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Extracted: Daily News Clips 7/14/21

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips July 14, 2021

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PIPELINE NEWS

  • The HillWarren presses Army Corps of Engineers nominee on Dakota Access Pipeline
  • Aitkin AgeProtesters clash with law enforcement after Enbridge drill leak
  • JacobinBiden Boosted a Pipeline; Now His Aide Susan Rice Could Get Richer
  • Financial TimesDeath of the ‘mega pipeline’ forces rethink of oil and gas infrastructure
  • Center for Constitutional JusticeBayou Bridge Pipeline Protesters, Journalist Celebrate Victory for Free Speech
  • Facebook: L’eau Est La Vie CampFelony charges have been dismissed for all Water Protectors that took action in 2018 against the Bayou Bridge pipeline
  • KATCBayou Bridge protesters will not be prosecuted
  • BloombergCanceled Keystone Pipeline Moots GOP State Suit, DOJ Tells Court
  • Williston HeraldEnergy Transfer suing PHMSA
  • Associated PressUS regulators criticize Buffett’s failed $1.3B pipeline deal
  • Williston HeraldPHMSA will enforce deadline for controlling methane emissions
  • Sierra Club PennsylvaniaStrategies for Challenging Pipeline Projects: Mariner East and The Safety 7 Case
  • NoozhawkSociety of Fearless Grandmothers Rally Implores Goleta Banks to Cap Funding for Pipelines

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • Associated PressUS drilling approvals increase despite Biden climate pledge
  • Friends of the EarthWe read the 495-page Energy Infrastructure Bill: it’s a kick in the gut to climate justice
  • Washington PostThe bogus GOP claim that Biden is responsible for higher gasoline prices
  • Law360IRS Ruling Opens Runway For Stalled Carbon Capture Deals

STATE UPDATES

  • Colorado SunAn oil company that no longer exists faces a $344,000 fine Colorado doesn’t expect to collect. But that’s the point.
  • Big Easy MagazineFormosa’s New St. James Project Is The Real Pest

EXTRACTION 

  • Financial Post: Oilsands assets worth $13.4 billion may be up for grabs with Big Oil on divestment spree
  • ReutersEurope’s climate masterplan aims to slash emissions within a decade
  • E&E NewsTroubled refinery bankrupt after EPA shutdown
  • DeSmogTexas Company Exposed by DeSmog for Radioactive Fracking Waste Practices Threatens Legal Action

RESEARCH & SCIENCE

  • GuardianBiden’s clean energy plan would cut emissions and save 317,000 lives
  • EosAmerica’s Natural Gas Pipeline Routes and Environmental Justice
  • NPRYour Trash Is Emitting Methane In The Landfill. Here’s Why It Matters For The Climate

CLIMATE FINANCE:

  • Wisconsin State JournalClimate activists try new strategy to push UW Foundation to divest from fossil fuel companies

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

  • Sierra ClubMountain Valley Pipeline Attempts to Greenwash Polluting Fracked Gas Pipeline

OPINION

  • Duluth News TribuneLocal View: Northern Minnesota is being lied to about Line 3
  • Investor PlaceDespite the Activists, ExxonMobil Will Be Just Fine
  • ForbesRolling Back Trump’s Methane Rules Isn’t Enough: We Need A Methane Tax To Buy Time To Decarbonize
  • Cincinnati.comOpinion: Cut methane from oil, gas before its too late
  • Santa Fe New MexicanNew Mexico must hold methane polluters accountable
  • GuardianOur climate change turning point is right here, right now

PIPELINE NEWS

The Hill: Warren presses Army Corps of Engineers nominee on Dakota Access Pipeline
BY ZACK BUDRYK, 7/13/21

“Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said she remains “very concerned” about the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Army Corps of Engineers’ handling of tribal opposition to the project in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday,” The Hill reports. “During a hearing for Michael Connor, President Biden’s nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Warren described herself as “very concerned about the Dakota Access pipeline and what it reflects about the Army Corps of Engineers’ relationship with tribal nations.” Warren went on to note the lawsuit against the pipeline by a tribal court against the Corps, as well as a federal court’s ruling that the Corps violated federal law by approving the pipeline without preparing an environmental impact statement. “I am concerned that the pipeline continues to operate without an environmental review despite the legal requirements,” she said, asking Connor “will you commit to ensuring the Corps follows the law, and that this situation with the Dakota Access Pipeline is addressed as quickly as possible?” “The Corps will be following the law with respect to the directions of the court, and all other applicable laws and policy,” Connor replied. “Tribal consultation is not a check-the-box exercise, it’s got to be robust [and] meaningful and that means it’s got to be substantive in the interaction with tribes.” Warren went on to press him on whether the Corps has “dragged its feet” on deciding whether to halt the pipeline under its enforcement authority, asking if he would commit to exploring a possible exercise of such powers. Connor replied in the affirmative, saying he would “promptly look into that issue” if confirmed.”

