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Extracted: Daily News Clips 6/15/21

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips June 15, 2021

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PIPELINE NEWS

  • Press releaseCourt of Appeals Upholds PUC’s Illegal Permits for Enbridge’s Line 3 Pipeline
  • Associated PressMinnesota court affirms approval of Line 3 oil pipeline
  • Star TribuneAppellate court affirms Minnesota regulators’ approval of new Enbridge pipeline
  • Facebook: RISE Coalition [VIDEO]: Today, we left #FireLightCamp as police descended to support Enbridge’s false trespassing claims.
  • Facebook: RISE Coalition [VIDEO]: RISE Coalition & Fire Light Camp Response to Enbridge’s Falsehood-Filled Eviction Notice
  • Committee to Protect JournalistsJournalist Alan Weisman arrested, strip-searched while covering anti-pipeline protest in Minnesota
  • Al Jazeera‘Reclaiming the land’: Indigenous fight against Line 3 ramps up
  • Associated PressDakota Access foes seek environmental review updates from US
  • Associated PressPipeline foes ask Nebraska to revoke project land easements
  • WV Gazette Mail: Flooding effects of Mountain Valley Pipeline under scrutiny after weekend damage in central WV
  • CBS NewsPipeline project’s impact on Indigenous communities [VIDEO]
  • Bismarck TribunePipeline leaks saltwater into McKenzie County wheat field
  • MSNBCBig Oil ‘never lost a fight like this’: McKibben on the death of the Keystone XL pipeline [VIDEO]
  • WCMULine 5 opponents see momentum in abandonment of Keystone XL project
  • KTVLRemember the Rogue Valley pipeline? End of Keystone XL has local advocates looking back
  • World PipelinesIEEFA comments on viability of large pipeline projects in wake of KXL cancellation

WASHINGTON UPDATES

STATE UPDATES

EXTRACTION

  • ReutersShell weighs blockbuster sale of Texas shale assets
  • ReutersOil prices climb as demand outlook improves, supplies tighten
  • Canadian PressCanada’s crude oil exports have increased 15-fold in 30 years: report
  • Press releaseUnifor slams government for undermining NL oil and gas sector

RESEARCH & SCIENCE

  • InsideClimate News13 Refineries Emit Dangerous Benzene Emissions That Exceed the EPA’s ‘Action Level,’ a Study Finds

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

  • TreehuggerNet-Zero Efforts of Canadian Oil Sands Companies Are Greenwashing

OPINION

  • New York TimesThe Keystone XL Pipeline Is Dead. Next Target: Line 3
  • Calgary HeraldMcConaghy: Cancellation of Keystone XL does nothing to fix dysfunctional climate policy in Canada, U.S.
  • ForbesNo Place For Pipelines Or Affordable Energy Under Biden’s Plan
  • Santa Fe New MexicanNew Mexico will thrive beyond oil and gas
  • The HillIt’s Congress’ turn to stop Arctic Refuge oil drilling
  • The HillWe need reforms to the gas and oil industries

PIPELINE NEWS

Press release: Court of Appeals Upholds PUC’s Illegal Permits for Enbridge’s Line 3 Pipeline
6/14/21

“Today, the Minnesota Court of Appeals announced it will uphold the Public Utilities Commission’s 2020 approval of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline. The Red Lake, White Earth, and Mille Lacs Bands, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Honor the Earth, the Youth Climate Intervenors, Friends of the Headwaters, and the Sierra Club had challenged the PUC’s illegal permit approvals by filing an appeal. Pipeline opponents argued that the PUC failed to demonstrate demand for the tar sands oil that Line 3 would transport across more than 200 bodies of water, including lakes, wetlands, and rivers, posing serious risks to Minnesota’s freshwater resources and the lake country of northern Minnesota where the Ojibwe people harvest wild rice and hold treaty rights. Tar sands oil is the dirtiest and most climate-polluting fuel source on the planet. Judge Peter Reyes issued a dissenting opinion, noting that the PUC “committed legal errors and acted arbitrarily or capriciously by granting [Enbridge] a certificate of need that is unsupported by substantial evidence.” Today’s ruling comes in the wake of a powerful series of protests along the pipeline route in Northern Minnesota, during which thousands of frontline Indigenous-led water protectors and allies gathered to block construction of the pipeline and call on federal officials to revoke Enbridge’s permits to build Line 3. For the past week, Anishinaabe band members have exercised their treaty rights and peacefully occupied a site on the Mississippi headwaters where Enbridge plans to drill its Line 3 pipeline under the river. Yesterday, Enbridge issued a letter demanding that they depart the premises. “We are sorely disappointed in this decision that allows the state of Minnesota under Gov. Walz  to continue to shove a pipeline through Ojibwe lands and waters at a time of escalating climate crisis,” adds Winona LaDuke, Executive Director and co-founder of Honor the Earth. “One immediate result is that hundreds of more arrests of Water Protectors will occur because of this in the Deep North. We stand with the insightful dissension offered in the decision by Judge Reyes: ‘This case is about substitution. Substituting supply for demand. Substituting ‘shippers’ for ‘refineries.’ Substituting ‘pipeline capacity’ for ‘crude oil.’ Substituting conclusory, unsupported demand assumptions for reviewable ‘long-range energy demand forecasts.’ And substituting an agency’s will for its judgment.’”

