Skip to Content

News

EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 6/14/22

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips June 14, 2022

image

PIPELINE NEWS

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • E&E News: EPA permit rule raises climate legal questions

  • Popular Science: States and tribes could soon regain the power to fight against projects that pollute

  • Star Tribune: Walz among governors pushing Congress on climate package

  • Politico: METHANE MADNESS

STATE UPDATES

  • Press release: Deep South Center for Environmental Justice Commends New Orleans City Council for Prohibiting Carbon Capture and Storage

  • Casper Star Tribune: Wyoming wants to export its natural gas. The West Coast won’t let it.

  • Los Angeles Daily News: State Sen. Henry Stern killed his own bill to close Aliso Canyon gas facility, saying it was ‘hijacked’

EXTRACTION

  • New York Times: Can Carbon Capture Be Part of the Climate Solution?

  • Bloomberg: BP’s Oil Sands Exit May Not Be the Last as Big Oil Revises Image

  • Insider: A fracking boom made the US the world’s biggest oil producer. Now its end is pushing gas prices much higher.

  • Blackburn News: Striking Enbridge workers vote on tentative deal

  • Phys.org: Climate: offshore methane gas leak spotted from space

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

  • Oregonian: NW Natural booklet for schoolkids becomes flashpoint in climate change debate

OPINION

PIPELINE NEWS

Mississippi Valley Publishing: IUB hears comments about pipeline
Robin Delaney, 6/14/22

“Lee County resident Ted Stein made the trek to Des Moines to weigh in on the purposed pipeline that, if approved, would transport liquid carbon dioxide through part of Lee County at the Iowa Utilities Board meeting Monday afternoon,” Mississippi Valley Publishing reports. “…Stein said a portion of his land was initially on the pipeline route, but that recent filings indicate this may have changed. He asked IUB officials to make this determination. IUB chairperson Gery Huser said the board’s customer service staff would provide the information, if it has been submitted by the companies. She said recent revisions may not have yet been filed with the IUB. But Stein also objected to a filing from pipeline representatives that states those not owning land in the Lee County corridor should not have standing with the IUB. He said public safety should be a concern for all living within several miles of the pipeline. He cited the carbon dioxide pipeline that ruptured in February of 2020, releasing about 30,000 barrels of liquid carbon dioxide that immediately started to vaporize and triggered the evacuation of 200 residents in and around the small town of Satartia, Mississippi. “People within three miles were seriously hurt. It was only an act of God that prevented people being killed,” Stein told IUB officials. ‘Anyone within several miles of the proposed pipeline should have standing.” “…Cynthia Hansen, a Century Farm owner in Shelby County, said she is impacted by the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline, but said the IUB should make the names of all affected landowners a matter of public record. “It would help landowners to communicate with each other. Right now, that’s kind of hidden information,” Hansen said. She also asked that the IUB require Summit and Navigator to file an Exhibit H with their application, which is a list of the final route of the pipeline and that the IUB limit the number of times land agents can contact a landowner about a project.”

Mississippi Today: Carbon leak in Satartia prompts federal focus on pipeline safety
Alex Rozier, 6/13/22

“On Feb. 22, 2020, a breach in a carbon pipeline owned by Denbury Inc. left 49 people near Satartia, Miss. hospitalized, and about 300 residents were forced to evacuate,” Mississippi Today reports. “A Huffington Post story last year shed light on the chaos and its aftermath. The pipeline burst unleashed a cloud of green fog, along with an odor like “rotten eggs.” People nearby struggled to breath, with some collapsing in their homes, the article reported. In May, over two years since the incident, the federal agency in charge of pipeline safety — the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHMSA — released its findings from an investigation… “But PHMSA also found that Denbury had, among other errors, failed to prepare for such natural hazards, failed to alert local emergency officials about the incident, and failed to educate nearby residents about the pipeline before the breach… “As a result of the pipeline failure, PHMSA also announced it would begin a new rulemaking to update safety standards… “Specifically, PHMSA said it will update standards for emergency preparedness and response, as well as alerting pipeline operators to better anticipate hazards from natural causes like what happened in Satartia.”

