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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 6/17/22

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips June 17, 2022

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PIPELINE NEWS

  • Chronicle Times: Supervisors hear CO2 pipeline update

  • Fergus Falls Journal: Environmental concerns raised: Vote passes to regulate CO2 pipelines running through OTC

  • KCAU: Update provided on Heartland Greenway pipeline project

  • Philadelphia Inquirer: Pennsylvania fines Sunoco Pipeline for Mariner East violations in Delco

  • Law360: Mich., Wis. Biz Group Backs Bad River Tribe In Line 5 Suit

  • WORT: The Fight Against Line 5 Continues

  • DailyTrib.com: Burnet County opposes Matterhorn pipeline, moves two polling places

  • World Pipelines: Mitigating the issue of pipeline corrosion

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • Politico: GREENS SEEK TO OVERTURN PERMITS

  • Politico: INDUSTRY LOBBIES AGAINST METHANE FEE

  • E&E News: Probe finds excessive venting, flaring by offshore oil company

STATE UPDATES

  • NJ1015.com: COULD OIL DRILLING OFF NEW JERSEY LOWER THE PRICE OF GASOLINE?

  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pa. DEP splits up long-stalled oil and gas air pollution rule

  • Food & Water Watch: Spending $8 Million, Oil and Gas Industry Overturns Ventura County Environmental Regulations

EXTRACTION

  • Science Daily: Humans responsible for over 90% of world’s oil slicks

  • Forbes: Europe’s Warm Embrace Of LNG Raises Methane Emissions Concerns

  • Natural Gas Intelligence: As BC LNG Gains Momentum, Alberta Forecasts Rising Oilsands Output

  • New York Times: One Site, 95 Tons of Methane an Hour

CLIMATE FINANCE

  • Politico: BANKING ON CLIMATE

  • E&E News: SEC climate rule draws comment cacophony

OPINION

  • Houston Chronicle: Editorial: The Railroad Commission of Texas can’t be trusted to regulate carbon capture

  • National Observer: Enbridge continues to threaten a fifth of the world’s fresh water thanks to lobbyists

  • Globe and Mail: Ottawa’s oil and gas emissions targets hinge on hopes and miracles

PIPELINE NEWS

Chronicle Times: Supervisors hear CO2 pipeline update
Paul Struck, 6/17/22

“At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, a spokesman for Summit Carbon Solutions (SCS), the company proposing a liquid CO2 pipeline through Cherokee County, presented all the positives involved in the project, including a projected $2 million annual property tax payday for the county,” the Chronicle Times reports. “And though that appealing morsel turned heads throughout the room, it didn’t prevent the specter of the known pitfalls associated with such a project from hanging over the proceedings like a CO2 cloud. Among those pitfalls: Liquid CO2 is hazardous and a deadly asphyxiant; as a form of coercion from the jump, SCS has threatened possible use of eminent domain to secure land easement rights; SCS promoters, employees and investors form a powerful political contingent, including Iowa governors past and present; SCS and supporters continue proceeding as it’s all a done deal despite few landowners signing over easements and tons of pushback by opposition from many fronts and their attorneys… “SCS reports that 57% of corn sold in Iowa goes to ethanol plants and 40% of US corn supplies ethanol plants. The pot-o-gold at the end of the pipeline rainbow for SCS is based on simple math… “This amounts to $600 million of annual tax credits for at least 12 years and totals $7.2 billion over the first 12 years of the life of the pipeline… “In addition, the ethanol plants could realize as much as a 30-cents per gallon price increase with expanded markets and volume due to lower carbon ethanol, with that windfall split between the plants and SCS.” 

Fergus Falls Journal: Environmental concerns raised: Vote passes to regulate CO2 pipelines running through OTC
James Allen, 6/15/22

