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Extracted: Daily News Clips 6/30/21

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips June 30, 2021

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  • ReutersU.S. Supreme Court backs pipeline companies in New Jersey land dispute
  • Facebook: MN350: Building a Climate Movement in MinnesotaHAPPENING NOW! Water Protectors are paying a visit to President Joe Biden in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
  • Democracy Now“An Overt Political Blockade”: Minnesota Police Barricade Line 3 Pipeline Protest Camp
  • Facebook: Unicorn RiotUPDATE at 12:30 a.m.: After 14 hours, the police finally left the Namewag Camp driveway
  • Facebook: Honor the EarthTwo Enbridge Line 3 Subcontractors Arrested in Multi-Agency Anti-Human Trafficking Operation
  • Star TribuneMinnesota’s OK for Enbridge to temporarily move 5B gallons of water sows tension
  • Al JazeeraNearly 800 Line 3 pipeline workers tested positive for COVID-19
  • Facebook: Appalachians Against PipelinesHappening now! Early this morning, three old folks locked themselves to a broken down car blocking access to a Mountain Valley Pipeline easement
  • PatchPipeline Protesters Stage Sit In At Enbridge Office In Waltham
  • Michigan AdvanceCanada: Line 5 lawsuit should pause until treaty talks with U.S. are complete
  • InsideClimate NewsThe Keystone XL Pipeline Is Dead, but TC Energy Still Owns Hundreds of Miles of Rights of Way
  • NRDCThe Unlikely Takedown of Keystone XL
  • Natural Gas IntelligencePlaquemines LNG Receives Positive DEIS for Feed Gas Pipeline
  • E&E NewsMoniz-led group releases CCS, pipeline blueprint


  • New York TimesAs Infrastructure Deal Gathers Steam, Democratic Cracks Begin to Show
  • E&E NewsMethane vote shows limits of Republican climate caucus
  • The HillWhite House delays agency changes to environmental law procedures under Trump rule by two years
  • Inside EPAHouse Panel Eyes Abandoned Well Cleanup For FY22 Funding Priorities
  • E&E NewsWatchdog: Agencies Use Outdated Systems To Track Oil And Gas
  • Wall Street JournalDemocrats In Oil Country Worried By Party’s Natural-Gas Agenda


  • E&E News3 States Overhaul CCS, Oil And Gas Laws
  • KQED‘Bottom of the Barrel’ California Oil Can Be Far More Carbon Intensive Than What State Imports
  • SF ChronicleHow much water goes into oil fracking in drought-stricken California?



  • BloombergWhy Methane Is Climate’s Low-Hanging Invisible Fruit
  • InsideClimate NewsThe US Chamber of Commerce Has Helped Downplay the Climate Threat, a New Report Concludes
  • DeSmogLegal Action Against High Emitters Failing to Use Latest Climate Science, Study Finds


  • Bridge MichiganFish, propane, cash: Not everyone loves Enbridge generosity in the Straits


  • Yahoo NewsBiden: Americans can be proud of the infrastructure deal
  • New York TimesI Wrote About This Environmental Injustice Decades Ago. It Hasn’t Changed.
  • The IndependentCountdown to Glasgow: This is why climate activists are taking on big banks
  • New York Times [VIDEO]: The Lost Graves of Louisiana’s Enslaved People


Reuters: U.S. Supreme Court backs pipeline companies in New Jersey land dispute
Lawrence Hurley, 6/29/21

“The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of a consortium of energy companies including Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO) seeking to seize land owned by New Jersey to build a $1 billion natural gas pipeline despite the state’s objections,” Reuters reports. “The 5-4 ruling, authored by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, handed a victory to PennEast Pipeline Company LLC, a joint venture seeking to build the 116-mile (187-km) pipeline from Pennsylvania to New Jersey… “The court ruled that a 1938 U.S. law called the Natural Gas Act that lets private energy companies seize “necessary” parcels of land for a project if they have obtained a certificate from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) can be applied to state-owned land. The law effectively gives private companies the power of eminent domain in which government entities can take property in return for compensation. “Specifically, we are asked to decide whether the federal government can constitutionally confer on pipeline companies the authority to condemn necessary rights-of-way in which a state has an interest. We hold that it can,” Roberts wrote for the court.”

Facebook: MN350: Building a Climate Movement in Minnesota: HAPPENING NOW! Water Protectors are paying a visit to President Joe Biden in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

“HAPPENING NOW! Water Protectors are paying a visit to President Joe Biden in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The Biden Administration has the Executive power to flip the switch and #HonorTheTreaties. We are telling President Joe Biden that he can be on the right side of climate history, and #StopLine3!”

Democracy Now: “An Overt Political Blockade”: Minnesota Police Barricade Line 3 Pipeline Protest Camp

“In northern Minnesota, Hubbard County sheriff’s deputies on Monday barricaded access to an encampment of water protectors who are resisting construction of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline, which has the backing of the Biden administration,” Democracy Now reports. “Officers towed several of the activists’ cars and made several arrests throughout the day. An attorney for the Indigenous-led protesters called the move “nothing less than an overt political blockade.”

Facebook: Unicorn Riot: UPDATE at 12:30 a.m.: After 14 hours, the police finally left the Namewag Camp driveway

“UPDATE at 12:30 a.m.: After 14 hours, the police finally left the Namewag Camp driveway, yet some are staged at a nearby power line easement. A person who locked down to one of the parked vehicles was extracted and arrested. At around 6 p.m. supporters of the #Line3 resistance camp and fellow water protectors arrived at the Namewag. Cars began getting parked in the road in attempt to block the massive police presence. At about 7 p.m. supporters’ cars began getting towed. At least 8 arrests so far.”