Prairie Public Broadcasting: PSC okays new Bakken pipeline
Dave Thompson, 6/10/22

“The North Dakota Public Service Commission has given its approval for Bridger Pipeline to build 81 miles of 16-inch diameter crude oil pipeline in McKenzie and Golden Valley counties,” Prairie Public Broadcasting reports. “It’s part of a 145 mile pipeline project to bring Bakken crude from the Johnson’s Corner terminal in McKenzie County to Bridger’s Sandstone Station west of Baker, Montana. It will initially carry 105,000 barrels of Bakken crude – and it can be expanded to 250,000 barrels. Bakken crude would then go through existing pipeline to the Guernsey, WY, terminal, where it can be shipped to refineries in other parts of the country… “Bridger and Belle Fourche Pipeline companies were sued for oil spills on the Yellowstone River in 2015, and Ash Coulee in 2016. But Fedorchak told PPB for this project, Bridger has invested a lot to prevent spills. “They have a two-part monitoring system, that no other company uses in North Dakota, that I’m aware of,” Fedorchak told PPB. “They have gone above and beyond, in trying to mitigate any potential problems, like have occurred in the past.”

Anchorage Daily News: As energy markets spiral up, a gas pipeline could be closer than ever, Alaska politicians say
Nathaniel Herz, 6/12/22

“A war-driven spike in global natural gas prices is creating new hope for Alaska’s long-sought gas pipeline, elected leaders say, even as the $38 billion project still lacks binding promises from customers and a clear picture of who would build it,” the Anchorage Daily News reports. “Gov. Mike Dunleavy and U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, both Republicans, spent time in Japan last week drumming up demand for the project, which would span 800 miles from Alaska’s North Slope oil fields to Cook Inlet, not far from Anchorage… “But Alaska’s state-owned gas pipeline agency isn’t expected to make a final decision on construction until 2024, officials said this week. And analysts point out that prices are expected to fall toward prewar levels long before then, as other export projects come online and governments cut fossil fuel consumption to hit emissions reduction targets. “It’s almost like a race to fill the gap,” Al Salazar, vice president at Texas-based energy analysis firm Enverus, told ADN. “These are the uncertainties that, if I was funding the Alaska LNG project, I’d be wondering about.” Still, Alaska’s most powerful politicians are putting new energy into the project, which they’ve sought for decades even as the state has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into research, design and promotion… “Alaska’s congressional delegation got language into the Biden administration’s infrastructure package that newly allows federal loan guarantees for an export project, not just one that sells gas in the U.S… “And Sullivan, in a phone interview this week, told ADN that during a breakfast meeting in Japan, U.S. Ambassador Rahm Emanuel agreed to establish an Alaska gas line task force at his embassy in Tokyo. But the Biden administration’s full support of the gas line — which backers see as an important political signal to potential investors, given the project’s need for federal approvals — is also uncertain.”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

E&E News: EPA permit rule raises climate legal questions
Hannah Northey, 6/13/22

“An EPA proposal that gives states and tribes more latitude to review contentious Clean Water Act permits is unlikely to emerge as a regulatory cudgel for local regulators to thwart fossil fuel projects or tie permits to climate change,” E&E News reports. “The proposed rule, unveiled last week, provides more flexibility to states and tribes as they issue permits under CWA’s Section 401. But linking those permits to emissions, warming, flooding or other climate-related factors could be legally fraught, experts tell E&E. “I don’t think [the proposal] can be read to say it would allow states to put conditions on a project that would be related to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions,” Larry Liebesman, a senior adviser at Dawson & Associates, which specializes in permitting, and a former senior trial attorney in the Department of Justice’s environmental division, told E&E.  “Even if one could tangentially find some potential effect on sea-level rise, for example, I think that’s going too far, in the way I’m reading the [proposal] and the way I’m reading the law.” EPA’s proposed rule, published in the Federal Register yesterday, lays out a process under the law’s Section 401 by which developers of pipelines, power lines, mines and other projects request federal permits to discharge into regulated waterways and wetlands… “For the first time, the EPA proposal would allow states and tribes to take part in defining a “reasonable time” to conduct such reviews, and the proposal restores flexibility on what states and tribes consider when reviewing applications… “Holland & Hart LLP partner Ashley Peck agreed that the proposed rule doesn’t expand the scope of Section 401 reviews under the Clean Water Act or allow for consideration of climate change. But Peck also told E&E that doesn’t mean states won’t try — and they likely will… “If a state did try to include climate change impacts without addressing water quality under a 401 review, Peck told E&E the decision could be open to legal attacks.”

