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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 5/3/22

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips May 3, 2022

PIPELINE NEWS

  • Bloomberg: U.S. Regulators Nix Pipeline’s ‘Climate-Friendly’ Gas Plan
  • Summit-Tribune: Numbers show majority of impacted Iowa counties object to proposed pipelines
  • Aberdeen News: Federal regulations require emergency responders to receive training about CO2 pipeline
  • South Dakota News Watch: Proposed CO2 pipelines thrust South Dakota into billion-dollar climate change debate
  • KCAU: Summit Carbon Solutions breaks down pipeline benefits at Dakota County Commissioners’ meeting
  • Allegheny Front: SAFETY ADVOCATE WARNS OF A LACK OF OVERSIGHT FOR NEW CO2 PIPELINES NEEDED FOR CARBON CAPTURE
  • Farm and Dairy: Union County court rejects pipeline eminent domain
  • Intelligencer: Aging pipelines pose problem for Illinois
  • Law360: U.S., North Dakota Sue Pipeline Cos. Over River Oil Spills
  • MySanAntonio: HBO’s John Oliver rails San Antonio-based Valero over environmental racism on ‘Last Week Tonight’
  • Bloomberg: Gunvor, Energy Transfer Sign 20-Year LNG Deal for U.S. Project
  • S&P Global: Permian natural gas outlet Whistler Pipeline to grow 25% with more compression
  • Press release: Smartpipe Technologies Receives US$6.6 Million Investment from Enbridge to Develop Innovative Pipeline Technology

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • Politico: SENATE CLIMATE SUMMIT
  • E&E News: Louisiana AG seeks new order on federal leasing
  • Mother Jones: An Oil Train Is Set To Destroy Pristine Utah Mountains. Why Won’t Biden Stop It?

EXTRACTION

  • Press release: COSIA celebrates 10 years of environmental innovation in Canada’s oil sands

CLIMATE FINANCE

OPINION

  • The Globe: Letter: Too many unanswered questions about carbon pipeline
  • Corporate Knights: It’s time for investors to demand real net-zero plans from Canada’s energy sector
  • The Hill: A big step forward for the National Environmental Policy Act
  • The Hill: Climate change: Biden, give children their day in court

PIPELINE NEWS

Bloomberg: U.S. Regulators Nix Pipeline’s ‘Climate-Friendly’ Gas Plan
5/2/22

“U.S. energy regulators decided to stay out of endorsing a definition of climate-friendly natural gas, rejecting a Kinder Morgan subsidiary’s first-of-its-kind proposal to ship and trade responsibly sourced gas along its 11,760-mile conduit,” Bloomberg reports. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Friday rejected the proposal by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., a unit of the Houston energy firm, to carry out its own certification process. The ruling means the gas industry will likely have more work to do before pitching the commission on the idea again. The commission order noted the lack of industry or government-established standards that could guide regulators as they wade into the “nascent” market of responsibly sourced gas, or RSG. “It is unclear how the commission would evaluate Tennessee’s decision to adopt any specific proposed criteria,” the commissioners wrote. “Given this early stage in the evolution of RSG standards, we find that it is appropriate to allow market-driven initiatives so that the development of RSG can happen organically.” “…The term “responsibly sourced gas” has emerged in the last couple of years to describe cleaner sources in terms of the methane emissions associated with production. But opponents view it as a form of greenwashing… “Market analysts have suggested RSG could come from gas operations that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, recycle water, restore land, or make community pledges. The proposal from Tennessee Gas, filed in December, arrived at the commission as gas companies are looking to voluntarily brand their product as low-emissions as investors seek climate-friendly options. The Environmental Defense Fund, along with pipeline shippers, had requested the commission convene a technical conference to examine Tennessee Gas’ proposal.”