Facebook: Honor the Earth: Two Enbridge Line 3 Subcontractors Arrested in Multi-Agency Anti-Human Trafficking Operation

“Today, the Bemidji Pioneer reported that “six people, including two men from Bemidji working under subcontractors on the Line 3 replacement project, were arrested during a recent human trafficking operation in Beltrami County over the course of two days.” In response, Minnesota State Senator Mary Kunesh released the following statement: “They were told it would happen. The women testifiers warned the public and Minnesota PUC (Public Utilities Commission) with their hearts in their voices and tears in their eyes; but were scoffed at, laughed at, and blatantly disrespected as their testimony was dismissed with the arrogance of white patriarchy. They were the voices of American Indian women who are survivors of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse by men who sought to tether and control their vulnerable through addiction and violence to traffic them for sex. They spoke in alarm against the licensing of Canadian multinational corporation Enbridge and a new Line 3 pipeline. The violence against native communities with Enbridge’s last pipeline project, the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, still fresh in their minds. I find it ironic that today, the final day of Minnesota’s historical MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women) task force meeting, we receive the news of new arrests from the second sex trafficking sting operation, this time in Beltrami County… At least two of these men are subcontractors of Enbridge’s Line 3…  Honor the Earth’s Winona LaDuke also released the following statement: “In less than six months, four sub-contractors working on Enbridge’s Line 3 Pipeline have been arrested in sex trafficking stings, first in Itasca County and now in Beltrami County. As experts and Indigenous women predicted, this pipeline project has brought men into our communities who have chosen to prey on our women. It is truly horrifying to imagine that, if four men have been arrested just how many more are out there seeking to bring harm to Indigenous women—a group that is already more at risk of becoming victims of sexual violence than any other demographic in our country. Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan have expressed their concern for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, but the task force that they have established is meaningless while they continue to condone the criminal behavior of men working on this pipeline.”

Star Tribune: Minnesota’s OK for Enbridge to temporarily move 5B gallons of water sows tension
By Mike Hughlett, 6/29/21

“Some environmentalists and Ojibwe tribes are angered at the state’s decision to allow Enbridge to move 5 billion gallons of water as it builds a replacement for its Line 3 pipeline — up from 510 million in the company’s original permit,” the Star Tribune reports. “The water involved is in shallow aquifers, and it is temporarily being moved so that it doesn’t drain into the pipeline’s trench during construction.It’s pumped from wells 10 to 15 feet deep and moved nearby to seep back into the soil to restore groundwater balance. Earlier this month, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approved Enbridge’s request to move 10 times as much water as originally planned, amending a permit it originally granted in November… “White Earth and Red Lake — the state’s two largest Ojibwe bands — say they weren’t adequately consulted about the DNR’s decision.And critics say the sheer volume of water transferred could endanger the ecosystem near the pipeline, including wild rice beds, and even more so during the current drought. “The surface water and shallow groundwater is more sensitive to drying out in these conditions,” Christine Dolph, a research scientist at the University of Minnesota’s ecology department, told the Star Tribune. “The huge increase in volume is really concerning, and it is unclear why [Enbridge] would have been off by so much. It indicates they don’t understand the system they are working in.”

Al Jazeera: Nearly 800 Line 3 pipeline workers tested positive for COVID-19
By Hilary Beaumont, 6/29/21

“A total of 788 workers building Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline through the US state of Minnesota have tested positive for COVID-19, according to data obtained by Al Jazeera from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)… “In late November, amid the worst wave of the pandemic in the state, thousands of out-of-state workers arrived to build the pipeline through rural communities in northern Minnesota. The data shows that shortly after construction began on December 1, 2020, a wave of pipeline workers contracted the virus. The winter surge in cases has subsided, but Line 3 workers are still contracting COVID, as the highly contagious Delta variant is now taking hold in the US. Three workers were hospitalized, and none have died, according to MDH. Healthcare workers tell Al Jazeera they believe the bulk of cases could have been prevented. In November, more than 200 healthcare workers and Indigenous tribal leaders petitioned Governor Tim Walz to issue an emergency stay on construction until after vaccines were widely available. But Walz allowed the project to go ahead. Brenna Doheny, executive director of Health Professionals for a Health Climate, spearheaded the petition to prevent a surge of COVID cases in rural areas, where hospital capacity is severely limited. She called the governor’s decision “disappointing and frustrating” because the state had previously listened to healthcare workers. “For the most part they did a fantastic job, but that decision, for that reason, was baffling,” Doheny told Al Jazeera.

Facebook: Appalachians Against Pipelines: Happening now! Early this morning, three old folks locked themselves to a broken down car blocking access to a Mountain Valley Pipeline easement

“Happening now! Early this morning, three old folks locked themselves to a broken down car blocking access to a Mountain Valley Pipeline easement, two access roads and a work yard in Bent Mountain, Virginia. The car is painted with the words “Old Hills and Old Folks Resist” “Land Back” “Water is Life” and more. One person is locked inside the vehicle, a second is sitting on a rocking chair on the trunk, and a third is sitting next to the vehicle in a rocking chair with an arm locked to the side of it. 63-year-old Bridget Kelley, one of the folks taking action today, stated: “This pipeline is not a done deal. I believe that we will win. Together we can and will win.” Join us! Message us for directions to the support rally. Donate in support of old folks defending old hills!”