Associated Press: Minnesota court affirms approval of Line 3 oil pipeline
Steve Karnowski, 6/14/21

“The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday affirmed state regulators’ key approvals of Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 oil pipeline replacement project, in a dispute that drew over 1,000 protesters to northern Minnesota last week,” the Associated Press reports. “A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that the state’s independent Public Utilities Commission correctly granted Enbridge the certificate of need and route permit that the Canadian-based company needed to begin construction on the 337-mile Minnesota segment of a larger project to replace a 1960s-era crude oil pipeline that has been deteriorating and can run at only half capacity. “We are sorely disappointed in this decision that allows the state of Minnesota under Gov. Walz  to continue to shove a pipeline through Ojibwe lands and waters at a time of escalating climate crisis,” Winona LaDuke, executive director of the Indigenous-based environmental group Honor the Earth, said Monday. “One immediate result is that hundreds of more arrests of Water Protectors will occur because of this in the Deep North.” Pipeline opponents can appeal the decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court.”

Star Tribune: Appellate court affirms Minnesota regulators’ approval of new Enbridge pipeline
By Mike Hughlett, 6/14/21

“The Minnesota Court of Appeals has affirmed the state’s approval of Enbridge’s controversial Line 3 pipeline, a blow to environmental groups and Ojibwe tribes trying to halt its construction,” the Star Tribune reports. “Pipeline opponents had appealed the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC)’s 2020 approval of a certificate of need for the 340-mile pipeline across northern Minnesota. They had hoped the appellate court would halt or otherwise delay the pipeline’s construction. On Monday, a three-judge panel handed down its decision, with judges Lucinda Jesson and Michael Kirk upholding the PUC’s decision and Peter Reyes Jr. dissenting. “While reasonable minds may differ on the central question of need for replacement Line 3, substantial evidence supports the commission’s decision to issue a certificate of need,” the decision read. New Line 3 is a replacement for Enbridge’s current Line 3, which is corroding and operating at only half-capacity. The decision comes as thousands of construction workers are building the 340-mile new Line 3, which costs well over $3 billion and is more than 60 percent complete. Enbridge is scheduled to begin shipping Canadian oil during the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, protests along the pipeline route have ramped up, with about 2,000 people showing up last week for a large rally. Nearly 180 people were arrested and 68 more received citations, according to northern Minnesota law enforcement agencies.”

Facebook: RISE Coalition [VIDEO]: Today, we left #FireLightCamp as police descended to support Enbridge’s false trespassing claims.
6/14/21

“Today, we left #FireLightCamp as police descended to support Enbridge’s false trespassing claims. Treaty rights are supreme law of the land and yet the US continues to violate them for oil and gas companies that wish to push their dirty tar sands pipelines into our communities. This fight is far from over. We fight for the treaties, we fight for our wild rice and our beloved Mississippi, we fight for future generations. More soon.

Facebook: RISE Coalition [VIDEO]: RISE Coalition & Fire Light Camp Response to Enbridge’s Falsehood-Filled Eviction Notice
6/14/21

“Today Enbridge issued a letter alleging that a certain group of people is trespassing on its pipeline easement and demanded that we depart the premises. We respectfully decline. Presented by Gaagigeyaashiik (Dawn Goodwin) of the RISE Coalition #StopLine3 #HonorTheTreaties”

Committee to Protect Journalists: Journalist Alan Weisman arrested, strip-searched while covering anti-pipeline protest in Minnesota
6/11/21

“Authorities in Minnesota’s Hubbard County should explain their reasoning for detaining and strip-searching journalist Alan Weisman and drop all charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists reports. “At about 5 p.m. on June 7, an officer with the local sheriff’s department in Hubbard County, Minnesota, arrested Weisman, a freelance journalist on assignment for the Los Angeles Times,while he was covering a protest against the construction of an oil pipeline, according to the journalist, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview. The deputies brought Weisman to the local sheriff’s department, where officers strip-searched him and confiscated his phone, voice recorder, notebooks, and prescription medications, he said. He told CPJ that authorities released him at about 9:30 p.m., returned his possessions, and did not inform him of any charges filed against him. In a phone interview today, Hubbard County Attorney Jonathan Frieden told CPJ that his office had filed gross misdemeanor trespassing charges against Weisman, but said that the charges had not been formally approved by a judge as of today. He said he was not aware that Weisman was a journalist at the time his office filed the charges, but added that Minnesota state law does not provide special dispensation for journalists in such cases… “It is outrageous that officers from Minnesota’s Hubbard County Sheriff’s Department held journalist Alan Weisman in detention for hours, strip-searched him, and went through his equipment,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna, in New York. “Reporters should not be arrested simply for doing their jobs. The Hubbard County Sheriff’s Department should explain the reason for his arrest and apologize for their treatment of Weisman in detention, and county authorities should drop all charges against him.”

Al Jazeera: ‘Reclaiming the land’: Indigenous fight against Line 3 ramps up
By Hilary Beaumont, 6/12/21

“Earlier this month, on a hot day amid a statewide drought, thousands of people marched with banners along a Minnesota highway near the Mississippi headwaters, where the river begins its 4,000 kilometre (2,500 mile) journey to the Gulf of Mexico. It is also where Canadian company Enbridge plans to bury the Line 3 pipeline,” Al Jazeera reports. The project, the largest in Enbridge’s history, would replace a 1,700-kilometre (1,000-mile) oil pipeline that runs from Edmonton, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin – and for years, it has drawn Indigenous opposition over concerns that it will contribute to climate change and infringe on treaty rights. On June 7, the same day as the march, about 200 people set up tents on platforms the company built to allow heavy machinery to roll over the marshy land, in an effort to prevent construction. Another group blocked the road to an Enbridge pump station and locked themselves to equipment. A US Customs and Border Protection helicopter hovered about 20 feet above the pump station, kicking up a cloud of dust in an attempt to clear out demonstrators. “They’re exercising their treaty rights by being in that encampment,” explained Bineshi Albert, an organiser with the Indigenous Environmental Network, who travelled from Oklahoma to attend the march.

