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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 6/2/21

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips June 2, 2021

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PIPELINE NEWS

  • E&E NewsGranholm On Pipelines: ‘We Want To Build More’
  • WCCO‘They’re Shoving A Pipe Down Our Throat’: Inside Winona LaDuke’s Fight Against Line 3
  • CleanTechnica1,000 Arrests Expected Over Enbridge Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline
  • Aitkin Age1,000 Grandmothers tell Guida, ‘Stop Line 3’
  • MinnPostNorthern Minnesota counties could be on the hook for millions after state’s latest move in Enbridge property tax saga
  • Law360Greens Oppose Feds’ Bid To Moot Keystone Permit Appeal
  • Facebook: West Whiteland Residents for Pipeline SafetyWe have more information on what actually happened last night at the Mariner East pump station on Boot Rd in West Goshen Township
  • Daily LocalMariner East 2 pipeline in West Goshen develops small leak; evacuations not ordered
  • Facebook: Appalachians Against Pipelines: Four Mountain Valley Pipeline protesters have dressed as baby Wood Ducks, and three of them have locked themselves to a 12’ by 8’ wooden model Wood Duck blockading access to a Mountain Valley Pipeline easement and worksite in Pembroke VA
  • BK ReaderNorth Brooklyn Pipeline Opponents Set to Announce National Grid Gas Bill Strike
  • Financial PostPay attention, control of Canada’s oil hinges on a hearing few even know is happening
  • Press releasePembina and Inter Pipeline to combine highly integrated and complementary businesses to accelerate long-term strategic plan
  • BloombergPembina to Buy Canada Pipeline Rival Inter for $6.9 Billion

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • APJoe Biden suspending oil leases in Arctic refuge
  • E&E NewsBiden budget envisions climate, justice mission for the Army Corps
  • NY TimesBiden’s Fossil Fuel Moves Clash With Pledges on Climate Change
  • WSJBiden Administration Supports Oil, Mining Projects Backed by Trump
  • E&E NewsBiden’s Arctic Oil Support Shakes Conservationists
  • The HillBiden budget aims to raise $35B from cutting fossil fuel tax benefits
  • E&E NewsMenendez Floats Bill To Outlaw Atlantic Drilling
  • DeSmogAfter Pouring Over $1 Trillion Into Fossil Fuel Finance, CEOs of 6 US Banks Testify Before Congress
  • Mother JonesHere’s How Deb Haaland Wants to Address the Crisis of Violence Against Indigenous Women

STATE UPDATES

  • Pittsburgh Post-GazetteNetwork of companies looking to move fracking wastewater in barges up and down Pittsburgh’s rivers
  • CPRA Colorado Startup Will Certify Some Natural Gas As “Responsibly Sourced.” Will That Actually Help With Climate Change?
  • Greeley TribuneWeld oil workers’ beliefs about environmental policies, alternative energy defy stereotypes
  • E&E NewsEmails: Utilities Drafted Talking Points Against Gas Bans
  • Salt Lake TribuneIndustry groups pushed lawmakers to oppose Biden’s oil lease pause despite state report showing limited impact
  • The AdvocateWhy this Louisiana plastics plant has become a national lightning rod for environmentalists
  • Port Isabel-South Padre PressCounty tables LNG project after community pressure
  • InsideClimate NewsWith the World Focused on Reducing Methane Emissions, Even Texas Signals a Crackdown on ‘Flaring’

EXTRACTION

  • Natural Gas IntelligenceSempra’s Energia Costa Azul LNG Said ‘Prime Opportunity’ for Rockies Gas Producers
  • The GuardianThe lawyer who took on Chevron – and now marks his 600th day under house arrest

RESEARCH & SCIENCE

  • E&E NewsStudy Shakes Up Assumptions About Fracking, Earthquakes
  • National ObserverCanada’s embarrassing climate record is worst of G7 nations
  • Corporate Mapping ProjectCanada’s emissions increase greatest in G7 since Paris: New report shows jobs and royalties declining with emissions rise

CLIMATE FINANCE

  • Financial Post‘The goal posts are moving’: After Big Oil’s terrible week, Canadian oil companies brace for investor pressure

OPINION

  • WSJThe Climate Yawns at Exxon ‘Coup’: An activist fund wants an oil giant to stop producing oil—except if it’s profitable
  • Pittsburgh Post-GazetteOther Voices: Methane pollution standards needed
  • Grist/Rolling StoneWhy two women sacrificed everything to stop the Dakota Access pipeline

 

PIPELINE NEWS

E&E News: Granholm On Pipelines: ‘We Want To Build More’
Lesley Clark, 6/1/21

“Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm suggested Friday the Biden administration is interested in promoting the overseas sales of ‘clean’ liquefied natural gas exports and building more pipelines, including for low-carbon fuels,” according to E&E News. “Her remarks came Friday as she touted green energy jobs at a Houston hydrogen plant and was asked by reporters about whether the Biden administration will adopt the Trump administration’s zeal for marketing LNG overseas. Granholm noted the agency has an obligation under the Natural Gas Act to approve LNG exports but added the world is moving to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. ‘What we want to do is promote and sell clean technologies, that could be natural gas that has been decarbonized,’ she said, according to audio of the exchange provided by DOE to E&E News. Granholm said the promotion also could include LNG where methane has been eliminated. ‘I’m excited about marketing zero-carbon technologies from whatever source,’ she said. The administration has not offered a clear position on LNG, prompting cautious optimism from industry, but it worries groups that want to end use of the fossil fuel.”

WCCO: ‘They’re Shoving A Pipe Down Our Throat’: Inside Winona LaDuke’s Fight Against Line 3
By Erin Hassanzadeh, 5/31/21

“You’ve likely heard about Line 3 by now. It’s a pipeline that would bring tar sands oil through northern Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin,” WCCO reports. “Part of it would run alongside an existing pipeline corridor but some of the route requires carving out a new path. Construction on the Minnesota portion started in December and is expected to pick back up June 1. But the resistance to the project hasn’t let up. Line 3 construction legal challenges and protests have been ongoing for months and years. We recently traveled to the Bemidji area to meet the women leading the resistance and to see what they say they are fighting to protect. “Well we are quite ferocious competition,” Winona LaDuke of Honor the Earth told WCCO… “The company’s multi-billion dollar replacement project carves out a new path – right in between three reservations near Bemidji. “Nobody here supports that pipeline, nobody here supports that pipeline,” LaDuke said, speaking of the White Earth reservation. “These housing projects here are full of people harvesting wild rice. These are people that are saying no to a Canadian multinational corporation… “It’s like an occupation,” LaDuke told WCCO. “They come up here, and they’re shoving a pipe down our throat.”

