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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 5/24/22

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips May 24, 2022

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PIPELINE NEWS

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • Associated Press: At Davos, Climate Debate Over Role of Oil in ‘Going Green’

  • Politico: GLICK 2.0

  • E&E News: GAO makes recommendations for Interior, EPA methane plans

STATE UPDATES

  • Reuters: Another climate change lawsuit against Big Oil heads back to state court

  • E&E News: West Coast states face pressure to sue Big Oil over climate

  • E&E News: Bennet mulls conservation bill with mining, drilling limits

  • InsideClimate News: California Water Regulators Still Haven’t Considered the Growing Body of Research on the Risks of Oil Field Wastewater

  • Associated Press: Companies fined $1.75m in worker death at Bay Area refinery

EXTRACTION

  • Troy Media: Imperial signs biggest ever contracts with Indigenous businesses

CLIMATE FINANCE

  • Pitchbook: PE investors revive appetite for fossil fuel deals

  • Insurance Insider: AIG reveals step change of ESG integration into underwriting

OPINION

PIPELINE NEWS

E&E News: FOIA lawsuit targets Jordan Cove LNG protester surveillance
Niina H. Farah, 5/23/22

“Landowners who had opposed a now-canceled liquefied natural gas export terminal in Oregon are suing federal officials to release information about alleged coordinated surveillance of protesters who challenged the facility,” E&E News reports. “Opponents of the Jordan Cove LNG project and its associated Pacific Connector pipeline are turning to a federal court to require the Interior Department, FBI, Customs and Border Protection, and the Department of Justice to produce records under the Freedom of Information Act about public law enforcement officials’ efforts to track protesters. In a filing Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, landowners sought records related to the agencies’ involvement with “other federal, state, local and private entities in surveillance and alleged security activities directed at private citizens engaged in First Amendment protected lawful and peaceful opposition to the Jordan Cove Energy Project.” The lawsuit, filed months after the cancellation of the project, aims to keep the federal government more broadly accountable for its connections to the fossil fuel industry, according to the challengers.”

Nebraska Public Media: Lessons from Dakota Access Pipeline Shape Farmers’ Battle Over Proposed Carbon Pipelines
Katie Peikes, 5/23/22

“Keith Puntenney is still feeling the impacts from the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through a corner of his central Iowa farmland,” Nebraska Public Media reports. “Three acres of the land isn’t worth planting, Puntenney said, five years after part of the 1,200-mile pipeline was put under his land to carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois. He says the soil is compacted and doesn’t get the same yields. “They promised that they would remediate the soil,” he told NPM. “They never did.” Now another pipeline, this one carrying carbon dioxide, could be adjacent to another section of Puntenney’s farm… “Keith Puntenney’s history with the Dakota Access Pipeline started long before construction and shows how difficult it could be for farmers to keep pipelines from their property. After the crude oil pipeline was announced in 2014, he worried what would happen if oil from the pipeline spilled and opposed its construction. But the Iowa Utilities Board signed off on the project, allowing the pipeline company to seize peoples’ private land through eminent domain… “The question for the carbon pipelines,” Roesler told NPM, “is what is the extra benefit to Iowans from shipping carbon from ethanol and fertilizer plants out of state? Extra meaning more than just revenue from taxes and jobs.” The carbon dioxide pipeline companies say the projects will extend the viability of the ethanol industry, an important part of Iowa’s economy… “Richard and Phyllis McKean live seven miles outside of Armstrong in northern Iowa and have more than 900 acres of farmland. Some of the land has been in the McKean family for more than a century. Navigator CO2 Ventures’ proposed pipeline would cut diagonally across their land, which the couple can see from their living room window. “We don’t want it,” they both declared numerous times while sitting for an interview… “It makes a person angry,” Phyllis McKean told NPM. “That this is private property. And they think they can come in and do what they want to.” “…The land the McKeans own is pattern tile, which means they have tubing parallel to one another buried underground to help drain excess water from their fields. They worry the pipeline companies would cut the tile lines for construction, disrupting more acres than just those in the pipeline’s path. In the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, an Iowa State University study found construction tore up the land before compacting it so much that it couldn’t support crops as it had before. Activists and landowners claimed crews worked to install the pipeline while the soils were wet, which compacted soil.”