Patch: Pipeline Protesters Stage Sit In At Enbridge Office In Waltham
Haley Cornell, 6/29/21

“Protesters opposing a compressor and pipeline project staged a sit in at the Waltham offices of a Canadian pipeline company responsible for the largest inland oil spill in the US,” Patch reports. “Police arrived around noon to get the protesters out of the building for trespassing, police said, noting it was ongoing as of 3:45 p.m. and there weren’t any arrests as of yet. Enbridge is working on the Atlantic Bridge project, which stretches the company’s natural gas pipelines from New Jersey into Canada. Those opposed to the pipeline and specifically the proposed compressor set for Weymouth have argued since 2015 that the station presents health and safety risks. The 17 protestors said they would not leave the office until Enbridge shuts down the Weymouth Compressor and ceases construction on Line 3 in Minnesota, according to a tweet from a WBUR reporter.”

Michigan Advance: Canada: Line 5 lawsuit should pause until treaty talks with U.S. are complete
By Laina G. Stebbins, 6/29/21

“The Canadian government is asking again that the litigation between Michigan and Canadian oil company Enbridge pause as officials from both countries hold talks about the potential of a Line 5 shutdown,” Michigan Advance reports. “Michigan and Enbridge are currently awaiting a decision from a federal judge on which court — state or federal — will preside over the state’s lawsuit to enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Line 5 shutdown order. That order took effect on May 12, but Enbridge has refused to comply without the backing of a court order. Oil continues to flow through the 68-year-old pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac despite Whitmer’s continued warnings. On June 1, the government of Canada submitted a brief of amicus curiae on behalf of Enbridge. It argued that the court should take into account the 1977 Treaty between Canada and the United States, consider the treaty issues presented by a Line 5 shutdown and ultimately prevent the “premature” enforcement of Whitmer’s shutdown order… On June 21, the Canadian government’s counsel submitted a filing to update the court on those treaty talks and again ask that the litigation be held in abeyance.”

InsideClimate News: The Keystone XL Pipeline Is Dead, but TC Energy Still Owns Hundreds of Miles of Rights of Way
By Nicholas Kusnetz, 6/30/21

“When Richard Johnson heard that the Keystone XL pipeline had been canceled earlier this month, he felt a surge of relief. Johnson’s ranch lies directly on the pipeline’s planned route through the sandy plains of eastern Nebraska, and he had been tangling in court with the developer ever since the corporation used eminent domain to condemn a strip of his property in 2019. But relief quickly gave way to confusion and uncertainty when he learned that the condemnation would not necessarily be reversed, even if the pipeline is never built,” InsideClimate News reports. “As it prepared to construct Keystone XL, the Canada-based TC Energy secured hundreds of easements across farms and ranches up and down the 1,210 mile route through the Great Plains. For those landowners like Johnson who refused to sign easements, the company generally condemned the land through eminent domain proceedings. But now, even though it has canceled the project, TC Energy can retain the easements it secured indefinitely and use them for another purpose, or even sell them to other companies. “We’re still not sure where we’re at,” Johnson told ICN. “If they secure an easement, they could sell it or assign it. To what it could be used for, I’m not real sure. But it’s that unknown that concerns me.” “…This has always been one of the concerns right from the beginning of fighting the pipeline,” said Jane Kleeb, founding director of Bold Nebraska, an advocacy group that helped lead opposition to Keystone XL. Kleeb worries that the route could now be used for a different pipeline. Those landowners, every single day, have this looming over them. That tomorrow, a company could sell those easements to China, to Russia, to whoever, and they would have no say over that.”

NRDC: The Unlikely Takedown of Keystone XL
Courtney Lindwall, 6/29/21

“When the backers of the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline pitched their project in 2008, they couldn’t have foreseen this ending,” according to NRDC. “Back then, the Canadian fossil fuel giant TC Energy, formerly known as TransCanada, figured it would easily snag the necessary permits and soon be on its way to piping more than 800,000 barrels of tar sands crude each day from northern Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska. From there, the new pipeline extension would connect with Keystone I, which would then carry the oil down to refineries. TC Energy’s executives thought they had it in the bag: KXL would be the northern leg of one of the largest and most profitable tar sands pipelines ever built. “Initially, both the U.S. State Department and TransCanada treated this as a rubber-stamped, foregone conclusion,” says Anthony Swift, director of NRDC’s Canada program, who has been among those fighting KXL since the start. “It was just assumed that pipelines were projects in the national interest.”

Natural Gas Intelligence: Plaquemines LNG Receives Positive DEIS for Feed Gas Pipeline

“FERC staff has issued an overall favorable draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for a pipeline and related equipment to supply feedstock to one of Venture Global LNG Inc.’s planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in Louisiana, though there was no conclusion regarding the impact on climate change,” Natural Gas Intelligence reports. “In the DEIS made public last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said staff had determined that approval of Columbia Gulf Transmission LLC’s East Lateral Xpress project “would not result in significant environmental impacts, with the exception of climate change impacts” resulting from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions… “FERC based its determination that the project would have little environmental impact in part on the assumption Columbia Gulf would implement more than 15 recommended mitigation measures. Those measures include reducing noise during construction, meeting state water quality standards, and showing “satisfactory” restoration and rehabilitation of the pipeline right-of-way and other areas affected by construction. Staff recommended the measures be attached as conditions to the project’s authorization. FERC staff said it was unable to determine the East Lateral pipeline’s impact on climate change because there was no methodology that could calculate the “discrete, quantifiable, physical effects” on the environment from GHG emissions associated with the project. However, the staff was able to calculate the carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions associated with the pipeline’s construction and operation, as well as downstream…  “The construction and operation of the project would increase the atmospheric concentration of GHGs, in combination with past and future emissions from all other sources globally and would contribute incrementally to future climate change impacts,” according to the DEIS.”