Summit-Tribune: Numbers show majority of impacted Iowa counties object to proposed pipelines
4/28/22

“The Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club on April 26 announced that a majority of counties impacted by proposed carbon capture pipelines in Iowa have filed objections with the Iowa Utilities Board,” the Summit-Tribune reports. “A Sierra Club news release cited the following numbers: 26 out of 50 (52%) total impacted counties have objected; 19 of the 30 (63%) counties impacted by Summit have objected; 17 of the 36 (47%) counties impacted by Navigator have objected; Nearly 1,000 landowners have submitted objections; 2,500+ (80%) is the number of parcels that have not signed voluntary easements with Summit. The Sierra Club asserted that county supervisors have a direct responsibility for protecting the land from the pipeline, which is part of the responsibility granted to them by the IUB. Further, they have a duty to protect their constituents. Some of county supervisors’ responsibilities include county inspector designation, reporting, document gathering, notice of violation processes, completion reporting, request for damages, and more… “This is another example of how these pipeline projects are externalizing their costs onto us,” Jess Mazour, Conservation Program Coordinator of the Sierra Club Iowa Chapter, told the Tribune. “There is no direct benefit to our communities yet our time, public money, and resources are exploited so private companies can profit. If landowners say no, and counties say no, and taxpayers say no; the answer should be no.”

Aberdeen News: Federal regulations require emergency responders to receive training about CO2 pipeline
Alexandra Hardle, 5/2/22

“As the Summit Carbon Solutions permit application process with the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission inches ahead, there have been questions raised about safety,” the Aberdeen News reports. “At a landowner meeting in Redfield in February, one attendee voiced a serious safety concern: If first responders would not be prepared to respond to a pipeline leak, what might happen? Carbon dioxide is an asphyxiant, which refers to a nontoxic or minimally toxic gas that reduces or displaces oxygen. While Summit representatives have repeatedly said that the pipeline would be safe, asphyxia can cause death… “Aberdeen Fire & Rescue Chief Joel Weig told the News his team frequently responds to small-scale carbon dioxide leaks… ‘If new equipment is needed, it might be supplied by the state. That means it won’t necessarily have to come from the fire department’s internal budget, he said… “Rod Dillon, director of regulatory compliance for Summit Carbon Solutions, told the News he is beginning introductory visits with county emergency managers along the proposed pipeline route… “From there, Dillon said, he will begin to schedule trainings with all first responders along the route, including fire departments, ambulance services and police departments.”

South Dakota News Watch: Proposed CO2 pipelines thrust South Dakota into billion-dollar climate change debate
Bart Pfankuch, 5/2/22

“So far, most of the discussion about two proposed multibillion-dollar carbon dioxide pipelines that would cross hundreds of miles of eastern South Dakota has centered on opposition by landowners whose properties would be affected by the digging and laying of underground pipes carrying a potentially dangerous chemical,” South Dakota News Watch reports. “Those farmers and rural families have valid concerns, especially those who have already endured the upheaval caused by the Dakota Access Pipeline, which was laid in some cases very near the same route as the proposed CO2 pipelines… “Pipeline construction tears up land owned in some cases for generations by the same families; there’s an inherent risk of leakage; farmland is turned over and taken out of production; drain-tile systems and water-flow patterns can be affected; and payments for use of the land are far from life-changing. Hundreds of South Dakota landowners have signed up to address state regulators about the Summit project, many in strong opposition… “A fundamental question among climate-change scientists is whether the practice of CCS, the process at the heart of the two proposed pipeline projects, is the best way forward in the effort to reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Also in play, however, is the debate over the cost, and whether spending billions on carbon-capture technology is the best use of taxpayer money and industry investment in the broader effort to reach net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases and ultimately better protect the planet from climate change. Some argue that focusing time, money and resources on CCS to mitigate climate change could slow more effective efforts to protect the earth… “Despite the continued aggressive financial investment in CCS, the 2021 congressional report notes the division in the scientific community over the value of CCS and the high expense attached to the process. “In the view of many proponents, greater CCS deployment is fundamental to reduce CO2 emissions or reduce the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere,” the report notes. However, the report also points out that “others raise concern that CCS may not discourage fossil fuel use and that CO2 could leak from underground reservoirs into the air or other reservoirs, thereby negating any climate benefits of CCS.”