“A proposed CO2 pipeline project that could impact Otter Tail County and multiple other Minnesota counties may be in jeopardy due to a stunning recent decision from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commision (MN PUC),” the Fergus Falls Journal reports. “The decision has been praised by environmental groups, Native American tribes and the group, Clean Up the River Environment (CURE)… “The MN PUC took up the issue of CO2 pipelines after CURE submitted petitions about the two current CO2 pipeline projects to the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board in late 2021… “CURE states that as these pipelines will be transporting highly pressurized CO2 in a hazardous state, the PUC will need to permit the routes. The PUC agreed that it’s in the best interest of Minnesotans for the currently proposed or any future CO2 pipelines to have state-level review and oversight. Anne Borgendale, communications director for CURE, told the Journal it is a massive project. “There are currently CO2 pipelines in the U.S. Typically they are going to be used for enhanced oil recovery. To our knowledge, this is the first project of its type where they’re capturing CO2 from industrial facilities and piping it for what they say is sequestration and the most extensive as far as mileage. It’s thousands of miles, but it’s the first project of this scale for this type of purpose,” Borgendale told the Journal… “The health and safety concerns of PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) and other commenters resonated with the PUC as well. In their comments, PEER argued that existing law already covers these pipelines as a pressurized toxic gas. “We are very pleased that the Commission is putting human health and the environment first,” said Hudson Kingston, litigation and policy attorney at PEER. “The fact that purified and highly pressurized carbon dioxide gas can explode out of pipelines and suffocate communities is more than enough reason for the PUC to immediately exercise authority over them.”

KCAU: Update provided on Heartland Greenway pipeline project
Gage Teunissen, 6/14/22

“A company proposing a CO2 pipeline project through Woodbury County provided an update to the County Board of Supervisors Tuesday night,” KCAU reports. “…The update included a map that shows an outline of where they plan to build the pipeline in the county. It would run through almost 28 miles of land in Woodbury County. “Engagement and transparency are key to the Navigator culture and what we want. Folks that we’re partnering with, be that plants that are part of our line or landowners that are potentially part of the project footprint to see from us,” said Elizabeth Thompson. Board President Keith Radig said, “As a Board of Supervisors we just want to make sure that our landowners are properly compensated for their land in the process moving forward and we do not want to see eminent domain as part of the process.”

Philadelphia Inquirer: Pennsylvania fines Sunoco Pipeline for Mariner East violations in Delco
Andrew Maykuth, 6/16/22

“Construction of the Mariner East Pipeline system crossing Pennsylvania was completed several months ago, but the contentious Energy Transfer LP project continues to rack up legal penalties,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday imposed a $51,000 fine against Energy Transfer’s subsidiary Sunoco Pipeline LP for violations related to construction of the pipeline through an apartment complex in Middletown Township, Delaware County. The PUC by a 3-0 vote adopted a recommended decision by an administrative law judge that partly upheld a complaint from Glen Riddle Station LP, the owner of a 124-unit apartment complex that was bisected for eight months by a massive trench and 30-foot high sound walls that were as close as five feet from some buildings. The March 8 recommended decision by Administrative Law Judge Joel H. Cheskis said Sunoco created a fire hazard during construction, made excessive noise, and failed to adequately communicate with residents of Glen Riddle Station Apartments. But the judge also dismissed Glen Riddle Station’s complaints that Sunoco created traffic hazards, caused a water main leak, and improperly used a dangerous product, Calciment, on its property… “Sunoco’s exceptions to the judge’s recommendation were “entirely without merit,” the PUC said in its order. David La Torre, a spokesman for Glen Riddle Station, told the Inquirer  the apartment owners were pleased the PUC validated its objections related to Sunoco’s “reckless behavior.” The most important part of the decision, La Torre told the Inquirer, was a requirement that Sunoco stop its “dangerous conduct” since it remains active in the township.

Law360: Mich., Wis. Biz Group Backs Bad River Tribe In Line 5 Suit
Andrew Westney, 6/16/22

“A group representing Michigan and Wisconsin businesses urged a federal judge Thursday to shut down Enbridge Energy Co.’s Line 5 pipeline on the Bad River Band’s tribal land, saying there’s little risk to the local economy from a shutdown, while a potential oil spill could prove catastrophic for the businesses,” Law360 reports. “In a proposed amicus brief, the Great Lakes Business Network opposed Enbridge’s bid to significantly trim the Bad River tribe’s suit aiming to shut down the company’s Line 5…”

WORT: The Fight Against Line 5 Continues
6/16/22

“For years, local residents and water protectors have opposed Line 5, Enbridge’s tar sands oil pipeline stretching from Sarnia, Ontario to Superior, Wisconsin and running through the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan,” WORT reports. “An oil spill would threaten the Great Lakes and dozens of waterways. “We don’t want that pipeline in our community anymore, and we have the right to reject that pipeline,” Aurora Conley, a land and water protector and member of the Bad River Band, told WORT. Today, she and local environmental activist Marc Rosenthal join Thursday host Allen Ruff to discuss their opposition to Line 5 and an upcoming event hosted by Communities United by Water in Ashland, Wisconsin on Saturday, June 25.”

