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Extracted: Daily News Clips 6/4/21

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips June 4, 2021

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PIPELINE NEWS

  • MinnPostEnbridge entering a new phase of construction on Line 3 — and a new phase of protests
  • Canadian PressMichigan responds on Line 5: ‘This case is a state-law action through and through’
  • Canadian PressDoes Canada need another pipeline, feds ask days after Biden cancels Keystone XL
  • Canadian PressCanada Energy Regulator orders Trans Mountain to stop tree-clearing work on project
  • Facebook: Appalachians Against PipelinesUPDATE: All four baby duck pipeline protesters are out of jail!
  • It’s Going DownLarge Replica Of Wood Duck And 4 Protesters Block MVP Construction For Nearly 7 Hours
  • WFXRVSP releases identities of protesters arrested after blocking access to Giles County MPV site using large wooden duck
  • The Detroit NewsTelecommunications firm interested in using new Line 5 tunnel
  • Sidley Austin LLPFERC Climate Change Concerns to Delay Five Pending Natural Gas Pipeline Projects
  • APFeds approve expansion of North Dakota natural gas pipeline
  • Rigzone$540MM Louisiana Pipeline Project Clears Hurdle
  • BloombergTakeover Battle May Be Foretaste of Pipeline M&A to Come

WASHINGTON UPDATES

EXTRACTION

  • Salon.comBig Oil lobby fought cybersecurity regulations for years, making pipeline attack easier
  • BloombergWill Chevron Divest Canada Oil Sands Asset?
  • DeSmogHow Third-Party Auditors Make Oil Industry Fraud Possible
  • Wall Street JournalOil’s Sunset Years Could Be Profitable for Some
  • The Tyee‘We’re Not Going to See Tankers in Active Pass Ever Again’
  • NPRSri Lanka Faces An Environmental Disaster As A Ship Full Of Chemicals Starts Sinking

CLIMATE FINANCE

  • BloombergExxon Activist Expands Boardroom Presence With Third Seat
  • Canadian PressInsurance provider for Trans Mountain pipeline says it won’t renew policy
  • Insure Our FutureTRANS MOUNTAIN INSURER ARGO COMMITS TO CUT TIES WITH THE PIPELINE COMPANY

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

  • CBCTC Energy will not participate in Stampede events this year but will continue financial support

OPINION

  • Troy MediaWhy Canada’s heavy oil is an integral part of U.S. production
  • The GuardianShell’s historic loss in The Hague is a turning point in the fight against big oil
  • Yahoo Finance‘Point of maximum pain’: How far can green activists push big oil?
  • WBUREnough Is Enough. It’s Time To Shut Down The Weymouth Compressor
  • For Love of Water (FLOW)Our Great Lakes – Hostage to the ‘Most Destructive Industrial Project in Human History’

PIPELINE NEWS

MinnPost: Enbridge entering a new phase of construction on Line 3 — and a new phase of protests
By Walker Orenstein and Yasmine Askari, 6/3/21

“The first months of construction on Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 oil pipeline were relatively uneventful. Cold weather and the COVID-19 pandemic limited protests across the 337-mile route in northern Minnesota, and the Canadian company quickly finished about 60 percent of its work on the project after starting in December,” according to MinnPost. “After a short spring break on mainline construction required by Minnesota regulators, however, Enbridge is now entering a new phase of construction — and a new phase of protests. As the company restarted construction this week, opponents of the project geared up for a wave of larger demonstrations aimed at slowing or stopping the pipeline. A court decision on a key legal challenge to Line 3 is also expected in June, making the final stretch of construction a pivotal one for the future of Enbridge’s new pipeline… “There have been protests and arrests of activists along the pipeline route, but so far, no large-scale demonstrations have taken place. That’s in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some prominent organizers said they didn’t want mass gatherings in rural areas where the health care system was already strained. The frigid winter weather also likely kept some people away from the remote construction project… “Various groups opposed to the construction of Line 3 have come together to organize a weeklong event in Mahnomen starting June 5 called the Treaty People Gathering to demonstrate resistance to the pipeline and educate attendees about treaty rights. Organizers expect this will be the largest protest so far, with some 1,200 people confirmed to attend from around the country. A march is planned early Monday morning and various forms of resistance are planned through the week.”