KCAU: Summit Carbon Solutions breaks down pipeline benefits at Dakota County Commissioners’ meeting
Jason Takhtadjian, 5/2/22

“Representatives from Summit Carbon Solutions spoke with Dakota County Commissioners to share updates on their $3.7 billion carbon pipeline project,” KCAU reports. “A new study from Summit Carbon shows the economic benefits that can come from the capture, transportation and storage of CO2… “They also said, each year, the pipeline would create more than 11,000 positions between the three Siouxland states as well as Minnesota and North Dakota… “Specifically, property tax, you know, revenue of over $500,000 a year in Dakota County, as well as over $45 million of capital expenditures being spent. In addition to that, there will be both temporary and long term jobs that are tied to this project as well,” said Erik Schavonec. The Dakota County Planning and Zoning Committee is looking at county regulations toward carbon pipeline projects.”

Allegheny Front: SAFETY ADVOCATE WARNS OF A LACK OF OVERSIGHT FOR NEW CO2 PIPELINES NEEDED FOR CARBON CAPTURE
KARA HOLSOPPLE, 4/29/22

“The federal infrastructure bill has spurred new interest in carbon capture and storage as a way to reduce climate polluting emissions from the air and send them underground,” Allegheny Front reports. “Bill Caram, the executive director of Pipeline Safety Trust, says there was also an expansion of existing tax credits for carbon capture to decarbonize parts of the economy. But his group has concerns about the current regulation of pipelines that carry carbon dioxide, and the many more CO2 pipelines that would be needed to fulfill some of these visions of the future. Pipeline Safety Trust recently commissioned a report to assess the state of CO2 pipeline safety regulation, and The Allegheny Front’s Kara Holsopple recently spoke with Caram about it… “Currently, there are about 5,000 miles of CO2 pipelines, and they’re used almost entirely for what’s called enhanced oil recovery, where some older oil and gas wells will inject CO2 down into the well in order to get the last bits of oil and gas out of a well. Generally, right now, the CO2 pipelines will take CO2 from a single source and move it to a single oil field for injection… “Holsopple: What are some of the known safety risks of CO2 pipelines? Caram: This really came on the radar in the ’80s when there was a natural release from a lake in Cameroon, in Africa. That was a volcanic event and it led to a massive amount of CO2 coming out of this lake. Because CO2 is heavier than air and is an asphyxiant, it displaces oxygen and basically can suffocate people. That CO2 spread out from the lake and it killed every oxygen-breathing living thing within an eight-mile radius or something like that. Almost 1,700 people died. That was the first time that it really got on people’s radar.”

Farm and Dairy: Union County court rejects pipeline eminent domain
Gail Keck, 5/2/22

“A Union County judge has rejected Columbia Gas of Ohio’s request to approve eminent domain to install a pipeline through preserved farmland,” Farm and Dairy reports. “The ruling did leave the door open for eminent domain action in the future, however, noting that ag easements don’t prevent it. The court ruling, issued April 26 by the Union County Court of Common Pleas, combines two cases: Columbia Gas of Ohio vs. Patrick Bailey et al., and Columbia Gas of Ohio vs. Don Bailey Jr., successor trustee of the Arno Renner Trust. Columbia Gas filed the petitions asking the court to allow the company to use eminent domain to obtain easements for its pipeline. Judge Mark S. O’Connor dismissed the petitions and encouraged further mediation. The decision to dismiss the petitions was not based on the fact that ag easements are already in place on the land. Instead, O’Connor pointed to an inconsistency between the easement language approved by the Ohio Power Siting Board and what was presented to the court. He disagreed with the argument that the existing ag easement should protect the land from eminent domain… “The judge criticized both Columbia Gas and the Ohio Power Siting Board for their handling of the project. In his ruling, he noted, “Given the particular fact of this case where the 25-foot easement was labeled ‘temporary’ before the Siting Board and transformed itself into ‘perpetual’ before this Court, this Court is of the opinion that the Siting Board did not do its job. This Court finds it was ‘bad faith’ to represent one thing to the Siting Board and then ask this Court to approve something greater.” “…Eminent domain cases involving preserved land can be especially difficult, Ewing told Farm and Dairy, because they pit one public good against another. “For us in the land trust community, we continue to take the position that these ag easements should be defended in eminent domain actions and that the entity that’s requesting eminent domain be held to a strong standard,” Ewing said. “I think that’s part of what the court did in looking so closely at the language that they used.”