CleanTechnica: 1,000 Arrests Expected Over Enbridge Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline
6/1/21

“…Organizers are calling on Biden to halt the pipeline, and will convene a “Treaty People Gathering” June 5th through 8th,” CleanTechnica reports. “Construction on the project to dramatically increase the amount of oil the pipeline can carry is scheduled to resume soon and Gov. Tim Walz (D) is waiting for a Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling expected by June 21 — the state Department of Commerce, two tribes, and other opponents argue that the company’s demand projections failed to meet the legal requirements… “Organizers did not share details of their plans because police are also preparing for their protests, but Winona LaDuke, founder of the Indigenous-based environmental group Honor the Earth, told the AP she expects “over 1,000 people are going to get arrested” if Walz fails to halt the project.”

Aitkin Age: 1,000 Grandmothers tell Guida,‘Stop Line 3’
by Lynn Mizner, 6/2/21

“In a letter delivered by hand at the Aitkin County Sheriff’s department, a group of about 30 members of a national group called ‘1000 Grandmothers for Future Generations’ called on Sheriff Guida and local authorities to “stop protecting Enbridge’s interests and instead protect the communities, the economy, and the integrity of this land and its beautiful, pristine waters,” the Aitkin Age reports. “One group leader, Maureen Katz, came from Berkley, California to support water protectors in northern Minnesota. “We are here because as grandmothers, it is our responsibility to care for future generations. Some of us have family roots here; some of us are from far away. We come from cities and farms and indigenous reserves. All of us want a world where our grandchildren – and yours–can swim in clean lakes and fish in clear waters,” the letter stated. The full text of the letter delivered to Governor Tim Walz and other Minnesota leaders can be found on the 1000 Grandmothers website at www.1000grandmothers.com.”

MinnPost: Northern Minnesota counties could be on the hook for millions after state’s latest move in Enbridge property tax saga
By Walker Orenstein, 5/28/21

“A group of northern Minnesota counties, cities, towns and school districts are now on the hook for a massive bill from Enbridge Energy after a long-running court saga over the oil and gas company’s property taxes was largely resolved this week,” according to MinnPost. “State tax courts earlier this year ruled the Minnesota Department of Revenue had overvalued Enbridge’s property between 2012 and 2016, and the state on Wednesday appealed only the ruling for 2012 to the Minnesota Supreme Court. The bill for all five years is likely more than $30 million, according to preliminary estimates made in April by DOR. While that’s not an enormous sum for the state to handle, local governments, at least for now, have to pick up most of the tab, even though DOR was responsible for the problem. Matt Hilgart, government relations manager for the Association of Minnesota Counties, told MinnPost some counties may be able to raise taxes enough to cover the costs, even though doing so would bring a huge bill to areas that are largely poor. But “many others are just not in a position to make that up through a levy,” Hilgart said. “It’s literally impossible,” he said. “There’s certain townships where the pay back is 200 or 300 percent more than their annual levy. What do you do there?”

Law360: Greens Oppose Feds’ Bid To Moot Keystone Permit Appeal
6/2/21

“Environmental groups are urging the Ninth Circuit to reject the federal government’s bid to declare a lawsuit challenging the Keystone XL pipeline’s nationwide Clean Water Act permit as moot,” Law360 reports. “The Sierra Club and other groups said Friday the Army Corps of Engineers is wrong to argue their challenge to Nationwide Permit 12 is moot since the Trump administration renewed it in January. Montana and industry groups filed separate briefs the same day supporting the Corps’ motio to dismiss the case.”

Facebook: West Whiteland Residents for Pipeline Safety: We have more information on what actually happened last night at the Mariner East pump station on Boot Rd in West Goshen Township
6/1/21

“There was an active gas leak in the 12” line ( the “Frankenpipe”) inside the pump house. When Energy Transfer representatives arrived on location they detected gas at LOWER EXPLOSIVE LIMITS readings inside the pump house. There was a blown seal at the flange where it goes into the pump. The power was shut down to the pump and the safety features activated (System flare and the Exhaust system). As this was happening Boot Road was closed off but no one contacted residents or the township supervisors. Firefighters were going through back yards with flashlights. A resident who happened to be outside on neighboring Mary Jane Lane was told by police to stay inside. For sometime prior to last night, residents have complained to the township of a constant irritating noise from the pump house. After last night’s  emergency the noise seems to be gone, suggesting the two may be related… More here from Andrea Testas, West Goshen Fire Marshall, in her report this morning to Township  Manager Casey Lalonde (who this morning simply shared a statement from the PR firm hired by Energy Transfer for Mariner East): Last night at approximately 10:19pm, Monday May 31st, the Chester County 911 system received a call from the Control Room at Energy Transfer stating there was a vapor detector alarm at the Pump Station 1261 Boot Road… “Three Energy Transfer representatives arrived on location. They began monitoring inside the pump house and found increased LEL (Lower explosive Limits) readings. They found an active gas leak. There was a blown seal at the flange where it goes into the pump. The power was shut down to the pump and the safety features activated (System flare and the Exhaust system). The readings began to decrease immediately to within normal working limits. The hazmat team continued to do air monitoring inside and outside of the building the entire time. There was never any elevated readings outside of the pump house. The Hazmat team and the Fire Company turned the scene over to the Energy Transfer Representatives. They were going to remain on scene to make sure pressures continue to decrease. They will be fixing the blown seal today… “There is a WGT Board meeting tonight, in person, at the West Goshen Township Building at 6 PM, should anyone want to attend and discuss this issue.”

Daily Local: Mariner East 2 pipeline in West Goshen develops small leak; evacuations not ordered
By Bill Rettew, 6/2/21

“A small leak was detected along the active Sunoco Mariner East 2 pipeline at the Boot Road pumping station near Route 202, Monday night,” Daily Local reports. “No evacuations or injuries were reported. Neighbors were left in the dark and were not notified… “As part of a Tuesday afternoon press release, Sunoco/ET spokesperson Lisa Coleman said that the county release was accurate. “Late yesterday evening, a small release of hydrocarbons inside the pump station building at Boot Road activated the vapor detector to automatically shut down the pumps,” Coleman said. “At no time was there a safety concern for those in the community as everything was contained within our building.“There were no hydrocarbons detected outside the building.  Our control center and local operations personnel immediately responded and worked with local first responders as a precautionary measure to safely manage the situation. Our crews determined that a seal on the pump valve needs to be replaced. That work is in progress. Coleman said late Tuesday afternoon that shipping was not stopped, the pipeline is active and the pipeline company is able to bypass the station and remain operational… “Alex Bomstein, of Clean Air Council, told Daily Local that the Boot Road pump station has a colorful history. “Less than two years after an explosion at the Boot Road pump station, we find out today about a hazardous liquids leak there, too. Sunoco wants you to believe that the bullet whizzing by your head isn’t dangerous because it didn’t hit. The public cannot afford any more near-misses.”