Pipeline Fighters Hub: Counties and States Can Regulate Pipelines (VIDEO)
5/23/22

“Pipeline corporations tell county and state governments that they cannot touch pipelines, because the federal government’s PHMSA and FERC agencies have sole authority to put in place laws regarding pipelines — including with regard to fundamentally local issues like zoning and emergency response. The reality is that there are many areas where a county government is vested with the full legal authority to put in place protections for the land and water in your communities. This webinar features a discussion about what counties can do to regulate pipelines, with a focus on the new proposed carbon dioxide pipelines in the Midwest and Gulf states. SPEAKERS: Steven Feit, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL); Bill Caram, Pipeline Safety Trust; Paul Blackburn, attorney, Bold Alliance; Sid Feickert, County Commissioner, McPherson County, South Dakota; Steve Kenkel, County Supervisor, Shelby County, Iowa; Jane Kleeb, Bold Alliance. 

Pen City Current: Farmers plead with board to stop carbon pipeline
Chuck Vandenberg, 5/23/22

“A sentiment of opposition is growing in Lee County over a proposed carbon capture pipeline that will run diagonally through the county, if approved,” the Pen City Current reports. “About 14 agriculture property owners attended Monday’s Lee County Board of Supervisors meeting to ask the board for support in opposing the project… “But area farmers are asking the county to get their backs. Some of the farmers have had extended damage and profit loss due to the Dakota Access pipeline that went in 2016 and 2017. Ray Menke sent a letter to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds indicating the pipeline companies were running “roughshod” over the property owners who don’t believe in their cause. Menke said the pipeline will run 3/4 of a mile across his property with three right angles. “At the informational meeting, they told us that this pipeline and pumping carbon a mile beneath the earth’s surface is all pretty much experimental and they did not deny that they will use eminent domain to do it,” Menke told the Current. He said that amounts to the Governor and legislature to allow a private business enterprise to destroy some of their business enterprise for an experiment… “He told the Current Dakota Access did a poor job repairing tile lines and terraces. “The Iowa Utilities Board seems to be a worthless rubber stamp as long as the pipeline company jumps through the right hoops,” Menke told the Current… “Supervisor Ron Fedler told the group that he was getting phone calls last week. He said he would support a letter from Lee County Supervisors opposing the pipeline going through Lee County. “Maybe the board of supervisors could influence them if you have enough counties get on board to say enough is enough. Once you get a pipeline through, it seems like they just start coming from every place, and where does it stop. Like you say, it’s not improving the ground,” Fedler said.

Mississippi Valley Publishing: Supervisors consider letter opposing pipeline
Robin Delaney, 5/23/22

“After hearing still more residents’ objections and concerns regarding the pipelines, particularly that of Navigator CO2 Ventures that is to transport captured carbon dioxide in its liquid form, Lee County Supervisors said they would consider sending a letter to the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) opposing the project,” Mississippi Valley Publishing reports. “Even though we have no say whether it gets a permit or not, that’s the only way I think to stop it,” Supervisor Ron Fedler said at the board meeting Monday. “That may influence other counties to say enough is enough.” “…Fedler also suggested that a petition be circulated during the next two weeks for impacted landowners and other Lee County residents to sign… “Ray Menke of Fort Madison read a letter he wrote to the IUB in which he accuses the pipeline companies of running rough shod over those that do not believe in their cause… “He said some landowners are still dealing with the aftermath of the Dakota Access pipeline project that was completed three years ago… “Andrew Johnson of West Point echoed Menke’s sentiments, as did several others, and said that although he sees the pipeline as a safe means of transporting hazardous materials, the pipeline does not need to be built on private property. “Make them put it in the ditch where it belongs, he said… “In response to thee types of complaints, revisions are pending to the IUB’s Instructions for County Inspectors Manual and Iowa Code Chapter 9.5. Among those revisions is granting the inspector the authority to halt operations during wet conditions that could result in massive damage to the property. Earlier this month, after hearing several complaints related to the Dakota Access pipeline, supervisors approved a letter supporting the revisions.”