Intelligencer: Aging pipelines pose problem for Illinois
Scott Marion, 5/2/22

“The cleanup continues from a recent oil spill in Edwardsville, but statistics serve as a reminder that it was far from an isolated incident,” the Intelligencer reports. “The spill was first reported on March 11 when the 165,000-gallon-spill was found coming from a Marathon Pipe Line buried near Cahokia Diversion Channel. Some of the spill reached the water, prompting a massive cleanup effort, including some oil-drenched wildlife. Officials have said it will likely take months to complete the entire cleanup of the area, and dump trucks were transporting dozens of loads of clean dirt to the site Tuesday. “There have been 432 combined incidents of pipeline spills in Missouri and Illinois just since 2020, and 72 of those incidents have resulted in spills of more than 1,000 gallons of crude oil. These numbers are obviously deeply concerning to the environment and to our communities,” Hannah Lee Flath, a spokesperson for the Illinois Sierra Club, told the Intelligencer… “Bill Caram, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust (PST) in Bellingham, Washington, told the Intelligencer that with some newer pipes, you can also get more incidents. “Newer pipelines can have engineering issues that they haven’t worked out, so they tend to fail at a higher rate. Hinges or welds can break or get weaker, and corrosion can wreak havoc on a line.” Looking at pipeline failures in Illinois based on the age of the pipeline, Caram said that gas pipelines have more and larger failures on the older lines. “I would say that Illinois has an older pipeline infrastructure than (the average for) the rest of the country,” Caram told the Intelligencer. “In the decades before the 1980s, Illinois installed more pipelines than the rest of the country, and in the decades since, they’ve installed less pipelines than the rest of the country. “What that means is that Illinois is sitting on an older pipeline system than the rest of the country, and the issues that surround aging pipelines, like corrosion, (improper) welds and things like that, could be more of an issue in Illinois than the rest of the country.”

Law360: U.S., North Dakota Sue Pipeline Cos. Over River Oil Spills
Juan Carlos Rodriguez, 5/2/22

“Two crude oil pipeline companies failed to take adequate preventative measures that were recommended to them before ruptures spilled thousands of gallons of oil into rivers in Montana and North Dakota, the federal government an North Dakota said in a lawsuit filed Monday,” Law360 reports. “Briger Pipeline LLC and Belle Fourche Pipeline Co., units of Wyoming-based True Cos., were put on notice following a 2011 spill from an ExxonMobil pipeline that crossed the Yellowstone River…”

MySanAntonio: HBO’s John Oliver rails San Antonio-based Valero over environmental racism on ‘Last Week Tonight’
Steven Santana, 5/2/22

“John Oliver has had a lot of Texas politicians and businesses in his sights in recent weeks. This week, one of his targets is the San Antonio-based oil and gas giant Valero,” MySanAntonio reports. “Oliver criticized Valero on Sunday, May 1, in a Last Week Tonight segment on environmental racism and redlining in marginalized communities. He touched how industrial zones and projects are built near neighborhoods with residents that are predominantly Black or marginalized. In the segment, Oliver talks about Valero’s joint project with Plains All American known as the Byhalia pipeline, which would have connected a Valero oil refinery in south Memphis to Byhalia, Mississippi. He pulled from a VICE News report which shows that the now paused pipeline would cut down into south Memphis through several historically Black neighborhoods in 2021. The report shows a map detailing how the pipeline would avoid a more simple, straight line path through predominantly White neighborhoods. “That does seem a little odd, doesn’t it?” Oliver asks. “Normally the shortest distance between two points is a straight line and not through any Black people that happen to be living near by.” Justin J. Pearson with Memphis Community Against Pollution told Now This News that when asked why the company chose to take the pipeline south, a Plains All American representative told locals, “We basically chose a point of least resistance.”