Canadian Press: Michigan responds on Line 5: ‘This case is a state-law action through and through’
6/3/21

“Lawyers for the state of Michigan say the dispute over the Line 5 pipeline belongs in state court, countering efforts by Canada and others to have it heard by a federal judge,” the Canadian Press reports. “In documents filed in court Tuesday, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel also argues that Canada has no legal basis to invoke a 1977 treaty that covers cross-border pipelines. The brief is Michigan’s stern reply to the argument by Calgary-based Enbridge Inc., the pipeline’s owner, that the case belongs in federal court… The two sides are currently engaged in court-ordered mediation talks.”

Canadian Press: Does Canada need another pipeline, feds ask days after Biden cancels Keystone XL
Stephanie Taylor, 6/4/21

“Federal officials were asking themselves how many pipelines does Canada really need in the days after U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled Keystone XL,” according to the Canadian Press. “The query was posed in a briefing note from Natural Resources Canada and released to The Canadian Press under federal access-to-information legislation. The document, addressed to the department’s deputy minister, was prepared in anticipation of meetings with those affected by Biden’s January decision, including an Alberta government official, Keystone XL owner TC Energy and others in the industry… “Ahead of the late January meetings to discuss the cancellation with stakeholders, the federal natural resources department briefing note posed some questions: “Do you believe Canada still requires additional export capacity beyond (TransMountain) and Line 3? What do you see as the likely routes to putting it in place?” Asked that question Thursday, Canada’s Natural Resources Minister replied frankly: “I don’t know.” “I think the market will decide that and I think investors will decide that,” Seamus O’Regan said during an announcement for hydrogen fuelling stations for heavy trucks in Alberta… “Besides the now-dead Keystone XL, Canada’s other main pipeline projects are Trans Mountain and Line 3.Last November, the Canada Energy Regulator suggested not all would be needed, if Canada keeps implementing more climate policies.”

Canadian Press: Canada Energy Regulator orders Trans Mountain to stop tree-clearing work on project
By Dirk Meissner, 6/3/21

“An order stopping tree cutting and grass mowing across the entire Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project was issued Thursday by the Canada Energy Regulator, the agency that enforces safety and environmental guidelines for pipeline projects across Canada,” according to the Canadian Press. “A statement from Trans Mountain said the regulator’s order was issued after a subcontractor started tree cutting and mowing activities without completing the necessary environmental compliance work… “The statement did not say how many workers are affected by the stop-work order or how long the shutdown will last for the pipeline project, which spans from just north of Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C. Environment and Climate Change Canada issued a stop-work order in April to halt Trans Mountain construction through a Burnaby, B.C., forest to protect hummingbirds and other migratory birds during nesting season. That order was expected to be in place until mid-August.”

Facebook: Appalachians Against Pipelines: UPDATE: All four baby duck pipeline protesters are out of jail!
6/3/21

“UPDATE: All four baby duck pipeline protesters are out of jail! Valerie Hahn, Ethan Hughes and Dylan Bremmer were charged with trespassing, interfering with property rights and obstruction and given $1000, $2000 and $1500 bails, respectively. They were released on bail after their arraignment this afternoon. Zach, the fourth protester, was released yesterday morning on PR (personal recognizance) after being charged with trespassing and interfering with property rights. The baby duck protestors blockaded pipeline construction for nearly 7 hours yesterday!! Check out these drone photos of the action! Hughes said “this is a pivotal moment for all of us. It is all of our responsibility to do all that we can to protect what we love. Yes, it takes sacrifice, but it is meaningful to know that I am giving up something of lesser value for something of greater value.”

It’s Going Down: Large Replica Of Wood Duck And 4 Protesters Block MVP Construction For Nearly 7 Hours
6/3/21

“On Wednesday, June 2, 2021 at 5:45 A.M., Mountain Valley Pipeline protesters Valerie Hahn, Ethan Hughes, and Dylan Bremmer dressed as ducks and locked themselves to a 12’ by 8’ wooden Wood Duck blocking access to a Mountain Valley Pipeline easement and equipment yard in Giles County,” Appalachians Against Pipelines write in It’s Going Down. “An additional protester sat on top of the duck. Nearby, about a dozen people gathered to support the Wood Duck protesters at the scene. Banners at the rally read, “No Pipelines,” “All Mothers Protect Their Children,” “Mama Duck Says ‘Water Is Everything’,” and “No MVP.” Hahn, a farmer and pagan minister from New York, traveled to Giles County for the protest with her 14-year-old daughter. “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.”

