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Extracted: Daily News Clips 5/24/21

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips May 24, 2021

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PIPELINE NEWS

  • CNN.com: Judge allows Dakota Access pipeline to continue operating during environmental review
  • Bloomberg: Dakota Access Avoids New Shutdown Order From Federal Court
  • Bloomberg: Dakota Access Pipeline Wins, But ‘I Would Still Hold My Breath’
  • E&E NewsAll eyes on Army Corps after Dakota Access dodges shutdown
  • Politico Morning EnergyMeanwhile stateside: A federal judge declined to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline
  • Common Dreams: Indigenous, Climate Leaders Launch National Effort to Demand Biden ‘Stop Trump Pipelines’
  • Washington Post: On the trail [re: ‘Stop Trump Pipelines’ ads]
  • Press Release: Rep. Phillips Presses Climate Envoy Kerry About Permitting for Transnational Pipelines
  • Press release: NOTTAWASEPPI HURON BAND OF THE POTAWATOMI PASSES RESOLUTION DESIGNATING THE STRAITS OF MACKINAC AS A TRADITIONAL CULTURAL PROPERTY
  • MyCentralJersey.com: Feds give 2-year extension to build natural gas pipeline under Raritan Bay
  • North American Oil & Gas Pipelines: PennEast Supreme Court Case Looms Large for Future of Pipelines

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • E&E News: Interior OKs Trump-Era Drilling Leases Despite Biden Freeze
  • E&E News: Biden Admin Defends Oil And Gas Leasing Freeze In Court
  • The Hill: Activists urge Biden to halt new plastics plants in ‘Cancer Alley’
  • DeSmog: House Hearing Scrutinizes Billions of Dollars in Fossil Fuel Subsidies. Invited Oil Execs are a No-Show

STATE UPDATES

OH, CANADA

  • National Observer: Alberta rebuffs ‘Net Zero by 2050’ plan: it’s ‘driven by activists’
  • Canadian Press: Critics say researcher behind allegations that prompted ‘anti-Alberta’ inquiry backs off from one of her major claims
  • OilPrice.com: Saudi Wealth Fund Dumps Oil Giant And Buys Videogame Stocks

RESEARCH & SCIENCE

  • Bloomberg: New Gas Plants Threaten Carbon Hangover Long Past Biden Deadline

CLIMATE FINANCE

  • Guardian: Shell faces shareholder rebellion over fossil fuel production

IMPACT LITIGATION

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

  • DeSmog: Science Museum Head Defends Shell Sponsorship of Climate Change Exhibition

OPINION

  • New Republic: Even the International Energy Agency Thinks It’s Time to Stop Drilling New Oil Wells
  • Foreign Policy: The Myth of a Green Canada: Is Trudeau too tied to oil and gas to put Canada on a progressive environmentalist course?
  • WSJ: Whitmer’s Bad Excuse for Enbridge Pipeline Blockade
  • WSJ: Gretchen Whitmer’s Pipeline War: Michigan’s Governor assaults Canada and the Midwest economy

PIPELINE NEWS

CNN.com: Judge allows Dakota Access pipeline to continue operating during environmental review
By Gregory Wallace, 5/21/21

“A federal judge on Friday allowed the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline to continue operating, concluding he did not have the authority to side with a tribal request to shut it down while the Biden administration works on an environmental review,” CNN.com reports. “Judge James Boasberg placed the blame squarely on the Army Corps of Engineers for the “surprising state of affairs” that has allowed “the continued flow of oil through a pipeline that lacks the necessary federal authorization to cross a key waterway of agricultural, industrial and religious importance to several Indian Tribes.” …The Corps has estimated the completion date for its environmental review is March 2022.”