Popular Science: States and tribes could soon regain the power to fight against projects that pollute
KRISTINE LIAO, 6/13/22

“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving to restore power to states and tribes to veto energy infrastructure projects that could pollute local rivers and streams,” Popular Science reports. “The Clean Water Act has guaranteed the ability for states and tribes to have a final say on projects like oil and gas pipelines for half a century. But the Trump administration weakened this authority two years ago, stripping local governing entities of their power to protect their region’s clean water supply. Now, the Biden administration is reversing the Trump-era rule. “One pipeline may be fine, but multiple pipelines may not be,” Lara Fowler, assistant director of Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment, told PS. “This ruling gives states a process to actually look at the local conditions and take them into consideration.” Because of its long, skinny nature, pipeline infrastructure has a large footprint on the land, Fowler told PS. Depending on where a pipeline is being installed, the project can require the clearing of forests and other wildlife habitat. The construction also often infringes on wetlands and bodies of water that serve as communities’ drinking supply. If a pipeline leaks and pollutes the region’s freshwater, either while it’s being built or once it is operating, it could pose a health and safety hazard for local residents… “These cases in Pennsylvania showcase why states and tribes should be able to conduct their own environmental impact analysis and veto potentially harmful projects… “Although Section 401 does not explicitly target fossil fuel projects, some states have used their authority to stop or delay such developments. In 2017, Gov. Jay Inslet of Washington used the power granted by the Clean Water Act to deny a permit for a coal export terminal on the Columbia River, citing the risk of significant spills and negative effects on air quality. In 2020, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York used the same authority to reject a natural gas pipeline project, citing the company’s inability to demonstrate that it could comply with state’s water quality standards… “Once the EPA’s new rule is finalized, states and tribes will have the opportunity again to analyze the potential environmental impacts of energy infrastructure projects. Fowler told PS she is “heartened” to know that states will have that power back; in many cases, states have stricter environmental standards than those of the federal government. She also notes the importance for tribes to have this veto power, as they are considered to be sovereign governments by federal law.”

Star Tribune: Walz among governors pushing Congress on climate package
Hunter Woodall, 6/11/22

“Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz joined 21 other leaders last week in calling on Congress to “take immediate action” on climate and clean energy,” the Star Tribune reports. “Over just the past five years, extreme weather has cost Americans an additional $600 billion in physical and economic damages, and we know the longer we wait to curb emissions, the more expensive, and limited, the solutions get,” said a letter from the governors to congressional leaders. The letter was part of the governors’ work through the U.S. Climate Alliance. But it comes amid an ever-present logjam on Capitol Hill. Combating climate change was a major focus of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better package that passed the House last year, only to stall in the Senate due to opposition from a Democratic swing vote. That failure represented a major setback to Biden’s legislative agenda, and the Democratic party has been unable to recover and publicly push forward a package with similar climate spending as the midterm elections approach. “We are grateful that Congress passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act late last year with important resources to support infrastructure investments in our communities,” last week’s letter said. “However, significantly more is needed to secure our net-zero emission future. We need a bold climate and clean energy package from Congress.”

Politico: METHANE MADNESS
Matthew Choi, 6/13/22

“The House Climate Crisis Committee convenes Tuesday to discuss state efforts to cut down methane emissions. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon will both testify,” Politico reports. “The House Science Committee had a similar hearing last week that focused on ways the federal government could help monitor methane emissions.”

STATE UPDATES

Press release: Deep South Center for Environmental Justice Commends New Orleans City Council for Prohibiting Carbon Capture and Storage
6/9/22

“Today, the New Orleans City Council passed Resolution NO. R-22-219 after passing through committee unanimously. Brought forward by Councilmember Helena Moreno, this resolution urges the prohibition of underground storage of carbon dioxide and facilities for this purpose.  The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) commends the city’s leaders for taking action to protect Louisiana and New Orleans from the risks of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and related technology. The DSCEJ has been pushing local and federal leaders to consider the potential consequences of CCS on Black communities around the Gulf Coast who have dealt with the consequences of the oil and gas industry’s careless pollution on their health and livelihood for decades. “I am proud of New Orleans for being a trailblazer in policies that protect local communities from CCS technologies,” said Dr. Beverly Wright, Executive Director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. “As I said when Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm visited recently, supporting CCS will encourage the growth of fossil fuel industries and continue the injustice of putting profits over communities of color. Instead, we need to develop and implement an energy plan for Louisiana that cleans our air and powers our homes and vehicles while prioritizing equitable investments in communities and invests in people to get the necessary training for clean energy jobs of the future. We encourage other local municipalities around the country to follow New Orleans’ lead to prohibit CCS technology.” As the federal government considers a massive investment into carbon capture and storage, DSCEJ calls on Congress to fund an impact analysis on carbon capture and storage to be conducted by EPA, DOE and other relevant agencies.” 

