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Extracted: Daily News Clips 6/7/21

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips June 7, 2021

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PIPELINE NEWS

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • PoliticoBiden Sticks To “Ambiguity” On LNG Amid Climate Push
  • E&E NewsNEPA May Spur Lawsuits Over ANWR Leasing Freeze
  • Fox NewsBiden blasted for suspending oil-drilling leases in Alaska: ‘Political football’
  • Associated PressHaaland sends recommendation on Utah monuments to president
  • Politico Morning EnergyMÉTHANE SANS FRONTIÈRES

STATE UPDATES

EXTRACTION

  • E&E NewsOil Prices Are Surging. Why Isn’t Drilling?
  • BloombergWhat a Dutch Court Ruling Means for Shell and Big Oil

RESEARCH & SCIENCE

  • Washington PostEngineers raise alarms over the risk of major explosions at LNG plants
  • E&E NewsThe Key To Oil And Gas Methane Emission Cuts? 123 Leaks

CLIMATE FINANCE

  • ReutersPrivate equity bet on troubled Caribbean refinery blows up on retirement funds
  • National ObserverTrans Mountain just lost another insurer

OPINION

  • Calgary HeraldOpinion: Line 5 dispute reveals Canada still has not learned the key lesson
  • Pennsylvania Capital-StarTogether, we can choose a different future for Appalachian communities
  • Washington PostThe U.S. should swear off drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge once and for all
  • ReutersTo conserve nature, protect human rights

PIPELINE NEWS

Associated Press: Enbridge opponents gear up for large northern Minnesota protest
6/7/21

“Environmental and tribal groups opposed to Enbridge Energy’s ongoing effort to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline are planning large protests in northern Minnesota on Monday as the Canadian-based company gears up for a final construction push,” the Associated Press reports. “Organizers say they expect hundreds of people to participate in the “Treaty People Gathering,” which they are billing as the largest show of resistance yet to the project. They plan to march to the headwaters of the Mississippi River, one of the water crossings for the pipeline, where they will deliver speeches and participate in organized civil disobedience. Opponents of the project have said they will do whatever it takes to block completion of the project, including risk being arrested. Among those they say will be on hand Monday will be actors Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, Rosanna Arquette and Taylor Schilling, as well as environmentalist and author Bill McKibben.”

MPR: As Line 3 construction rolls on, river crossings draw pipeline resisters
Kirsti Marohn, 6/4/21

“Thick, leafy ferns skirt the edge of the Mississippi River in a rural area in Aitkin County. The river’s waters reflect the tree-lined banks as it winds through oxbow bends. At a clearing, posted signs warn against trespassing, and the sound of heavy equipment drifts across the river. It’s at this site where the Enbridge Energy company plans to bore underneath the Mississippi to install its new Line 3 oil pipeline,” MPR reports. “Shanai Matteson, an artist and community organizer, finds herself coming to this place, along a narrow path through a dense forest of maple and birch, often. “The Mississippi River is a sacred place. It’s a sacred being,” she told MPR.. “It has so much meaning for so many people, not to mention that it’s the source of drinking water for both of the Twin Cities and so many other communities.”  Family ties and the fight against this pipeline were what drew Matteson back home to this spot in northern Aitkin County, where she grew up. She’s now living in a house on about 80 acres, north of Palisade. The acreage is owned by Akiing, a Native American-led land company. Opponents of Line 3 established the Water Protectors Welcome Center on the site nearly a year ago.  It’s a hub where pipeline opponents, largely led by Native women, teach visitors about the surrounding land and water, and share their concerns about the destruction they worry this pipeline will cause.”

Facebook: Giniw Collective: 2000+ folks are headed to the #StopLine3 frontlines this weekend
6/4/21

“2000+ folks are headed to the #StopLine3 frontlines this weekend. @potus @usacehq it’s time to suspend Trump’s water crossing permits — it’s time to respect tribal sovereignty NOW. We can’t stop, we won’t stop. For our rice, our future ✊🏽 RSVP to this weekend’s gathering here: http://TreatyPeopleGathering.com/#form

Native News Online: Thousands to Gather on White Earth Indian Reservation for ‘Largest Gathering Yet’ against Line 3 Construction on Monday
BY DARREN THOMPSON, 6/6/21