Pipeline Fighters Hub: Welcome to the 45Q Tax Credit Piggie Farm!
Paul Blackburn, 5/24/22

“No doubt, you’re all dying to meet the piggies who are lining up at the federal 45Q tax credit trough, and to learn how Congress is planning to slop their trough with billions in federal tax credits to help fatten them up (even more). Since the 45Q tax credit is perhaps the primary driving financial force behind the proposed carbon pipelines, it’s important to understand,” Paul Blackburn writes for the Pipeline Fighters Hub. “…The 45Q tax credit gives polluters who emit carbon dioxide a tax credit if they capture carbon dioxide from their smokestacks, turn it into a fluid, transport it in a pipeline to a well, and then pump it underground, with the idea that this will reduce the amount of CO2 pollution and therefore help slow climate change. But, all of these carbon capture and storage processes require power and almost all of this power will come from burning fossil fuels and emitting CO2. It is critical to take these CCS CO2 emissions into account. Moreover, the CO2 may be pumped underground for two reasons. The first is to store (sequester) it, hopefully for thousands of years. The second is to use the CO2 in a process called enhanced oil recovery (EOR) that can squeeze very large amounts of oil out of old oilfields. This oil would be turned into fuels such as gasoline and diesel and then sold and burned, thereby releasing more CO2 pollution – just the opposite of what the 45Q tax credit is supposed to accomplish. Tax credits only benefit those who pay taxes and have very large tax liabilities, so by their nature they are regressive, meaning they help the rich more than the poor. The 45Q tax credit can only be claimed by large corporations, partnerships, or very rich individuals, because the minimum tax credit clam amount is for 25,000 metric tons of CO2 per year.“

WPLN: TVA wants gas. Enbridge and Kinder Morgan want pipelines. Tennesseans want protection.
CAROLINE EGGERS, 5/24/22

“Years before the company Plains All American proposed an oil pipeline in Memphis, the company obtained what’s known as a “Nationwide Permit 12” from the Army Corps of Engineers. It allowed the pipeline company to skip public input, because the Corps assumed the project would not harm the environment,” WPLN reports. “They did not communicate with the community,” Angela Johnson, of Memphis, told WPLN, and “they were taking away generational land that belonged to people in our community.” Johnson spoke during one of several public meetings held by the Army Corps to reexamine the use of Nationwide Permit 12 for oil and gas pipelines. The Corps cited concerns about environmental justice, climate change and drinking water — along with the now-defunct pipeline project in Memphis — in its public notice for the review… “In addition to dodging public comments, pipeline developers have been skipping environmental assessments through this process. “It’s an absolute crime for the people who have to live with these projects, forever,” Heath Frantzen, of San Antonio, said during a meeting… “TVA is planning to build new gas plants at its Cumberland and Kingston sites. Two major pipeline companies, Kinder Morgan and Enbridge, have already requested permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — these companies both submitted objections to FERC last month when the agency considered a new rule to review greenhouse gases before approving new pipelines… “The written comment period ends Friday, May 27. The Corps said it’s formally reviewing this permit to see if changes are needed before to it expires in 2026.”

Associated Press: North Dakota extends deadline for gas pipeline proposals
5/23/22

“A panel that regulates North Dakota’s energy industry has voted to extend the deadline for proposals to build a natural gas pipeline from western North Dakota’s oil patch to the eastern part of the state,” the Associated Press reports. “The three-member, all-Republican North Dakota Industrial Commission headed by Gov. Doug Burgum moved the deadline for proposals to Aug. 15 after no applications were received by the deadline this month. The North Dakota Legislature in November set aside $150 million in federal coronavirus aid to help construct a trans-state pipeline for natural gas. The pipeline is meant to cut down on the wasteful flaring at well sites and pipe it to communities in the gas-poor eastern part of the state, hoping to spur industrial development.”