Bloomberg: Gunvor, Energy Transfer Sign 20-Year LNG Deal for U.S. Project
Gerson Freitas Jr, 5/2/22

“Energy Transfer LP signed a 20-year agreement to supply liquefied natural gas to commodity trader Gunvor Group Ltd., another step forward for the pipeline operator’s long-stalled Lake Charles LNG project in Louisiana,” Bloomberg reports. “Energy Transfer, co-founded by billionaire Kelcy Warren, agreed to provide 2 million metric tons of LNG per year to Gunvor Singapore Pte Ltd from the proposed facility on a free-on-board basis, Energy Transfer said in a statement. The deliveries, expected to start in 2026, will have prices indexed to the U.S. Henry Hub benchmark, plus a liquefaction charge. An energy crunch in Europe and Asia has sent gas prices skyrocketing globally, with buyers now rushing to secure supplies of U.S. gas under long-term deals. Energy Transfer’s announcement comes only a few weeks after the company agreed to sell 2.7 million metric tons a year of the super-chilled fuel to China’s ENN Energy Holdings Ltd., also under a 20-year pact.  Energy Transfer’s proposed Lake Charles LNG export terminal has been delayed since receiving a federal permit in December 2015. Shell Plc backed out of the project in 2020. Energy Transfer said it should take a final investment decision on the project by year-end.”

S&P Global: Permian natural gas outlet Whistler Pipeline to grow 25% with more compression
Kelsey Hallahan, Joe Fisher, Jordan Blum, 5/2/22

“Capacity of the Whistler Pipeline from the Waha header in the Permian Basin in West Texas to Agua Dulce in South Texas is slated to grow from 2.0 Bcf/d to 2.5 Bcf/d, with additional compression, operator MPLX said May 2 in announcing a final investment decision for the project,” S&P Global reports. “Three compressor stations are to be added, with in-service planned for September 2023. The additional compression would take Whistler to its maximum potential without building a new pipeline, MPLX said earlier this year… “The 450-mile, 42-inch diameter Whistler provides direct access to South Texas and export markets. An approximately 85-mile, 36-inch diameter lateral provides connectivity to the Midland Basin. Demand for Permian takeaway capacity is being driven by gas output associated with surging crude production, and the growing feedgas needs of LNG exporters. Restrictions on the flaring of associated gas also support future takeaway capacity demand from the Permian. With Permian producers eager to avoid the kind of basis blowouts that were commonplace before the most recent wave of intrastate pipelines came online in 2021, midstream companies have turned to brownfield expansion projects rather than proposing new pipelines.”

Press release: Smartpipe Technologies Receives US$6.6 Million Investment from Enbridge to Develop Innovative Pipeline Technology
5/2/22

“Smartpipe Technologies announced today that Enbridge Inc. has invested US$6.6 million in Smartpipe’s innovative pipeline technology, designed to improve the safety and versatility of existing pipeline infrastructure. With Smartpipe’s patented technology, a high-strength, composite internal pipeline liner is pulled through an existing pipeline to increase its structural integrity and allow for improved monitoring through the use of an embedded fiber optics line that allows for instant pipeline monitoring and leak detection. Smartpipe’s non-metallic construction delivers a high degree of improved safety and reliability, with engineered safety factors exceeding twice those of new standard steel pipelines. In addition to improving safety, Smartpipe’s technology can support hydrogen and carbon dioxide energy infrastructure needed in the energy transition. Due to the technology’s trenchless installation method, an important application will likely be in upgrading existing aging steel pipelines currently in use, particularly in hard to access locations where excavation activities may be disruptive to landowners or the surrounding community. Smartpipe’s strategy is to support pipeline companies as they shift to transporting more sustainable forms of energy in the future throughout their existing pipeline infrastructure.”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