“In what may become the largest gathering of water protectors since Standing Rock five years ago, thousands are expected to rally against Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline in northern Minnesota on Monday,” according to Native News Online. “Organizers of the Treaty People Gathering say that up to 2,000 people from all over the country are expected to gather on the White Earth Indian Reservation near Mahnomen, Minn. in an effort to stop the ongoing construction of the Line 3 oil pipeline project on tribal land. More than 50 Indigenous, environmental and faith groups are sponsoring Monday’s main action against the pipeline’s new construction route. Several well-known celebrities and activists are expected to address the crowds, including film star and activist Jane Fonda. The gathering is expected to include speeches, rallies and coordinated acts of civil disobedience, in which organizer hope to block work on the multi-billion-dollar project. Organizers are calling the gathering the “largest resistance yet” against Line 3 since its final permits were granted by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in late November. Resistance to Line 3 started over a year ago. Since early December, when construction began on Line 3, more than 250 people have been arrested. “We have called upon our relatives, friends and allies from all corners of the world to stand with us to honor and uphold Article 6 of the US constitution, which states treaties are the supreme law of the land,” Dawn Goodwin, White Earth Band of Ojibwe tribal citizen and a founder of RISE – Resilient Indigenous Sisters Engaging Minnesotas, told Native News Online. “Elected officials and our regulatory agencies have failed to protect the guaranteed usufructuary of the Anishinaabeg.”

Healing MN: Line 3 resistance now focuses on Biden
6/3/21

“Darrell G. Seki Sr., chair of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa and Michael Fairbanks, Chair of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe wrote a strong letter to President Biden last winter asking him to shut down Enbridge Line 3 by executive order,” Healing MN reports. “They asked Biden to respect Tribal sovereignty and treaties. “As elected leaders, we wish to state clearly that the Bands never gave consent for the construction of the pipeline through our treaty lands,” the Feb. 2 letter said. “In fact, the Bands’ governing bodies have each enacted multiple Resolutions throughout the course of the five-year regulatory process in opposition to the 338 miles of pipeline construction through the largest concentration of wild rice watersheds in the United States.” With Walz being a wallflower in the Line 3 debate, Tribes, water protectors and their allies have ramped up presidential pressure. Last month, more than 300 organizations “representing Indigenous groups and national and local organizations, sent a letter to the Biden Administration calling on him to immediately suspend or revoke Enbridge’s Line 3 permits,” WECAN reported. Biden has taken some positive steps, and has had missteps, in the crude oil pipeline department. He hasn’t taken action on Line 3. Yet… “Biden needs to ask himself: If Canadians themselves don’t want Northern Gateway, Energy East, or Trans Mountain, why should their government expect the United States to accept their new pipelines and the burden that come with them?”

Common Dreams: Water Protectors Converge on Minnesota for Massive Demonstrations Against Line 3
Jake Johnson, 6/621

“Thousands of people from across the nation are traveling to northern Minnesota this weekend to join Indigenous leaders in what organizers described as the “largest resistance yet” to Line 3, an Enbridge-owned tar sands pipeline whose construction has accelerated in recent days as opponents warn the project poses a threat to waterways and the climate,” Common Dreams reports. “The Treaty People Gathering kicked off Saturday, the first of several expected days of action against Enbridge’s multi-billion-dollar project, which aims to replace and expand the Canadian company’s existing pipeline along a route that crosses more than 200 bodies of water and 800 wetlands… “Our Mother needs us to be brave, to give voice to the sacred and future generations,” said Tara Houska, founder of the Giniw Collective, said in a statement. “We’ve elevated the national profile of Line 3 through people power. [President Joe] Biden hears our voices, but the wetlands and wild rice need action. We cannot mitigate the climate crisis and we cannot stand idly by as DAPL and Line 5 fossil fuels flow illegally, as young people chain themselves to the Mountain Valley pipeline and Line 3. Stand up for what is right, stand up for those not yet born.”