Bloomberg: Dakota Access Avoids New Shutdown Order From Federal Court
By Ellen Gilmer, 5/21/21

“A federal district court won’t force the Dakota Access pipeline to shut down while federal regulators conduct a new environmental analysis,” Bloomberg reports. “The oil project — at the center of a years-long battle between oil companies and the Standing Rock Sioux tribe — may remain in service even though it lacks a valid federal easement for a water crossing in North Dakota, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said Friday. The pipeline’s easement was scrapped in an earlier court ruling for inadequate environmental review… “But government officials could change their minds, leaving some lingering threat for Dakota Access, according to James Coleman, an energy law professor at Southern Methodist University. “It’s not a comfortable position, but it’s a lot more comfortable than it was yesterday,” he said of the pipeline’s status… “Pipeline opponents could also raise a separate “Hail Mary play” under the Administrative Procedure Act targeting the Army Corps’ inaction, said Christi Tezak, analyst at ClearView Energy Partners, in a note to clients Friday.”

Bloomberg: Dakota Access Pipeline Wins, But ‘I Would Still Hold My Breath’
Ellen Gilmer, 5/24/21

“The Dakota Access oil pipeline faces continued threats to its existence, even after surviving another shutdown battle in federal court,” according to Bloomberg. “It’s familiar territory for the embattled Energy Transfer LP project that seems perpetually unable to shake off legal and political hazards. A federal district court last week refused to halt the oil pipeline—an important win for Dakota Access—but an appeal or agency action could change its fate. “I would still hold my breath,” said James Coleman, an energy law professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “If you’re a pipeline investor, you’re used to holding your breath at this point… “Critics say allowing the pipeline to stay in service despite those flaws renders tribes’ victories hollow. “That is a paper victory at best, and the plaintiffs are owed so much more than that after suffering the consequences associated with the DAPL siting, construction, and operation for four years now,” Vermont Law School professor Hillary Hoffmann” told Bloomberg.

Politico Morning Energy: Meanwhile stateside: A federal judge declined to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline
Matthew Choi, 5/24/21

“A major win for the line’s operators and a huge let down for tribal groups and environmentalists,” according to Politico Morning Energy. “Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia had subtly nudged the Biden administration to shut down the pipeline and noted “unshakable indignities visited upon the Tribes across generations,” but said that the law tied his hands on closing the line while the administration conducts an environmental review. “The unacceptable risk of an oil spill, impacts to Tribal sovereignty and harm to drinking water supply must all be examined thoroughly in the months ahead as the U.S. Army Corps conducts its review of this pipeline,” Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman, representing tribes in the legal fight, said in a statement.”

E&E News: All eyes on Army Corps after Dakota Access dodges shutdown
Niina H. Farah, 5/24/21

“Tribes challenging the Dakota Access pipeline said they will be closely monitoring a crucial environmental review of the project after a federal judge on Friday declined to halt operation of the conduit,” E&E News reports.

Common Dreams: Indigenous, Climate Leaders Launch National Effort to Demand Biden ‘Stop Trump Pipelines’
By Jessica Corbett, 5/21/21

“Indigenous and climate activists this week launched a national “Stop Trump Pipelines” campaign to pressure U.S. President Joe Biden and other key decision-makers to depart from the polluter-friendly positions of former President Donald Trump by blocking a pair of controversial fossil fuel pipelines. The effort—led by Bold Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), and partners from frontline communities—is kicking off with a six-figure television and digital campaign targeting Canada-based Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 and Line 5 pipelines. Moving forward, organizers said Friday, the campaign plans to “launch new efforts on the airwaves, online, and in communities across the country to keep the pressure up on policymakers and stop risky pipelines advanced by the Trump administration.” The day he took office in January, Biden revoked a permit that Trump granted for the Keystone XL pipeline in March 2019, citing the climate crisis and declaring that the project did not serve the U.S. national interest. “Keystone XL was the first pipeline that President Biden rejected,” says the new campaign website, “but it should not be the last.” Campaign organizers say that “decision-makers in Washington, D.C. and across the country now have a choice—stand with the Trump pipelines that prop up big oil and gas profits and cronyism or the approach Biden established when he canceled KXL… “Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Nebraska, said that “Biden showed tremendous strength in rejecting Keystone XL in favor of clean water, farmers’ property rights, the sovereign rights of tribal nations, and clear action on climate change. We want to make sure with the climate goals that Biden has set forth, that it is understood we cannot keep building fossil fuel pipelines and reach those bold goals. Our communities deserve clean water and a future that respects the land,” she said.