WFXR: VSP releases identities of protesters arrested after blocking access to Giles County MPV site using large wooden duck
by: Alexandria Savage, Colleen Guerry, 6/2/21

“Virginia State Police has confirmed the identities of the four individuals arrested earlier Wednesday after spending nearly seven hours hours blocking access to the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Giles County using a large wooden duck,” WFXR reports… “The four individuals face charges of trespassing, obstructing free passage and interfering with property rights. VSP says they first received a call at 5:32 a.m. on Wednesday, June 2 about several individuals who were causing a disturbance on the Mountain Valley Pipeline right-of-way along Doe Creek Road in Giles County. When troopers arrived on the scene, they encountered more than a dozen individuals — four of whom had secured themselves through the use of “sleeping dragons,” to an eight-foot tall wooden duck.” “…Appalachians Against Pipelines shared the following statements from two of the people locked to the wooden Wood Duck model: “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.”

The Detroit News: Telecommunications firm interested in using new Line 5 tunnel
Beth LeBlanc, 6/2/21

“A Marquette-based telecommunications company is one of the first third party companies to express interest in using a tunnel scheduled to be built beneath the Straits of Mackinac, The Detroit News reports. “Peninsula Fiber Network, which provides services for telecommunication providers and operates a 911 network in most Michigan counties, filed a letter of intent with the state to use the tunnel, company General Manager Scott Randall said. “We would place a significant fiber-optic facility … within the utility corridor within the tunnel,” Randall said Wednesday to the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority. “We would make that available to any other provider who wants to utilize that route. Doing so, we feel would help ensure stable and secure communications for the state of Michigan.” “…The Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority, under a 2018 law, is tasked with overseeing the design, construction and operation of the tunnel as well as authorizing third parties that would share the tunnel with Line 5, authority Chairman Mike Nystrom said. “There was secondary goal here when this law was enacted and that was to promote additional utilities using this tunnel to give broader access to citizens, no matter where they are in the state,” Nystrom told Detroit News. “So this sounds just like a great opportunity.” One other party had expressed interest in the tunnel, but had not yet submitted a letter of intent, the Michigan Department of Transportation told authority members.”

Sidley Austin LLP: FERC Climate Change Concerns to Delay Five Pending Natural Gas Pipeline Projects
6/2/21

“On May 27, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) indicated that it would increase the timeline for making a decision on five pending applications for Natural Gas Act (NGA) Section 7 certificates of public convenience and necessity when it issued notices of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to each of the project sponsors,” according to Sidley Austin LLP. “Each of the applications concern pipeline expansion projects that were the subject of environmental assessments (EAs) performed by FERC staff. The notices state that the new EISs will tier off of the existing EAs and will be limited in scope to assisting FERC in its consideration of the subject projects’ contribution to climate change in the FERC decision-making process. The initiation of a follow-on EIS for each of the projects will add significant time to their FERC approval process. The impacted projects’ EAs were published either in first quarter 2021 or during the second half of 2020. Whereas FERC typically would commit to issuing an order within 90-days of completing an EA, the pipeline operators subject to the new notices should not expect decisions on their pending applications before December 2021.”

AP: Feds approve expansion of North Dakota natural gas pipeline
JAMES MacPHERSON, 6/3/21

“Federal regulators have approved a natural gas pipeline in western North Dakota, a move state officials believe will help curb the wasteful flaring of excess gas and increase state tax revenues by millions of dollars annually by allowing more oil drilling in the area,” AP reports. “Federal Energy Regulatory Commission officials this week approved a certificate of public convenience and necessity for WBI Energy Inc.’s North Bakken Expansion project… “The company said the project includes construction of about 62 miles beginning in Tioga of 24-inch natural gas pipeline and 20 miles of 12-inch pipe, a new compressor station and additional infrastructure. The company said the project would cost $260 million and employ up to 450 people during construction. The line would connect to the Northern Border Pipeline south of Watford City, where the gas would be sent to Iowa, Chicago and other markets.”