The Guardian: Sexual violence along pipeline route follows Indigenous women’s warnings
Hilary Beaumont, 6/4/21

“On May 15, a woman met a pipeline worker at a bar in Minnesota and agreed to go to his house, but when they arrived, there were four other people there and she felt uncomfortable,” The Guardian reports. “She wanted to leave, she tried to leave,” said Amy Johnson, executive director of the Violence Intervention Project (VIP) in Thief River Falls, who spoke to the woman on the phone. “It was very scary with those other men there. She said he had her in the bedroom and she couldn’t leave.” The woman finally got out of the house. The Canadian company Enbridge is building the Line 3 oil pipeline through Minnesota, a $2.9bn project that replaces a corroded, leaking pipeline, and increases its capacity from 390,000 to 760,000 barrels a day. The project has brought an influx of thousands of workers who are staying in hotels, campgrounds and rental housing along the pipeline route, often in small towns like Thief River Falls, and on or near Native reservations. Before Minnesota approved the pipeline, violence prevention advocates warned state officials of the proven link between employees working in extractive industries and increased sexual violence. Now their warnings have come true: two Line 3 contract workers were charged in a sex trafficking sting, and crisis centers told the Guardian they are responding to reports of harassment and assault by Line 3 workers. Johnson said VIP, a crisis center for survivors of violence, has received more than 40 reports about Line 3 workers harassing and assaulting women and girls who live in northwestern Minnesota.”

Corvallis Advocate: Corvallis Residents Looking to #StopLine3
6/6/21

“From June 5 – 8, thousands of people from across the country are convening at the Treaty People Gathering site in Northern Minnesota to join Indigenous people on the frontlines of resisting the construction of Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline,” Corvallis Advocate reports. “…An Indigenous-led movement to take a stand against Line 3 has been taking charge through legal advocacy, organizing, and direct action. Now, Indigenous leaders are calling on Native and non-Native allies to come together on sacred land as treaty people — people committed to honoring and upholding treaties — and to engage in direct, nonviolent resistance over one historic weekend. Some local residents have already packed up and started traveling to the gathering. Many, however, do not have the ability to make the trip. To make up for this, Patti Warner, a member of the Corvallis Climate Action Alliance (CCAA) and the climate action group 350 Corvallis, helped come up with a creative alternative for people to still “show up” and make their solidarity known. Warner proposes that people could take pictures of themselves holding signs with relevant texts. She suggests “Stop Line 3,” “Honor Treaties,” “Defund Pipelines,” “Get Off Fossil Fuels,” “Water Is Life,” “Protect the Sacred,” etc. These could then be printed out and delivered to the Treaty People Gathering site. Warner was partially motivated by her own inability to travel to the gathering, and inspired by the now common options for people to join virtual events without having to make an in-person appearance.”

Dogwood B.C: Protecting the Fraser with song, ceremony and resistance
BY ALEXANDRA WOODSWORTH, 6/2/21

“Cottonwood seed blew through the sky like snow and the river ran swiftly behind us as Secwépemc elder Minnie Kenoras offered sage smudging to people arriving at the banks of the Fraser. On May 29, we gathered a stone’s throw away from the site where Trans Mountain is planning to drill a borehole 1.2 metres wide under the largest salmon river in the country,” according to Dogwood B.C. “We came together to witness and share in an Indigenous-led ceremony to protect all that is threatened by Trans Mountain’s drills, to build relationships of solidarity, to hold space for grief and anger, and to strengthen our spirits and our resolve for the fights ahead. The ceremony began with drumming, as elders and leaders from many Nations gathered around a sacred fire. Chief Ed Hall of the Kwikwetlem First Nation welcomed us to the territory, and led a prayer and moment of silence for the 215 lost children and everyone who continues to suffer from the legacy of residential schools and ongoing colonial violence. Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, chief of the Neskonlith community in Secwépemc territory and Secretary-Treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, described the intentions of our gathering like this: “We are coming together in ceremony to protect the Fraser waterways, called Stó:lō in the Halq’eméylem language. Just as water is life, wild salmon is also life for our Nations and the bedrock of the coastal ecosystem. Canada continues to try to build this pipeline without the consent of many Indigenous communities, risking the salmon, the whales and the very foundations of Indigenous life. We need to protect the water, protect the salmon, protect the wild Earth. It’s not just Indigenous people who have the inherent responsibility, it’s each and everyone one of us who has that responsibility.”

Facebook: West Whiteland Residents for Pipeline Safety [VIDEO]Pouring grout into sinkhole quickly before DEP snd PUC get here
6/4/21

“Pouring grout into sinkhole quickly before DEP snd PUC get here. They do not have approval to pour grout into wetland.”