Associated Press: Dakota Access foes seek environmental review updates from US
BY JAMES MacPHERSON, 6/11/21

“Dakota Access oil pipeline opponents asked a judge Friday to require the pipeline company and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide detailed monthly status reports while the federal government conducts an extensive environmental review of the project,” according to the Associated Press. “The request comes after U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled in May that the pipeline, which carries oil from North Dakota to a shipping point in Illinois, may continue operating while the Army Corps of Engineers conducts the review known as an environmental impact statement. In court documents, attorneys for the pipeline company said Boasberg should not require the monthly reports and also renewed their longstanding request to have the case dismissed… “Environmental groups, encouraged by some of President Joe Biden’s recent moves on climate change and fossil fuels, were hoping he would step in and shut down the pipeline. But the Biden administration left it up to Boasberg. Attorneys for the tribes on Friday also requested that Boasberg’s court retain jurisdiction over the litigation until the environmental work is completed and a new easement is issued.”

Associated Press: Pipeline foes ask Nebraska to revoke project land easements
6/14/21

“Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline asked Nebraska state regulators on Monday to revoke the land easements granted to the company across private land now that the project has officially been scrapped,” the Associated Press reports. “Attorneys for Bold Nebraska and the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska made the request in a letter to the Nebraska Public Service Commission, which approved the pipeline’s proposed route in 2017. “The commission has an obligation to protect property rights which are unjustifiably and unnecessarily threatened and encumbered as long as the route approval remains in effect,” attorneys Ken Winston of Bold Nebraska and Brad Jolly of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska wrote in the joint letter… “The easement creates a cloud on the title of the property, making it more difficult to sell or transfer the owner’s interest in the property.”.

WV Gazette Mail: Flooding effects of Mountain Valley Pipeline under scrutiny after weekend damage in central WV
By Mike Tony, 6/14/21

“Long beleaguered by erosion concerns, the Mountain Valley Pipeline is facing complaints that it exacerbated adverse effects from flooding that hit central West Virginia this weekend,” according to the WV Gazette Mail. “Environmental control devices installed along the route were overwhelmed by a large amount of rain in a short period of time, Natalie Cox, spokeswoman for Equitrans Midstream Corp., the Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based developer of the pipeline, told the Mail… “Monroe County resident and pipeline opponent Maury Johnson notified the DEP of reports he received of sediment control issues in Lewis, Braxton and Webster counties, sending state environmental regulators photos of damage near U.S. 19, in Braxton County. “They’re trying to build across these steep, slip-prone soils that we have,” Johnson told the Mail… “Johnson contended that erosion issues with the pipeline will persist until the pipeline is removed from steep slopes and trees are reestablished on them… “An analysis that the anti-pipeline group Mountain Valley Watch submitted to federal regulators in February argued that an increased risk of landslides along the project route in Lewis County remains, despite efforts to stabilize slide areas. The filing cites topographic and rainfall studies, past filings with federal regulators and aerial photographs of the pipeline to make a case that highly erodible soils, above average annual precipitation rates and steep mountain slopes have produced an ideal situation for landslides to occur.”

CBS News: Pipeline project’s impact on Indigenous communities [VIDEO]
6/14/21

“Plans for the Keystone XL pipeline have been canceled, but the impact of pipeline projects on people in the region remains. Indigenous activist and author Edgar Villanueva joins CBS News to discuss.”

Bismarck Tribune: Pipeline leaks saltwater into McKenzie County wheat field
AMY R. SISK, 6/14/21

“An equipment failure caused a pipeline to spill saltwater into a McKenzie County wheat field,” Bismarck Tribune reports. “Goodnight Midstream estimated that 1,800 barrels or 75,600 gallons of fluid spilled from its pipeline last Thursday… “The response involved putting up berms to contain the spill, he said. A report maintained by the state Department of Environmental Quality indicated that cleanup efforts continued Monday. The spill began on a hill and the fluid flowed downward through the wheat field, traveling along “many small paths,” the report said. The spill involved a pipeline made out of a fiberglass-reinforced material known as Fiberspar LinePipe, Walker told the Tribune. That material has been tied to several major saltwater spills within North Dakota in years past.”

MSNBC: Big Oil ‘never lost a fight like this’: McKibben on the death of the Keystone XL pipeline [VIDEO]
6/10/21

“Bill McKibben, climate activist and founder of 350.org, talks with Rachel Maddow about the diverse coalition of activists who protested against the Keystone XL pipeline for years leading up to the developer, TC Energy, cancelling the project, and the ongoing resistance to other pipeline projects like the Line 3 pipeline,” MSNBC reports.

WCMU: Line 5 opponents see momentum in abandonment of Keystone XL project
By BRETT DAHLBERG, 6/10/21

“Michigan environmental activists saw the cancelation of the Keystone XL oil pipeline project Wednesday as an opportunity to redouble their efforts against the Line 5 pipeline,” WCMU reports. “…David Holtz, a spokesperson for Oil and Water Don’t Mix, which opposes Line 5’s operation, told WCMU the success of the campaign against the Keystone XL line shows that energy companies are not invincible. “The oil industry, as powerful as they are, as wealthy as they are, can be defeated when they’re on the wrong side of an issue. Pipelines are inherently risky. They leak. In the Great Lakes, that’s an unacceptable risk,” he said. Bay Mills Indian Community President Whitney Gravelle told WCMU indigenous communities have been at the forefront of opposition to both Keystone XL and Line 5. “It gives me hope for the future of our Line 5 fight here in Michigan,” she said. “We have to keep up the good fight like our relatives did out West to ensure the protection of our sacred areas.” Safeguarding natural resources now ensures they’re unspoiled for future generations, Gravelle said.”