DailyTrib.com: Burnet County opposes Matterhorn pipeline, moves two polling places
Suzanne Freeman, 6/16//22

“A proposed pipeline set to run through the Briggs and Joppa area of Burnet County met with opposition from the Commissioners Court, which passed a resolution against the Matterhorn Express pipeline and the legal process in place for seizing private property,” DailyTrib.com reports. “Burnet County on behalf of its citizens opposes the Matterhorn Express Pipeline being routed inside of Burnet County,” reads the resolution, which received a 4-0 unanimous vote by commissioners at their regular meeting Tuesday, June 14… “The pipeline resolution requests immediate action by the Texas Legislature to protect landowners and communities, listing three ways to do this. First, commissioners asked the Legislature to create a better regulatory process for oil and gas pipeline routing that enable those affected to have a voice in what happens. Second, they asked that the process include environmental and economic studies for all oil and gas pipelines, whether intrastate or interstate. Finally, they asked that the Legislature require substantial governmental oversight over the power of eminent domain that is currently delegated to private companies. “These pipelines can take a better route, but it’s a longer route,” said Precinct 2 Commissioner Damon Beierle. “It’s not as direct, and it will cost more, but they can go farther south where other pipelines are already there.” The pipeline resolution will be sent to local state representatives and senators as well as other state officials. Although the county asked for officials from the Railroad Commission of Texas and the pipeline to attend the meeting, only upset landowners were on hand for the reading of the resolution and the vote.”

World Pipelines: Mitigating the issue of pipeline corrosion
Sara Simper, 6/17/22

“The potential impact of pipeline corrosion within the oil and gas industry can be devastating for many reasons. In addition to the increased cost of maintenance and replacing parts, expensive offshore pipeline installation projects, and the huge costs due to loss of production, the consequences of oil spills and leakages from corroded pipelines are not to be understated,” World Pipelines reports. “Corrosion is considered to be the main cause of failure in the oil and gas production process and, due to the development of fields in deeper offshore wells with higher pressure, temperature, and higher levels of hydrogen sulphide (H2 S), carbon dioxide (CO2 ), and chloride, corrosion costs are increasing… “Until a decade ago, steel material for pipelines and pipe structures was the main option for the oil and gas industry. However, steel pipelines are heavy and their corrosion must be mitigated using coatings and inhibitors (such as amines and nitrites), thus increasing operating costs. Now, Strohm is leading the development and deployment of its Thermoplastic Composite Pipe (TCP) to counter the inherent drawbacks of steel: corrosion, fatigue, and rigidity… “TCP features a solid pipe wall constructed from glass or carbon reinforcement fibres and thermoplastic polymeric materials. The unique and proprietary melt-fusing manufacturing process results in a true composite structure, with the fibres fully embedded within a ductile polymer matrix and ensuring the strongest interface possible between the different pipe layers. The fibres are linear in behaviour and typically do not show plastic deformation or yielding, whilst the ductile polymer matrix provides flexibility. This combination creates a robust spoolable pipe, manufactured in long lengths, and adapted to customer-specific requirements.”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

Politico: GREENS SEEK TO OVERTURN PERMITS
Ben Lefebvre, 6/16/22

“Environmental groups Center for Biological Diversity and Wildlife Guardians sued the Biden administration to challenge about 3,500 drilling permits approved for companies seeking to extract oil and gas from federal land,” Politico reports. “The lawsuit, the latest to draw the Interior Department and Bureau of Land Management’s oil and gas leasing program into the courtroom, says the administration failed to take into account how methane emissions from the drilling would damage the overall environment and therefore violated the National Environment Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act… “The groups specifically target how greenhouse gas emissions created in one place affect endangered species everywhere: “Fossil fuels are driving the extinction crisis, and the Bureau of Land Management is making things worse by failing to protect these imperiled species,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. Interior declined to comment. But the lawsuit follows a strategy the groups used when they sued Interior last year over the environmental review underpinning November’s offshore oil and gas lease sale. The U.S. district judge in that case sided with the groups and ruled that the leases were invalid, causing a huge setback for the companies seeking to expand drilling – and possibly carbon capture activities — in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Politico: INDUSTRY LOBBIES AGAINST METHANE FEE
Ben Lefebvre, 6/16/22