OilPrice.com: Who Will Control Canada’s Most Important Pipeline?
By Tsvetana Paraskova, 6/6/21

“An under-the-radar hearing on the way shippers will contract volumes on Canada’s key crude oil export pipeline began last month in what could turn out to be the most important battle for control of Canadian oil resources,” according to OilPrice.com. “The more than a month-long hearing at the Canada Energy Regulator (CER)—planned to end on June 25—is expected to end up with the regulator determining how Canadian oil firms and U.S. refiners will pay to ship crude on Enbridge’s Mainline system over the next decade. Mainline, with the capacity to ship nearly 3 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil, is Canada’s biggest transporter of oil, carrying crude from oil-rich Alberta to markets in eastern Canada and the U.S. Midwest. The current pipeline contracting system expires on June 30, 2021. Mainline’s operator Enbridge has been operating the pipeline for decades under the so-called “common carrier” system, in which all of the huge capacity has been available for short-term shipments of volumes that shippers can change every month. This has given Canadian oil producers the flexibility to contract short-term volumes without having to commit to long-term obligations to ship crude on the pipeline. Now Enbridge wants to change that. Mainline’s operator seeks to convert the contracting terms to ones where 90 percent of the available capacity would be reserved for long-term access to its network. Canada Energy Regulator’s Commission is set to decide, after the hearing ends at end-June, whether the proposal is fair for all parties.”

Friends of Nelson: Save the Date! – Celebrate the End of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline
6/4/21

“SAVE THE DATE: JULY 10, 2021. ON JULY 5, 2020, THE ACP WAS CANCELED. WE WANTED A REAL CELEBRATION, BUT THE PANDEMIC MADE THAT IMPOSSIBLE. NOW MANY OF US ARE VACCINATED AND THE RESTRICTIONS ON LARGE GATHERINGS HAVE BEEN LOOSENED. SO…. IT’S TIME TO PARTY!!! VENUE: ROCKFISH VALLEY COMMUNITY CENTER—OUTSIDE, WITH TENTS, TABLES AND SEATING. TIME: 5-9 PM FURTHER DETAILS TO FOLLOW. JOIN THE FUN AND FELLOWSHIP—WE’VE EARNED IT!”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

Politico: Biden Sticks To “Ambiguity” On LNG Amid Climate Push
6/4/21

“The Biden administration is sending mixed signals to the U.S. energy sector and the international community about natural gas, seeking to reassure the domestic industry even as its tries to take the lead in the global effort to fight climate change,” according to Politico. “Shipments of liquefied natural gas from the U.S. have soared in the past five years, and U.S. producers are expected to be the leading global suppliers by 2025. That’s forced the administration to straddle its support for the industry that employs thousands of U.S. workers with Biden’s ambitious goals to lead a global transition away from fossil fuels and toward zero-emissions energy sources that scientists say is needed to halt climate change. Surging natural gas production has been a key driver over the past decade in shutting down hundreds of U.S. coal-fired power plants that were major emitters of carbon dioxide. Proponents say expanding gas markets overseas — and eventually adding technology to capture the carbon pollution — would expand energy access to poor countries and prevent the construction of new coal operations. But the White House has indicated it’s likely to restrict its U.S. funding to build the expensive plants needed to turn the super-cooled LNG into gas, raising fears about its commitment to the fuel and prompting second thoughts in the industry about pouring money into new projects. ‘Because of how central climate is as a priority for the administration, a lot of buyers, companies and also policymakers are watching closely to see what could be the signposts that really could change the tide,’ said Jane Nakano, senior fellow in the energy security and climate change program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. ‘No one wants to get caught off-guard. They find it very confusing. People with investments are worried and policymakers are a bit frustrated.

E&E News: NEPA May Spur Lawsuits Over ANWR Leasing Freeze
Niina H. Farah, 6/4/21

“Oil and gas firms this week voiced their opposition to President Biden’s decision to suspend leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but they may have to wait a while to bring their fight to the courts,” according to E&E News. “Biden announced on Tuesday that the Interior Department would conduct a National Environmental Policy Act review of fossil fuel development in the refuge’s 1.5-million-acre coastal plain in an effort to address ‘legal deficiencies’ in Trump-era analyses (E&E News PM, June 1). The suspension extends an earlier leasing pause put in place under Biden’s Jan. 20 climate executive order, which stalled 11 ANWR leases that were sold on Jan. 6 during the first sale in the refuge. Legal experts say ‘serious lawsuits’ challenging the lease suspension wouldn’t come until after the Biden administration is done with its NEPA analysis and has decided whether to develop in the refuge. ‘But the strength of that [challenge] will depend on what comes out of this NEPA analysis,’ Hannah Perls, a legal fellow at Harvard Law School’s Environmental & Energy Law Program, told E&E News. “Any litigation filed in the interim would run up against Interior’s discretion over leasing, she said. ‘I think they are in pretty good standing because it’s a pause, not a cancellation.”