Politico: SENATE CLIMATE SUMMIT
Matthew Choi, 5/2/22

“A bipartisan group of senators led by Energy Chair Joe Manchin are set to resume negotiations today on potential energy and climate legislation. But several lawmakers in both parties are questioning what the end goals are — and whether it’ll just derail Democrats’ last push for a social spending reconciliation package before midterms roll around,” Politico reports. “While Democrats are adamant they aren’t giving up on their reconciliation plans covering everything from health care to clean energy development, Republicans aren’t hiding their eagerness to take any chance to quash the effort. If bipartisan negotiations end the party-line package, then “hallelujah,” bipartisan group member Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said. As for what would actually go in the package, that’s still up in the air. Manchin and Republicans have backed investments for advanced nuclear power and carbon capture. But whatever comes out of the negotiations, the clock is ticking.”

E&E News: Louisiana AG seeks new order on federal leasing
Niina H. Farah, 5/2/22

“Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is redoubling his legal efforts to push the Biden administration to open up more onshore and offshore oil and gas development, on the heels of the federal government resuming some new leasing last month,” E&E News reports. “On Friday, he and a coalition of other Republican attorneys general called for a federal judge to follow up on an order last year striking down the Interior Department’s temporary pause on new leasing. President Joe Biden did not have the authority under federal statutes to implement an “administration-wide” pause on onshore and offshore development, the coalition told the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana in a request for summary judgment… “Biden had issued an executive order at the start of his presidency directing Interior to review the environmental impact of the federal leasing program and prepare a report. But Louisiana District Court Judge Terry Doughty blocked the pause last year with a preliminary injunction before the report was publicly released.”

Mother Jones: An Oil Train Is Set To Destroy Pristine Utah Mountains. Why Won’t Biden Stop It?
STEPHANIE MENCIMER, 5/2/22

“In the journal from his legendary 1869 expedition down the Colorado River, explorer John Wesley Powell called the remote Tavaputs Plateau in Eastern Utah “one of the stupendous features of this country.” The one-armed Civil War hero marveled at the Wasatch Mountains soaring above the Uinta Basin, the canyons carved by the Green River thousands of feet below, and the Uinta Mountains to the north, where, he wrote, “among the forests are many beautiful parks,” Mother Jones reports. “Much of that vista remains unchanged, except that now it’s blanketed with thousands of oil and gas wells, and in the winter, a thick layer of smog that constitutes some of the worst air pollution in the country. Since the first significant oil well was drilled there in 1948, the Uinta Basin has become home to some of the most productive oil and gas fields in the mountain west… “Locked inside the basin’s sandstone layers are anywhere between 50 and 321 billion barrels of conventional oil, plus an estimated 14 to 15 billion barrels of tar sands, the largest such reserves in the U.S… “Even today, only two main roads link the oil fields to refineries in Salt Lake City, and they’re often two-lane highways with steep grades that can be nearly impassable in the winter. For decades, Utah officials have been hoping to remedy this problem, primarily by trying to build a railroad to service the mineral-rich basin, which also holds large deposits of phosphate, gilsonite (a form of asphalt), coal, and, potentially, rare earth minerals… “Environmentalists, however, warn that the railway could have immediate and long-term catastrophic effects by facilitating an increase in oil production that could pump as much as 53 million pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually. Construction will harm big game migration areas and disrupt critical at-risk breeding areas of the greater sage grouse. It will cut through at least 12 miles of inventoried roadless wilderness areas. And during a time of extreme drought, the construction will impact more than 400 streams, many within the critical watershed of the Colorado River, which provides drinking water to 40 million people in the West.”