E&E News: Moniz-led group releases CCS, pipeline blueprint
Carlos Anchondo, 6/30/21

“To make progress on the country’s net-zero emissions ambitions, the Biden administration and Congress should prioritize the build-out of infrastructure like pipelines that move and store carbon dioxide, according to a new report,” E&E News reports.


New York Times: As Infrastructure Deal Gathers Steam, Democratic Cracks Begin to Show
By Jonathan Weisman, 6/29/21

“Liberal House Democrats, squeezed between President Biden’s personal lobbying for a bipartisan infrastructure deal and their own ambitions for a far more expansive domestic agenda, are warning that they will not hesitate to bring down the accord without action on their long-sought priorities,” the New York Times reports. “The brewing fight, which pits progressives against moderates more aligned with the president’s tactics, is exposing cracks in the party’s fragile strategy for enacting its economic plans. Democratic leaders have said the Senate centrists’ agreement, which would pump $1.2 trillion into roads, bridges, tunnels and broadband, will not get through Congress without a second, larger bill. That measure includes progressive wish-list items that Republicans have rejected, such as universal preschool and community college access, a health care expansion and a broad effort to combat climate change. But progressive House members have begun questioning the depth of that commitment, particularly after Mr. Biden walked back a threat he made to condition the narrower bill on the more costly one, and as he and other administration officials begin a lobbying blitz around the country to build support for the infrastructure package… “But the fear among liberals is that if the bipartisan measure gathers enough momentum to quickly pass, some Democrats — particularly centrists like Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — will lose their appetite for another major economic package, or will force progressives to substantially scale back the scope and cost of any such plan before they are willing to vote for it. Progressives in the House warn that their support for the infrastructure agreement is contingent on the success of the bigger bill, which could amount to several trillion dollars and which Democrats plan to push through using a budget maneuver known as reconciliation to shield it from a Republican filibuster.”

E&E News: Methane vote shows limits of Republican climate caucus
Kelsey Brugger and Nick Sobczyk, 6/30/21

“Dozens of House Republicans signed up last week for a new Conservative Climate Caucus intended to engage members on the issue and trumpet the GOP’s newfound respect for climate science. Two days later, nearly all of them opposed a measure to curb methane emissions,” E&E News reports.

The Hill: White House delays agency changes to environmental law procedures under Trump rule by two years

“Government departments will get two extra years to update their procedures to accommodate Trump-era changes that weakened the implementation of a bedrock environmental law,” The Hill reports. “The White House Council on Environmental Quality on Monday announced an interim final rule giving departments two extra years to propose updates to their procedures under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). They were originally required to propose changes to how they would carry out the Trump-era NEPA rollback by September but will now be able to wait until September 2023. Meanwhile, the environment council is reviewing and expected to make changes to the 2020 Trump rule. It said in a statement that the deadline will make sure agencies “avoid expending their limited resources developing procedures to conform with regulations that may soon be updated,” meaning that the Biden administration could make changes to the rule by the time agencies have to update their procedures under the Trump rule.”

Inside EPA: House Panel Eyes Abandoned Well Cleanup For FY22 Funding Priorities

“House appropriators are floating a $120 million Interior Department (DOI) ‘energy community revitalization program’ to remediate orphaned oil and gas wells and hardrock mines, part of broader fiscal year 2022 spending legislation that would significantly boost funding for both the department and EPA,” Inside EPA reports. “The spending package, floated June 27 in advance of a June 28 markup by a House Appropriations subcommittee, largely reflects the Biden administration’s efforts to ramp up support for climate- and environmental justice (EJ)-related activities. But details in the bill are less specific than what will be included in yet-to-be-released report language accompanying the draft legislation. The new legislation would provide $11.4 billion for EPA — an increase of $2.11 billion above FY21 funding and $110.8 million above President Joe Biden’s budget request, according to a committee summary. Initial committee consideration of the FY22 House measure comes as the administration and lawmakers separately pursue a bipartisan infrastructure deal that appears likely to direct much larger funding to purposes such as capping old oil and gas wells, which release the potent greenhouse gas methane. But the House bill text outlines something of a down payment on such efforts, specifying $120 million for DOI and its component offices to ‘inventory, assess, decommission, reclaim, respond to hazardous substances releasees, and remediate abandoned hard rock mines, orphaned oil and gas wells, and orphaned infrastructure.’”

E&E News: Watchdog: Agencies Use Outdated Systems To Track Oil And Gas
Heather Richards, 6/28/21

“The Interior Department’s use of outdated, aging data systems to track information like oil and gas permit approvals compromises its oversight responsibilities, according to a Government Accountability Office report released today,” E&E News reports. “The Office of Natural Resources Revenue, for example, spends about 22,000 man-hours a year connecting data across the fragmented oil and gas databases, the equivalent of 10 full-time employees, GAO found. The report arrives at a time of increased public scrutiny of the federal oil and gas program. President Biden has called for a programwide assessment of the climate impacts of drilling for federal minerals and review of decades-old royalty rates. Watchdogs and conservation groups have long fought for reforms to the program and are pushing for changes like stronger emissions rules and greater transparency. GAO’s findings echo long-standing complaints from both industry and the public about how difficult it is to pull oil and gas information from federal data systems.”