Fox News: Biden blasted for suspending oil-drilling leases in Alaska: ‘Political football’
By Evie Fordham, 6/4/21

“Energy groups in Alaska and beyond blasted the Biden administration for suspending long-sought oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) this week pending review,” Fox News reports. “More than anything, Alaska has a lot of potential new discoveries. There’s evidence we’re going to need these energy sources to meet global demand. … Anytime you create this uncertainty or delay, you potentially risk future investment,” Patrick Bergt of the Alaska Oil & Gas Association told Fox News in an interview. “Alaskans are always looking for what’s next, and that’s because we want to play a role in helping maintain the energy advantage America now enjoys.” “ANWR has always been a political football,” Daniel Turner of Power the Future told Fox News in an interview. “These folks in rural communities where you find our energy … they don’t ever have voices in D.C., yet people in D.C. have no problem making decisions about their lives.” “…Alaskan Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, as well as Rep. Don Young and Gov. Mike Dunleavy, blasted the decision.  “The Biden administration’s actions are not unexpected but are outrageous nonetheless,” Murkowski said in a statement Tuesday. “Suspending leases in Alaska’s 1002 Area is in direct conflict with the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, through which Congress mandates an oil and gas leasing program be established on the non-wilderness Coastal Plain, and ordered at least two lease sales by 2024.”

Associated Press: Haaland sends recommendation on Utah monuments to president
By BRADY McCOMBS, 6/4/21

“Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has made her recommendation about whether to reverse former President Donald Trump’s decision to downsize two sprawling national monuments in Utah, but details of her decision were not released. The Interior Department gave her report to President Joe Biden on Wednesday, according to a court filing Thursday in a legal battle that began more than three years ago after Trump’s decision,” the Associated Press reports. “U.S. Department of Justice attorneys mentioned the report as part of a request to have until July 13 to address the judge’s question about whether the legal battle has become a moot point. Interior Department spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz declined to provide any information about the report… “Pat Gonzales-Rogers, executive director of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, said the group found out about the report being done from the court filing and hasn’t been provided any additional information. The coalition remains hopeful that the Biden administration will reverse Trump’s decision. “We’re standing on the sidelines, but with great optimism,” Gonzales-Rogers told AP.

Politico Morning Energy: MÉTHANE SANS FRONTIÈRES
Matthew Choi, 6/4/21

“A group of 15 national health and medical organizations, including the American Lung Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and Physicians for Social Responsibility, wrote to Regan on Thursday in support of stricter measures to reduce methane emissions, such as more frequent leak detection for oil and gas equipment,” Politico Morning Energy reports. “These emissions pose serious threats to human health, directly as in the case of exposure to toxic gases as well as [smog], and due to methane’s contribution to climate change,” the groups write.

STATE UPDATES

Bend Bulletin: Bend City Council votes to oppose oil by rail
By BRENNA VISSER, 6/3/21

“The Bend City Council officially opposes crude oil coming through the city by rail, though the resolution passed by the council is largely symbolic,” according to the Bend Bulletin. “On Wednesday, the council unanimously adopted a resolution that takes a stand against oil trains moving through Bend due to the safety and environmental risks. The resolution does not mean oil trains are banned from Bend — cities aren’t able to do that, according to city staff. But what the resolution does do is join several other cities in Oregon to put pressure on the federal government to instill more regulations for oil traveling by train. “It’s important for us as one of many cities to come together with this message,” Mayor Sally Russell said in the council’s meeting Wednesday. The resolution states that the City Council will support an areawide environmental impact statement “to identify the cumulative effects that would result from existing and proposed oil-by-rail terminals, mitigation of safety and environmental risks, and the development and review of a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment prior to approval of any new oil transfer and storage permits by any state, regional or federal agency.”