North American Pipelines: Matterhorn Express Pipeline Reaches Final Investment Decision
Brad Kramer, 5/23/22

“A joint venture group is planning to move forward with the Matterhorn Express Pipeline to serve the Permian Basin,” North American Pipelines reports. “WhiteWater, EnLink Midstream LLC, Devon Energy Corp. and MPLX LP have reached a final investment decision to move forward with the construction of the Matterhorn Express Pipeline after having secured sufficient firm transportation agreements with shippers, according to a May 19 announcement. The Matterhorn Express Pipeline has been designed to transport up to 2.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas through approximately 490 miles of 42-in. pipeline from Waha, Texas, to the Katy area near Houston, Texas. Supply for the Matterhorn Express Pipeline will be sourced from multiple upstream connections in the Permian Basin, including direct connections to processing facilities in the Midland Basin through an approximately 75-mile lateral, as well as a direct connection to the 3.2 Bcf/d Agua Blanca Pipeline, a joint venture between WhiteWater and MPLX… “The Matterhorn Express Pipeline is expected to be in service in the third quarter of 2024, pending the receipt of customary regulatory and other approvals.”

Natchitoches Times: Pipeline compressor station to bring major revenue
Carolyn Roy, 5/23/22

“The Parish Council introduced an ordinance at its meeting Monday that could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars for Parish Government and other taxing entities,” the Natchitoches Times reports. “Acadian Pipeline Services is building a compressor station according to Project Manager Allison Welch… “Welch said the compressor station will improve efficiency and allow more flow in the existing pipeline… “The ordinance introduced proposes a zoning change from Industrial Agriculture to Industry 2 for 10 acres. Also introduced was an ordinance of special exception for the purpose of interconnecting pipeline servitude between existing pipeline and proposed compressor station. The ordinances will be voted on at the June meeting. The company obtained a planning and zoning permit in February that allows preliminary work but can move forward at its own risk with construction until the rezoning is approved… “An example of a similar facility is a gathering station near Robeline that has an assessed value of $5 million. Tax wise, it generates $93.21 for every $1,000 of value. Recently, is generated $549,000 that is distributed to School Board District 9, Fire District 5 and Parish Government including the library, health unit, government buildings and Road District 40. The tax will not be levied until 2023.”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

Associated Press: At Davos, Climate Debate Over Role of Oil in ‘Going Green’
PETER PRENGAMAN, 5/24/22

“As government officials, corporate leaders and other elites at the World Economic Forum grapple with how to confront climate change and its devastating effects, a central question is emerging: to what extent can oil and gas companies be part of a transition to lower-carbon fuels?” the Associated Press reports. “In different times the question could have been academic, the kind of thing critics of the forum, which takes place in a tony ski village in the Swiss Alps, would say had no relevance to the real world. But today, the question is both practical and urgent, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced many countries that depended on Russian oil and gas to make swift changes to energy supplies… “We should not allow a false narrative to be created that what has happened in Ukraine somehow obviates the need to move forward and address the climate crisis,” said U.S. climate envoy John Kerry on Tuesday, speaking on a panel about energy transition. Kerry added that it was possible to both meet the need of increased energy from fossil fuels in the short-term, particularly in Europe, and stay on course to reduce emissions over the coming years. Meanwhile, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen made a different argument to urgently move toward renewable energies: she warned the 27-nation bloc should avoid becoming dependent on untrustworthy countries, like it did with fossil fuels from Russia, as it moves toward a greener economy… “Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental Petroleum a major oil company, countered that oil and gas industries had a central role to play in the transition to renewable energy. Instead of talk about moving away from fossil fuels, Hollub told AP the focus should be on making fossil fuels cleaner by reducing emissions. She told AP Occidental had invested heavily in wind and solar energy and planned to build the largest direct air capture facility in the world in the Permian Basin. Direct air capture is a process that pulls carbon dioxide out of the air and buries it deep in the ground. “The U.S. can provide ample resources to the rest of the world. However, it’s becoming more and more difficult to do that because of the fact that we are getting a lot of headwinds,” she told AP. “One is the belief that we can end the use of oil and gas sooner rather than later.”