Rigzone: $540MM Louisiana Pipeline Project Clears Hurdle
by Matthew V. Veazey, 6/3/21

“Enable Midstream Partners, LP. (NYSE: ENBL) reported Wednesday that it has secured Federal Energy Regulatory (FERC) approval to construct and operate the Gulf Run Pipeline project under section 7(c) of the Natural Gas Act,” Rigzone reports. “Announced in 2018, Gulf Run will extend from North Louisiana to the Gulf Coast and carry natural gas originating in the Haynesville, Marcellus, Utica, and Barnett shale plays as well as the Mid-Continent region, according to Enable’s website. In addition, the company stated the planned 42-inch-diameter pipeline is backed by a 20-year commitment for 1.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) from cornerstone shipper Golden Pass LNG. ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) and Qatar Petroleum are adding liquefaction and export capabilities to their Golden Pass facility, located in Sabine Pass, Texas, according to the Golden Pass LNG website. Enable also pointed out that Gulf Run will boast approximately 1.7 Bcf/d of capacity.”

Bloomberg: Takeover Battle May Be Foretaste of Pipeline M&A to Come
By Gerson Freitas Jr, 6/3/21

“If you can’t build a pipeline, you can still buy one,” Bloomberg reports. “The battle to acquire Canada’s Inter Pipeline Ltd. could foreshadow a wave of deals as major pipeline companies in North America find it almost impossible to grow by laying new conduits. Rather than shoulder swelling costs from permitting hiccups, project delays and legal battles that are now typical for proposed pipeline projects, operators and infrastructure funds are pivoting toward M&A.Giants including Williams Cos. and Dominion Energy Inc. have killed multibillion-dollar projects over the past year or so, while Energy Transfer LP has been ensnared in a long court battle to keep its controversial Dakota Access pipeline operating. One of President Joe Biden’s first acts in office was to block the $9 billion Keystone XL conduit. “Pipeline companies will increasingly turn to M&A due to a lack of growth” opportunities, Gabriel Moreen, a managing director at Mizuho Securities LLC, told Bloomberg. Midstream M&A activity has also received a boost as utilities bow to investor pressure to dump pipeline assets and focus on renewables and their traditional lines of business.”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

Courthouse News: Agency in Hot Water for Financing Fracking in the Dark
6/2/21

“Showing the receipts for one of the Trump administration’s many gifts to Big Oil, three environmental nonprofits brought a federal complaint Wednesday over a government entity’s recent effort to exempt itself from public meetings law,” Courthouse News reports. “The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation published the change last April in the Federal Register, saying there is no need for it to follow a Watergate-era law called the Sunshine Act that requires federal agencies to open every meeting for public observation. Referring to itself by an abbreviation, the DFC contends that it can’t technically be considered an “agency” under the Sunshine Act because only four of its nine board members — as opposed to a majority — are appointed by the president. In Wednesday’s lawsuit, however, the Center for Biological Diversity and other plaintiffs say this assertion is “illogical” because it rests on the premise that “the chief executive of the DFC is somehow ex officio to his own agency.”

EXTRACTION

Salon.com: Big Oil lobby fought cybersecurity regulations for years, making pipeline attack easier
By IGOR DERYSH, 6/2/21

“The American Petroleum Institute, the top trade group for the oil and gas industry, spent years opposing federal cybersecurity regulations before the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack and later compared the threat posed by hackers to those from government regulators who want to “shut these pipelines down,” according to Salon.com. “…One of the reasons that the federal government failed to enact regulations to protect critical infrastructure before the Colonial Pipeline attack appears to be a relentless campaign against federal regulations by the energy industry and API, which has spent more than $20 million on lobbying expenditures since 2018. Last year, API argued that “voluntary frameworks and public-private solutions, rather than prescriptive federal regulations, offer businesses the know-how and flexibility to respond to the ever-changing security landscape.” The group says its member companies believe the private sector “should retain autonomy and the primary responsibility for protecting companies’ assets” against cyberattacks. In the aftermath of the Colonial attack, API CEO Mike Sommers even suggested that it was just as important to protect the industry from regulators as from cyberattacks. “We need, of course, to take care of cybersecurity, but we also need to protect existing infrastructure from attacks from regulators and government officials who want to shut these pipelines down,” he told CNN International this month.