KTVL: Remember the Rogue Valley pipeline? End of Keystone XL has local advocates looking back
by Kevin McNamara, 6/10/21

“The official end of the Keystone XL pipeline, which advocates say would have brought thousands of jobs to the Upper Midwest, has environmental advocates in the Rogue Valley turning their focus to a similar project in Southern Oregon,” KTVL reports. “The Keystone XL pipeline has been dead on arrival for years. This is the final victory that those communities really deserve, after years of living with the threat of that pipeline through their lands,” Allie Rosenbluth, Campaigns Director of environmental advocacy group Rogue Climate, told KTVL. “Back in Southern Oregon, a pipeline known as the Jordan Cove Energy Project, proposed by the Calgary-based Pembina, would cross five major rivers on its way from Coos Bay to Malin in Klamath County. The project has brought local groups into conflict with the multinational energy company… Rogue Climate is one of the groups that have been involved in the fight against the Jordan Cove Energy Project. They say the environmental victory against the Keystone project bodes well for the overall fight against similar pipelines. “Now that Keystone XL is canceled, it’s time for our communities to demand that Pembina cancels Jordan Cove for good,” Rosenbluth told KTVL. “That way we can really focus on building jobs and clean energy and protecting the rivers and the bays that we love.”

World Pipelines: IEEFA comments on viability of large pipeline projects in wake of KXL cancellation
Elizabeth Corner, 6/15/21

“The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) statement reads as follows: “As the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reviews the public comments it recently received on its proposal to reconsider how it determines whether a gas pipeline should be granted a certificate of public convenience and necessity, it would do well to consider the cautionary tale of a massive fossil fuel infrastructure project, the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Investors should be on the alert as well,” according to World Pipelines. “The inherent risks of both oil and gas pipeline project efforts in today’s energy market are significant… “Moody’s concluded that new pipelines – including both oil and gas – come with the highest risks, and declared it would reserve its long-term credit rating judgment based on actual completion and operations of pipeline projects… “Both investors and government oversight agencies must be far more rigorous in their examinations of the economic viability of major infrastructure projects, whether for oil or gas. Squandering investments and time on superfluous high-risk infrastructure projects that ultimately fail diverts resources from efforts that would be more likely to generate profits and stimulate genuine economic growth.”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

Press release: Evergreen Action & Sunrise Movement Launch NoClimateNoDeal.com
6/14/21

“Today, Evergreen Action and Sunrise Movement launched NoClimateNoDeal.com, a new website and organizing hub to track Democratic Members of Congress’ opposition to any infrastructure bill that fails to include robust investment in clean energy, environmental justice and climate solutions. Evergreen Executive Director Jamal Raad and Sunrise Movement Executive Director Varshini Prakash issued the following statement: “We can’t afford to negotiate away our future. Transformative investments in climate, jobs, and justice are non-negotiable for any infrastructure package to pass the U.S. Senate.“The American people elected Democrats to deliver on an ambitious climate agenda—and now more than half a dozen members of the Senate Democratic caucus have made it clear that they won’t support a deal that strips away the investments we need to build a just and thriving clean energy future. The latest paper-thin bipartisan offer fails that test, and should be a non-starter in both Democratic-led chambers of Congress. It’s time to move on from bad-faith negotiations with the GOP and move forward with an infrastructure bill that meets the moment.”

Politico Morning Energy: UNIFIED AGENDA
Matthew Choi, 6/14/21

“The White House outlined its regulatory priorities Friday morning, focusing on rollbacks of Trump-era environmental rules that prioritized deregulation. But the administration also acknowledged many rollbacks could take years,” Politico Morning Energy reports. “A final drinking water regulation for the best-understood toxic “forever chemicals” isn’t expected until 2024, revisions to federal oil and gas leasing won’t be proposed by Interior until May 2022 and EPA wouldn’t even hazard a guess for how long it would take to craft a new definition of streams and wetlands protected under the Clean Water Act, a new rule limiting carbon emissions from existing power plants or a new regulation governing lead in drinking water,” Pro’s Annie Snider, Alex Guillén, Kelsey Tamborrino and Anthony Adragna report in their issue-by-issue breakdown of the administration’s first Unified Agenda.

Inside EPA: Biden Agenda Signals EPA’s Priority GHG Focus On Vehicles, Methane
6/14/21

EPA’s unified agenda of upcoming regulatory actions offers new details on agency timelines for prioritizing light-duty vehicle standards and oil and gas sector methane controls in its initial greenhouse gas regulations, while appearing to confirm GHG rules for power plants are proceeding on a slower regulatory track. The spring unified agenda, released June 11, also specifies a series of deadlines for controlling or revising rules related to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and other non-fossil fuel related greenhouse gases that appear broadly in line with Biden administration climate goals and recent congressional directives. The agenda, however, also appears to send a mixed signal about the pace of planned new emissions curbs for multiple pollutants from heavy-duty trucks, despite EPA’s recent notification to Congress that it is planning a multi-pollutant approach on the issue. While reiterating plans for a July proposal revisiting the Trump administration’s rollback of federal light-duty vehicle standards for model years 2021-2026, the agenda also cites a December 2021 goal for a final rule, language that provides new detail but also aligns with public pledges to issue an initial rulemaking followed by a more aggressive plan for later model years. That EPA timeline for the vehicle GHG rules also appears broadly consistent with separate language essentially reiterating public timelines for the Biden Department of Transportation (DOT) to reconsider related Trump administration policies, including DOT’s already released April proposal to scrap a Trump rule deeming vehicle rules preempted by fuel economy law.