EXTRACTION

Press release: COSIA celebrates 10 years of environmental innovation in Canada’s oil sands
5/2/22

“It started as one of the most unique models for open innovation and collaboration in the world. Ten years later, Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) continues to deliver on its mission to improve environmental performance in Canada’s oil sands. COSIA was formed in 2012 by a group of competing energy companies representing more than 90 per cent of oil sands production, including Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Cenovus Energy, ConocoPhillips Canada, Imperial, Suncor Energy, Syncrude Canada Ltd. and Teck Resources Ltd. Fast forward 10 years and COSIA members have contributed more than 1,143 clean technologies at a cost of $1.8 billion and counting, significantly improving environmental performance in the region. The results are evident. Since 2012: In situ operators have reduced freshwater use intensity by 46 per cent; Mining operators have reduced net water use intensity from the Athabasca River and its tributaries by 25 per cent; In situ operators have also reduced their operating footprint intensity by six per cent; Meanwhile, the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions in the oil sands has declined by 20 per cent (between 2009 and 2018), according to a 2022 IHS Markit report.”

CLIMATE FINANCE

Pensions & Investments: University of Maine to divest from fossil fuels
ROB KOZLOWSKI, 5/2/22

“University of Maine System, Bangor, is divesting fossil fuel investments from its $461 million managed investment pool of endowment assets, said Tracy E. Elliott, the system’s vice president of finance and controller, in an email,” Pensions & Investments reports. “The system’s investment committee at its April 28 meeting approved goals connected with the divestment, including short-term goals of divesting from all directly held equity and fixed-income investments in fossil fuel-related companies by May 31 and to make no new investments after that date, Ms. Elliot said. The committee also approved the long-term goal of divesting from actively managed commingled fund and mutual fund investments in fossil fuel-related companies by 2030. The system defines fossil fuel-related investments as the list of 200 global companies across the 100 largest public coal and 100 largest public oil and gas reserve owners (including oil sands reserve owners).”

OPINION

The Globe: Letter: Too many unanswered questions about carbon pipeline
Barb Pohlman, 5/2/22

“I visited with an individual from the environmental department. He is very concerned. The carbon pipelines are trying to move too quickly with many unanswered questions,” Barb Pohlman writes in The Globe. “As this project moves along, landowners and rural communities need to be aware and cautious. These new pipeline projects have not been approved by the state. If a landowner signs a voluntary easement, it is legal binding if the project is not approved, or if the company goes bankrupt, or if the project becomes obsolete. As residents and landowners, we need more information about the risks, hazards and liabilities this project poses. Out of state companies stand to make millions of dollars in profit over the years if these projects are approved, but they can’t make money if they don’t have access to our land.”

Corporate Knights: It’s time for investors to demand real net-zero plans from Canada’s energy sector
Duncan Kenyon is the director of corporate engagement with Investors for Paris Compliance (I4PC), with over 20 years of environmental, business and climate-change leadership experience, 5/2/22

“The good news is that most of Canada’s big oil companies have pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The bad news is that those pledges fall apart as soon as you look past their initial rhetoric,” Duncan Kenyon writes for Corporate Knights. “On May 4, investors will have an opportunity to ask at least one of the major actors – Enbridge – to adopt a credible net-zero plan in place of the weak one now in place by voting in favour of a shareholder proposal that Investors for Paris Compliance filed. What constitutes a credible net-zero plan in the energy sector, and how are Canada’s companies falling short? There are several global initiatives, some led by major investors, that dig into the details of such plans to provide guidance, including the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) and the Climate Action 100+ (CA 100+). There’s some variation across these initiatives, but they have in common some fundamental elements that Canadian oil and gas companies are resisting. This starts with 2030 emission reduction targets. Climate science tells us that these need to be in the ballpark of halving emissions, and on an absolute basis. But Canadian oil and gas companies have set weak “intensity” targets – reductions per unit of production – that let absolute emissions grow if production grows… “In some ways, Enbridge is a victim of being a midstream company in an industry where the producers are calling the shots, so we need to deal with the silver bullet that the industry is putting forward to validate its claims to net-zero: carbon capture and storage (CCS). Again, the claims being made about CCS stretch credibility. It’s an incredibly expensive endeavour that has never been successfully scaled in the way the Canadian oil industry is assuming is possible. The engineering challenges alone are enough to make this a high-risk play, even if the industry is successful in getting the rest of us to fork out tens of billions in subsidies and gets a long-term oil price that makes it economical – again, both doubtful… “Add this up and we see why the science behind a true transition to net-zero means starting to take the steps to reduce fossil fuel production.”