Wall Street Journal: Democrats In Oil Country Worried By Party’s Natural-Gas Agenda
By Siobhan Hughes and Aaron Zitner, 6/29/21

“Democratic Party progressives are pushing President Biden to include in his infrastructure agenda stringent measures to address climate change, including policies designed to end the nation’s reliance on natural gas as a fuel source,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “The more the progressives succeed, the more moderate Democrats in energy-producing states become vulnerable to losing seats that are crucial to the party’s hold on Congress, current and former House members say. The White House announced a deal last week with centrist lawmakers in the Senate on a roughly $1 trillion package focused on traditional infrastructure such as roads and bridges. On a separate track, Democrats are advancing a second bill—without Republican input—that among other goals aims to eliminate greenhouse-gas emissions from electric power generation by 2035. The Democrats have a similar target of 2050 for other emissions sources, including factories, trucks, automobiles and homes. That is a political headache for moderates such as Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D., Texas), who in 2018 flipped a Republican-held House seat. Ms. Fletcher’s Houston-area House district ranks second in the nation for employment tied to the oil and gas industries, according to the American Petroleum Institute. ‘Gas is a part of our energy mix, ‘ Ms. Fletcher told the Journal. She has overcome Republican attack ads portraying her as a problem for the natural-gas industry with a message that contrasts with that of the rest of her party: ‘I think it will be a part of our energy mix well into the future.’”


E&E News: 3 States Overhaul CCS, Oil And Gas Laws

“While the Biden administration has focused on addressing climate change and promoting clean energy, oil-producing states enacted measures this year aiming to preserve the oil industry and help it expand to new areas,” E&E News reports. “Texas enacted a law aimed at boosting carbon dioxide storage, while North Dakota passed a research and development program targeting expansion of the use of the state’s oil and other resources. Louisiana enacted a tax break aimed at inducing companies to take over abandoned oil wells. Republicans control the statehouses in most oil and gas states, and they’ve been hesitant to force rapid changes on industry. And it’s not lost on most lawmakers that the energy-producing states remain dependent on taxes from oil and gas extraction, despite the pandemic and the recession’s effect on the industry. ‘We make up over 50% of state revenue in the state of North Dakota, and I think legislators get it,’ said Brady Pelton, government affairs director at the North Dakota Petroleum Council.”

KQED: ‘Bottom of the Barrel’ California Oil Can Be Far More Carbon Intensive Than What State Imports
Kevin Stark, 6/28/21

“A new analysis from an environmental advocacy group highlights a dirty secret about California-produced oil: It is responsible for higher carbon emissions than the oil the state imports,” KQED reports. “Scientists with the Center for Biological Diversity examined the carbon intensity of the crude oil supplied to California refineries and released their analysis on Monday, which shows that producing gasoline from heavy crude oil drilled in places like Kern County takes a lot of energy and creates tons of pollution. They found that the carbon intensity of oil produced in California has climbed by 22% since 2012. “California’s oil is getting dirtier and heavier, heating the planet more and requiring more polluting methods to extract it,” said John Fleming, the report’s lead author, in a statement. “The idea that California oil is somehow cleaner or climate-friendly is ludicrous… ““We know that as you get to the bottom of the barrel, more and more unconventional fuels, from light sweet crude to heavy crude — which California produces a lot off — to tar sands, it takes more effort to make gasoline,” Dan Kammen, an energy professor at UC Berkeley who helped the state craft its fuel standard more than a decade ago, told KQED. “More effort means more energy. It means more pollution. It also typically means removing more impurities, all of that adds up to a dirtier and dirtier product,” he said. “This report really calls that out. California produces in Kern County some very sour, high-toxics fuels. It is not a surprise.”

SF Chronicle: How much water goes into oil fracking in drought-stricken California?
Eric Ting, 6/28/21

“When California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans to ban hydraulic fracturing, a highly controversial method of oil and gas production more widely known as fracking, he focused primarily on climate change impacts. He may have a water conservation argument to make as well,” the SF Chronicle reports. “Fracking uses a lot of water,” Hollin Kretzmann, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit environmentalist group, told SF Gate. “But if you talk to the oil industry, they’ll say, ‘It’s not that big a chunk of water, look at what agriculture uses.’ But when we’re talking about water issues and the drought, it’s a very localized issue.” “…Most of the fracking in California is done in the Central Valley. “We’re already talking about a region with limited resources to begin with, so to allot any water to the oil industry when we need to move away from fossil fuels anyway is very short sighted,” Kretzmann said. According to a 2015 report from the California Council on Science and Technology, fracking requires an estimated 320 million gallons of water in the state annually. The water impact does not stop there. Once fracking is completed in a given area, it enables additional “enhanced oil recovery” methods that include steam flooding and gas injection. The report finds that post-fracking enhanced oil recovery methods use up an additional 4.2 billion gallons of California water per year. In addition, the report finds substantial evidence that fracking and enhanced oil recovery often contaminate groundwater, but it does not estimate how many gallons of water are spoiled.”


Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance: Innovative solutions for sustainable oil: 2020 Annual Report

“Investing in innovation and continuing to improve environmental performance is an imperative that the oil sands industry fully embraces. Since Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) was formed in 2012, industry members have invested a total of $1.8 billion in these efforts. In 2020, 233 active projects were underway at a total investment of $531 million in our four Environmental Priority Areas: Greenhouse Gases (GHGs), Land, Tailings and Water. In all, COSIA members have supported a total of 1,143 contributed clean technologies since 2012. Some of these successes are highlighted in our 2020 Annual Report Innovative solutions for sustainable oil. Harnessing the power of collaboration from across Canada and around the world has allowed COSIA to tackle tough challenges in the oil sands, including emissions reduction, through innovation. These efforts are paying off, improving and shortening the trajectory of sustainable oil sands development. In bringing together leading thinkers from industry, government, academia and the wider public to develop, test, and implement clean technologies, COSIA makes it possible for industry to go farther faster to address climate-related risks and minimize environmental impact, while also meeting global energy demand. Year over year, COSIA and its members continue to make gains in environmental performance as our annual Performance Numbers show… “Canada is already among the most responsible of the major oil producing countries. It ranks #1 for its environmental, social, and governance practices among the world’s top oil reserve holders, and #2 overall among the largest 20 oil producing countries (BMO Capital Markets Report March 2020). Meeting Canada’s climate targets is going to take collaborative effort from government, industries and academia to ensure we set the right policy, regulatory, and technological foundations for a reliable and affordable energy transition.”

Corporate Knights: Are corporations getting trapped in net zero?

“In a hopeful sign that the world is finally getting serious about tackling climate change, we’re seeing a raft of net-zero-carbon pledges from countries, investors, cities and corporations – even oil companies,” Corporate Knights reports. “…However, as carbon-neutral pledges mount, there are concerns about the credibility of those corporate targets and the strategies being proposed to reach them. Companies are putting too much focus on the “net” part of the equation and not enough on the “zero.” There is a danger, as one policy researcher puts it, of getting trapped in the net. Corporate plans often rely heavily on “offset” systems in which they purchase emission credits from other firms or organizations that reduce carbon emissions more cheaply than the corporation can. On paper, such firms will be advancing toward net-zero; in reality, their own carbon intensity will remain stubbornly high. Critics also worry that corporate strategists are pinning too much of their effort on nature-based solutions when there remains considerable debate about the credibility and permanence of the resulting GHG-reduction credits. This is not to diminish the critical importance of climate-friendly practices in forestry, agricultural and nature conservation. Or the crucial contribution that will be required from negative emission technologies like “direct air capture” projects, which can suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequester it. However, such strategies need to be in addition to not in lieu of deep decarbonization efforts that displace fossil fuel use in transportation, electricity, heating buildings and industry.”

Globe and Mail: Oil and gas well cleanup can mean jobs boom for Alberta, group says
EMMA GRANEY, 6/29/21

“As Canada moves to diversify its energy sector to drive down emissions and help meet climate change goals, critics say governments have largely ignored the question of how workers will switch from well-paying oil and gas jobs to working on emerging fuels and technologies,” according to the Globe and Mail. “Cleaning up more than 300,000 oil and gas wells scattered across Alberta will cost up to $70-billion, and the province should ensure industry pays its bill when the time comes, according to new analysis. The Alberta Liabilities Disclosure Project (ALDP), which released the report on Tuesday, says the clean-up also presents a unique chance to create 10,000 industry-funded jobs, as Canada diversifies its energy sector to meet its target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. But a concrete plan is required to enable oil workers to transition to these new opportunities… “Report co-author Regan Boychuk likens the current situation in Alberta to a dine-and-dash by the oil and gas industry. To quash it, he tells the Globe and Mail Alberta’s energy regulator must provide full and accurate estimates of the clean-up scale and cost, and gather enough financial securities from the oil sector to cover those costs. The report suggests the creation of a “reclamation trust” that could take over the wells of insolvent companies and use the revenue to cover remediation costs.”

Bloomberg: KKR-Backed Energy Investor Bets on Cleaning Up Drillers’ Mess
By Gerson Freitas Jr, 6/28/21

“A long-time investor in oil and gas companies is now betting on cleaning the mess they leave behind,” according to Bloomberg. “BlackGold Capital Management LP, a private equity firm partially owned by KKR & Co., is helping form a company to finance and start handling the cleaning and plugging of non-producing wells — a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants — before they’re even drilled. OneNexus Environmental, as the venture has been named, was designed to operate much like a life insurance company for wells. It’s willing to collect premiums from onshore drillers during the life cycle of insured wells, then take ownership and become legally liable for decommissioning those sites when they’re no longer productive. BlackGold’s move underscores how traditional fossil-fuel investors are seeking to take advantage of opportunities emerging from the energy transition as oil and gas companies face increasing pressure to keep a lid on growth and take action on their carbon footprint. Persuading them to ensure the responsible retirement of new wells alone would create a multi-billion dollar market for companies such as OneNexus, according to Adam Flikerski, a managing partner at BlackGold.”


Bloomberg: Why Methane Is Climate’s Low-Hanging Invisible Fruit
By Aaron Clark and Naureen S Malik, 6/28/21

“Methane is the second-largest contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide. But new and better techniques to spot major emitters of the odorless, colorless gas have pushed curbing it up climate to-do lists. Scientists view reducing methane emissions from the fossil fuel industry as the cheapest and easiest way to hold down global temperatures in the near term. That could blunt the worst of climate change while buying time for reducing carbon emissions,” Bloomberg reports. “…2. Where do methane emissions come from? Human activity accounts for about 60% of global methane emissions annually, with about 35% of that attributable to the fossil fuel industry. Methane is the primary component of natural gas, and leaks can happen anywhere along the natural gas supply chain, from the wellhead to the homes and businesses where the fuel is burned. But the gas can also be released during oil and coal production. Landfills, burping cows, rice paddies, and manure are also major sources that humans are responsible for. (Cows aren’t manmade, but the vastness of their herds is.) Naturally occurring methane seeps from fissures in the Earth’s surface, mud volcanoes and wetlands. 3. Why the focus on fossil fuels? Leaks from energy infrastructure are the easiest and cheapest sources of methane to identify and fix… “5. What are governments doing? The U.S. Pipes Act, passed in December 2020, directs oil and gas operators to use advanced leak detection technologies and adopt steps to reduce releases during maintenance. President Joe Biden is rolling back efforts by his predecessor, Donald Trump, to loosen regulations on drillers and pipelines. It’s not just the U.S.: China’s latest Five-Year Plan was the first to mention tightening control over methane.“