InsideClimate News: Will Biden Be Forced to Give Up What Some Say is His Best Shot at Tackling Climate Change?
By Marianne Lavelle, 6/14/21

“Much of the debate over President Biden’s massive infrastructure proposal has been over its $2 trillion price tag. But the most powerful tool for tackling the climate crisis in the American Jobs Plan, in the view of many environmentalists, isn’t money, but Biden’s proposal to create a national clean electricity standard,” InsideClimate News reports. “That idea—a mandate for increasing the share of U.S. electricity that comes from carbon-free sources every year—has been taking a beating in the political gauntlet of Capitol Hill. Biden’s national climate policy adviser Gina McCarthy began dampening expectations for its survival last week, although she told POLITICO that the White House would “fight like crazy” to retain the standard as it struggles for a bipartisan deal in the Senate over one of the nation’s most politically polarized issues… But so far, no Republicans in today’s evenly-divided Senate have voiced support for Biden’s clean electricity standard idea. And the Democrat whose vote has become pivotal because of his tendency to side with the GOP on climate change, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, has indicated he is not inclined to support any infrastructure measure that is not bipartisan.” “…But to meet Biden’s 100 percent goal, natural gas will need to be phased out, or fitted with carbon capture and storage technology that is not yet commercially viable. And because natural gas is primarily methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide, studies indicate that its warming impact is far greater than government estimates, because of the inevitable leaks from drilling sites, processing facilities, tanks and pipelines. Some in the environmental community have been urging that natural gas be left out of the definition of “clean” in any national electricity standard.  “We think it’s a mistake to provide incentives in the near term that could lead to more natural gas generation, which will become stranded assets in the future,” Steve Clemmer, director of energy research for the Union of Concerned Scientists, told ICN. Some 700 environmental and racial justice groups have signed a letter, urging Congressional leaders not to give partial credit to natural gas.”

STATE UPDATES

Oregon Public Broadcasting: Kalama methanol plant on lower Columbia River called off by developers
By Troy Brynelson and David Steves, 6/11/21

“Developers appear to be calling it quits on a long-planned and controversial proposal to build a $2 billion methanol plant on the banks of the lower Columbia River,” Oregon Public Broadcasting reports. “The Port of Kalama announced Friday that the developer, NW Innovation Works, had terminated its lease, effectively ending the project. It would have converted fracked natural gas into methanol to be shipped to Asia. Like many industrial fossil fuel plans in the region in recent years, the plant had fomented debate over whether it could deliver jobs and economic vitality to Kalama, which straddles Interstate 5 about 40 miles north of Portland —or whether its potential to spew greenhouse gases caused more harm than good. In a statement Friday morning, port officials laid blame on state regulators and Gov. Jay Inslee for “killing local, sustainable jobs just when the need is the greatest.” The port had claimed building the facility would have put 1,400 builders to work in construction, then provide 200 jobs to onsite employees. “Jay Inslee stood on Kalama’s waterfront to tout the climate benefits of the project, then turned on us when he ran for president,” said Port Director Mark Wilson in the statement, referring to Inslee’s short-lived campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Meanwhile, opponents cheered the separation. Diane Dick, a Cowlitz County resident and activist, told OPB she felt “ecstatic” after years of fighting. She also fought a proposed oil-train terminal at the Port of Vancouver, which halted plans in 2018, and said she continues to fight a proposed coal terminal in Longview. “I think the tide has turned on allowing greenhouse gas-emitting projects to go forward,” Dick told OPB.

Bismarck Tribune: North Dakota’s first disposal site for radioactive oil field waste starts operating, more could be on the way
AMY R. SISK, 6/14/21

“North Dakota’s oil industry no longer has to ship all its radioactive waste out of state now that a disposal facility in McKenzie County has started operating, and more sites could be on the way,” according to the Bismarck Tribune. “For years, various companies have tried and failed to gain approval to dispose of radioactive oil field waste in North Dakota. As a result, trucks haul nearly 100,000 tons of the material each year to landfills in other states. Most of it goes to a facility near Glendive, Montana, though lesser amounts travel to Idaho, Colorado and Oregon. At times, it’s been dumped illegally in western North Dakota. Past efforts to establish disposal facilities in the state never came to fruition for a variety of reasons. Local residents have raised concerns about truck traffic and safety if the waste were to be buried in landfills near their homes, county officials have sought time to study the issue, and some companies have backed out of their plans”.