The Hill: A big step forward for the National Environmental Policy Act
John Ruple is professor of law at the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah, as well as a Wallace Stegner Center fellow at the Wallace Stegner Center for Land Resources and the Environment, and Jamie Pleune, 5/2/22

“The White House Council on Environmental Quality recently updated regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The new regulations replace the Trump administration’s misguided attempts at streamlining, and it will produce better and more defensible decisions,” John Ruple and Jamie Pleune write for The Hill. “NEPA has two goals. First, federal agencies must look critically at impacts before they act. NEPA doesn’t force agencies to eliminate all impacts, just to make informed decisions about tradeoffs. Think of NEPA as the look before you leap act. It doesn’t prohibit jumping — it does require agencies to look at the landing before taking the plunge… “We scrutinized the level of analysis, geographic region, project year, and the interaction of 43 activities from logging to campground improvements, identifying factors associated with delay. We found agencies hobbled by inadequate funding and staffing… “We also found that the Bureau of Land Management spends more time waiting for information from operators than it spends reviewing oil well drilling permit applications. The problem is not NEPA’s statutory mandate or its implementing regulations, and reforms must treat the problem rather its symptoms. If Congress wants expedited permitting, Congress should fully staff and fund federal agencies… “The new rule’s focus on quality decisions and retreat from a cribbed review of alternatives will only further reduce the risk of litigation… “NEPA’s benefits are tangible, driving decisions that are less harmful to human health and the environment… “NEPA has been called the Magna Carta of environmental law, and its new regulations renew that legacy. Don’t be fooled by claims otherwise.”

The Hill: Climate change: Biden, give children their day in court
William S. Becker is a former U.S. Department of Energy central regional director, 5/2/22

“Many American laws contain opening passages with “statements of congressional intent” — short explanations of what Congress hoped a particular law would achieve,” William S. Becker writes for The Hill. “…However, one notable absence today is moral clarity about global climate change… “On the federal front, a group consisting of 21 children and young adults has been fighting its way through the federal court system for nearly seven years to establish that young Americans have a constitutional right to a future without catastrophic climate change. Their lawsuit, Juliana v. US, has spanned the Obama, Trump and Biden presidencies… “With the help of a brilliant soft-spoken attorney Julia Olson, the Julianas are engaged stubbornly in an asymmetrical war against a legal goliath, the U.S. Department of Justice. But like its predecessors, Biden’s Justice Department appears to be doing everything in its power to prevent the lawsuit from going to court. For one thing, the oil industry and others engaged in the long misinformation campaign about global warming could be put on the stand where misinformation would be perjury. The case has implications for current and future generations far beyond the United States… “Presently, two excellent documentary films — “The Power of Big Oil” and “Youth v Gov”  — show the history of the oil industry’s denial campaign and the Juliana lawsuit, respectively. Both provide important context. However, the Julianas deserve more than a documentary. They deserve their day in court, where they could put the government and oil industry on the stand. They also deserve a direct response from President Biden. He should let their lawsuit go to court or explain why he won’t. With his climate plan stalled in Congress, you’d think he’d welcome the chance, however small, that the courts would come to the rescue.”

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