InsideClimate News: The US Chamber of Commerce Has Helped Downplay the Climate Threat, a New Report Concludes
By Kristoffer Tigue, 6/29/21

“For 20 years, the United States Chamber of Commerce has played a central role in national and global campaigns to thwart ambitious legislative efforts to curb the world’s rising carbon emissions and downplay the threat of climate change, according to a new report that analyzed dozens of documents issued by the nation’s biggest business association,” InsideClimate News reports. “The report, published Tuesday by Brown University’s Climate and Development Lab, adds to a growing body of work that has revealed how the fossil fuel industry, and other organizations tied to its business interests, have spent decades mounting sophisticated messaging campaigns that have aimed to quell public concern over climate change and protect the bottom line of some of the world’s biggest corporations…  “The Brown University report, one of the first to make a comprehensive analysis of the chamber’s climate stances, found that the group changed its messaging over the years from denying or ignoring the existence of climate change, to highlighting ambiguity about the scientific consensus and severity of climate change, to accepting climate change and promoting voluntary solutions to address it.”

DeSmog: Legal Action Against High Emitters Failing to Use Latest Climate Science, Study Finds
Isabella Kaminskion, 6/28/21

“Attempts to sue polluting companies and governments over their responsibility for climate change would have a greater chance of success if they made better use of the latest science, according to a study by Oxford University researchers,” DeSmog reports. “The paper, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, finds that the growing ability of scientists to link emissions with specific damages caused by climate change, known as attribution science, could provide further evidence in lawsuits against the world’s biggest emitters… “However, attempts to hold emitters to account for climate-related damages in court have largely failed because plaintiffs have not been able to link definitively the harms caused by climate change with greenhouse gas emissions. The new study from the Oxford Sustainable Law Programme and Environmental Change Institute, Filling the evidentiary gap in climate litigation, finds that many lawsuits have not used the latest advances in attribution science as evidence… “For example, recent research found that human-caused sea-level rise increased the damages suffered when Hurricane Sandy hit the US East Coast in 2012 by $8.1 billion… “Such evidence is essential when trying to claim compensation in court because plaintiffs have to show a direct causal link between their injury and the defendant’s behaviour.”


Bridge Michigan: Fish, propane, cash: Not everyone loves Enbridge generosity in the Straits
Kelly House, 6/28/21

“Barbara Brown was visiting a friend when she heard about Enbridge’s latest act of generosity in town,” Bridge Michigan reports. “She asked me if I had gotten my whitefish,” Brown told Bridge MI, and showed a bag of “beautiful, big fillets” bearing the company’s logo. The Canadian petroleum giant, whose Line 5 pipeline crosses the Straits of Mackinac just outside town, had co-sponsored a giveaway at the local community action agency, working with St. Ignace-based Massey Fish Company to distribute 2,000 pounds of whitefish to 400 seniors. The friend, like Brown, is not a fan of Enbridge. But for the friend, about 40 bucks worth of free whitefish was reason enough to set differences aside, if only momentarily. Brown felt differently, viewing the whitefish as an effort to woo residents to Enbridge’s side. “I thought it was an aggressive influence campaign,” Brown, a former state judge who serves on the board of For Love of Water, a northern Michigan nonprofit that opposes Line 5, told Bridge MI. Since the company’s oil pipelines became a hot-button political topic in Michigan, Enbridge has steadily ramped up its physical and philanthropic presence in the Straits, hiring staff, installing surveillance infrastructure, buying land and donating to all manner of local causes. But as the company continues to defy a state order to shut down Line 5, its opponents view the largesse as part of an effort to curry favor with local residents and public officials who could influence debates about the pipeline’s fate… “Weeks before the whitefish giveaway, Enbridge provided free propane tank refills in Cheboygan and St. Ignace. Other examples of Enbridge largesse include $36,700 to buy new equipment for the Mackinaw City Fire Department, $28,840 for a new cardiac monitor at Cheboygan Life Support Systems, support for a fall celebration in Mackinaw City and fish stocking in Lake Brevort, and some $20,000 in donations to the Pellston food pantry. The company has also paid millions of dollars — as much as eight times above market value — for properties in the Straits area near the path of the company’s proposed tunnel.”