Facebook: Appalachians Against Pipelines: Four Mountain Valley Pipeline protesters have dressed as baby Wood Ducks, and three of them have locked themselves to a 12’ by 8’ wooden model Wood Duck blockading access to a Mountain Valley Pipeline easement and worksite in Pembroke VA

6/2/21

“Happening now! Four Mountain Valley Pipeline protesters have dressed as baby Wood Ducks, and three of them have locked themselves to a 12’ by 8’ wooden model Wood Duck blockading access to a Mountain Valley Pipeline easement and worksite in Pembroke VA. A banner reading “No Pipelines” is hung on the front of the model Wood Duck. About a dozen people have gathered nearby to support the action. Valerie, one of the people locked to the duck stated: “I am here with my daughter so that she knows there are regular people who care enough about her future that they will try to stop this senseless construction—construction that citizens don’t want, the owners themselves can’t pay for, and that even investors know no longer makes sense.” Dylan, another protestor locked to the duck goes on to say: “We are nature protecting itself. We don’t know what a post-fossil fuel world will look like but clutching onto doomed pipeline projects won’t help any. With guidance from Indigenous leadership who have been fighting extractivism for centuries, along with curiosity and compassion, we will find a way. We’re all in this together.” …Donate to support the Wood Duck blockade & ongoing resistance to pipelines in Appalachia! http://bit.ly/SupportMVPResistance

BK Reader: North Brooklyn Pipeline Opponents Set to Announce National Grid Gas Bill Strike
by JESSY EDWARDS, 6/1/21

“If you don’t want to pay for National Grid’s controversial North Brooklyn Pipeline, don’t pay That’s the message of the No North Brooklyn Pipeline Coalition, which is set to announce a gas bill strike at midday today, in protest of the pipeline,” BK Reader reports. “The pipeline, which is already built, will carry fracked gas under Brownsville, Bed-Stuy, Bushwick, Williamsburg and Greenpoint, ending at a National Grid Depot on Newtown Creek. The coalition is encouraging Brooklynites and others opposed to the pipeline to withhold $66 of their National Grid gas bills, until the state rejects a recent rate hike proposal. They say that’s how much the utility wants to raise Brooklynites’ bills to pay for its controversial pipeline. If 15,151 ratepayers take up the bill strike pledge, National Grid would be short $1 million. Strike organizer Lee Ziesche said the people had done everything possible to oppose the pipeline “in the right way,” but it seemed the utility and state didn’t hear them. “We submitted thousands and thousands of comments, we had people who never get involved in these things getting involved, and they just ignored us. “We know they listen to money, so we’re withholding money, because that’s the only thing they care about.”

Financial Post: Pay attention, control of Canada’s oil hinges on a hearing few even know is happening
Samir Kayande, 6/2/21

“An important hearing kicked off in May before the Canadian Energy Regulator. It’s about the future of the Canadian oil industry. Its subject is the number one threat to Canadian oil production and prices over the next decade — arguably as important as climate change,” the Financial Post reports. “I speak, of course, of the Enbridge Inc.’s Mainline firm contracting application. Toll hearings are the blocking-and-tackling of pipeline infrastructure. Who pays and how much. They are far away from the controversial and well-covered hearings on new pipeline investments. No commissioner ever cried at a toll hearing. But this one is important. The intervenors opposing Enbridge Inc.’s application — mostly Canadian oil producers — use some of the foulest language I’ve ever seen in a regulatory application, including the dreaded “abuse of market power” accusation. Enbridge, in contrast, claims this step is required to provide shippers with the long-term priority access they want and reduce the Mainline’s future volume risk… “In order to prevent the owners of pipelines from unfairly profiting from their unique position at a supply chain pinch point, regulation limits not just how pipelines operate but also how much they charge. The CER, in addition to all its other jobs, is charged with ensuring that a pipeline’s fee is just and reasonable. What a pipeline charges is not left up to the market. And this is a huge problem for Enbridge. A new pipeline, owned by you and me, the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) will soon be in operation. Most forecasters, including Enbridge’s, believe that the pipeline shortage of the last decade will change to a pipeline excess.”

Press release: Pembina and Inter Pipeline to combine highly integrated and complementary businesses to accelerate long-term strategic plan
6/1/21

“Pembina Pipeline Corporation (TSX: PPL) (NYSE: PBA) (“Pembina”) and Inter Pipeline Ltd. (TSX: IPL) (“Inter Pipeline”) announced today that they have entered into an arrangement agreement for Pembina to acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of Inter Pipeline in a share-for-share transaction (the “Transaction”), which values Inter Pipeline common shares at approximately $8.3 billion, or $19.45 per share, based on the closing price of Pembina’s common shares on May 31, 2021. The Transaction will create one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in Canada, with a pro forma enterprise value of $53 billion and a diversified and integrated asset base that can support and grow an extensive value chain for natural gas, natural gas liquids and crude oil, from wellhead to end user. Furthermore, past and future investments by both companies will help access new demand markets for the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (“WCSB”), benefitting Pembina, its customers and the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia alike.”

Bloomberg: Pembina to Buy Canada Pipeline Rival Inter for $6.9 Billion
By Simon Casey and Robert Tuttle, 6/1/21

“Pembina Pipeline Corp. agreed to acquire Inter Pipeline Ltd. for about C$8.3 billion ($6.9 billion) in an all-stock deal that will create one of the largest energy companies in Canada,” Bloomberg reports. “…The Pembina-Inter combination is the largest Canadian energy transaction in four years. It continues a trend of consolidation in the sector in the face of low oil prices and regulatory uncertainty, highlighted by U.S. President Joe Biden’s cancellation of TC Energy Corp.’s Keystone XL oil export pipeline in January. Adding Inter will give Pembina additional pipeline infrastructure across Western Canada, connecting the region’s oil sands and natural gas producers with domestic and foreign customers. Pembina, a major processor of natural gas liquids, will increase its ability to deliver condensate on Inter’s system to the oil sands, where the product is used to dilute the thick bitumen that’s dug out of the ground so that it can be transported by pipeline or rail.”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

AP: Joe Biden suspending oil leases in Arctic refuge
Matthew Daly, 6/1/21

“The Biden administration is suspending oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as it reviews environmental impacts of drilling in the remote region that has been the focus of a political fight for decades, according to two people who have been briefed on the administration’s plan, AP reports. “The Interior Department order was set to be announced later Tuesday. It follows a temporary moratorium on oil and gas lease activities imposed by President Joe Biden on his first day in office. Biden’s Jan. 20 executive order suggested a new environmental review was needed to address possible legal flaws in a drilling program approved by the Trump administration under a 2017 law approved by Congress… “The administration’s action to suspend the leases comes after officials disappointed environmental groups last week by defending a Trump administration decision to approve a major oil project on Alaska’s North Slope. Critics say the action flies in the face of Biden’s pledges to address climate change.”