EXTRACTION

E&E News: Oil Prices Are Surging. Why Isn’t Drilling?
Benjamin Storrow, 6/4/21

“An upswing in oil prices usually unleashes a drilling boom. Not so this year,” E&E News reports. “Oil companies have been hesitant to embrace the rally in oil prices. It comes as investors exert increasing pressure on oil companies to green their businesses, prompting drillers to pare back spending on long-term projects. Now, those climate ambitions are colliding with a tantalizing jump in crude prices. Brent, the international benchmark for crude, eclipsed $70 this week for the first time since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. benchmark has rallied almost 40% since the start of the year, reaching roughly $66 a barrel — a level not seen since 2019. Yet drillers have been slow to start their rigs. Companies have added nearly 100 rigs in North America through the first five months of the year, bringing the number operating in the field to 457, according to Baker Hughes Co. That is a far cry from the 800 rigs operating at the start of 2020. Drillers’ hesitancy is explained by several factors. Bankers are loath to lend to shale producers after many failed to deliver the returns promised during the booms of the last decade. Investors are demanding drillers prove they can generate positive cash flow, hampering new drilling plans. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, seems content to bask in a period of high oil prices, at least for the time being. The kingdom is one of the few countries that can open the taps to quickly ramp up production. But at a meeting of OPEC this week, the Saudi-led cartel announced it would stick to its plan to gradually boost production. Then there’s the rise of climate-conscious investors. They are perhaps the biggest influence on drillers’ reluctance to bore holes.”

Bloomberg: What a Dutch Court Ruling Means for Shell and Big Oil
By Diederik Baazil and Laura Millan Lombrana, 6/3/21

“Climate lawyers are preparing to take on more fossil-fuel companies after a Dutch court ordered Royal Dutch Shell Plc to cut its emissions faster than planned, on the grounds that the oil giant is violating human rights by contributing to global warming,” Bloomberg reports. “It was a turning point for climate court cases, which boomed after the Paris Agreement on global warming was reached in 2015. Initially, many cases challenged governments’ plans, but litigators are increasingly targeting companies.” “…What does it mean for other companies? Companies headquartered in the Netherlands could face similar cases, while those that have a subsidiary in the country can only be held responsible for their Dutch branches. Oil companies, or other big polluters, based in other countries may face similar cases; Milieudefensie is in touch with other nonprofit organizations and it expects the approach it took in this case will be replicated by others across Europe, its leader said. Jurisdictions differ, however, and the Dutch system provides more space for interpretation by the judge than most… “Why are Dutch courts leading on climate? Two landmark cases have taken place in the Netherlands. In the Urgenda case the Dutch government was told to step up its efforts to adhere to the Paris Agreement, while in the Shell case a similar verdict was applied to a corporation. Both cases were built on a ‘duty of care’ clause in the Dutch system which provided judges some liberty to interpret unwritten rules and consider links to human rights and the effect climate change has on the right to a healthy environment.”

RESEARCH & SCIENCE

Washington Post: Engineers raise alarms over the risk of major explosions at LNG plants
By Will Englund, 6/3/21

“As fracking turned the United States into a major producer of natural gas over the past decade, federal regulators approved the construction of export terminals along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts while relying on industry safety calculations that critics say significantly understate the potential force of a specific type of accidental explosion,” according to the Washington Post. “The particular event that worries engineers outside the business has a very low probability of happening but could have exceedingly destructive consequences if it does. Under new leadership since January, the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHMSA, told The Washington Post it intends to draw up rules at some point next year that would deal with the risk in question. The move comes as two new plants just outside Brownsville, Tex., are poised to begin construction. Yet each has already passed through the safety permitting process. The danger is one the United States more or less backed into. It developed with the rush to build export terminals with equipment to liquefy natural gas, and an early assessment that these facilities were no more hazardous than the terminals built to import the stuff back when the United States consumed more gas than it produced. That was a mistake. Eventually, regulators and industry engineers came around to the understanding that these terminals do pose inherent new dangers, almost as an afterthought. But even to this day, federal regulators accept at face value the industry’s calculations regarding what engineers call a vapor cloud explosion. Critics here and abroad — engineers — have argued since 2016 that those calculations seriously underestimate the destructive potential of such an event.”