“The oil and gas industry has launched a fresh lobbying push against a potential fee on methane emissions as key Democrats continue negotiations over a slimmed-down reconciliation climate and social spending package,” Politico reports. “Groups led by the Western Energy Alliance, Energy Workforce & Technology Council, U.S. Oil & Gas Association and Independent Petroleum Association of America wrote that any new methane fee “would merely be punitive in nature” in a new letter. The letter was sent to Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the top Republican of the Environment and Public Works Committee, who already opposes a methane fee. But Leslie Beyer, CEO of the Energy Workforce & Technology Council, told Politico this “won’t be the last” letter from the coalition as it pursues a “long-term strategy” to push Democrats to drop the methane fee. Specifically, the groups say the methane fee included in the House-passed version of the original Build Back Better bill last year created a “complicated and logically incoherent” formula that “penalizes companies that have achieved lower emissions rates and disincentivizes them to further reduce emissions.”

E&E News: Probe finds excessive venting, flaring by offshore oil company
Heather Richards, 6/15/22

“An offshore oil company flared and vented natural gas beyond limits for several years, shorting federal coffers thousands of dollars in royalties, according to an investigation released today by the Interior Department’s internal watchdog,” E&E News reports. “The investigation was prompted by a confidential tip to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, the Interior agency that oversees the hundreds of offshore oil and gas facilities operating on the outer continental shelf. The agency referred the tip to the Office of Inspector General. Investigators reviewed daily flaring and venting reports from 2014 to 2020 at six of an unnamed oil and gas producer’s 500 facilities in the Gulf of Mexico. They determined the company likely “concealed regulatory violations” and “may have manipulated or misreported data” at four production platforms. They found discrepancies such as the company reporting venting or flaring as “routine” though the daily average exceeded the regulatory limit of 50 million cubic feet.”

STATE UPDATES

NJ1015.com: COULD OIL DRILLING OFF NEW JERSEY LOWER THE PRICE OF GASOLINE?
Eric Scott, 6/15/22

“Record high gas prices are again renewing the debate over drilling for oil off the New Jersey coastline,” NJ1015.com reports. “The American Petroleum Institute (API) has sent a 10-point plan to President Joe Biden they claim would drop the price of gas and make the U.S. more energy independent. The number one recommendation is the lifting of restrictions on oil exploration and drilling along the Outer Continental Shelf, which runs about three miles off the coast of New Jersey. The API plan calls for a five year program to sell new leases for exploration and drilling as well as the reinstatement of leases that have been canceled. Biden issued an executive order in 2021 that halted new drilling for oil and gas as part of his plan to combat climate change. It reversed efforts by President Donald Trump to essentially open the entire East coast for offshore drilling. For more than a decade, New Jersey officials and environmental groups have been battling efforts to drill for oil off the Jersey coast, fearing a spill would decimate the state’s $43 billion tourism industry… “Jeff Tittel, President of the New Jersey Sierra Club, called those efforts “deeply troubling.” “Drilling off our coast is not worth the risk,” Tittel told 1015, “Once you get oil out there the chances of a spill goes up, and the only oil we want to see on our beaches is Coppertone.” “…More than a dozen environmental groups held a rally on the Asbury Park boardwalk, calling on the federal government to drop the plan. They said the risk of a catastrophic oil spill is real — and completely preventable by not allowing offshore drilling.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pa. DEP splits up long-stalled oil and gas air pollution rule
LAURA LEGERE, 6/15/22

“Pennsylvania environmental regulators are moving forward with just half of a long overdue rule designed to limit air pollution from oil and gas well sites after objections from legislators and advocates for the state’s conventional oil and gas industry caused the proposed rule to be split in two,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The state Environmental Quality Board voted Tuesday to advance a rule that only covers air pollution from unconventional, or shale gas, well sites and related equipment. The revised rule loses roughly 80% of the pollution reduction benefit that had been expected when the rule covered both the state’s shale and traditional well site infrastructure. Officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection said they are working to finish a second rule to address air pollution sources in the conventional oil and gas industry as soon as possible, likely by September. The agency is racing to salvage the rules to avoid sanctions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that could threaten billions of dollars in federal highway funds.”