E&E News: Biden budget envisions climate, justice mission for the Army Corps
BY ANNIE SNIDER, 5/28/2021

“The Biden administration’s fiscal 2022 budget blueprint released on Friday laid out a vision for remaking the sclerotic Army Corps of Engineers to play a key role in its efforts to boost climate resilience, improve environmental justice and reduce fossil fuel production,” according to E&E News. “A red-tape laden division of the Army, the Corps’ civil works program, which issues critical wetlands permits, has in recent years become the site of battles over new oil and gas pipelines and tribes’ rights when proposed projects would cut through culturally important lands. At the same time, as the builder of the country’s levees, wetlands restoration and other flood protection projects, the Corps stands on the front lines of effort to confront sea-level rise and flooding. The vision: The Biden administration’s budget proposal lays out three “key objectives” for the country’s lead water resources agency: “increasing infrastructure and ecosystem resilience to climate change and decreasing climate risk for communities based on the best available science;” promoting environmental justice; and “not funding work that directly subsidizes fossil fuels including work that lowers the cost of production, lowers the cost of consumption, or raises the revenues retained by producers of fossil fuels.” But the documents provide little detail as to how these objectives would be implemented, such as whether ports or lock and dam systems that shuttle petrochemicals would see reduced investment, or whether proposed flood protection projects that serve low-income communities would be elevated in priority above projects with higher benefit-cost projections that protect wealthy communities of beach homes.”

NY Times: Biden’s Fossil Fuel Moves Clash With Pledges on Climate Change
By Lisa Friedman, 528/21

“Despite President Biden’s pledge to aggressively cut the pollution from fossil fuels that is driving climate change, his administration has quietly taken actions this month that will guarantee the drilling and burning of oil and gas for decades to come,” according to the NY Times. “The clash between Mr. Biden’s pledges and some of his recent decisions illustrates the political, technical and legal difficulties of disentangling the country from the oil, gas and coal that have underpinned its economy for more than a century. On Wednesday, the Biden administration defended in federal court the Willow project, a huge oil drilling operation proposed on Alaska’s North Slope that was approved by the Trump administration and is being fought by environmentalists. Weeks earlier, it backed former President Donald J. Trump’s decision to grant oil and gas leases on federal land in Wyoming. Also this month, it declined to act when it had an opportunity to stop crude oil from continuing to flow through the bitterly contested, 2,700-mile Dakota Access pipeline, which lacks a federal permit. The three decisions suggest the jagged road that Mr. Biden is following as he tries to balance his climate agenda against practical and political pressures. Mr. Biden “can’t afford to take a pure position on the climate” because he lacks strong majorities in Congress, William A. Galston, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, told the Times. “That is the backdrop against which this president and the administration will be making trade-offs on every single issue.” “…But he is also trying to provide a safety net for people employed in the oil, gas and coal sectors, including union workers, and ease the transition into wind, solar and other renewables. As important, Mr. Biden is trying to avoid alienating a handful of moderate Republicans and Democrats from oil, gas and coal states who will decide the fate of his legislative agenda in Congress. Among them is Lisa Murkowski, the Republican senator from Alaska for whom the Willow project is a top priority and who grilled Deb Haaland about it during Ms. Haaland’s confirmation hearing for interior secretary in February.”

WSJ: Biden Administration Supports Oil, Mining Projects Backed by Trump
By Timothy Puko, 6/1/21

“Biden administration lawyers are defending oil and mining projects approved under the Trump administration, benefiting ConocoPhillips, Rio Tinto PLC, BHP Group Ltd. and others at the expense of environmental and tribal groups challenging the projects,” according to WSJ. “In a series of court arguments this spring, the administration has supported the Willow oil project in Alaska, the Resolution Copper Mining project in Arizona and the Dakota Access Pipeline, all of which are on federal land or need federal approval for major water crossings. The legal filings have helped improve some of President Biden’s shakier relationships with lawmakers from Western states, specifically moderate Democrats and some Republicans whose support Mr. Biden needs to get his nominees and initiatives through Congress. “I sense there’s a lot more pragmatism there now,” Sen. Steve Daines (R., Mont.), who has criticized the Biden administration’s pause on federal oil and gas leasing and its decision to kill the Keystone XL pipeline project, told the Journal… “The actions haven’t gone over as well with Mr. Biden’s typical allies among environmentalists and tribes. During his campaign, Mr. Biden promised to help spur a move away from fossil fuels, especially oil… He also said he would enhance environmental protections for and consultations with poor and minority communities, including Native American tribes…  “Some of the administration’s recent decisions not only advance oil projects, but come in direct opposition to tribes that have been fighting them. “To the present moment, those are still empty words from the Biden administration, empty words,” Michael Nixon, a lawyer representing the Apache Stronghold, a nonprofit fighting the Resolution mine, told the Journal.”

E&E News: Biden’s Arctic Oil Support Shakes Conservationists
Heather Richards, 5/28/21

“Environmentalists pledged to fight the Biden administration’s defense of a $6 billion oil and gas project in Alaska’s North Slope, setting up a conflict with green groups that have largely cheered the Interior Department’s newly tougher stance on fossil fuel extraction on public lands,” according to E&E News. “ConocoPhillips’ massive Willow project could produce up to 160,000 barrels of crude a day at its peak and would pump oil from the largely untapped National Petroleum Reserve of Alaska for 30 years. A judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska has barred the Texas oil giant from starting construction until this winter, as he considers lawsuits brought by several environmental groups. They’ve argued that a federal environmental review undertaken by the Trump administration failed to consider the climate impacts of the project and its potential to harm protected wildlife like polar bears. Yesterday, the Justice Department filed a brief defending ConocoPhillips’ work and Interior’s environmental review process… “Environmental groups are digesting what it means that the Biden administration seems to have thrown its weight behind an expanded oil footprint on federal lands.”

The Hill: Biden budget aims to raise $35B from cutting fossil fuel tax benefits
BY RACHEL FRAZIN, 5/28/21

“President Biden’s budget proposal released Friday takes aim at specific tax provisions that benefit the fossil fuel industry and projects that eliminating these measures will generate $35 billion over the course of a decade,” according to The Hill. “The new $6 trillion budget proposal is a more detailed proposal than the “skinny” version released last month, which had called for spending an additional $14 billion on tackling climate change and proposed funding increases for the Energy Department, Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency. The White House has also previously, in its infrastructure plan, said that it wanted to “eliminate tax preferences for fossil fuels,” but the new proposal gets much more specific. “These oil, gas, and coal tax preferences distort markets by encouraging more investment in the fossil fuel sector than would occur under a more neutral tax system,” a Treasury Department document states, outlining the administration’s tax proposals.”