E&E News: The Key To Oil And Gas Methane Emission Cuts? 123 Leaks
Mike Lee, 6/4/21

“Fixing a relatively small handful of leaks in the Permian Basin oil field could go a long way to reducing the region’s climate-warming methane pollution, according to new research from NASA,” E&E News reports. “About a third of the region’s emitted methane, 29%, comes from 123 sources, according to the results of a monthlong study by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the University of Arizona and Arizona State University. The researchers flew over the Permian — which covers parts of Texas and New Mexico — in airplanes fitted with spectrometers that can detect emissions of methane and other gases. The flights covered the 22,000-square-mile field several times, allowing the researchers to measure the emissions over time, even from leaks and other sources that were intermittent. The data could be helpful to oil producers and regulators that are looking for ways to cut their emissions, Daniel Cusworth, a lead author of the study, told E&E News. ‘If you’re thinking about a mitigation strategy, just going after the 1%, 2% of emitters that are large enough to be detected by our instrumentation is going to go a long way.”

CLIMATE FINANCE

Reuters: Private equity bet on troubled Caribbean refinery blows up on retirement funds
Laura Sanicola & Tim Mclaughlin, 6/4/21

“U.S. private equity firm Arclight Capital Partners LLC, which invests the retirement savings of Maine teachers, NFL football players and Mayo Clinic doctors, lost hundreds of millions of dollars betting on a troubled Caribbean oil refinery, according to sources and documents reviewed by Reuters. “Boston-based Arclight’s Energy Partners Fund VI, which held a majority stake in the Limetree Bay refinery on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, shed more than a quarter of its value in the year ended March 31, according to financial disclosures by a limited partner in the fund. The fund has since removed the refinery from its portfolio, while investors holding hundreds of millions of dollars of common and preferred equity in the facility have been forced to write it off as worthless, according to pension fund officials and financial disclosures… “Linda Woods, 69, a retired English teacher in Maine, said she never liked the idea of her retirement dollars funding investments in fossil fuels. But she said she hopes the problems at Limetree Bay will encourage the state legislature to limit oil and gas investments by the pension plan in the future. “This could be a watershed moment,” Woods told Reuters.

National Observer: Trans Mountain just lost another insurer
By John Woodside, 6/4/21

“Following pressure from Indigenous and climate activists, Trans Mountain insurer Argo Group is slashing ties with the Crown corporation,” according to the National Observer. “Argo Group’s decision to drop Trans Mountain comes on the heels of two other insurers, Munich Re and Talanx, refusing to insure the pipeline last June, and lead insurer Zurich Insurance Group severing ties in July. “This type of project is not currently within Argo’s risk appetite,” Argo spokesperson David Snowden told the Observer. “Snowden confirmed Argo also considers the Trans Mountain Expansion project, which would carry 590,000 barrels a day from the oilsands to British Columbia, too risky but did not say why.”

OPINION

Calgary Herald: Opinion: Line 5 dispute reveals Canada still has not learned the key lesson
Gary Kruk, 6/7/21

“Michigan’s demand that Enbridge close its 68-year-old oil pipeline (Line 5) across the Straits of Mackinac joining lakes Michigan and Huron did not come out of nowhere,” Gary Kruk writes in the Calgary Herald. “It is essentially the fifth “wave” of opposition to Canadian oil pipelines that suddenly erupted in 2010. The first four cases, of course, were TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, then Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, followed by TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline and Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain Expansion pipeline. In the case of Line 5, as in each of these earlier four cases, the opposition initially emerged in local communities along the pipeline and tanker routes which were concerned about what they judged to be the unacceptable risk of disastrous oil spills into cherished regional water bodies. Again, in all five cases, the localized opposition was later joined by national-scale climate-change activists. The present Michigan Line 5 confrontation vividly illustrates that Canadian corporate and government authorities have still not learned — or perhaps refuse to acknowledge — the key lesson inherent in all of these pipeline controversies. This pivotal lesson is that there tends to be a very powerful and costly “blowback” — reputationally, politically and economically — when organizations responsible for major accidents are judged by impacted publics as having egregiously failed to diligently prevent or reassuringly respond to that preventable risk event…” The “trigger” was the catastrophic diluted bitumen pipeline spill from Enbridge’s Line 6B into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in July 2010. Kalamazoo unleashed a new and frightening risk concern: that spills into waterways of the growing volumes of (sinkable) diluted bitumen were much more damaging and costly than traditional spills of (floatable) conventional light oil. This “risk concern” escalated into enduring “distrust” and “outrage” as investigative reports revealed the shocking degree of Enbridge’s pre-accident complacency and carelessness, regulatory non-compliance, secrecy, inadequate training and incompetence, emergency response failures and, generally, its anemic safety culture. These corporate character issues, combined with the aggravating effect of the unreassuring longer-term response to Kalamazoo by Enbridge and Canadian authorities, constitute an alarming track record that inevitably undermines public confidence.”