Food & Water Watch: Spending $8 Million, Oil and Gas Industry Overturns Ventura County Environmental Regulations
6/14/22

“Backed by an $8 million war chest, the oil and gas industry succeeded in defeating Measures A and B, two ordinances that would have closed a dangerous loophole allowing oil and gas drillers to avoid modern environmental review using antiquated permits with no expiration date,” according to Food & Water Watch. “The vote overturns a decision by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors in 2020 requiring all new drilling operations to abide by modern environmental standards regardless of permit date. The vote is the latest in a nearly two year battle between community members and environmental justice activists and fossil fuel giants like Aera Energy and Chevron. Only three days after the initial Ventura County Board of Supervisors’ decision in 2020, Aera Energy spent $1 million on signature gatherers to put the issue back on the ballot. Once that happened, oil and gas interests poured additional millions of dollars into the hyperlocal campaign, making this the most expensive ballot issue in Ventura County’s history despite the ordinances only applying to new drilling operations. They used dark money to overturn common sense regulations passed by Ventura’s elected representatives; not one individual donor is listed in their campaign finance reports.  “Big Oil has set a terrifying precedent,” said Food & Water Watch Central Coast Organizing Manager and Yes on Measures A & B Campaign Lead Tomás Rebecchi. “Ventura County’s families know that our communities’ health is not for sale at any price. We are no one’s sacrifice zone. But it’s increasingly clear that fossil fuel companies not only threaten the safety of our communities and climate, they’re also unraveling our democratic processes. And if Big Oil can buy its way out of a democratic decision for $8 million in a tiny county in California, where will they go next? This may be Ventura County’s fight, but it’s a defeat for the whole country.”

EXTRACTION

Science Daily: Humans responsible for over 90% of world’s oil slicks
Florida State University, 6/16/22

“Scientists mapping oil pollution across the Earth’s oceans have found that more than 90% of chronic oil slicks come from human sources, a much higher proportion than previously estimated,” Science Daily reports. “A team of U.S. and Chinese scientists mapping oil pollution across the Earth’s oceans has found that more than 90% of chronic oil slicks come from human sources, a much higher proportion than previously estimated. Their research, published in Science, is a major update from previous investigations into marine oil pollution, which estimated that about half came from human sources and half from natural sources. “What’s compelling about these results is just how frequently we detected these floating oil slicks — from small releases, from ships, from pipelines, from natural sources such as seeps in the ocean floor and then also from areas where industry or populations are producing runoff that contains floating oil,” Ian MacDonald, a professor in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science at Florida State University and a paper co-author, told Science Daily… “Even a miniscule amount of oil can have a big impact on plankton that make up the base of the ocean food system. Other marine animals, such as whales and sea turtles, are harmed when they contact oil as they come up to breathe… “Researchers found most oil slicks near coastlines. About half of oil slicks were within 25 miles of the coast, and 90% were within 100 miles. The researchers found relatively fewer oil slicks in the Gulf of Mexico compared to elsewhere on the globe, suggesting that government regulation and enforcement as well as compliance from oil platform operators in U.S. waters reduces leakage.”

Forbes: Europe’s Warm Embrace Of LNG Raises Methane Emissions Concerns
Emily Pickrell, 6/15/22