E&E News: Menendez Floats Bill To Outlaw Atlantic Drilling
Heather Richards, 5/28/21

“New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez introduced legislation Wednesday to bar oil and gas drilling from Maine to the Florida Keys,” E&E News reports. “ S. 1851 would permanently prevent oil and gas development in the mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Atlantic and Straits of Florida — the four federal planning areas that span the East Coast of the United States. The New Jersey lawmaker is one of several to pen legislation that would make drilling for oil and gas impossible in the Atlantic. House Democrats have weighed a cluster of bills to limit offshore oil’s footprint in public waters as well as reform regulation of the offshore industry (E&E Daily, March 10). The congressional attention coincides with the Biden administration’s review of the federal oil and gas program, an analysis that has frozen the sale of new oil and gas drilling rights, and piqued GOP lawmakers certain that the net effect will be throttling fossil fuel production.”

DeSmog: After Pouring Over $1 Trillion Into Fossil Fuel Finance, CEOs of 6 US Banks Testify Before Congress
By Sharon Kelly, 5/29/21

“This week, the House and Senate called in the CEOs of six big banks for two wide-ranging hearings that lawmakers touted as efforts to hold “megabanks accountable,” the first time in roughly two years that the heads of major banks have collectively appeared before Congress,” according to DeSmog. “Combined, the six CEOs lead organizations that have poured over $1 trillion in financing into the fossil fuel industry since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, based on the numbers tallied in a 2021 report from Rainforest Action Network and other environmental advocates… “Under questioning about climate change from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle during the hearings, the bank CEOs promised big — if often vague — things on an energy transition in the U.S., while also telling Congress that they still believed, in the words of JPMorgan Chase CEO Dimon, that “abandoning fossil fuels is not an option right now.” Several of the bank CEOs described “net zero” goals, for example, and most described growing efforts to move billions of dollars into low carbon or energy transition-linked projects. Those efforts — many very recently announced — could potentially mark the beginning of significant changes in the ways that big banks and other financial institutions address the climate crisis and begin funding an energy transition. But net zero targets have raised eyebrows in the past because often the devil is in the details. “Many net zero targets have three shortcomings: incomplete disclosure, confusing terminology, and problems with offsets,” Reuters explained this month.

Mother Jones: Here’s How Deb Haaland Wants to Address the Crisis of Violence Against Indigenous Women
PIPER MCDANIEL, 6/1/21

“Less than a month into her term leading the Department of Interior, Deb Haaland, the first Native American Cabinet secretary, announced a new effort to address an issue that has some personal resonance: the lengthy roster of unsolved cases involving missing and murdered Indigenous women,” Mother Jones reports. “Murder is the sixth leading cause of death for Alaska Native and American Indian women under the age of 45. For AI/AN women younger than 19 years old, murder climbs to the fourth leading cause of death. But it’s not just murder; the rate of violent crime perpetrated against Native women is alarmingly high, and flaws in the criminal justice system have meant little is done to solve the cases or hold perpetrators accountable. “Violence against Indigenous peoples is a crisis that has been underfunded for decades,” Haaland said in April, when she introduced a new Missing and Murdered Unit (MMU) to prioritize these cases within the Department of the Interior. “Far too often, murders and missing persons cases in Indian country go unsolved and unaddressed, leaving families and communities devastated… “Advocates told Mother Jones that to have a truly effective program, federal agencies need to engage with tribal leaders, native families, and advocates, who in the past have not been included. “If you’re saying, ‘Oh, we’re just gonna have the federal agencies come together, talk and figure out what solution is,’ there won’t be a solution,” said Mary Kathryn Nagle, a lawyer for the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center. “They’ve had years, decades, generations to do that, and they haven’t. So we know that we need advocates, tribal leaders, survivors, victims families. We need the people on the ground doing the work to have a seat at the table.”

STATE UPDATES

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Network of companies looking to move fracking wastewater in barges up and down Pittsburgh’s rivers
DON HOPEY, 6/1/21

“Mil­lions of gal­lons of briny, toxic, waste­wa­ter from shale gas drill­ing and frack­ing op­er­a­tions could soon be loaded onto barges and pushed down the Al­le­gheny, Mo­non­ga­hela and Ohio riv­ers,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “A loose net­work of river tank ter­mi­nal and barge com­pa­nies has floated plans to be­gin ship­ping waste­wa­ter con­tain­ing pe­tro­leum con­den­sates, can­cer-caus­ing chem­i­cals and ra­dio­ac­tive ma­terial, be­tween as many as seven river ter­mi­nal sites spread out over hun­dreds of miles of the re­gion’s ma­jor wa­ter­ways. The barg­ing of waste­wa­ter on riv­ers has been dis­cussed for at least a dozen years, but like a tow on a sand­bar, the in­dus­try ini­tia­tive has been re­peat­edly side­lined due to per­mit­ting is­sues, en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns and the risk of con­tam­i­na­tion of pub­lic wa­ter sup­plies that draw from the riv­ers… “Last month, in the first pub­li­cized ac­knowl­edge­ment that the idea of waste­wa­ter barg­ing is start­ing to move again, Belle Ver­non-based Gutt­man Realty Co. re­ceived a grant of al­most $500,000 from the Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of Com­mu­nity and Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment’s Com­mon­wealth Financ­ing Au­thor­ity to ret­ro­fit the ex­ist­ing tank and barge load­ing ter­mi­nal along the Mo­non­ga­hela River in Speers, Wash­ing­ton County, 43.5 river miles above Pitts­burgh’s Point. The changes would al­low the Speers ter­mi­nal to ac­cept tanker truck­loads of waste­wa­ter, also known by the shale gas in­dus­try term “pro­duced wa­ter,” ac­cord­ing to an April news re­lease tout­ing the grant from State Rep. Bud Cook, R-Belle Ver­non.”

CPR: A Colorado Startup Will Certify Some Natural Gas As “Responsibly Sourced.” Will That Actually Help With Climate Change?
By Sam Brasch, 6/1/21

“For anyone concerned about the environment, labels can be a quick way to ease a guilty conscience,” CPR reports. “A “certified organic” logo promises food untouched by synthetic pesticides. A “fair trade” label is meant to ensure the workers behind a product have good wages and working conditions. Chris Romer, the CEO and co-founder of Project Canary, is now applying the same strategy to fossil fuels. His company monitors emissions from natural gas operations and certifies the final product as “responsibly sourced.” “Just because it’s fossil fuel doesn’t mean it’s all the same carbon footprint,” Romer said. “That’s what we’re evangelizing on.” Project Canary is one of a handful of new efforts working to certify the most environmentally responsible natural gas producers. The target audience is a new class of climate-concerned customers and investors who pore over corporate sustainability reports to find the best place for their money.”