Yahoo News: Biden: Americans can be proud of the infrastructure deal

“I have always believed that there is nothing our nation can’t do when we decide to do it together. Last week, we began to write a new chapter in that story. After weeks of negotiations, a bipartisan group of United States senators forged an agreement to move forward on key portions of my American Jobs Plan — a once-in-a-generation investment to modernize our infrastructure that will create millions of good-paying jobs and position America to compete with the world and win the 21st century,” U.S. President Joe Biden writes in Yahoo News. “The Infrastructure Deal is part of my economic strategy that, taken as a whole, will help create millions of jobs for years to come and add trillions of dollars in economic growth. According to one study of my Jobs Plan, nearly 90 percent of the jobs it will create won’t require a college degree, and 75 percent won’t require an associate’s degree. It’s a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America… “It will put Americans to work replacing our nation’s lead water pipes — so that every single American child, at home or in school, can turn on the faucet and drink clean water. This would be the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history. Right here in the U.S., up to 10 million homes and 400,000 schools and childcare centers get their water from lead pipes and service lines. This agreement will end the threat of lead-contaminated water once and for all, especially in communities of color and in rural America. While the bill is missing some critical initiatives on climate change that I proposed — initiatives I intend to pass in the reconciliation bill — the infrastructure deal nonetheless represents a crucial step forward in building our clean energy future. It would make the largest investment in clean energy transmission in American history, modernizing our power grid to accelerate the build-out of zero-carbon, renewable energy. It would replace thousands of gas-guzzling buses with clean, electric ones — including 35,000 electric school buses. It would cap abandoned wells leaking methane gas.”

New York Times: I Wrote About This Environmental Injustice Decades Ago. It Hasn’t Changed.
Dr. Robert Bullard is a professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University, 6/29/21

“A majority of people who live in the Texas coastal communities of Brownsville, Corpus Christi and Port Arthur are brown and Black. These communities are also locations for proposed terminals to load liquefied natural gas on tankers bound for overseas markets. This correlation is not unusual. Discrimination in housing forced Black and brown people into areas near polluting industries that threatened their health and safety, and continue to do so today,” Dr. Robert Bullard writes in the New York Times. “I documented this pattern in my book Dumping in Dixie more than three decades ago, finding that “toxic-waste dumps, municipal landfills, garbage incinerators and similar noxious facilities” tended to be located in minority neighborhoods with little access to the levers of government power. The consequences have been devastating. A study published in April in the journal Science Advances, for instance, found that “racial-ethnic minorities in the United States are exposed to disproportionately high levels of ambient fine particulate air pollution, the largest environmental cause of human mortality.” The researchers found that “because of a legacy of racist housing policy and other factors, racial-ethnic exposure disparities have persisted even as overall exposure has decreased.” Now President Biden has the opportunity to change that dynamic. A vacancy looms on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates the siting and construction of interstate natural gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas plants and export facilities. The term of one of the commission’s members, a Trump appointee, expires at the end of June, though he could remain until a replacement is confirmed by the Senate. A Biden appointment would shift the balance of power on this obscure but powerful board to three Democrats and two Republicans. To date, the commission has never rejected a project on environmental justice grounds. Mr. Biden promised to make environmental justice a cornerstone of his climate change agenda and repair the inequities that have left minority communities bearing the impacts of fossil fuel production.

The Independent: Countdown to Glasgow: This is why climate activists are taking on big banks
Scarlett Westbrook is a prominent youth climate activist – she’s a Teach the Future campaign coordinator at SOS-UK and a volunteer campaigner and spokesperson at UK Student Climate Network. Lucie Pinson is a French environmentalist and the founder and director of the NGO Reclaim Finance, she won the Goldman Prize in 2020, and write for various outlets on climate, 6/25/21

“What a difference a year can make – 2020 began with the climate crisis in the headlines, as wildfires ravaged Australia. But our minds, newspapers and governments have been occupied ever since by the deadly pandemic raging across the globe. As the first Covid wave swelled, the wave of popular mobilisations for climate action – from the youth strikes to Extinction Rebellion – dissipated. Unfortunately, climate breakdown continues its march, impervious to the interconnected crises enveloping us – the planetary clock won’t stop ticking. And we know who is most to blame: the fossil fuel giants pumping out oil, gas and coal, and the governments propping them up,” Scarlett Westbrook and Lucie Pinson write in The Independent. “…Needless to say, it seems Big Oil has its fingers in its ears. While the likes of BP, Shell and Total have all published climate plans, all intend to keep dedicating the overwhelming majority of their investments (and profits) to oil and, increasingly, gas production. From Total’s East African Crude Oil Pipeline to the EastMed pipeline, oil and gas majors are doubling down on climate-destroying projects, which often involve devastating impacts for local (often Indigenous) communities, and potentially violate human rights… “Whether it’s investors who back their climate strategies (as they duly did at Shell and Total’s Annual General Meetings last month) to insurers and banks who mitigate the risks and provide the capital for projects, there would be no fossil fuel extraction without the backing of financial institutions. That’s why climate activists have increasingly turned to targeting financiers themselves, as one of us did by founding a new NGO, Reclaim Finance. A tiger won’t change its stripes, but you can certainly stop feeding it.”

New York Times [VIDEO]: The Lost Graves of Louisiana’s Enslaved People
By Alexandra Eaton, Christoph Koettl, Quincy G. Ledbetter, Victoria Simpson and Aaron Byrd, 6/29/21

“Historical maps. The descendants of enslaved people. And multibillion dollar petrochemical companies. These elements converge in a story about the hidden burial grounds of Louisiana’s enslaved people, and how continued industrial development is putting the historic sites at risk,” the New York Times reports. “In this video, we reveal what is hiding in plain sight: the possible burial grounds of enslaved people who were forced to work these plantations 200 years ago. Their locations have remained a mystery, until now. Using a new study from the research group Forensic Architecture, we looked at historical maps and aerial photos, drone footage, satellite imagery and went to Louisiana to find these concealed graves. Their research uses a technique called cartographic regression, which is used by archeologists to travel back in time to see how the land has changed. The research shows how even a single tree can be a crucial marker.”

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