Politico: GLICK 2.0
Matthew Choi, 5/23/22

“The spotlight on FERC Chair Richard Glick is getting brighter after the White House announced President Joe Biden intends to renominate him to the commission when his term ends next month,” Politico reports. “While Glick has won the praise of climate advocates and the clean energy industry for his focus on streamlining transmission permitting to allow more renewables onto the grid, GOP lawmakers and fossil fuel interests are increasingly hammering the agency for taking actions they say work against the domestic oil and gas industry. Democratic Senate Energy Chair Joe Manchin and Republicans on the committee blasted Glick earlier this year for the commission’s policy statements that would have increased environmental justice and climate change considerations in natural gas project permitting — a move on which the commission backtracked… “Conservative advocacy group Common Sense Leadership Fund also launched an advertising campaign this month targeted at voters in early primary states New Hampshire and Nevada, reading: “What the FERC! Biden’s Democrats are intentionally raising your high energy prices.” But Glick’s allies and those who have worked with him directly praise him for his experience and nuance.” 

E&E News: GAO makes recommendations for Interior, EPA methane plans
Heather Richards, 5/23/22

“The Bureau of Land Management should consider making oil companies provide a plan to capture methane emissions before they can drill on public lands, following a practice increasingly adopted by state regulators, according to the Government Accountability Office,” E&E News reports. “The GAO report published Friday also recommended that EPA — which has authority over pollution beyond federal lands — give oil operators more flexibility to use alternative technologies such as drones and flyovers to detect methane leaks. The GAO investigation was requested by four top senators on environmental and energy issues: West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D), chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee; Delaware Sen. Tom Carper (D), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee; and Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Angus King (I-Maine). It arrived as both federal agencies work to advance new rules on methane pollution from oil and gas development. Both have developed regulations in the past to try to mitigate leaks and releases of methane, a potent greenhouse gas whose contribution to global warming has become an increasing area of concern.”

STATE UPDATES

Reuters: Another climate change lawsuit against Big Oil heads back to state court
Nate Raymond, 5/23/22

“A federal appeals court on Monday delivered another blow to efforts by Chevron Corp, Exxon Mobil Corp and other oil companies to force state and local governments to pursue lawsuits claiming they fueled climate change in federal rather than state court,” Reuters reports. “The Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the second time in two years remanded a lawsuit the state of Rhode Island filed in 2018 after rejecting the companies’ arguments that its claims were governed by or preempted by federal law. U.S. Circuit Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson called the issues “mindnumbing” and said the court was “leaning hard on our sibling circuits’ analyses in comparable climate-change cases,” after three other appellate courts remanded similar lawsuits. State courts are generally considered a more plaintiff-friendly venue… “Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha, a Democrat, in a statement called Monday’s ruling “the right decision.” “After decades of climate change deception by the fossil fuel defendants, and now nearly four years of delay tactics in our lawsuit to hold them accountable for it, our residents, workers, businesses and taxpayers are ready for their day in court,” he told Reuters… “Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last year, similar lawsuits have been sent back to state courts by the 4th, 9th and 10th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, including Baltimore’s lawsuit.”

E&E News: West Coast states face pressure to sue Big Oil over climate
Lesley Clark, 5/24/22 