Greeley Tribune: Weld oil workers’ beliefs about environmental policies, alternative energy defy stereotypes
By JADYN WATSON-FISHER, 5/30/21

“When someone uses the term “oilfield worker,” it usually evokes a distinct image,” the Greeley Tribune reports. “Often people imagine gruff, dirty men with little education who move wherever the oil is. They see these men driving a lifted truck that spews black exhaust fumes, because they have little care for environmental safety. This stereotype, however, is not as prevalent as the public may think. In fact, the Permian Basin Oil and Gas magazine said in 2018 the “oilfield trash” stereotype is based on the industry’s history and has stuck around. Two Weld County residents with ties to the oilfield say most workers don’t fit that image, and people who do not work on site perpetuate the stereotype.”

E&E News: Emails: Utilities Drafted Talking Points Against Gas Bans
Benjamin Storrow, 6/1/21

“Lawmakers in roughly a dozen states are using strikingly similar talking points as they unleash a wave of legislation aimed at forbidding municipalities from banning natural gas in buildings,” according to E&E News. “A Pennsylvania legislator wants to forbid municipalities from restricting gas hookups because he says it’s fossil fuel discrimination. In Georgia, the sponsor of similar legislation said it would protect ‘freedom of choice.’ The leader of a Texas bill says, ‘If a citizen wants to have gas in their home they can.’ That’s no coincidence. Documents obtained by E&E News show how the natural gas industry has honed a unified message as it rushes to block efforts in a small but growing number of cities that seek to limit gas consumption in buildings. Talking points, crafted by a consortium of gas utilities, encourage energy companies and their allies to extol the dangers of limiting gas hookups. They argue such measures threaten to lock homeowners and businesses into costly energy options and stress the importance of fuel diversity. They also tout the environmental benefits of gas, which has elbowed out coal in the power sector and helped reduce carbon emissions. The industry has even coined a term for the pro-gas fight: ‘energy choice.’ The gas industry’s message has been echoed in statehouses across America since the start of 2020. Eighteen states have passed laws prohibiting municipalities from restricting gas hookups on new construction. A handful of others, including North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, are weighing similar plans.”

Salt Lake Tribune: Industry groups pushed lawmakers to oppose Biden’s oil lease pause despite state report showing limited impact
By Zak Podmore, 5/30/21

“Days after major news outlets called the 2020 presidential election for Joe Biden in November, the Utah Petroleum Association contacted the Utah Governor’s Office of Energy Development,” the Salt Lake Tribune reports. “To what extent, association President Rikki Hrenko-Browning wanted to know, would Biden’s potential restrictions on oil and gas leasing on federal land impact Utah’s economy? “Just following up on our recent discussion re quantifying the impact of a ban on new federal leasing and/or fracking,” Hrenko-Browning wrote to members of the governor’s team and Michael Vanden Berg of the Utah Geological Survey on Nov. 11, noting a lack of solid data on the issue. “Hopefully we can pull something together!” The conversations led to the creation of an internal report on the matter, which concluded that a temporary oil and gas leasing moratorium would have limited effects on Utah’s energy development, even if it lasted for years. But the industry groups representing fossil fuel and mining companies continued to have repeated contact with Utah lawmakers and the offices of Govs. Gary Herbert and Spencer Cox to push back on Biden climate policies restricting drilling and mining on federal land, often citing economic concerns that appeared to differ from the state’s report. The Utah Petroleum Association and the Utah Mining Association video-conferenced and emailed with elected officials and executive branch staff repeatedly, and the groups wrote resolutions and talking points that were used in the Legislature. The activity is documented in hundreds of emails that were obtained through public records requests by the Energy and Policy Institute, a clean energy watchdog group, and shared exclusively with The Salt Lake Tribune. The communications reveal another example of how fossil fuel trade groups work to fight federal climate action at the state level.”

The Advocate: Why this Louisiana plastics plant has become a national lightning rod for environmentalists
BY DAVID J. MITCHELL, 6/1/21

“At a recent meeting of the St. James Parish Council meeting, chairman Alvin “Shark” St. Pierre held up a mailer that went throughout his district with his face on it. “St. James Parish deserves better,” the flier, paid for by the Protect our Parish group, charges. “Tell Councilman Chairman Alvin St. Pierre: Don’t be fooled by Formosa,” The Advocate reports. “The flyers, which went out last week for all seven Parish Council members, were slick, professionally produced pieces that are rare in this rural parish’s politics. They are emblematic of a pressure campaign against the planned $9.4 billion plastics plant a Formosa Plastics affiliate plans to build there — a pressure campaign that is unusual in recent Louisiana history for its intensity, duration and national scope, advocates and observers said. In the past few months, Formosa has faced criticism from the United Nations, the Biden administration, the top members a U.S. House environmental committee and a group of attorney generals from states in the Northeast. And it has faced years of sustained opposition from local advocates who are backed by regional and national environmental groups. “It’s a real test of the Biden administration and how serious are they are about combating climate change,” Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics, an effort based at Bennington College in Vermont to end plastic pollution, told the Advocate.

Port Isabel-South Padre Press: County tables LNG project after community pressure
By Gaige Davila, 5/28/21

“Cameron County residents pushed back against NextDecade’s latest liquified natural gas (LNG) project this past Tuesday, pressuring Cameron County Commissioners to table the project during a meeting,” according to the Port Isabel-South Padre Press. “NextDecade, the Houston-based energy company trying to build a liquified natural gas plant in the Port of Brownsville, announced last month that they were using “post-combustion carbon capture technology” in their plant… “Cameron County residents, during a May 25 Cameron County Commissioners Court meeting’s public comment period, told the commissioners not to allow the project, which was on the court’s consent agenda, to pass without discussion. Residents in the meeting said the carbon capture project was not environmentally sustainable, since only carbon dioxide would be removed from emissions and not other harmful pollutants. “Cameron County Commissioners should listen to their constituents, who have been speaking out against LNG for years, and reject the resolution supporting NextDecade’s Rio Grande LNG project and a carbon capturing storage facility at the Port of Brownsville,” Bekah Hinojosa, Gulf Coast Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club, said. “NextDecade’s proposal would not significantly reduce carbon emissions. Instead, it’s an attempt to make the proposed gas terminal appear environmentally friendly. The community isn’t fooled. They know that Rio Grande LNG, if built, would harm the Valley’s wildlife, contribute to toxic air pollution in our neighborhoods, and lead to an increase in dangerous, highly-polluting fracking across Texas.”