Bloomberg: Will Chevron Divest Canada Oil Sands Asset?
Robert Tuttle, 6/3/21

“Chevron Corp. would consider selling its 20% stake in a Canadian oil sands mine as its faces investor pressure to do more to curb emissions and fight climate change,” Bloomberg reports. “We’re not in the kind of fire-sale mentality,”  Chief Executive Officer Michael Wirth said at Bernstein’s 37th Annual Strategic Decisions Conference. “But if we got what we think is fair value for an asset like that, we’ve been willing to transact on things that are of that scale and kind of relative importance in the portfolio.” Oil sands are among the most challenged energy assets because of the volume of emissions created when producing crude from mines and from underground wells that require steam injection. Facing increased pressure to cut carbon emissions, multiple international oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell Plc and ConocoPhillips have divested of their Canadian oil sands holdings in recent years.”

DeSmog: How Third-Party Auditors Make Oil Industry Fraud Possible
By Justin Mikulka, 6/3/21

“Major accounting firm KPMG is under fire from investors who filed a class action lawsuit against the firm for overstating the asset values of now-defunct oil exploration company Miller Energy Resources. And last month, a judge dismissed KPMG’s attempt to have the case thrown out,” DeSmog reports. “At issue in the lawsuit, filed in 2016, is a $4.55 million purchase by Miller Energy in 2009 for land and offshore oil assets in Alaska which included existing oil production infrastructure. Miller Energy then claimed those same assets were worth approximately half a billion dollars, a claim which would require approval by third-party auditors. But according to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the property and old oil infrastructure in Alaska was worth only a fraction of those claims; inflating its value beyond its worth amounted to fraud, according to the SEC. The SEC stated that “Miller Energy overvalued the Alaska assets by more than $400 million.” But the oil company wasn’t the only one at fault, said the SEC. In January 2016, the SEC sent a cease and desist order for Miller Energy detailing the major fraud case and focusing in part on the role that third-party auditors such as KPMG played in making it possible.”

Wall Street Journal: Oil’s Sunset Years Could Be Profitable for Some
By Rochelle Toplensky, 6/2/21

“The oil industry could face a golden sunset, particularly for companies still developing new reserves. How long it lasts depends on the speed at which economies shift to cleaner energy sources,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “On Tuesday, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and friends, including Russia, agreed to open the taps a bit. Supply cuts have been crucial in stabilizing crude prices in the face of pandemic-induced demand fluctuations, but producers are now more optimistic. Vaccines are rolling out and economies are reopening. Oil prices are at a two-year high. While big listed companies will benefit, they cannot take full advantage, faced with growing shareholder pressure to limit petroleum investments and cut greenhouse-gas emissions. European supermajors Shell, Total Energies and BP have already limited plans to find new oil reserves, and now U.S. peers Chevron and Exxon are rethinking investments too. In contrast, state-controlled rivals are free to drill to meet future oil demand with scant consideration of their carbon footprint. Most state-run producers answer to domestic politicians in emerging economies more focused on cash flow, local jobs and tax revenues than environmental concerns. “The part of development projects that are being operated by OPEC members is going to increase substantially over the next 20 years,” Per Magnus Nysveen, analyst at consulting firm Rystad Energy, told the Journal. “National oil companies have quite a lot of really nice development projects with low break-even prices down below $30 a barrel.”

The Tyee: ‘We’re Not Going to See Tankers in Active Pass Ever Again’
Michelle Gamage, 6/2/21

“Tankers of all sizes have been banned from travelling through Active Pass, a narrow stretch of water between Mayne and Galiano islands, following a public outcry and Tyee reporting,” according to The Tyee. “The Pacific Pilotage Authority, a federal Crown corporation, issued the ban following a Tyee report that highlighted the lack of regulation on tankers transiting the narrow, busy waterway. The interim ban covers ships carrying bulk oil, pollutants and hazardous cargo, and it stands until a risk assessment is completed for commercial vessels in Active Pass… “Marine oil spill expert Gerald Graham, who raised the alarm when a tanker travelled through Active Passage in April, told the Tyee he was surprised but pleased that the authority issued the public document.”