Pennsylvania Capital-Star: Together, we can choose a different future for Appalachian communities
Joanne Kilgour is the executive director of the Ohio River Valley Research Institute, 6/4/21

Over the course of my career, I have been humbled by what the people in the Ohio River Valley have given to me,” Joanne Kilgour writes for Pennsylvania Capital-Star. “I recall those community members who kindly served me coffee made with bottled water because their wells had been compromised by the then-new fracking industry; gifts of home-grown fruit that ripened despite the adjacent coal ash disposal area blowing a thick dust over all adjoining properties; and donuts shared with retired mine workers as we stood in the cold demanding the benefits they earned putting their bodies on the line to line the pockets of their corporate bosses… “For too long, we’ve been sold the idea that in order for our region to thrive we had to exploit, rather than invest in, our natural resources. In late 2009, the Upper Ohio River Valley went all-in on fossil fuels and fracking. But the oil and gas industry failed to deliver the sustained economic boom it promised. Poverty rates and median incomes in highly fracked regions remained essentially unchanged.”

Washington Post: The U.S. should swear off drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge once and for all
Opinion by the Editorial Board, 6/3/21

“THE SEEMINGLY unending saga of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge took another turn when the Interior Department this week suspended oil drilling leases in one of the United States’ last untouched stretches of wilderness. The refuge’s future is hardly certain: The Biden administration’s move could merely delay, rather than permanently bar, oil exploitation in the habitat. But there is no doubt about what the outcome should be: The case for drilling in this unique national treasure is weaker now than it has ever been,” the Washington Post Editorial Board writes. “…The Biden administration is allowing drilling to proceed under Trump-era leases in other zones along Alaska’s northern coast, and on public lands elsewhere around the country. There is good reason for a moderate approach: The world economy will need oil for years to come, even with strong climate change policies in place. But it will not need every last drop still in the ground, unless humanity decides to fry the planet. The United States and the world can afford to leave this stretch of wilderness alone.”

Reuters: To conserve nature, protect human rights
by John Knox & Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, 6/3/21

“Governments are currently discussing an international plan to conserve nature, which will chart a course for the next decade. The stakes could not be higher: one million species face extinction, so the future of life on this planet literally depends on getting conservation right,” John Knox & Victoria Tauli-Corpuz write for Reuters. “The part of the draft plan that has received most attention is the 30×30 target, which calls for the expansion of land and marine conserved areas to protect 30 percent of the planet by 2030 – more than doubling the extent of areas designated for conservation… “Unfortunately, as Indigenous and other organizations have pointed out, the current plan is on course to repeat the mistake that undermined past efforts: failing to recognize that the best way to protect nature is to protect the human rights of those who live there. Remaining natural ecosystems are found largely on the lands of Indigenous peoples, who have often proved to be better than governments at protecting against deforestation and the loss of biodiversity. But they are under assault from the same forces destroying nature, including land grabbing, logging, mining, and poaching. When they try to protect their ways of life, they face harassment, violence, and even death. Of the 331 human rights defenders killed in 2020, more than two-thirds were defenders of Indigenous, land, or environmental rights. Rather than strengthen the rights of these environmental defenders in their traditional lands, many governments have historically seen the ideal national park as one without human beings. They have often violently expelled their inhabitants, treating them as enemies rather than allies. Today, governments and conservation organizations say that they reject exclusionary conservation, but many protected areas continue to exclude their original inhabitants. When they return to their ancestral homes, park rangers arrest them – or worse. In the last two years, reports described allegations that rangers in Africa and Asia committed grave abuses against local communities, including murder, rape, and torture… John Knox, a professor at Wake Forest University, was the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment from 2012 to 2018. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, who is a member of the Kankana-ey-Igorot people in the Philippines, was the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples from 2014 to 2020.”

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