InsideClimate News: With the World Focused on Reducing Methane Emissions, Even Texas Signals a Crackdown on ‘Flaring’
By Jonathan Moens, 5/31/21

“A couple of years after Neta Rhyne and her husband moved to the small Texas town of Toyahvale, just outside Balmorhea State Park, she got a diagnosis of  terminal lung cancer and was told she had two months to live,” InsideClimate News reports. “They had been drawn to this part of West Texas by its dry, clean air and Balmorhea’s vast, natural, spring-fed swimming pool, the largest in the world, up to 25 feet deep.  Rhyne thought her days were numbered, but almost three decades later, she was still alive, thanks to radiation and chemotherapy that staved off her cancer.  Then there was a new threat to her lungs. In 2016, Apache Corp., a large oil company based in Houston, announced finding massive quantities of oil and natural gas in a huge shale field it called Alpine High. The company started drilling test wells, releasing polluting gases into the atmosphere. Balmorhea lay at the center of its find. While some residents worried that the fracking would damage the natural springs that fed Balmorhea’s famous swimming pool, Rhyne obsessed over the air. Her lungs were already frail, and for vulnerable people like her, a sudden change in air quality can have disastrous effects on their quality of life. “The flaring, especially to me, because of my history with lung cancer, when I drive down the road, or when I walk out my front door, and I can taste the air is so bad—it scares me to death,” Rhyne, 71, told ICN.

EXTRACTION

Natural Gas Intelligence: Sempra’s Energia Costa Azul LNG Said ‘Prime Opportunity’ for Rockies Gas Producers
BY CAROLINE EVANS, 5/28/21

“Energy producers and advocates in the Rockies region are looking south of the border for Pacific Coast market options as the outlook for a Western U.S. export facility appears increasingly unlikely,” according to Natural Gas Intelligence. “With development of the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Oregon on pause following regulatory setbacks, the Sempra Energy-led Energia Costa Azul (ECA) LNG site in Baja California, Mexico is looking more and more like a viable market option for stranded Rockies gas, industry officials said Wednesday during a webinar hosted by Rice University’s Baker Institute Center for Energy Studies… “The ECA project, one of multiple liquefaction terminals envisaged for Mexico’s West Coast, would allow U.S. gas exports to bypass the Panama Canal and reach Pacific demand markets faster and more cheaply. The initial phase of the project would comprise a single 3.5 million metric ton/year train, though a proposed expansion would see it grow to 10 mmty. Feed gas is already sourced for the initial phase, according to Sempra LNG regional vice president Brian Lloyd, but the second phase would require a new pipeline from the Permian Basin or elsewhere in the West to supply ECA LNG.”

The Guardian: The lawyer who took on Chevron – and now marks his 600th day under house arrest
Oliver Milman, 5/28/21

“Many of us will have felt the grip of claustrophobic isolation over the past year, but the lawyer Steven Donziger has experienced an extreme, very personal confinement as a pandemic arrived and then raged around him in New York City,” The Guardian reports. “On Sunday, Donziger reached his 600th day of an unprecedented house arrest that has resulted from a sprawling, Kafkaesque legal battle with the oil giant Chevron. Donziger spearheaded a lengthy crusade against the company on behalf of tens of thousands of Indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest whose homes and health were devastated by oil pollution, only to himself become, as he describes it, the victim of a “planned targeting by a corporation to destroy my life”.

RESEARCH & SCIENCE

E&E News: Study Shakes Up Assumptions About Fracking, Earthquakes
Carlos Anchondo, 5/28/21

“Shallow wastewater injection is the primary cause of widespread earthquake activity in West Texas oil and gas fields that are a center of hydraulic fracturing, according to a new study led by Virginia Tech,” E&E News reports. “Previously, researchers did not have a full explanation for most earthquake activity in the Delaware Basin, a subbasin of the prolific Permian Basin. Manoochehr Shirzaei, a study co-author and an associate professor of geophysics and remote sensing at Virginia Tech, said that the major role of shallow injection of wastewater — a byproduct of fracking that needs to be disposed of — ‘was not known before and has a profound impact on our understanding of induced seismicity and hazard associated with wastewater injection.’ Deep injections only have a local impact, the study said, compared with a ‘basinwide causal link between shallow injection and deeper seismicity.’ The research, published this month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the injection of large volumes of wastewater into shallow aquifers in the fuel-rich Delaware Basin in western Texas causes an elastic stress change in the underground rock, which can then activate deep basement faults and induce earthquakes. Shirzaei said there is a strong correlation between where earthquakes happen and changes in elastic stress at the location of faults with certain orientations. ‘That’s a clue … so that’s how we argued that seismicity, most overall seismicity, must be induced by the shallow injection,’ Shirzaei told E&E News, noting that shallow injection is between 1 kilometer and 2 kilometers, with so-called deep injection happening below 4.5 kilometers.”

National Observer: Canada’s embarrassing climate record is worst of G7 nations
By John Woodside, 6/1/21

“Later this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet his G7 colleagues with an unenviable climate record on the books. Canada has had the highest emission growth of its peers since the Paris Agreement was signed,” National Observer reports. “From 2016 to 2019, Canada’s emissions leapt 3.3 per cent, according to a new report authored by earth scientist David Hughes and co-published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Corporate Mapping Project, the Parkland Institute, Stand.earth, West Coast Environmental Law and 350.org. That emission creep is far more than the United States’ 0.6 per cent growth over that same period, and represents a major failing compared to the other five G7 countries, which managed to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 4.4 per cent to 10.8 per cent… “The report notes that under CER’s pipeline export capacity forecasts neither the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion or the Keystone XL pipeline are needed, and it calls for the cancellation of both and any other pipeline projects CER deems unnecessary. Further, it says if a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export industry is developed in British Columbia, the province’s CleanBC climate plan would be impossible to achieve.”

Corporate Mapping Project: Canada’s emissions increase greatest in G7 since Paris: New report shows jobs and royalties declining with emissions rise
6/1/21

“A stark change in direction is needed if Canada is to meet its emissions-reduction targets, says a new report by veteran earth scientist David Hughes. Going into the G7 Summit later this month, Canada and the US are the only G7 countries that have not reduced emissions since signing the 2016 Paris Accord. In fact, Canada has shown the greatest emissions increase during this time. The oil and gas sector alone will cause Canada to exceed its Paris Agreement target of a 40 per cent reduction by 2030, set by Prime Minister Trudeau at President Biden’s recent climate summit, and the “net zero” by 2050 target in Bill C-12… “We can only achieve our emissions targets if oil and gas production is significantly reduced from the CER’s projected levels,” Hughes says. “Pursuing policies that encourage production growth, such as the $12.6 billion TMX pipeline expansion project and LNG exports, will ensure that Canada will not meet its emissions reduction commitments.” Last month the International Energy Agency also said investments in new oil and gas developments must stop immediately if the world is to meet its goal of net-zero emissions and limit the worst impacts of climate change. It called for a total transformation of the energy systems that underpin economies around the world… “Oil and gas sector employment is down 53,000 workers from its peak in 2014 even though production is at record highs,” says Hughes. “Because of technological advances, the sector needs fewer workers than before, so those jobs are unlikely to return to previous levels.” He also notes that the sector is contributing much less to government revenues than it once did. “Oil and gas royalty revenue is down overall by 45 per cent since 2000 in Canada and by 61 per cent in Alberta, even with production at record levels,” Hughes adds.