Casper Star Tribune: Wyoming wants to export its natural gas. The West Coast won’t let it.
Nicole Pollack, 6/12/22

“Landlocked states like Wyoming would like to ship natural gas to Asian markets, but West Coast states don’t want to be home to the export terminals,” the Casper Star Tribune reports. “After a very expensive winter, home heating costs are beginning to fall… “Some natural gas companies in the Intermountain West say the region’s lack of access to overseas markets is partly to blame. “If we were able to export the natural gas that’s trapped in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah to Asia, that would lead the price around the world,” H. Howard Cooper, president of Colorado-based Three Crown Petroleum, told the Tribune. The problem for Wyoming and its landlocked neighbors is that they can’t export that gas on their own. Their only access to international markets comes through coastal states. But the country’s existing capacity is concentrated along the distant shores of the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska, all too far away to be of much use. There are no liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminals in the West — and the West Coast doesn’t want them. Wyoming very much does… “We need to open up LNG facilities on the West Coast so we can supply Asia with natural gas from Wyoming, Colorado and Utah,” Cooper told the Tribune. “We have the gas here. So let us replace Russian gas with U.S. gas.” “…The state’s natural gas industry pinned its hopes on Jordan Cove, a major LNG export terminal that was proposed for southern Oregon in 2013 and secured federal approval two summers ago. But landowners, environmental groups and Indigenous communities worried about water, tourism and climate change fought back. State regulators’ denial of key permits ultimately led to the project’s cancellation late last year… “It would take a lot more than Jordan Cove to transform energy markets in Asia and beyond, an attractive prospect for Western natural gas producers. Many believe exporting the fuel — “some of the cleanest in the country, if not the world, based on methane intensity and how responsibly we produce natural gas,” Ulrich said — would oust other, leakier sources of natural gas and replace some higher-emitting coal-fired power generation. The whole concept is a hard sell to environmental groups. Shannon Anderson, staff attorney for the Powder River Basin Resource Council, a Wyoming landowners’ group, told the Tribune she’s not convinced that the potential contribution to Europe’s energy needs is reason enough to commit to an option as costly and permanent as Jordan Cove. “Why are we talking about natural gas when we can talk about renewables and electrification and other options that are available?” Anderson told the Tribune. “I think that the challenge right now with natural gas, similar to coal, is, you know, why invest in something that may not have a future — that is going to be challenged with climate change and a global reckoning around fossil fuel use?”

Los Angeles Daily News: State Sen. Henry Stern killed his own bill to close Aliso Canyon gas facility, saying it was ‘hijacked’
OLGA GRIGORYANTS, 6/12/22

“Six months after introducing his law to shut the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field, site of a 2015 disaster that drove San Fernando Valley residents from their homes and led to a $1.8 billion settlement with 35,000 victims, state Sen. Henry Stern recently urged his colleagues in Sacramento to vote “no” on his bill, SB 1486,” the Los Angeles Daily News reports. “His colleagues backed Stern and killed SB 1486. A newsletter Stern sent on June 7 to his constituents in the Valley featured a video of a terse Stern speaking in the state Capitol, titled “Aliso Canyon bill hijacked by the gas company.” The unusual vote to doom his own bill came after the state Senate Appropriations Committee in May significantly watered down Stern’s bill and removed its centerpiece — a deadline that required SoCalGas to shut down the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility by 2027. The hostile amendments also removed from the bill a ban against expanding the controversial natural gas storage site underneath Playa del Rey, also close to residential areas and LAX. “I am in an awkward position of opposing my own legislation,” Stern told his senate colleagues, adding that “the gas industry is very powerful. And there are a lot of people who believe that we have to double-down on a natural gas future.” “…Gov. Gavin Newsom later supported that decision, along with other lawmakers — including U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein. But that didn’t stop regulators with the powerful CPUC to vote last year to instead increase the storage capacity at Aliso Canyon, raising the limit to nearly 60% of the facility’s allowable capacity — and setting off bitter criticism from residents and environmental activists… “Food & Water Watch Southern California Organizer Andrea Vega told LADN  that “the fate of SB 1486 reminds us that fossil fuel interests wield dangerous power in our California legislature, and as long as their funds drive our climate policy, our planet is doomed to burn.”