“Europe is desperately seeking more natural gas imports in the name of national security but is scrambling to explain how this production fits into the global need to reduce damaging methane and greenhouse gas emissions,” Forbes reports. “It’s a good example of a growing issue: how energy resources may meet immediate national economic and security needs, yet could disrupt long term climate change goals… “The European Union has been vocal about its need to replace Russian fossil fuels and has introduced its RePowerEU plan, which will focus on increasing energy efficiency and clean energy use. In doing so, it hopes to cut Russian oil and gas imports by two-third this year and the remaining one-third by 2027. But the bulk of the remainder will be made up for with gas from LNG. Though expansion of pipelines from Spain could also ultimately allow more natural gas inflow in to Europe, Europe must have immediate replacements that can come online now and in the near future. For this plan to work, Europe will need to make huge infrastructure investments in regasification facilities, and this may factor into a huge greenhouse gas emissions increase, including methane. European officials have already started to acknowledge how damaging these methane emissions can be… “Looking at how LNG compares to Russian gas’ dismal environmental footprint does not provide much comfort that Europe will be able to reduce global methane emissions by this change… “In a direct comparison, even the relatively clean LNG from Qatar or Australia emits between 60 to 175% more gashouse gas emissions than Russia’s natural gas. U.S. gas is even worse, because of the high fugitive methane emissions that occur in production and processing… “Now, in light of the war, the situation is looking more complicated, and there are now seven LNG facilities under construction and 26 more planned, as Europe gets more aggressive about moving away from Russian gas. “I do think that security has trumped climate concerns in Europe, and there seems to be no role for Russian gas in the future without major geo-political changes,” Victor Flatt, the co-director of the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources Center at the University of Houston Law Center, told Forbes. “Being addicted to Russian oil and gas is a big, big problem. In that sense, security trumps climate, at least for now.”

Natural Gas Intelligence: As BC LNG Gains Momentum, Alberta Forecasts Rising Oilsands Output
GORDON JAREMKO, 6/16/22

“Oilsands plant additions are set to bump up Alberta production by 27% over the next 10 years, but natural gas production in the Canadian province is likely to be flat, according to government forecasts,” Natural Gas Intelligence reports. “The latest annual industry review by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) said oilsands output should increase to 4.7 million b/d as of 2031 from the current 3.7 million b/d. Sales beyond Alberta’s borders are forecast to reach 4.5 million b/d by 2031, as oilsands exports to the United States and overseas. Smaller Canadian markets mostly use light oil from flowing wells, including imports from the U.S. and overseas… “Survivors of project environmental battles would add 960,000 b/d to capacity. That includes 370,000 b/d to the recently completed Enbridge Line 3 replacement in the United States. Another 590,000 b/d is under construction by the Trans Mountain line to the Port of Vancouver. Alberta natural gas production is projected to remain in its current range of about 10 Bcf/d or less, with exports receding as demand grows inside the province for oilsands plant and power station fuel… “AER projections of Alberta oil and gas investment acknowledged the limits posed by environmentalist and government resistance to fossil fuel development. There also were limits potentially posed by industry priorities of debt reduction, stockholder dividends and share buybacks… “As the AER review circulated during an industry conference in Calgary, Cenovus Energy Inc. CEO Alex Pourbaix voiced industry expectations that current supply and price crises would make governments rethink decarbonization policies to phase out fossil fuels. Pourbaix suggested that the new-age energy motto should be changed to diversification from transition because wind and solar power are not easy or quick replacements for oil and gas.”

New York Times: One Site, 95 Tons of Methane an Hour
Henry Fountain, 6/14/22

“A remote-sensing satellite has detected one of the largest releases of methane from a single industrial site, an underground coal mine in south-central Russia. The finding is another indication of the scope of the problem of curbing emissions of methane, a potent planet-warming gas,” the New York Times reports. “Thirteen plumes of the gas were observed at the Raspadskya mine, the largest coal mine in Russia, in late January during a single pass of a satellite operated by GHGSat, a commercial emissions-monitoring firm. The total flow rate from all the plumes was estimated at about 87 metric tons (about 95 U.S. tons) an hour. “This is the biggest source we’ve ever seen,” Brody Wight, director of energy, landfills and mines at GHGSat, which was formed in 2011 and now has six emissions-sensing satellites, told the Times. By contrast, the highest rate measured at Aliso Canyon, a natural gas storage facility in Southern California that had a major leak for nearly four months in 2015 and 2016, was about 60 metric tons an hour… “Were the flow continuous at 87 metric tons of methane an hour, total yearly emissions would be equivalent to those from five average coal-fired power plants, the company said. Mr. Wight told the Times that the releases were most likely deliberate, as the Raspadskya mine, like other coal mines, has naturally occurring methane-rich pockets amid the seams of coal. A buildup of methane at the mine in 2010 led to an explosion that killed 66 people.”

