Oil Companies Just Raked In $35 Billion While Americans Pay More at the Pump
Sally Hardin, Jenny Rowland-Shea, 5/17/22

“Since Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, which disrupted the global supply of fossil fuels and caused oil and gas shortages worldwide, oil and gas giants have quietly enjoyed unprecedented record profits. While people across the United States have seen gas prices as high as $6 per gallon—stretching budgets thin and driving worsening inflation—the oil majors have been absolutely raking in money, lining CEOs’ and shareholders’ pockets with profits,” Sally Hardin and Jenny Rowland-Shea write for the Center for American Progress. “It is hard to overstate how profitable the war in Ukraine and the resulting financial pain have been for oil executives. Companies already benefited from inflated gas prices in 2021 as the economy bounced back from the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns—in fact, the top 25 companies made more than $205 billion in profits in 2021—but the recently announced first-quarter profits for 2022 are even more astounding. The top five oil companies alone—Shell, ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips—brought in more than 300 percent more in profits than in the first quarter of 2021. That is a total of more than $35 billion in profits in just three months. In fact, these five companies’ first-quarter profits alone are equivalent to almost 28 percent of what Americans spent to fill up their gas tanks in the same time period. Gas prices are too high for families on tight budgets, but Congress can take action now—including directing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate price gouging, adopting a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy for drilling on public lands, and implementing a windfall profits tax—to help tackle high prices while reducing the United States’ reliance on volatile fossil energy markets and addressing ever-worsening climate change. Oil executives should not be able to profit off everyone else’s financial pain as their companies earn record profits. Congress must provide some relief to consumers—and hold oil companies accountable.”

New York Times: Why Do We Swallow What Big Oil and the Green Movement Tell Us?
Thomas L. Friedman, 5/17/22

“It has long been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. By that definition, we’re the ones detached from reality if we keep accepting what the oil industry and the green movement keep telling us over and over again and expecting a different result,” Thomas L. Friedman writes for the New York Times. “The greens keep saying that because the price of wind and solar is now as cheap as, or cheaper than, fossil fuels, they’ve won the energy war. Game, set, match — welcome to the green planet. The oil companies say — as they have in each previous energy crisis since 1973 — that the only answer to this energy crisis is the one they’ve offered for the past 49 years: drill, baby, drill. Welcome to reality. Well, they’re both wrong, and accepting the repetition of either of these tired shibboleths is hurting us economically, environmentally and geopolitically — especially, of late, geopolitically… “For those oil companies sitting on large natural gas deposits — which are needed in this transition because gas is cleaner than coal — it means tapping those deposits but doing so with zero methane leakage; otherwise gas becomes as bad as coal. But it also means thinking much more seriously about how fossil fuel companies truly make the transition to become “energy companies,” not just oil companies, so they can leverage their amazing pools of engineering talent to provide more energy solutions that save the planet, not warm it. The Stone Age, as they say, didn’t end because we ran out of stones. And the oil age won’t end because we run out of oil. It will end with millions of barrels still in the ground because we’ve made oil for transportation obsolete. The serious oil companies will get ahead of that. The serious petrodictators will be taken down by it. We can’t make it happen soon enough.”

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