“Oregon and Washington state are among the most reliably blue states, with chief legal officers who prioritize climate action and challenged the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks,” E&E News reports. “Democratic Attorneys General Ellen Rosenblum of Oregon and Bob Ferguson of Washington state are also supporting a number of local governments that are suing the oil and gas industry to pay up for flooding, wildfires and other effects of a warming planet. But so far, neither state has filed its own climate liability lawsuit. Their absence on the litigation front — and the decision by King County, Wash., last September to withdraw its case against the five biggest oil companies — has sparked curiosity and gentle nudging by allies who say the liability lawsuits are an important tool to hold companies accountable for greenhouse gas emissions. “I believe the time is ripe for Washington to take a fresh look at how the fossil fuel industry’s decades-long campaign of deception may have violated our state laws,” Washington state Rep. David Hackney (D) wrote in a January op-ed in The Olympian. Oregon state Sen. Jeff Golden, another Democrat, made a similar appeal last August in The Oregonian, writing that “as the price of the industry’s deception becomes more and more catastrophic, it’s time that Oregon takes action to hold these polluters accountable.” More than two dozen state and local governments have sued BP PLC, Exxon Mobil Corp., and other major oil and gas companies on the grounds that the industry has long deceived the public about the dangers of burning fossil fuels and should therefore compensate municipalities that now need to respond to erosion, severe storms and other climate impacts… “If I were in a position of power, I would think you would want to be using all hands on deck and every tool in your toolbox, figuring out which one is going to work, how are we going to make progress,” Andrea Rodgers, senior litigation attorney for Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon-based law firm that has sued on behalf of children to get Washington state to take climate action, told E&E. “From the outside, it’s disappointing that it hasn’t happened because the fossil fuel companies are continuing to do what they’ve been doing for decades.”

E&E News: Bennet mulls conservation bill with mining, drilling limits
Heather Richards, 5/20/22

“Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet is proposing to protect parts of Colorado’s Gunnison Basin from new mining and oil and gas development,” E&E News reports. “The senator today released a discussion bill, the “Gunnison Outdoor Resources Protection Act of 2022,” that would to ban new oil leasing and new mining claims on certain public lands in the Western Colorado basin. The bill would use public land management tools like wildlife designations and conservation mechanism to set aside lands for protection in the basin and Gunnison County. It would not bar development on existing mineral rights, which in the case of oil and gas are limited in the proposed areas of protection, according to the senator’s office. Bennet hasn’t yet finalized boundaries. The Gunnison Basin is a 2.5-million-acre swath prized for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation. The senator’s office is accepting public input on the draft bill for 60 days. After consideration of that input, Bennet will file text with the Senate.”

InsideClimate News: California Water Regulators Still Haven’t Considered the Growing Body of Research on the Risks of Oil Field Wastewater
Liza Gross, 5/22/22

“California is heading into its dry season after one of the driest winters on record, preceded by a brief reprieve from the worst drought in its history. No wonder water managers in the Central Valley’s parched farm belt are increasingly interested in a controversial practice: reusing oil field wastewater to grow crops,” InsideClimate News reports. “Last fall, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board assured critics that it had reviewed studies of the practice and found no elevated risks to human health or crop safety. The board focused primarily on one question—are crops grown with produced water safe to eat?—and considered as beyond the scope of its responsibility the wider range of potential harms associated with recycling the oil industry’s wastewater. The board acknowledged that it did not study how long-term use of oil companies’ “produced water” might affect crops and soil that are irrigated with it, or whether toxic chemicals in the wastewater could accumulate over time in the nuts, oranges and grapes that are sent around the world. Nor did the board consider the ecological risks of spreading oil field wastewater across the land in a county where at least 20 threatened or endangered species live within about a mile of an oil field, a proximity that has already resulted in millions of gallons of the oil and wastewater inundating their habitat. But scientists in other parts of the country have investigated these questions, looking at both the consequences of intentional reuse of oil wastewater for irrigation and disposal and accidental spills of the wastewater on wildlife and the environment. And a growing body of research shows that even highly diluted produced water can harm soil, plants and aquatic life, and that oil drilling boosts groundwater concentrations of naturally occurring toxic elements like arsenic, and radioactive elements like radium, while also endangering sensitive ecosystems and protected wildlife, an Inside Climate News analysis has found.”