Washington Post: On the trail
By David Weigel, 5/20/21

“On President Biden’s first day in office, environmentalists got good news: The Keystone XL pipeline was canceled,” according to the Washington Post. “And in the weeks following Biden’s decision, they lost control of the story line, watching with frustration as the energy industry and the GOP brought out workers hurt by the decision, then watching them blame the cancellation for gas prices. “I think it was a failure of our community that we weren’t ready with ads and arguments,” said Jane Kleeb, the chair of Nebraska’s Democratic Party, who won that job after organizing rural voters against pipelines. Kleeb is now part of a Stop Trump Pipelines coalition, launched on Thursday, a collaboration between her old Bold Alliance, the Indigenous Environmental Network, and smaller groups, already buying digital and TV ad time to lobby for more pipeline shutdowns… “When they’re talking about us destroying jobs or destroying the economy, I think that we want to provide space for the alternative conversation,” Kleeb told the Post. “What does the future look like?”

Press Release: Rep. Phillips Presses Climate Envoy Kerry About Permitting for Transnational Pipelines
5/19/21

“Today, Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03) sent a letter to Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry asking the Biden Administration to clarify its policy regarding cross-border pipelines and to explain how the permitting process can mitigate the risks pipelines pose to tribal sovereignty and our natural environment. After hearing from concerned Minnesotans about the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline – a 50-year-old crude oil pipeline that stretches between Canada and Wisconsin – Phillips asked Kerry about necessary updates to the permitting process and where the administration stands on future pipeline infrastructure in a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing last week. Kerry was unable to answer Rep. Phillips’s questions and encouraged future dialogue on the subject, dialogue that Phillips’s letter will begin. “Tackling climate change and protecting our environment takes more than just one person, one corporation, or one country,” said Rep. Phillips. “We need a comprehensive, international response to this crisis to ensure the best future for our children and our children’s children. For our part, that means doing our due diligence to ensure that all pipeline projects, including Line 3, are reviewed for environmental risk. I look forward to hearing from Special Envoy Kerry about the administration’s approach to transnational pipelines – especially in light of President Biden’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.”

Press release: NOTTAWASEPPI HURON BAND OF THE POTAWATOMI PASSES RESOLUTION DESIGNATING THE STRAITS OF MACKINAC AS A TRADITIONAL CULTURAL PROPERTY
5/21/21

“The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi passed a Tribal Council Resolution yesterday designating the Straits of Mackinac as a Traditional Cultural Property. A Traditional Cultural Property – or TCP – is a property that is eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places based on its associations with the cultural practices, traditions, beliefs, lifeways, arts, crafts, or social institutions of a living community. “NHBP clearly understands the interconnectedness and sanctity of water,” NHBP Environmental Director John Rodwan said. “Water within the Great Lakes Watershed originates not only as direct rainfall, but also from the discharge of hundreds of rivers, streams, creeks and aquifers. These waters then flow from Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and Lake Huron into the Detroit River, which was a central and sacred feature of our traditional territory… “The Mackinac Straits is a culturally significant place for the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi,” Dr. Chivis said. “According to our oral history, the Potawatomi, Odawa, and Ojibwe were once one people who lived together at the Straits and shared a common identity with one another. Eventually, we ultimately split into three separate tribes. Over time, this area continued to have cultural and historical significance to us as an important trading and gathering place between us and our Odawa and Ojibwe relatives. Today, it remains a culturally important gathering place that commemorates our shared history and unity with the Odawa and Ojibwe peoples, and it now serves as the frontline for our unified opposition against the Line 5 pipeline.”