U.S. Energy Information Administration: Production of crude oil and natural gas in New Mexico reached new record in March 2021
Emily Geary, 6/14/21

“New Mexico had record-high production of crude oil and natural gas in March 2021, averaging 1.16 million barrels per day (b/d) of crude oil and 6.19 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas,” the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports. “The March 2021 increases in crude oil and natural gas production were the largest monthly increases on record for New Mexico. The increased production occurred after a month when production fell in response to the extreme winter weather in the U.S. South Central region. New Mexico’s increased production in March was a result of both new wells coming online for the first time and existing wells coming back online after being shut in during the cold snap. Crude oil production increased by 172,000 b/d in March 2021, a 17% increase from February’s 983,000 b/d. Natural gas production increased by 0.65 Bcf/d, a 12% increase from February’s 5.54 Bcf/d. New Mexico’s rise in crude oil and natural gas production in 2021 follows record production for both fuels in 2020. In 2020, New Mexico crude oil production increased by 133,000 b/d, or 15%, from 2019 to a record annual production of 1.04 million b/d. Natural gas production also increased to a new record of 5.60 Bcf/d in 2020. Natural gas production from the Permian Basin, which spans parts of western Texas and eastern New Mexico, accounted for most of the growth.”

EXTRACTION

Reuters: Shell weighs blockbuster sale of Texas shale assets
Ron Bousso, Jessica Resnick Ault and David French, 6/13/21

“Royal Dutch Shell is reviewing its holdings in the largest U.S. oil field for a potential sale, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, marking a key moment in its shift away from fossil fuels as it faces growing pressure to slash carbon emissions. “The sale could be for part or all of Shell’s position in the U.S. Permian Basin, located mostly in Texas, which accounted for around 6% of the Anglo-Dutch company’s total oil and gas output last year. The holdings could be worth more than $10 billion, the people said… “Any retreat from the Permian would mark a major shift from an area previously identified as one of nine core basins in its energy transition strategy to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. For all the activity in the Permian, profits have remained elusive because of scale and constant drilling required to boost output. Shell’s energy transition plan, one of the sector’s most ambitious, aims to reduce oil and gas output gradually and boost spending on renewables, hydrogen and low-carbon technologies. A Dutch court last month ordered Shell to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, much faster than planned. Shell plans to appeal the ruling, CEO Ben van Beurden said last week, but the company will also deepen emission cuts, a move likely to shrink its oil and gas business.”

Reuters: Oil prices climb as demand outlook improves, supplies tighten
Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, 6/14/21

“Oil prices rose on Monday, extending three weeks of gains that have been underpinned by an improved outlook for fuel demand as increased COVID-19 vaccinations help lift travel curbs, along with tightness in supply,” according to Reuters. “U.S. West Texas Intermediate gained 89 cents, or 1.26%, to stand at $71.70 a barrel, earlier reaching $71.32, the highest since October 2018….”Brent crude was up 85 cents, or 1.17%, at $73.46. It earlier rose to $73.12, the highest since May 2019, having gained 1.1% last week. Motor vehicle traffic is returning to pre-pandemic levels in North America and much of Europe, and more planes are in the air as anti-coronavirus lockdowns and other restrictions are being eased, driving three weeks of increases for the oil benchmarks… “U.S. oil rigs in operation rose by six to 365, the highest since April 2020, energy services company Baker Hughes Co said in its weekly report. It was the biggest weekly increase of oil rigs in a month, as drilling companies sought to benefit from rising demand.”

Canadian Press: Canada’s crude oil exports have increased 15-fold in 30 years: report
6/14/21

“The value of crude oil exports from Canada has increased over 15-fold in the last 30 years, according to a report from Statistics Canada and the Canada Energy Regulator,” the Canadian Press reports. “The increase means exports of the resource accounted for more than 14 per cent of Canada’s total exports in 2019 with a value of $84.3 billion. In 1990, crude oil made up only 3.6 per cent of the country’s total exported products. The report says crude oil production has also grown considerably over the last three decades, led first by conventional oil and then by the oilsands in the last 15 years, with Alberta becoming the largest contributor to Canadian production in 2009… “The world thought it was running out of oil so capital was poured into the oilsands which were seen as one of the few last places in the world that was free and open to foreign investment to drive oil and gas production higher to meet anticipated growing demand,” Kevin Birn, a chief analyst for IHS Markit, told CP…  “Despite the challenges put forth by the pandemic, Birn said demand for the resource has been able to bound back from the dip early last year. “It’s still is a significant economic force in the country and a major driver of prosperity,” Birn told CP.

Press release: Unifor slams government for undermining NL oil and gas sector
6/13/21

“The Newfoundland and Labrador government’s refusal to fulfil its commitment to the Terra Nova project will kill hundreds of good local jobs and undermine the province’s entire oil and gas sector, says Unifor. “The Furey government has betrayed Newfoundland and Labrador’s energy workers,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “It must live up to its commitments and ensure Terra Nova continues to serve the province as it has for 19 years. It’s not too late.” The Furey government’s surprise announcement that it would not live up to its 15% stake in Terra Nova was a shock to workers and their families. There has been progress in discussions between the company and the federal and provincial governments for months, says Unifor. In September 2020 the federal government announced a $320-million fund to support maintenance of the Newfoundland and Labrador energy sector’s assets, such as Terra Nova. “There’s so much at stake. Both government and the companies need to get back to the table and figure out an arrangement that works for Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans,” said Linda MacNeil, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director.