Associated Press: Companies fined $1.75m in worker death at Bay Area refinery
5/19/22

“California workplace safety regulators fined a San Francisco Bay Area refinery and three contractor companies more than $1.75 million for safety violations in the death of a worker who suffocated while trying to clean a well, officials said Thursday,” the Associated Press reports. “California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health cited Valero Energy Corp.’s refinery in Benicia and contractors JT. Thorpe & Son, Inc., T.R.S.C. Inc. and Total Safety a combined $1.75 million for safety violations following the Nov. 12, 2021, death of Luis Gutierrez… “The 35-year-old Gutierrez, an employee of the Richmond-based contractor JT Thorpe & Son, lost consciousness after descending into a regenerator overflow well at the refinery to evaluate the condition of the well interior and to perform cleaning operations in advance of a welding crew, the division, known as Cal/OSHA, said in a statement. Inspectors determined that a welding torch left in the well was leaking argon, an odorless gas that displaced oxygen inside the confined space, the agency said. Gutierrez was found suspended by fall protection equipment inside the regenerator. A refinery emergency rescue team got him out and emergency workers could not resuscitate him, the agency said.”

EXTRACTION

Troy Media: Imperial signs biggest ever contracts with Indigenous businesses
Deborah Jaremko, 5/23/22

“Canadian oil sands producer Imperial Oil says it has signed two of its largest-ever contracts with Indigenous businesses,” Troy Media reports. “Two joint ventures – one with the Fort McKay First Nation and another with the Mikisew Cree First Nation – will provide Imperial large-scale earthwork, land reclamation, and mining support services at its Kearl oil sands mine in northern Alberta. The financial details of the deals were not disclosed, but Imperial said the two businesses will handle about 38 million cubic metres of earth over the next five years. “Never before at Imperial have contracts of this scale been provided through Indigenous-owned companies,” Kearl production manager Jamie Long told Troy.  Imperial’s new contracts with Fort McKay Graham and Mikisew North American continue a trend of increasing spending with Indigenous businesses in the oil sands. According to the latest data from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, oil sands companies spent a record $2.4 billion with 275 Indigenous businesses in 2019, up from $1.5 billion with 263 Indigenous businesses in 2015… “Fort McKay Group of Companies CEO Sami Saad told Troy the new contracts with Imperial help improve the prospects for Indigenous businesses. “Establishing ourselves as a competitive provider is paving the way for other Indigenous companies to reach the same achievements.”

CLIMATE FINANCE

Pitchbook: PE investors revive appetite for fossil fuel deals
Madeline Shi, 5/23/22

“Oil and gas deals were on the mend during the first quarter of the year as private equity investors increasingly took advantage of market volatility and rising energy prices,” Pitchbook reports. “Funds in the sector also drew renewed interest from LPs following years of efforts to transition into a greener economy, according to PitchBook’s Q1 2022 US PE Breakdown. While PE firms are under rising pressure to move the needle on ESG commitments, the recent run-up in energy prices underscores the global economy’s current reliance on fossil fuels, the report said. In the first quarter, investors financed 40 US energy transactions totaling $11.2 billion in value, accounting for 5% of all US deal value, according to PitchBook data. Q1’s total deal value in the energy sector is higher than each quarter last year but below the typical figures of first quarters in recent years. PE firms are walking the line between a clean energy transition and the near-term needs of the energy markets by increasing financing in both renewables and fossil fuel investments. The importance of the shift to greener energy production—and energy independence more broadly—is underscored by Europe’s dependence on Russian gas imports.”

Insurance Insider: AIG reveals step change of ESG integration into underwriting
Samuel Casey, 5/24/22

“AIG is piloting an ESG underwriting framework across its general insurance portfolio as it looks to integrate environmental, societal and governance (ESG) considerations across all product lines, its latest ESG report shows,” Insurance Insider reports. 

OPINION

CleanTechnica: Big Oil Investors Put To The Test At Annual Shareholder Meetings
Kathy Mulvey, 5/23/22