EXTRACTION

New York Times: Can Carbon Capture Be Part of the Climate Solution?
Paul Tullis, 6/13/22

“Every year, humans pump around 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. According to numerous successive and increasingly forceful reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to avoid the worst effects of a warming planet, that number needs to fall to zero by 2050,” the New York Times reports. “But after decades of inaction in the face of this scientific consensus, emissions have grown so high that reductions from things like increasing energy efficiency and transitioning to renewable electricity will only get us so far. “We know how to do 40 gigatons,” said Julio Friedmann of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. “That means you need 10 gigatons of removal.” He was referring to carbon capture and storage, known as C.C.S. — essentially sucking the carbon dioxide back out of the atmosphere, or from its emissions source, and locking it away somewhere. Nearly two decades ago, Jennifer Wilcox realized that removal would be key to getting to net-zero emissions. As a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford University, Dr. Wilcox recognized that nature-based solutions — planting trees and rehabilitating wetlands, both of which are really good at absorbing carbon dioxide — could only do so much: Carbon would also need to be captured from the air. So, in 2012, she wrote the textbook on how it’s done. The National Academies of Science came around to Dr. Wilcox’s point of view in 2018, reporting that technologies would need to be developed and advanced to remove the amount needed. Ms. Wilcox, 45, now has a leading role in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, where she is charged with doing just that. But directing $10 billion to investments in carbon capture and storage is just part of the job. Proven technologies must be made cheaply and at scale, and in some cases integrated with other systems. They must be deployed both at sources of carbon dioxide, such as power plants and factories, and in the wild, through systems known as direct air capture… “One possible use for the CO2 that’s captured through C.C.S. is to inject it into oil wells to facilitate fossil fuel extraction. What do you say to critics who argue that carbon capture and storage can be a license for oil and gas companies to pollute and that it is a dangerous strategy given the need to focus on emissions reduction? I say they’re right. It could be that. But this administration is about putting guardrails in place, is about valuing other metrics like benefits to health, benefits to communities, reducing air pollution. But if we are distracted in the near term, and thinking that utilization for fossil fuel extraction is the only outcome of these investments, then we are frozen, we are paralyzed, and we are not acting, and that is more harmful… “Do you think maybe that time would be better spent pressuring governments and companies to hasten the energy transition and to stop deforestation, since those are much bigger drivers of climate change? I think all of the above.”

Bloomberg: BP’s Oil Sands Exit May Not Be the Last as Big Oil Revises Image
Robert Tuttle, 6/13/22

“BP Plc has become the latest international oil company to exit Canada’s high carbon-emitting oil sands — but it almost certainly won’t be the last,” Bloomberg reports. “The decision by the London-based energy company to sell its non-operating 50% interest in the Sunrise project to Cenovus Energy Inc. is just the latest in a recent string of divestments from Alberta’s oil sands, one of the largest crude reserves in the world. Companies including Shell Plc, ConocoPhillips, Equinor ASA and Devon Energy Corp. have divested big stakes in the mines and well sites of Northern Alberta to local companies in recent years, increasingly concentrating control of the oil sands in the hands of Canadian producers such as Cenovus, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. and Suncor Energy Inc. And more deals are seen as likely as local producers sit on cash hoards from $100-plus oil prices. Chevron Corp.’s 20% stake in the Athabasca oil sands mine could be the next asset to be sold, Matt Murphy, analyst at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co LLC, told Bloomberg. It’s not a “core asset” to the company and could become the next sale, probably to majority owner Canadian Natural, he told Bloomberg… “TotalEnergies SE is another big-name company in the region with assets that might make sense to offload. The Paris-based company has been divesting holdings in the oil sands for several years and pledged to no longer invest in the region. The recent exodus from oil sands comes as Big Oil pledges to curtail and even zero out carbon emissions amid pressure from investors to tackle climate change… “Canada’s largest oil sands companies are pushing back at environmental critics by pledging to invest billions to zero out carbon emissions from their operations by 2050, mostly by deploying carbon capture technology. Such a strategy may be what Exxon Mobil Corp. is counting on to justify its majority stake in Canadian oil sands producer Imperial Oil Ltd., Murphy told Bloomberg. 