NPR: Sri Lanka Faces An Environmental Disaster As A Ship Full Of Chemicals Starts Sinking
Laurel Wamsley, 6/2/21

“A cargo ship carrying chemicals and plastic pellets has been burning off the coast of Sri Lanka for nearly two weeks. Now, efforts to tow the ship to deeper waters have failed – and the boat’s sinking looks increasingly likely,” NPR reports. “The ship, the X-Press Pearl, was carrying 1,486 containers. Eighty-one of those were dangerous goods containers, including 25 tons of nitric acid. At least one container has leaked nitric acid… “The oil fueling the ship is another serious cause for concern. The vessel was carrying nearly 350 tons of fuel oil, and salvage teams have prepared for the event of an oil spill. Kanchana Wijesekera, Sri Lanka’s minister of fisheries, said Wednesday that if there is a spill, booms and skimmers will be used around the vessel and at strategic locations, and spray will be used to disperse the oil slick.Sri Lanka has temporarily banned fishing along a 50-mile stretch of its coast, where nitric acid has leaked into the water, and plastic pellets have washed up ashore.”

CLIMATE FINANCE

Bloomberg: Exxon Activist Expands Boardroom Presence With Third Seat
By Scott Deveau and David Wethe, 6/2/21

“Exxon Mobil Corp. activist investor Engine No. 1 expanded its presence on the oil giant’s board to three seats, according to preliminary vote tallies, cementing a victory that has reverberated across the energy industry,” according to Bloomberg. “The initial counts show the newest nominee from Engine No. 1’s slate elected to Exxon’s 12-member board is private-equity investor Alexander Karsner, Exxon said Wednesday in a statement. The results, which still need to be certified, confirmed an earlier report by Bloomberg News. The outcome is a coup for Engine No. 1, a new and previously unproven player in the realm of activist investing, which, despite holding a miniscule stake in Exxon, eventually amassed broad support from major institutional holders following a six-month proxy fight… “The voting also shows investors rejected Wan Zulkiflee, a former oil executive who leaves the board just four months after Exxon appointed him. Furthermore, shareholders went against Exxon and supported the disclosure of political- and climate-lobbying activities. While the votes on those two proposals are non-binding, they represent another remarkable reversal for Exxon, which has previously faced down most investor motions seeking environmental and corporate-governance changes.”

Canadian Press: Insurance provider for Trans Mountain pipeline says it won’t renew policy
6/3/21

“An insurance provider for the Trans Mountain pipeline said it will not renew its policy with the company when it expires in August,” the Canadian Press reports. “Argo Group International Holdings Ltd., an international underwriter based in Bermuda, said the project no longer fits the company’s risk appetite. “We currently insure the Trans Mountain pipeline, but do not intend to renew when the policy expires in August 2021,” spokesman David Snowden told CP. “This type of project is not currently within Argo’s risk appetite.” The decision by Argo Group comes even after the operator for Trans Mountain received regulatory approval to protect the identity of its insurers. Trans Mountain had argued that identifying its insurers could make it harder to get insurance at a reasonable price and prejudice its competitive position. Underwriters such as Zurich Insurance Group AG have also dropped Trans Mountain as a possible client, amid pressure from environmental and Indigenous groups against the government-owned pipeline.”