RESEARCH & SCIENCE

InsideClimate News: 13 Refineries Emit Dangerous Benzene Emissions That Exceed the EPA’s ‘Action Level,’ a Study Finds
By Aman Azhar, 6/13/21

“The day is etched in Lemont Taylor’s memory unlike any other. He met his doctor on Dec. 14, 2014 to go over lab results from an earlier visit. A few minutes and a couple dozen words later, Taylor’s life had changed,” InsideClimate News reports. “I was told I had stage four bladder cancer and 30 percent chances of survival,” he recalled. “I was in shock.” A longtime resident of the Hillcrest neighborhood of Corpus Christi, Texas, Taylor, who is African American, believes growing up around refineries and chemical plants led to his ordeal. “I blame the refineries, the emissions from these refineries,” Taylor, 68, told ICN, “From the tender age of 6 to the age where I am now. And they were unregulated back then. Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) didn’t come in until the mid-80s. Well, guess what TCEQ…we’d already been there since the ‘60s.” A predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhood, Hillcrest is dwarfed by a 15-mile industrial expanse known as Refinery Row on one side and oil tanks on another. From his window, Taylor could see CITGO, Flint Hills Resources and Valero refineries with their flame-tipped towers and futuristic mash-up of tanks and pipe. In February 2014, 10 months before Taylor was diagnosed with cancer, CITGO was fined over $2 million for violating the Clean Air Act at its Corpus Christi East refinery. The company was convicted by a jury in 2007 of operating two open-top tanks as oil water separators ,without the required emission control equipment. The tanks emitted toxic gases, including benzene, a known carcinogen, over a period of more than eight years.”

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

Treehugger: Net-Zero Efforts of Canadian Oil Sands Companies Are Greenwashing
By Lloyd Alter, 6/14/21

“Last week, the developer behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline pulled the plug on the $8 billion project that was slated to bring 830,000 barrels of crude oil sands a day from Alberta, Canada to the U.S. On the same day, a press release was issued claiming Canada’s largest oil sands producers have formed an alliance to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands operations by 2050,” Treehugger reports. “…The plan is to gather up all the carbon dioxide from their operations and pipe them all to “a carbon sequestration hub” where it will be put into a Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage system (CCUS). There are also plans to play with “clean hydrogen, process improvements, energy efficiency, fuel switching and electrification.” It all sounds like a very big deal, “unprecedented” if you listen to the press release. Yet in Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, it barely made the news, jammed into the second half of a story that starts with more fashionable hydrogen. It’s hard to find anyone covering it. That’s probably because it is a giant pile of nonsensical greenwashing. The key reason for all the ignoring and eye-rolling is the phrase in the press release where they are talking about “emissions from oil sands operations.” “…It totally ignores Scope 3, the actual burning of fossil fuels in cars or wherever else it is used. “

OPINION

New York Times: The Keystone XL Pipeline Is Dead. Next Target: Line 3.
Bill McKibben, 6/11/21

“The announcement this week from the Canadian company TC Energy that it was pulling the plug on the Keystone XL pipeline project was greeted with jubilation by Indigenous groups, farmers and ranchers, climate scientists and other activists who have spent the last decade fighting its construction,” Bill McKibben writes in the New York Times. “The question now is whether it will be a one-off victory or a template for action going forward — as it must, if we’re serious about either climate change or human rights. The next big challenge looms in northern Minnesota, where the Biden administration must soon decide about the Line 3 pipeline being built by the Canadian energy company Enbridge Inc. to replace and expand an aging pipeline… “And that’s what puts the Biden administration in an impossible place now. Enbridge wants to replace Line 3, which runs from Canada’s tar sands deposits in Alberta across Minnesota to Superior, Wis., with a pipeline that follows a new route and would carry twice as much crude. It would carry almost as much of the same heavy crude oil as planned for the Keystone XL pipeline — crude that is among the most carbon-heavy petroleum on the planet. Call Line 3 Keystone, the Sequel. If Keystone failed the climate test, how could Line 3, with an initial capacity of 760,000 barrels a day, possibly pass? It’s as if the oil industry turned in an essay, got a failing grade, ignored every comment and then turned in the same essay again — except this time it was in ninth grade, not fourth. It’s not like the climate crisis has somehow improved since 2015 — it’s obviously gotten far worse. At this point, approving Line 3 would be absurd.”

Calgary Herald: McConaghy: Cancellation of Keystone XL does nothing to fix dysfunctional climate policy in Canada, U.S.
Dennis McConaghy is a retired TC Energy executive and author on energy-climate policy in Canada, 6/15/21

“The formal termination of the Keystone XL pipeline project by TC Energy last week was no surprise to anyone who had closely observed how it had unfolded since its revival in late 2016,” Dennis McConaghy writes in the Calgary Herald. “…This had always left the project vulnerable to a Democratic restoration in the executive branch of government in the U.S. As early as May 2020, Joe Biden confirmed his intention to disable the project if he were to be elected. No deviation from that position over the course of the campaign ever occurred. The disabling of Keystone XL does not alter future global demand for heavy oil, or materially reduce the attributable carbon emissions arising from that demand. Other countries will supply the portion of that demand that would have been captured over time by Canada via Keystone XL. Canada also loses the greater economic efficiency that could have been provided had portions of Keystone XL capacity been available to move part of its existing production. Literally, billions of dollars of value will have been lost to Canadian interests since 2012 when the project was first envisioned to be put into service. The distinction between termination and indefinite suspension is immaterial as long as Democrats control the executive branch of the U.S. government. No major new infrastructure projects to move Canadian oilsands-derived oil into the U.S. will be countenanced, regardless of their economic merits to both countries.”