CLIMATE FINANCE

Financial Post: ‘The goal posts are moving’: After Big Oil’s terrible week, Canadian oil companies brace for investor pressure
Geoffrey Morgan, 6/2/21

“Before activist shareholder Engine No. 1 scored a major victory in forcing two directors onto the board of oil behemoth Exxon Mobil Corp., a preview of the battle played out in Calgary,” according to the Financial Post. “Bâtirente, a Montreal-based retirement fund for union members of the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), a trade union, submitted a shareholder proposal for Imperial Oil Ltd.’s May 4 annual meeting to demand the Calgary-based oilsands producer adopt a net-zero carbon pledge similar to competitors Cenovus Energy Inc. and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd… “I feel like Exxon has already suffered one defeat at the ballots,” Jackie Cook, director of investment stewardship, sustainability research at Morningstar in Vancouver, told Bloomberg, noting the vote by the minority shareholders at Imperial offered a smaller-scale preview of the proxy fight that would play out at Exxon’s own shareholder meeting May 26. Cook and other experts contacted by the Financial Post say that investors are developing an activist streak on matters of emissions reduction. The trend has been growing in Europe for years and has led to some pitched battles in the United States — including at Exxon’s and Chevron Corp.’s annual meetings at the end of May. The same types of battles are expected to become more commonplace in Canada as well… In Canada, the Responsible Investing Association counts Royal Bank of Canada Global Asset Management, TD Bank, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Desjardins among its members. “I think these coalitions are going to start becoming more demanding of their members,” Cook told Bloomberg, adding that Canadian oil producers have become accustomed to pressure from environmental activists and regulators but should now expect to see even more pressure from their investors.”

OPINION

WSJ: The Climate Yawns at Exxon ‘Coup’: An activist fund wants an oil giant to stop producing oil—except if it’s profitable
By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., 6/1/21

“Behold a pseudo-event. Last week a tiny hedge fund, with 0.02% of Exxon ’s stock, originally sought to name 40% of the company’s directors; a great victory in the climate wars was declared when a shareholder vote appointed two of its nominees to an expanded board of 12,” Holman Jenkins writes in WSJ. “Except the hedge fund may not be what you think, operating on behalf of anonymous, profit-seeking investors. Its capital is supplied entirely by its founders of five months ago, led by the 30-year hedge fund veteran Chris James of San Francisco. And strangely unfiduciary was its pledge to spend $30 million in a proxy fight over an Exxon stake worth $50 million, which would tend to put its investors already severely underwater. Ditto the fund’s desire, as interpreted in many press accounts, for Exxon to exit the oil industry in favor of wind and solar, in which it has no expertise or advantage. Content-wise, Mr. James’s campaign makes a lot more sense as a variation on a familiar theme: activists substituting crowd-pleasing potshots at “big oil” for the climate policy victories they haven’t won. When you’ve failed to convince consumers to stop consuming oil, when you’ve failed to sway politicians to ban or even disincentivize its production, that’s when you go to oil company boards and insist that they voluntarily refrain from producing a legal product for which there is huge and inelastic demand.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Other Voices: Methane pollution standards needed
PATRICE TOMCIK, 5/29/21

“In search of a new place to call home, our family moved to Southwestern Pennsylvania more than a decade ago,” Patrice Tomick writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We came here for the green spaces and fresh air and stayed for the tight-knit community and the good schools. What more could we ask for? Things changed in 2014 when I found out about the oil and gas wells being proposed a half-mile from my children’s school campus, changing our lives in ways we could have never imagined. I was deeply concerned because oil and gas activity meant booming construction zones with attendant diesel exhaust, dust, stadium lighting, loud noise and degraded land. As the drill rig moved in, our bucolic landscape would soon transform into an industrial zone. Social tensions among once-friendly neighbors became the norm… “I urge readers to join me in asking our representatives to reinstate methane pollution standards. No one wants to raise their children in a place where breathing the air may increase your risk of asthma, cancer or other health problems, no matter how lovely the scenery. Reinstating methane protections is something parents, health advocates, and even the oil and gas industry want. It’s also the right thing to do to protect children’s health and futures. As someone who cherishes living in this corner of the state, I am now looking to our leaders in Congress to protect the health of my family and many others across the country who live near fracking.”

Grist/Rolling Stone: Why two women sacrificed everything to stop the Dakota Access pipeline
Julia Shipley, 5/26/21

“On election night in 2016, two young women drove toward a construction site off Highway 7 in northwest Iowa’s Buena Vista County,” Grist/Rolling Stone reports. “Their car contained a half dozen empty coffee canisters, several quarts of motor oil, and a pile of rags. Throughout the previous summer, the two women — Ruby Montoya, then a 27-year-old former preschool teacher, and Jessica Reznicek, then a 35-year-old activist — had tried everything they could legally do to stop or delay the development of the 1,172-mile-long Dakota Access pipeline, or DAPL. Both women believed the pipeline would inevitably leak the crude oil it was designed to carry from North Dakota to Illinois, contaminating drinking water and soil. They’d already attended public hearings, gathered signatures for environmental impact statements, and participated in marches, rallies, boycotts, encampments, and hunger strikes. They’d even locked themselves to the backhoes that were used to excavate the pipeline. Between the two of them, they’d also logged a handful of arrests… “Some may view these actions as violent, but be not mistaken. We acted from our hearts and never threatened human life nor personal property,” Montoya said. “What we did do was fight a private corporation that has run rampant across our country, seizing land and polluting our nation’s water supply. You may not agree with our tactics, but you can clearly see their necessity in light of the broken federal government and the corporations they represent.” As a result of this admission, Montoya and Reznicek were indicted on nine felony charges of intentionally damaging energy infrastructure — a designation that can render a private, commercial company’s enterprise a matter of federal concern. The designation was a provision of the Patriot Act, the controversial George W. Bush-era national security law passed in the wake of 9/11, and federal prosecutors have embraced it as a way to target environmental activists who engage in property destruction. For more than a year, Reznicek and Montoya each faced the possibility of more than a century in federal prison. Then, in February, both women entered into plea agreements with federal prosecutors to drop eight of the charges in exchange for pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to damage an energy facility. The agreement means that the pair now face a maximum 20-year sentence each — a punishment that would still be among the longest-ever sentences for eco-activism in the U.S. The women are due to be sentenced at the end of July.”

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