Insure Our Future: TRANS MOUNTAIN INSURER ARGO COMMITS TO CUT TIES WITH THE PIPELINE COMPANY
6/3/21

“Trans Mountain insurer and Lloyd’s of London syndicate Argo Group has pledged to cut ties with the existing Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline when its current insurance policy expires on August 31, 2021, and to not insure the Trans Mountain Expansion Project,” according to Insure Our Future. “Following the Canadian authorities’ decision to hide the project’s insurance backers from public scrutiny, Argo is the first insurer to drop the pipeline in this year’s round of policy renewals, joining more than ten insurance companies that have vowed not to touch Trans Mountain. In an email to Public Citizen, Argo stated: “We currently insure the Trans Mountain pipeline, but do not intend to renew it when the policy expires in August 2021. This type of project is not currently within Argo’s risk appetite.” Argo further clarified that it also does not intend to insure construction or operation of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. “We commend Argo and the other insurers for leading the way by dropping Trans Mountain. In addition to fuelling the climate crisis, this pipeline represents an ongoing violation of Indigenous rights. The lack of Free, Prior and Informed Consent is a material risk that most insurers have not fully captured, and that needs to change. We are calling on the rest of the Lloyd’s syndicates, as well as AIG, Chubb and Liberty Mutual to follow Argo’s path,” said Charlene Aleck of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative.

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

CBC: TC Energy will not participate in Stampede events this year but will continue financial support
Lucie Edwardson, 6/3/21

“One of the Calgary Stampede’s major sponsors will not participate in Stampede events this year, from both a branding and hosting perspective. TC Energy says that while it will continue with its financial commitments to the Stampede, it will not participate in events next month,” CBC reports. “…The company says it has a long, storied history of support for the Stampede and that this decision was a difficult one and expectations about the acceptance of invitation have been communicated directly with employees… “Pulling their name and their visibility from the event impacts them in terms of the visibility they get from participating. The Stampede is enormous,” AnneMarie Dorland, an assistant professor of marketing at Mount Royal University, told CBC. “I think it’s indicative of a company standing clear on their own values of how they want to restart in this soon to be post-COVID kind of a world.”

OPINION

Troy Media: Why Canada’s heavy oil is an integral part of U.S. production
By Mark Milke and Lennie Kaplan, Canadian Energy Centre, 6/3/21

“Anyone who thinks the U.S. can do without Canadian oil, especially heavy oil, is misinformed. Canadian oil is critical to the Americans,” Mark Milke and Lennie Kaplan, from the Canadian Energy Centre, write for Troy Media, “…America’s lifting of its self-imposed 40-year ban on oil exports meant the U.S. was now in competition with Canada for oil export customers. It also meant that some U.S. refineries would need more Canadian heavy oil. As Oil Sands Magazine has pointed out, this need arose as a result of increasing production from U.S. shale fields… “By adding imported heavy crude oil to domestic light crude oil during production, the U.S. has significantly increased its ability to export refined oil. Declining exports from U.S. heavy oil suppliers in Venezuela and Mexico have also opened the door to more Canadian heavy oil in the Gulf Coast refining cluster, which is the world’s largest heavy-oil processing area. The percentage of total imports of Canadian heavy oil to the U.S. rose from 25.1 per cent in 2000 to 55.8 per cent in 2019. American imports of oil from Canada have risen from 1.3 million barrels daily in 2000 to two million daily in 2010 and reached 3.8 million barrels daily in 2019… “Killing access to markets that would have offered Canada an alternative to American sales has been costly. A lack of extra pipeline access to coasts means it’s difficult for Canadian producers to sell oil into non-American markets.”

The Guardian: Shell’s historic loss in The Hague is a turning point in the fight against big oil
Tessa Khan is an international human rights and climate crisis lawyer and campaigner, and the founder and director of Uplift, 6/1/21

“On a rainy afternoon in The Hague, the district court delivered a judgment against Royal Dutch Shell, the parent company of the Shell group,” Tessa Khan writes for The Guardian. “It refuted the excuses regularly relied on to continue extracting oil and gas and vindicated longstanding calls to keep fossil fuels in the ground. The court held that Shell’s current policy of merely reducing the “carbon intensity” of its products by 20% by 2030, and aiming to reach net zero by 2050, would contribute to climate impacts that endanger the human rights of the plaintiffs. The extraordinary events preceding the oil industry’s so-called Black Wednesday bring to mind the proverbial path to bankruptcy: it happens gradually, and then all at once. Hot on the heels of a landmark report by the global energy body the International Energy Agency warning against new fossil fuel production, Wednesday’s historic ruling has blown another hole in the defences of an industry that has overwhelmingly failed to accept responsibility for driving the climate emergency.”