Forbes: No Place For Pipelines Or Affordable Energy Under Biden’s Plan
Dan Eberhart is CEO of Canary, one of the largest privately-owned oilfield services companies in the United States, 6/14/21

“TC Energy’s decision to abandon the $9 billion Keystone XL pipeline project is the latest example of the Biden administration’s effort to stop the American energy boom with policies that are putting the country’s energy and economic security at risk,” Dan Eberhart writes in Forbes. “…The demise of Keystone effectively means that the Biden administration will not allow any new oil and gas pipelines to go forward in the future. If projects are under construction or already approved, it does not look like the administration will halt them. For instance, the administration has not waded into a fight over Enbridge’s Line 5 in Michigan, which is still operating despite a state-ordered shutdown. Biden has also balked at shuttering the Dakota Access Pipeline that is currently in operation without federal authorization. But the industry can forget about any new pipelines. TC Energy did everything it could to ensure all relevant parties were satisfied with its Keystone XL proposal and it still wasn’t good enough for Biden. This included meaningful opportunities for indigenous populations along the pipeline’s path, as well as a commitment for net-zero emissions throughout the project’s lifetime. What more could the company have offered? The absence of any mention of pipelines in the administration’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan speaks volumes about its intentions, which appear to be throwing billions of dollars at the clean energy transition — a decades-long movement — to meet its wildly ambitious emissions targets.”

Santa Fe New Mexican: New Mexico will thrive beyond oil and gas
Jared Berenice Estrada is an organizer with Dreams in Action New Mexico, 6/12/21

“New Mexicans know very well we are living in a “toxic” relationship. For far too long, the oil and gas industry has created a dependency model that has trapped our people into thinking, “We are nothing without oil and gas.” Well, this is a lie,” Jared Berenice Estrada writes in the Santa Fe New Mexican. “Our destiny as New Mexicans is not defined by an industry based on ecological destruction — rather by our love to our people, land and culture. We have a prosperous and healthy future awaiting, without the need to sacrifice our communities’ health and well-being. It feels counterintuitive to see policymakers, fossil fuel-friendly organizations and oil and gas lobbyists continuing to look into how corporations can drill more in New Mexico — almost remaining oblivious to the fact we are living in a climate crisis that isn’t getting any better. Right here in New Mexico, we are experiencing extended droughts and diminishing flows of our vital water sources. Yet, policymakers and fossil fuel CEOs believe that opening more doors to the elite polluters will solve the problem. Including continuing to tap into our scarce fresh water sources for fracking purposes without any accountability for the depletion of this vital resource or the contamination of our communities through their produced water spills. To be clear, the crisis we are living in was not caused by us — everyday New Mexicans who want a prosperous future for our communities. The climate crisis was caused by the fossil fuel corporations and their CEOs’ greed to continue extracting regardless of the climate catastrophe we are heading toward.”

The Hill: It’s Congress’ turn to stop Arctic Refuge oil drilling
Finis Dunaway is a professor of history at Trent University and author of “Defending the Arctic Refuge: A Photographer, an Indigenous Nation, and a Fight for Environmental Justice”, 6/12/21

“In the beginning of June, the Biden administration took another important step to keep oil drills out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” Finis Dunaway writes in The Hill. “The order, issued by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, suspended all fossil fuel leases auctioned off by the Trump administration on Jan. 6, pending a further environmental review. Haaland’s directive extends the force of President Biden’s executive order, signed on his first day in office, that placed a temporary pause on development activities in the Arctic Refuge. But the fate of this place remains uncertain. Four decades ago, a legislative compromise set in motion the battle over the Arctic Refuge that has ensued ever since. The fact that this land has not become another Prudhoe Bay, filled with sprawling spiderwebs of fossil fuel infrastructure, is a testament to the power of diverse alliances and grassroots activism. Without the involvement of countless people across the continent, the refuge would have long ago been turned into an oil field. Without Congressional action, it may still become one. Defenders of the refuge knew from the start that they were up against powerful, deep-pocketed adversaries including the oil industry, the state of Alaska and pro-drilling politicians. The only way to win, they believed, was to adopt a strategy that some activists called the “trickle-up theory of politics.” According to this theory, the defenders sought to bring local, grassroots attention to the Arctic Refuge in communities across the United States. In turn, they believed, local media coverage and citizen concern would trickle up to national media outlets and policymakers in Washington. Until 2017, the trickle-up approach worked.”

The Hill: We need reforms to the gas and oil industries
Ashley Korenblat, CEO of Western Spirit Cycling and managing director at Public Land Solutions, 6/11/21

“Life in states with significant public land has changed dramatically since the passage of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, which governs the leasing and production of oil and gas on federal public lands,” Ashley Korenblat writes in The Hill. “While oil and gas development brought jobs and royalty payments to many rural communities in the 20th century, macroeconomic changes, accelerated by market-driven climate solutions in the 21st century, have led many cities and towns to begin transitioning towards more diverse sources of jobs and revenues. New uses of public lands are bringing new opportunities including renewable energy, outdoor recreation and businesses seeking quality of life via outdoor access for their employees. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated an existing trend as more and more businesses and professionals seek to locate in places with outdoor recreation. Investments in recreation assets are bringing improved prosperity to a broad group of communities not only through tourism and visitation, but increasingly through new business investment, along with the recruitment of entrepreneurs, professionals and retirees. However, the current oil and gas leasing and development system created in 1920 is undermining this transition and making it more difficult for local communities to diversify their economies.  The regulations and policies that govern federal oil and gas leasing, permitting and management can be changed by both congressional legislation and the Department of the Interior (DOI). Overdue leasing reforms must address low potential leasing, inadequate bonding, best practices for dealing with orphan wells and unfunded reclamation, along with inadequate royalties. Rates have not been updated for a century. Proactively addressing all of these problems will directly benefit transitioning communities. A pause in oil and gas leasing is merited to create a comprehensive plan for addressing today’s needs.”

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