MyCentralJersey.com: Feds give 2-year extension to build natural gas pipeline under Raritan Bay
Mike Deak, 5/24/21

“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, has given Williams Transco a two-year extension to complete the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project in Somerset and Middlesex counties and under Raritan Bay,” MyCentralJersey.com reports. “In his opening comments at the FERC meeting on Thursday, Chairman Richard Glick said he supported the extension “because it is consistent with the Commission’s precedent to extend the construction deadline when the delay is due to factors beyond the control of the project developer.” Glick also said that FERC would not allow the project to go ahead unless New Jersey and New York approve the permits… “I am furious that even with the new Biden administration,” Ed Potosnak, executive director of New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, told MyCentralJersey.com. “FERC is continuing business as usual, being a rubber stamp for the fossil fuel industry. I am deeply disappointed that FERC didn’t respect New Jersey and New York’s rejections of William Transco’s NESE methane pipeline project.”

North American Oil & Gas Pipelines: PennEast Supreme Court Case Looms Large for Future of Pipelines
5/21/21

“Right now, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case that could drastically change the way oil and gas pipelines are built in the future. Starting April 28, the court began hearing oral arguments in the case of PennEast Pipeline Company vs. New Jersey,” according to North American Oil & Gas Pipelines. “In dispute is whether PennEast can use eminent domain to seize land needed to construct a 120-mile, 36-in. natural gas pipeline originating in northeastern Pennsylvania and terminating at Transco’s pipeline interconnection near Pennington, New Jersey… “The Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) filed a friend of the court amicus brief in support of the project, and CEA Mid-Atlantic director Mike Butler said in an April 28 statement that ruling in favor of PennEast would provide much-needed certainty for the energy industry.
“In a time of great evolution of our energy systems, the importance of upholding existing laws that enable the massive investments required to provide reliable, environmentally sound and affordable energy cannot be understated,” Butler said. “The PennEast case is about putting a stop to activist-driven state actions that deny consumers and businesses across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast their right to safe, affordable and abundant energy.” Butler argued that the Constitution supports arguments in favor of the PennEast project.”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

E&E News: Interior OKs Trump-Era Drilling Leases Despite Biden Freeze
Heather Richards, 5/24/21

“The Interior Department has issued dozens of oil leases sold in the final weeks of the Trump administration — and could issue over 200 more — drawing the ire of an environmental group that argues the move is a violation of the Biden administration’s leasing freeze,” according to E&E News. “President Biden ordered a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing shortly after taking office. That pause — which bars the regular auction of drilling rights in federal lands and waters — is in place while the administration conducts a comprehensive review of the federal oil and gas program that considers both the climate impacts and economic benefits of developing the country’s vast stores of fossil fuels. Interior has issued roughly three dozen oil and gas leases since that order.”

E&E News: Biden Admin Defends Oil And Gas Leasing Freeze In Court
Niina H. Farah, 5/24/21

“The Biden administration last week offered its opening arguments in a legal battle over its plans to assess the climate impacts of oil and gas leasing in public lands and waters,” E&E News reports. “A coalition of 13 Republican state attorneys general has called for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana to block the Interior Department from following through on President Biden’s executive order that temporarily froze new leasing (Energywire, April 1). The Justice Department told the court last week that the government had acted well within its statutory authority when it paused the leases and said the attorneys general were ‘unlikely to succeed’ on the substance of their arguments. ‘The Secretary is not required to issue leases by any statute because the relevant statutes instead grant the Secretary considerable discretion over the leasing and management of federal lands,’ DOJ wrote in a brief to the court last Wednesday.”