Yahoo Finance: ‘Point of maximum pain’: How far can green activists push big oil?Jeff Lagerquist, 6/3/21

“Fresh off a string of victories against fossil fuel giants, climate-minded activist investors are brimming with confidence like never before,” Jeff Lagerquist writes for Yahoo Finance. “The largest institutional money managers are adding serious weight to their push for companies to do more to address climate risks. Now, experts are questioning how much influence they will actually wield. David and Goliath-like showdowns between activists and big oil and gas firms were plentiful last week. Small funds, shareholder groups and environmental organizations used proxy campaigns and courts to score big wins against some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies… “Greg Taylor, chief investment officer at Toronto-based Purpose Investments, told Yahoo while the oil and gas industry is proving to be an easy target for climate activists, many companies in the sector should be acknowledged for the environmental progress they’ve made in recent years. “You have to wonder if we’ve hit that point of maximum pain now. These companies have really changed in the last few years to become better businesses,” Taylor told Yahoo. “Other sectors are going to look at how the energy sector has responded to the ESG attention.”

WBUR: Enough Is Enough. It’s Time To Shut Down The Weymouth Compressor
Caren Solomon and Philip Landrigan, 6/4/21

“In the airline industry, near-misses are taken very seriously. They trigger root-cause investigations. They can result in changes to procedures, suspensions of pilots, grounding of aircraft and steep penalties. These common-sense interventions can result in inconvenience and lost income, but they prevent crashes and save lives. But this is not the way things work at the natural gas compressor station in North Weymouth,” Caren Solomon and Philip Landrigan write for WBUR. “This facility, located 9 miles from downtown Boston, opened last September. It receives fracked gas via pipelines from Pennsylvania and West Virginia and is designed to pressurize the gas to more than 1,000 pounds per square inch (psi) and push it onward. On May 20, the North Weymouth compressor had its fourth near-miss in nine months — an unplanned release of more than 11,000 cubic feet of highly pressurized gas that followed previous large leaks on September 11, September 30, and April 6. The gas spread over North Weymouth and adjoining South Quincy and Germantown. Thankfully, it did not explode. What has been the reaction of Enbridge, the Canadian pipeline company that owns and operates the facility? They declared that the May 20 leak was a “force majeure,” an “act of God” that occurred for reasons beyond the company’s control. Root cause analysis? None. Safety inspection? Likewise, none. Enbridge’s cavalier reaction is typical of the arrogance, dishonesty, lack of regulatory oversight, and lack of concern for public safety that has characterized the North Weymouth compressor project from its beginning. It is behavior that Enbridge has manifested elsewhere, most notoriously in its efforts to push a major pipeline through lands sacred to Native Americans in northern Minnesota.”

For Love of Water (FLOW): Our Great Lakes – Hostage to the ‘Most Destructive Industrial Project in Human History’
By Skip Pruss, 6/3/21

“Some 800 miles north of the Montana border, past vast prairie grasslands, clear, untroubled lakes, and pristine boreal forests, lies a place of profound devastation and desolation,” Skip Pruss writes for For Love of Water (FLOW). “Just north of Fort McMurray in Northeast Alberta, Canada, one encounters an abrupt alteration of the landscape—a ravaged wasteland of disturbed lands and metallic lakes of oil-sheened process waste. Welcome to the place where bitumen—a thick, viscous, oil-containing soil having the consistency of coffee grounds—is extracted for later upgrading and refining into tar sands oil, ultimately destined to cross the Great Lakes watershed by pipeline. This miasma of environmental ruin lies proximate to the confluence of five rivers—the Clearwater, the Christina, the Hangingstone, the Horse, and the Athabasca—the last designated as a Canadian Heritage River for its historical and cultural significance. Visible from space, the Alberta tar sands have been labeled “the largest and most destructive industrial project in human history.”  The oil-sheened tailing ponds, unlined and vulnerable to breach in heavy rains, cover 220 square kilometers. The Guardian reports that, “A failure of a single tailings dyke could result in contaminated waterways from Alberta’s Athabasca region through to the Arctic Ocean, that would make even the Exxon Valdez disaster look mild by comparison.”

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