CLIMATE FINANCE

Politico: BANKING ON CLIMATE
Ben Lefebvre, 6/16/22

“The banking industry’s global standard-setting body on Wednesday set out a worldwide approach for how banks and their supervisors should manage financial risks stemming from climate change,” Politico reports. “Tthe Basel Committee on Banking Supervision laid out 18 provisions — read them here — for the management and supervision of climate-related financial risks at internationally active banks and said they should be implemented “as soon as possible.” The Swiss-based body said it hoped the principles would improve both banks’ risk management as well as supervisors’ oversight — while allowing flexibility for practices to develop over time.”

E&E News: SEC climate rule draws comment cacophony
Avery Ellfeldt, 6/17/22

“A wonky climate proposal by the Securities and Exchange Commission has caught the attention of powerful lobbying associations, climate groups, academics, egg farmers — and even a climate-finance-concerned high school student,” E&E News reports. “The SEC proposed the landmark rule in March, kick-starting U.S. efforts to shield the financial system from climate-fueled threats. If finalized, the rule would for the first time require publicly listed companies to disclose to investors, regulators and the public their risks from — and contributions to — global warming… “ Already, more than 8,000 comments from a wide range of organizations and individuals have been posted to the SEC website… “But the comments that already have been published make clear where different types of organizations will likely fall on the rule’s most controversial provisions — and the tough road ahead for the SEC as it forges the final version… “The rule as currently proposed would apply only to publicly listed companies. It would ask them to infuse their SEC filings with climate-related information, including additional details about their long-term climate strategies and ongoing efforts to address potential climate risks and greenhouse gas emissions. At a high level, comments from sustainable finance experts, green groups, and some major companies and investors seem to agree that the proposal is well within the SEC’s remit and would provide markets with much-needed information about public companies’ exposure to climate-fueled threats… “Business groups and some lawmakers, meanwhile, have argued that the SEC and other financial regulators should stay out of environmental issues altogether and that the rule is unnecessary. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is among them. He noted in a comment letter that the SEC acknowledges many companies already disclose climate-related information and said “one could argue that the proposed rule aims to solve a problem that does not exist.” Opponents also say the proposed rule would be overly burdensome and could run some companies — including fossil fuel producers — out of business. They hinge that critique on perhaps the most controversial provision of the proposal, which would require companies to measure and report the emissions associated not only with their operations and electricity use, but also their supply chains and customers in some instances.” 

OPINION

Houston Chronicle: Editorial: The Railroad Commission of Texas can’t be trusted to regulate carbon capture
6/15/22

“Fossil fuels aren’t going anywhere. Not completely, and not anytime soon, at least. Even ardent environmentalists concede that the world’s energy needs will include oil and gas for many years. But even the largest oil and gas companies have finally accepted climate change as a real threat to both their long-term fiscal health and to the planet,” the Houston Chronicle Editorial Board writes. “Beyond the billions they are spending on renewable energy, companies are searching for ways to make drilling for and using fossil fuels less dangerous to the environment. That’s where a relatively new technology, carbon capture, comes in… “No one should pretend that such steps are enough to stave off the climate disasters the world’s scientific community is predicting, but they could help give the world slightly more time. Major oil and gas producers such as Exxon have already lined up carbon capture investments in Texas, creating a sense of urgency for the state to figure out how to cut the red tape to develop similar projects… “But despite these potential investments, one proposal to streamline environmental review recently put forth by the Railroad Commission of Texas should be vigorously rejected. Expediency in permitting cannot come at the expense of the health of our planet. And the Railroad Commission, which applied to the EPA last month for sole regulatory authority over the carbon capture permitting process in Texas, has simply not earned our trust to do so responsibly. This is, after all, the same agency that allows oil and gas producers to pollute our air with impunity through flaring and methane emissions… “The Railroad Commission has not rejected a flaring application since 2012, and issued a record number, almost 7,000 in 2019 before the global pandemic plunged demand for oil products. That Railroad Commission now wants to be put in charge of approving projects designed to curb carbon emissions? Might as well let the bank robber guard the vault… “We wish the Railroad Commission had earned the kind of trust required for the EPA to step away from its oversight role. The last thing the world needs are climate solutions stuck in a double layer of bureaucracy. But the industry needs, and Texas deserves, consistent regulations to guarantee that injection wells are secure enough to permanently sequester carbon. Unfortunately, the commission has proven time and time again that it cannot be trusted to keep our environment safe.”