The Hill: Activists urge Biden to halt new plastics plants in ‘Cancer Alley’
By Jenna Romaine, 5/18/21

“Climate activism groups are calling on the Biden administration to revoke a federal permit that would allow a $9.4 billion petrochemical plant to begin construction in St. James Parish, La., part of a corridor known as “Cancer Alley,” according to The Hill. “Cancer Alley is an 85-mile stretch along the Mississippi River that houses over 150 chemical plants and oil refineries with a combined population of almost 1.7 million. Along the stretch of Cancer Alley, are seven of the top 10 areas in the country with the highest risk of developing cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and many citizens suffer from other respiratory problems… “To raise awareness, youth activists part of the Sunrise Movement have initiated a 400-mile march, which started last week, that will follow the paths of different environmental disasters from New Orleans to Houston. “It’s one plant one day, and another plant another day,” Kidus Girma, a 25-year-old organizer with Sunrise’s Gulf south trek team, told the Guardian.
Rise St. James organized Monday’s protest in conjunction with the Sunrise Movement… “If we had the money, we would purchase the land from Formosa,” Sharon Lavigne, the founder of Rise St. James, added. “We would build a subdivision and preserve our ancestral graves.”

DeSmog: House Hearing Scrutinizes Billions of Dollars in Fossil Fuel Subsidies. Invited Oil Execs are a No-Show
By Nick Cunningham, 5/19/21

“On May 19, the U.S. House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing scrutinizing wasteful fossil fuel subsidies,” DeSmog reports. “Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), who chairs the subcommittee, invited the CEOs of Devon Energy, EOG Resources, and ExxonMobil, as well as executives from the energy industry lobby group Western Energy Alliance. None accepted the invitation to appear before the committee. “Devon Energy is a Fortune 500 company, and the biggest oil producer on federal land in the Lower 48 states. That should have been reason enough for Devon to be here today, answering questions with significant implications for our public lands and natural resources,” Rep. Porter said in her opening statement. “Like all oil companies, Devon gets special tax breaks intended to encourage fossil fuel production.” But the oil industry did not show up to the House hearing to make its case. Instead, they left that to Alex Epstein, the director of the Center for Industrial Progress (CIP), a for-profit think tank that advocates for using more fossil fuels. In his testimony, Epstein said the oil industry was being punished. The “U.S. government is actually harming America and the world by giving unjust punishments to the incredibly life-giving oil and gas industry,” he said. “We don’t have a moral obligation to shrink this industry, we have an obligation to liberate and expand it.”

STATE UPDATES

Palm Springs Desert Sun: California’s top oil regulator moves to ban fracking by 2024
Janet Wilson, 5/21/21

“California’s top oil regulator issued a draft regulation on Friday that would ban all new fracking and other well stimulation permits starting in 2024,” Palm Springs Desert Sun reports. “The California Geologic Energy Management Division, acting on an earlier announcement by Gov. Gavin Newsom that he would direct them to phase out fracking, posted the short proposed ban on its website. It will seek public comment through July 4… “State Sen. Monique Limon, D-Santa Barbara, co-author of that legislation, praised the announcement in an email. “I am glad to see CalGEM take action to protect Californians and specifically the surrounding communities of oil operations,” she said. “It is important that we collect as much input as possible from the public as California moves in this direction. I look forward to engaging in these conversations that prioritize the well-being of families, workers, and consumers.”

OH, CANADA

National Observer: Alberta rebuffs ‘Net Zero by 2050’ plan: it’s ‘driven by activists’
By Natasha Bulowski, 5/20/21

The Alberta government is rebuffing an influential International Energy Agency plan to reach net-zero carbon pollution as an “unreasonable” and “unfeasible” proposal “driven by activists,” according to the National Observer. “Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage made the comments in a statement sent to Canada’s National Observer in response to the release of the IEA’s “Net Zero by 2050” report, which lays out a roadmap for reaching net-zero emissions. It concluded there was “no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply… “Savage noted that the new report was out of step with previous agency forecasts that looked more favourably at fossil fuel demand. The minister then suggested this was because the IEA, a body made up of 30 member countries that works to secure the global oil supply, was now being influenced by climate action advocacy. “Unlike the energy outlook reports that the IEA regularly issues, this is a policy proposal driven by activists, something that the IEA freely admits,” Savage told the Observer.