Insider: A fracking boom made the US the world’s biggest oil producer. Now its end is pushing gas prices much higher.
Ben Winck, 6/11/22

“The very boom that bolstered the US’s energy independence is now making its gas-price problem much, much worse,” Insider reports. “For much of the past decade, fracking gave the US energy sector a massive tailwind. In the so-called shale revolution, fields in New Mexico, North Dakota, and Texas became the next boomtowns for energy commodities. In just a few years, the US overtook Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest producer of crude oil and natural gas. Total domestic production of crude oil jumped from 5.4 million barrels a day in early 2010 to a record 13 million at the end of 2019, according to the Energy Information Administration. But what was recently the industry’s biggest boon has since become a massive snag at the worst possible time… “The US fracking boom dragged energy prices lower for much of the 2010s as supply overtook demand. Yet the production surge flashed its first signs of a slowdown in 2019. Throw the pandemic, cratered demand, and market dynamics into the mix, and fracking quickly morphed into an anchor holding US production down at a time of intense need… “The Biden administration has tried to put more pressure on producers to ramp up activity, but there’s been little improvement. The White House called on Congress in late March to pass “use-it-or-lose-it” fees for oil firms’ unused wells, saying such policy would kick-start a production surge. Such measures have yet to materialize, and each party has been content to push the blame for sky-high gas prices to the other side of the aisle. A quick solution, then, is unlikely to arrive. Much of the energy sector is beholden to its shareholders, and investors have learned from the recent past. They’re firmly in marathon mode after the growth sprint of the 2010s. But as summer travel ramps up and pumping remains below pre-pandemic levels, consumers are in dire need of more production, and fast.”

Blackburn News: Striking Enbridge workers vote on tentative deal
Natalia Vega, 6/13/22

“Enbridge workers who have been on strike since late May are set to vote on a tentative agreement on Monday,” Blackburn News reports. “Unifor Local 999 had previously said inadequate compensation from a profitable employer drove union members to take legal action.  Members started picketing at the Dawn Hub in Dawn-Euphemia on May 25. A tentative agreement was reached ahead of the weekend and the membership is expected to vote in two groups on June 13… “Local 999 represents more than 100 workers at the storage, transmission, and operations at Enbridge Gas facilities in Ontario.”

Phys.org: Climate: offshore methane gas leak spotted from space
Marlowe Hood, 6/12/22

“Scientists have for the first time used satellite data to detect a major offshore leak of the potent greenhouse gas methane, according to peer-reviewed research,” Phys.org reports. “The findings add a crucial tool to an expanding space-based arsenal for pinpointing previously invisible methane plumes from the oil and gas industry. Fossil fuel operations globally emitted about 120 million tonnes of the planet-warming gas in 2020, nearly one-third of all methane emissions from human activity, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The new study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters identified a plume from an oil and gas production platform in the Gulf of Mexico that spewed some 40,000 tonnes over a 17-day period in December. The platform, near Campeche in southern Mexico, is in one of the country’s biggest oil producing fields. “Our results demonstrate how satellites can detect methane plumes from offshore infrastructure,” senior author Luis Guanter, a professor at Valencia Polytechnic University, said in a statement. “It opens the door to systematic monitoring of industrial emissions from individual offshore platforms.” “…Up to now, ocean water’s capacity to absorb short-wave infrared radiation has limited the amount of reflected light reaching space-based sensors. Guanter and colleagues overcame this problem with a new method for measuring solar radiation bouncing off the water’s surface, called Sun-glint observation mode.”

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

Oregonian: NW Natural booklet for schoolkids becomes flashpoint in climate change debate
Kale Williams, 6/13/22

“A booklet distributed to some Oregon schools by NW Natural, titled “Natural Gas: Your Invisible Friend,” has drawn criticism from environmental advocates,” the Oregonian reports. “The title seems benign enough: “Natural Gas: Your Invisible Friend.” The cover of the activity book shows the sun peeking over clouds and shining down on a pristine globe, with a fossilized fish skeleton next to a glowing blue flame. The frame of a hydraulic fracking tower rises in the background…”