National Observer: Enbridge continues to threaten a fifth of the world’s fresh water thanks to lobbyists
Conor Curtis is a social and environmental researcher and writer from Corner Brook, N.L., Kathleen Brosemer (Azhede-kwe) is the environmental director for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Tessine Murji is a conservation organizer with the Illinois Sierra Club based in Chicago but is originally from Montreal, 6/16/22

“No amount of philanthropy or high-priced PR campaigns can hide the truth that Canadian oil company Enbridge is destroying our clean air and water. This corporation continues to operate its dangerous Line 5 pipeline in direct violation of the first-ever shutdown order for an existing pipeline. Each day Enbridge continues to operate Line 5, it poses a threat to one-fifth of the world’s fresh water,” Conor Curtis, Kathleen Brosemer and Tessine Murji write for the National Observer. “Company lobbyists have used money, influence and personal connections to silence organizing efforts to get Line 5 out of the Great Lakes. A watchdog group revealed in 2019 that Enbridge bought $63,000 in paid sponsorships and ads with the Michigan Association of Counties, which consequently supported a resolution backing the pipeline. The association also called Enbridge a “partner” during its annual conference and ran misleading newspaper ads saying they are “working to protect Michigan’s Water.” Bridge Magazine and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network also analyzed over 5,700 documents — including public disclosures and internal emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act — revealing former Michigan governor Rick Snyder “allowed lobbyists and officials with a direct relationship to Enbridge to offer extensive input about the fate of the pipeline,” such as whether Enbridge should invest in its crumbling infrastructure rather than cease operations entirely. It’s clear that decisions about Line 5 are not made in a vacuum. They have been heavily influenced by external lobbying efforts… “Line 5 also does not benefit Great Lakes states’ economies, nor does it significantly influence their energy supply… “While talking a lot about truth and reconciliation, the reality is that Canadian political leaders, and our government as a whole, will gladly disrespect and disregard Indigenous rights and voices when the fossil fuel industry tells them to. … “The company continues to attempt to deceptively persuade the world that it cares about human health with pricey PR campaigns. While Enbridge seeks some positive press, no one should ever forget the harm it continues to impose with its pipeline projects.”

Globe and Mail: Ottawa’s oil and gas emissions targets hinge on hopes and miracles
Konrad Yakabuski, 6/16/22

“When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault released Ottawa’s targets for greenhouse-gas emissions for the oil and gas sector in March, they insisted there would not need to be a trade-off between “clean air and good jobs, a healthy environment and a strong economy,” Konrad Yakabusk writes for the Globe and Mail. “They called their blueprint “an ambitious and achievable sector-by-sector approach” for reducing Canada’s overall emissions to 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Despite the upbeat presentation, not many observers bought the government’s line that Canada’s oil patch could cut its emissions by 81 megatonnes, or 42 per cent, within eight years – at least not without slashing production and incurring all the negative consequences that would entail for the Canadian economy… “As The Globe and Mail reported this week, analysts in the Environment and Natural Resources departments concluded that oil-and-gas-sector emissions reductions of 43 megatonnes could be “technically feasible” by 2030. Even then, such a feat would require “extraordinary efforts” and costly technological breakthroughs to be realized. An Environment Canada spokesperson countered that the earlier departmental analyses did not incorporate the expected improvements in carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) and direct-air capture (DAC) technologies that Ottawa is counting on to enable the oil and gas industry to meet its targets. Still, it is not credible to suggest that enough CCUS and DAC projects in the planning phase, and the hundreds of kilometres of pipelines that would be needed to transport CO2 emissions to underground storage sites, could be approved, funded, built and operating by 2030 to capture 81 megatonnes of oil-and-gas-sector emissions. Neither the math nor the science support that hypothesis, much less the political hurdles that are already encountered by proposed energy infrastructure projects in Canada. “Like many things in climate change scenario planning, there is a huge band of uncertainty as to how capture technology will grow and if a clear ‘winner’ will emerge,” a recent TD Economics study concluded. “The capital investment required for CCUS technologies, storage and transportation networks is not inconsequential and estimate bands are wide as technology and efficiencies continue to evolve, making it even more difficult to plan.” Cost estimates for CCUS and DAC projects are all over the map, depending on which technologies are deployed. But suffice it to say, the $7.1-billion in tax credits that the April federal budget allocated for CCUS does not come close to what is needed.”

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