Canadian Press: Critics say researcher behind allegations that prompted ‘anti-Alberta’ inquiry backs off from one of her major claims
5/21/24

“Critics of a researcher whose work helped prompt Alberta’s inquiry into anti-oilsands campaigns say she appears to have backed away from one of her main allegations,” the Canadian Press reports. “But Vivian Krause says she has never accused environmental groups of being used by U.S. interests to further that country’s oil industry. “I certainly can’t pin that on any environmental groups,” she said Friday. The inquiry, which was given a fourth extension by the United Conservative government this week, is looking into suggestions originally made by Krause that U.S. foundations funded Canadian environmental charities with the aim of landlocking the oilsands. The theory goes on to suggest that was done to benefit U.S. producers by eliminating Canadian competition. Krause said she’s never said that.”

OilPrice.com: Saudi Wealth Fund Dumps Oil Giant And Buys Videogame Stocks
By Tsvetana Paraskova, 5/19/21

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), has sold all the 51 million shares it held in Canada’s oil producer Suncor Energy, regulatory filings showed this week, with those shares currently worth the equivalent of US$1.2 billion,” OilPrice.com reports. “According to a regulatory filing about the fund’s holdings to the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Saudi sovereign wealth fund no longer holds any shares in one of Canada’s largest oil producers and key oil sands producer, Suncor. Instead, the Saudi fund, chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, built positions in companies in the video games industry. The crown prince is a fan of video games and new technologies.”

IMPACT LITIGATION

Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL): Guyanese Citizens File Climate Case Claiming Massive Offshore Oil Project is Unconstitutional

“Today, Guyanese citizens filed the first constitutional climate case in the Caribbean to challenge fossil fuel production on the grounds that it exacerbates global warming and threatens human rights. The case, before Guyana’s Constitutional Court, claims that Guyana’s approval of a massive, ExxonMobil-led oil and gas buildout off the country’s coast violates the government’s legal duty to protect the rights to a healthy environment, sustainable development, and the rights of future generations. The case reflects a growing concern within Guyana regarding the risks oil extraction poses on a national, regional, and international level. Guyana is ExxonMobil’s largest oil development outside of the Permian Basin. The company is pushing to extract over 9 billion barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of gas from ultradeep wells off Guyana’s coast. Melinda Janki, who leads the legal team for the applicants, emphasizes the project’s global significance: “Guyana’s petroleum production is a potential 3.87 gigatonne carbon bomb, putting Guyana at the forefront of the fight to save the planet from oil and gas.”

RESEARCH & SCIENCE

Bloomberg: New Gas Plants Threaten Carbon Hangover Long Past Biden Deadline
By Josh Saul, 5/21/21

“The red-and-white flue stacks of the James M. Barry Electric Generating Station tower over the Mobile River, belching steam into the Alabama sky. The sprawling complex of coal and natural gas plants already spews more than 7.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent every year,” Bloombergreports. “Now it’s about to get even bigger, with a seventh unit estimated to cost $635 million by the time it starts service in 2023. The new gas plant, and others like it, has a 40-year lifespan. That means it will still be there in 2035, the year that President Joe Biden has promised a zero-emission electricity sector, and in 2050, the deadline set by its owner, Southern Co., to reach carbon neutrality. It could even burn past 2060, more than a century after the first coal facility opened on the site — making the complex a testament to the endurance of fossil fuels. The decision by one of the biggest U.S. power companies to develop new fossil fuel assets is hard to square with a low-carbon future. But it’s not unusual. At least eight large utilities in the U.S. are building new gas plants right now, and another five are thinking about doing the same. That lays bare an uncomfortable truth about the sector’s commitment to fighting climate change: All those carbon-neutral pledges don’t necessarily mean quitting fossil fuels. “It seems like false advertising or greenwashing,” Drew Shindell, a professor at Duke University who studies climate change, told Bloomberg. “We can’t be building gas infrastructure in the 2020s and 2030s. We need to be closing it down.”