OPINION

Toronto Star: Dispelling Line 5 pipeline myths
Leo Golden, Enbridge, 6/14/22

“Michelle Woodhouse and Whitney Gravell claim supporting Line 5 means denying Indigenous rights, threatening The Great Lakes and accelerating climate change. The opposite is true,” Enbridge’s Leo Golden writes in the Toronto Star. “Enbridge works closely with tribal communities. Our Line 3 replacement in Minnesota protects Lake Superior. In Wisconsin, we’re following community wishes by rerouting Line 5 outside reserve land, generating $45 million for Indigenous communities. Another assertion is Line 5 is “poorly maintained.” In fact, the U.S. federal regulator’s latest Line 5 audit in 2021 identified no safety issues. Still, to address concerns at the Straits of Mackinac, Enbridge is building a concrete utility tunnel well below the lake bed to safely house Line 5 and virtually eliminate risk of a spill. Lastly, shutting down Line 5 would create negative economic impacts, including job losses and higher fuel and propane prices. And pipeline alternatives — trucks, trains and barges — would all lead to higher emissions.”

Colorado Newsline: End big oil’s public lands rip off
Pegah Jalali is the environmental policy analyst for the Colorado Fiscal Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advances fiscal and economic policies that promote equity and widespread prosperity, 6/13/22

“Colorado’s public lands are part of what makes our state a special place to live and why so many visitors come here from across the world. Unfortunately, the oil and gas industry has been exploiting our public lands using out-of-date leasing rules to rake in profits using a buy-low-and-sell-high business model at the expense of everyday Coloradans,” Pegah Jalali writes for Colorado Newsline. “The federal onshore royalty rate — the amount companies are required to pay for the resources they extract from our public lands when they drill — was put in place over 100 years ago. According to a new report from budget watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, this stagnated rate, set at a minimal 12.5%, has led to our state losing out on up to $371 million in revenue from oil and gas produced on federal lands in Colorado from 2012 to 2021. Nationally, we’ve all missed out on as much as $13.1 billion during this time. If the Interior Department had updated its outdated royalty rate to 18.75%, which is more in line with the rates many states — including Colorado — charge for resource extraction on state lands, our communities wouldn’t have lost out on critical revenues to fund schools, health care, and infrastructure projects. The department recently announced that it would resume oil and gas leasing on federal lands, and that any leases sold in the upcoming sales will require an 18.75% royalty rate. Coloradans deserve at least this much for the use of our public lands, and the increased rate will not hinder industry interest as it still lags behind our state rate of 20%. This is why the increased federal royalty rate that’s being required for the leases sold on Colorado’s public lands this month needs to be made permanent.”

Daily Lobo: Op-ed: Effects of oil and gas on New Mexicans’ health
Paige Knight is a Senior Research and Policy Analyst with New Mexico Voices for Children, 6/10/22

“The natural beauty found throughout the Land of Enchantment has so much to offer our children while they grow and develop. Our youngest New Mexicans should also have equitable access to clean air and a healthy environment while they do so. But unfortunately, because so many families in our state live, work, and go to school near oil and gas facilities, that access is anything but equitable,” Paige Knight writes for the Daily Lobo. “According to a new analysis by Earthworks and FracTrack Alliance, nearly 39,000 children in New Mexico live within a half-mile of oil and gas production facilities, putting them and their families at an elevated risk for numerous negative health impacts like asthma, cancer, fetal defects, blood disorders and neurological problems. There are also 119 schools and daycares in New Mexico that fall within the same half-mile threat radius, putting even more children — as well as the staff that work there — at risk. These illnesses stem from the multiple toxins and carcinogens — like methane, toluene and benzene — that are released into the air during regular maintenance, pollution events, blowouts or other equipment malfunctions that occur far too often during the oil and gas production process. Young children are most vulnerable to these smog-producing toxins because their lungs are still developing. The elderly, pregnant people, and rural and tribal communities are also at increased risk for illnesses from pollution, with many tribal communities suffering from disproportionately high pollution levels… “Thankfully, New Mexico’s Environmental Improvement Board has recently adopted common-sense air and methane pollution rules that will require oil and gas producers to significantly curb the amount of methane emitted by requiring more frequent well inspections to find and fix leaks… “The EPA is considering their own proposed rules — which were released last fall and are currently under review — that would reduce methane and other harmful air pollution from both new and existing sources in the oil and gas industry. A supplemental proposal from the EPA will be released in the coming months, and we urge the federal government to use their full authority under the Clean Air Act and ensure that necessary improvements are made to better protect the climate and frontline communities, like ensuring frequent leak detection and repair inspections at any polluting well wells and stopping the wasteful and harmful practice of routine flaring.”

Pipeline Fighters Hub