“This week is the culmination of major oil and gas companies’ annual general meetings, also known as annual shareholder meetings. As in previous years, climate-related shareholder proposals are on the agenda for Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron, and climate advocates are urging major investors, including BlackRock, to vote for climate action,” Kathy Mulvey writes for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Two key things have changed since last year: 1) Evidence has piled up that sharp cuts in fossil fuels are needed to keep the goals of the Paris climate agreement within reach — and that major oil and gas companies’ climate claims are greenwashing. 2) Oil and gas companies are raking in record profits as Russia wages an unjust war in Ukraine. Less shareholder support for climate proposals at BP, ConocoPhillips and other major oil and gas companies’ annual meetings earlier this month suggests that some investors may be falling for fossil fuel industry spin and deprioritizing climate action. That would be shortsighted and dangerous. According to the latest report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, action between now and 2030 is most critical: Immediate, deep cuts in heat-trapping emissions are necessary across all sectors if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius… “Shareholder votes calling for corporate transparency and climate action are necessary, but not sufficient. Investors need consistent, comparable data to make informed decisions and hold corporations accountable for their response to climate change. That’s why the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has proposed a new rule that would require publicly traded companies to disclose the amount of heat-trapping emissions their businesses produce, detail how climate impacts and the clean energy transition might affect their businesses, and publicize their plans for meeting their carbon emissions reduction targets… “Big Oil’s past and ongoing climate deception is worsening the climate crisis, harming Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities; poor and working-class communities; and communities in the Global South first and worst. This week investors have the opportunity — and responsibility — to ratchet up pressure on Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron for climate accountability. Scientists, activists, litigators and policymakers around the world are watching, and are ready to act.”

Santa Monica Mirror: Doubt Removed: Oil Refiners Gouging Us
Tom Elias, Columnist, 5/23/22

“There was some room for doubt back in February, when gasoline prices rose precipitously: Until the oil companies who refine most California gas unveiled their first-quarter profits, it would be impossible to be sure the spike stemmed from price gouging,” Tom Elias writes for the Santa Monica Mirror. “That was because the pump price increase from about $4.30 per gallon to nearly $6 (and more in some places) came just as the United States announced a boycott on Russian oil as a punishment for the invasion of Ukraine. Price gouging seemed the logical explanation for the hike. Russian oil amounted to less than 3 percent of California’s supply; why should its sudden disappearance cause a price hike of 12 times that much? Doubt about this should now disappear from the minds of consumers. They were taken advantage of by oil companies in a systematic, cartel-like manner as every gasoline refiner raised prices at the same moment. That is now clear from the very eagerly-awaited quarterly financial reports. They show profits of the five major firms making 96 percent of this state’s gasoline all rose dramatically in the first quarter. Because the price gouging did not begin until mid-February, it had no effect for fully half the first-quarter time period. The five companies include Chevron, Marathon, Valero, PBF Energy and Phillips 66. Their results, Jamie Court, head of the Consumer Watchdog advocacy group, tells the Mirror, “show that the Golden State Gouge is real. Oil refiners exploited the crisis in Ukraine to make a mint from California drivers.” “…This could end in California if the Legislature this summer passes a bill known as SB 1322, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Ben Allen of Santa Monica. Allen’s measure would force the Big Five refiners in this state to report how much gas they make and sell here and the margins they net from each gallon sold to drivers… “So a lot of money hangs on the fate of Allen’s bill, which passed its first Senate committee test unanimously. That’s money which could help a lot of families now forced to choose between buying gas or food or shoes.”

Hamilton Spectator: Canada can lead the world on carbon capture
Deborah Jaremko is director of content for the Canadian Energy Centre, an Alberta government corporation funded in part by taxes paid by industry on carbon emissions, 5/23/22

“Canada’s largest oil sands producers are “in full-scale development mode” on a major joint project designed to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and propel the sector down the path to net-zero,” Deborah Jaremko writes for the Hamilton Spectator. “The companies have planned one of the world’s largest carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects… “Canada is already a leader in what could be seen as the first generation of global CCS development, where carbon emissions are captured from industrial processes and stored deep underground. There are 26 commercial-scale CCS projects in the world, and four are in Canada – including the largest CO2 pipeline on the planet, the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line… “The first phase of the Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero project, expected to be operational by 2030, would add capacity to store an additional 8.5 million tonnes or 1.8 million cars worth of CO2 per year, safely removing the emissions from the atmosphere… “Before giving the final go-ahead, the six companies in the project will require additional clarity on factors including the federal government’s new CCS investment tax credit, future carbon taxes and access rights to deep underground pore space for storage. But they’re proceeding with the work to make it happen.”

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