CLIMATE FINANCE

Guardian: Shell faces shareholder rebellion over fossil fuel production
Jasper Jolly, 5/18/21

“Shell has faced a significant shareholder rebellion on a vote calling for the oil company to set firm targets to wind down fossil fuel production,” according to the Guardian. “A shareholder resolution calling for the Anglo-Dutch company to set binding carbon emissions reduction targets received 30% of votes at the oil company’s annual meeting on Tuesday. The Shell rebellion came on the day that the International Energy Agency said that exploration for new oil and gas fields must stop this year if the world is to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Net zero emissions would contribute to limiting catastrophic global heating. The result represents an escalation of the pressure on Shell to commit to meaningful decarbonisation, after a similar resolution last year received 14% of votes. A similar resolution at BP, another FTSE 100 oil company, gained 21% of votes last week. The Shell rebellion sailed past the 20% threshold that means the oil company will be forced to consult shareholders and report on their views within six months, under the UK corporate governance code. The resolution was put forward by Follow This, a campaign group that uses activist investment to put pressure on oil companies into decarbonising in line with the limits set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement.”

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

DeSmog: Science Museum Head Defends Shell Sponsorship of Climate Change Exhibition
By Adam Barnetton, 5/19/21

“The director of the Science Museum in London has defended Shell’s sponsorship of a climate change exhibition amid growing public calls for the museum to cut ties with the energy giant,” according to DeSmog. “Ian Blatchford, director of the Science Museum Group, wrote in an email to staff on 29 April, posted online by Culture Unstained, that sponsorship by energy companies like Shell, BP, and Equinor were achieving a “public good” by educating people about climate change, including possible solutions. Over 50,000 people have signed a petition calling on the museum to drop Shell as a sponsor of the “Our Future Planet” exhibition, which opens 19 May and focuses on controversial carbon, capture and storage technology ahead of November’s COP26 UN climate summit. A statement by youth activists from the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) London calling for a boycott of the exhibition has been supported by scientists, climate organisations, and NGOs… “In his email, Blatchford wrote: “Campaigners who want us to sever our ties with Shell, BP and Equinor are ignoring the reality that these companies have the capital, geography, people and logistics to be major players in finding solutions to the urgent challenges of climate change. And we must continue to challenge them to show more leadership to deliver on this potential.”

OPINION

New Republic: Even the International Energy Agency Thinks It’s Time to Stop Drilling New Oil Wells
Kate Aronoff, 5/18/21

“A bombshell new 227-page report from the International Energy Agency on paths to avoiding climate catastrophe doesn’t mince words: “Beyond projects already committed as of 2021,” its authors write, “there are no new oil and gas fields approved for development in our pathway, and no new coal mines or mine extensions are required,” the New Republic reports. “Put simply, the Paris-based intergovernmental organization declares—in big, bold text—what for American politicians is unthinkable: “There is no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply.” Drillers, the IEA suggests, will have to rely on “existing assets.” This isn’t a group of lefty climate activists making the case for a rapid phaseout of fossil fuels but a body founded by Henry Kissinger to provide a geopolitical counterweight to OPEC. Environmentalists don’t even consider IEA particularly friendly to their cause—energy wonks routinely describe IEA scenarios as severely underestimating renewables. Fossil fuel companies have pointed to IEA estimates as proof that their core business model can continue indefinitely. But now, the IEA is pointing to policies more ambitious than some of the most ambitious climate plans on offer in Washington, D.C.”

Foreign Policy: The Myth of a Green Canada: Is Trudeau too tied to oil and gas to put Canada on a progressive environmentalist course?
By Taylor C. Noakes, 5/24/21

“For much of the last decade, a not insignificant number of Canadians have become engrossed in a peculiar conspiracy theory,” according to Foreign Policy. “It goes something like this: U.S. philanthropic organizations have paid Canadian environmental groups to hire anti-pipeline protesters, sapping support for Canada’s oil and gas industry. As such, pipelines have not been built, and Canada’s vast energy resources remain landlocked and inaccessible, denying the country an incredible fortune. If it were true, this would be the most effective environmental protest movement in world history. A handful of demonstrations by a few thousand protesters would have managed to hamstring an industry that’s responsible for about 11 percent of Canada’s nominal GDP and that, just a couple years ago, directly employed nearly 300,000 people. The theory—almost exclusively promoted by Canadian conservatives—asks its believers to imagine a world where all it takes to cripple an industry backed by multinational energy companies and valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars are a few protests, some bad public relations, and the postponement or cancellation of a few pipelines. The theory hasn’t just ensnared the public. The government of the oil-dependent western province of Alberta launched a multimillion-dollar public inquiry in July 2019 to prove their predetermined conclusion that the United States is trying to sabotage the Canadian oil and gas sector. So far, the inquiry has only produced a handful of reports by known climate change denialists, all of whom were paid for with public funds.”

WSJ: Whitmer’s Bad Excuse for Enbridge Pipeline Blockade
Letter, 5/23/21

“Michigan’s Governor is trying to abrogate an international treaty between the U.S. and Canada, and there is no scientific basis for her claim that the pipeline poses an environmental risk. I suppose “Pipeline Politics Threatens Energy Up North” (op-ed, May 18) by David Jacobson and Gary Doer had to be diplomatic, but the shutdown of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline is hiding behind “environmental concerns” expressed by Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The Great Lakes environment is an excuse to help meet the goal of transitioning, ASAP, from fossil fuels to a nation powered entirely by renewable sources of electricity, regardless of the cost to the taxpayers or our good neighbor and longtime ally, Canada.”

WSJ: Gretchen Whitmer’s Pipeline War: Michigan’s Governor assaults Canada and the Midwest economy
By The Editorial Board, 5/21/21

“The cyber attack on the Colonial Pipeline has led to surging gasoline prices on the East Coast. But that isn’t stopping Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer from trying to shut down another crucial pipeline, no matter the harm across the Midwest and Canada,” according to the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board. “Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 transports more than half a million barrels a day of oil and natural gas liquids through Canada and the Great Lakes region. Late last year Ms. Whitmer moved to revoke and terminate an easement that lets the pipeline operate for 4.5 miles across the Straits of Mackinac. She’s seeking a state court injunction to force Enbridge to shut down Line 5 and “permanently decommission” the pipeline. Ms. Whitmer claims Enbridge has created an “unacceptable risk of a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes that could devastate our economy and way of life.” But the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the federal regulator that oversees Line 5, said in January that it is “presently aware of no unsafe or hazardous conditions that would warrant shutdown of Line 5.” No mode of moving energy is risk-free, but pipelines are much safer than rail.”

The Hill: We have a chance to halt climate change if we stop destroying carbon sinks and cut methane
Durwood Zaelke is president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development in Washington, D.C. and Paris, and adjunct professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, 5/21/21

“Tail risks — often associated with economic phenomena like the 2008 global financial crisis — involve catastrophic, but presumed unlikely, events at the far end of a bell curve of possible dangers. “Fat tail risks” are much more probable. Sometimes called “black swans,” they can cause devastating impacts very fast,” Durwood Zaelke writes in The Hill. “One feedback concerns the white shield of Arctic sea ice that reflects solar radiation safely back to space. Half the ice is already gone. The remaining half contains only a few percent of the original strong sea ice that builds up over many years. The rest is fragile new ice that forms each winter. Thin and less reflective, it is also broken up more easily by wind and waves. When all the ice vanishes — possibly within a decade or two — the extra heat absorbed by the open seas will cause additional warming equivalent to emitting a trillion tons of carbon dioxide on top of the 2.4 trillion that we’ve put into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution. It’s a similar story with the Amazon rainforest, which has long absorbed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If we don’t stop felling it, we’ll soon reach the tipping point where a runaway reaction will destroy what remains, and with it much of Latin America’s climate system, with repercussions throughout the world. The action needed to limit these risks is clear, if not necessarily easy.”

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