Aitkin Age: Protesters clash with law enforcement after Enbridge drill leak
by Jennifer Eisenbart, 7/14/21

“A new round of protests at the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project site in Palisade erupted July 6 after spillage from a drill ended up in the Willow River,” the Aitkin Age reports. “Both Resist Line 3 and the Northern Lights Task Force issued press releases on the latest round of protests – press releases that appeared to contradict the one issued by the other agency. Enbridge said July 6 that there was “an inadvertent return after a small amount of drilling fluid reached the surface during the horizontal directional drill (HDD)” in the Wilow River in Aitkin… “Later that day, six protesters were arrested after an effort to stop the drilling. Pictures showed large barricades built to stop workers from accessing the work and six people were booked into the Aitkin County Jail on charges ranging from trespassing to resisting a peace officer and drug possession. The Northern Lights Task Force’s statement said that protesters used “sleeping dragons” to make it more difficult to remove the activists who had locked themselves to the drill site. The devices employ PVC piping to keep police from using bolt cutters on the handcuffs or chains. However, the NLTF said that some of the protesters took it a step further, lining the devices with feces. Aitkin County Sheriff Dan Guida confirmed that report, saying the three devices they removed were lined with a substance that looked and smelled like feces… “Resist Line 3 issued a press release about the protests, and later had a statement from one of the local protesters. “We ended up exposing a ‘frac-out’ by the company damaging the river,” said Shanai Matteson. “Sheriff Guida and the NLTF routinely post updates about their policing activities that contain disinformation about water protectors aimed at maligning our purpose and invoking fear among local communities.” The press release also said there were no environmental monitors at the site of the spill, in contradiction to Enbridge’s statement.”

Jacobin: Biden Boosted a Pipeline; Now His Aide Susan Rice Could Get Richer
ANDREW PEREZ & DAVID SIROTA, 7/14/21

“Federal ethics regulators have ordered Joe Biden’s top domestic policy adviser, Susan Rice, to divest her multimillion-dollar holdings in a fossil fuel giant weeks after the Biden administration boosted the company’s controversial pipeline, according to government documents we obtained,” Jacobin reports. “The pipeline decision — backing a Trump administration policy over the objections of environmental groups — came as the company’s stock price has skyrocketed. That has created a potential financial jackpot for Rice, who, as Domestic Policy Council chief, will now be able to delay capital gains taxes on any windfall made off her sale of thousands of shares of Enbridge. In all, Rice has been instructed by the US Office of Government Ethics to divest stock worth nearly $32 million from more than three dozen companies and one index fund that she and her family own. Among the holdings are approximately $2.7 million worth of shares of Enbridge, the Canadian oil and gas pipeline company constructing the controversial Line 3 pipeline through indigenous lands in Minnesota. While the Biden administration recently revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline project, Biden Justice Department officials last month backed the permit for the Line 3 pipeline in court, allowing the tar sands oil pipeline project to move forward amid the intensifying climate crisis… “Rice’s decision to retain stakes in Enbridge and other corporations with business before the government she helps lead has not only generated questions about conflicts of interest, it has also created a potentially lucrative tax shelter for herself and her family, thanks to a law allowing federal officials to defer capital gains levies when facing divestment orders from ethics regulators.”

Financial Times: Death of the ‘mega pipeline’ forces rethink of oil and gas infrastructure
Charlie Mitchell, 7/13/21

“If Gretchen Whitmer, governor of the US state of Michigan, gets her way, a 1,000km oil and gas pipeline called Line 5 will soon be closed — potentially resulting in thousands of job losses across the border in neighbouring Ontario,” the Financial Times reports. “Whitmer is concerned that the 70-year-old cross-border pipeline could leak in the environmentally sensitive Straits of Mackinac. She has called Line 5 a “ticking time bomb” that threatens the world’s largest group of freshwater lakes. But closing Line 5 would hamstring Ontario’s fuel supplies as the pipeline carries 540,000 barrels of crude oil and liquid natural gas every day, through the neighbouring US state of Wisconsin. It also supplies jet fuel to Toronto airport and is a vital link in a network that transports “oil sands” crude from west to east Canada, via the US. Line 5’s situation is not unique. A string of pipeline projects on both sides of the border have been threatened, or scrapped, over environmental concerns — causing oil executives, workers and some politicians to lament the end of the “mega pipeline” era. And this trend, combined with the global energy transition, is prompting the industry to reassess how hydrocarbons are transported…“Which [oil] company is now going to say: ‘We want to build a big pipeline’, in the world that we live in?” Richard Masson, an executive fellow at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, told FT.

Center for Constitutional Justice: Bayou Bridge Pipeline Protesters, Journalist Celebrate Victory for Free Speech
7/13/21

“Sixteen pipeline protesters and a journalist who had been arrested and charged with felonies in 2018 celebrated a major victory for the First Amendment after a local district attorney in Louisiana rejected all charges and vowed not to prosecute them under Louisiana’s controversial amendments to its critical infrastructure law. In 2018, in the midst of fierce opposition to the Bayou Bridge Pipeline and at the urging of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, the Louisiana legislature added pipelines to the definition of critical infrastructure to significantly heighten the penalties for people protesting pipeline projects. The amendments made it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, with or without hard labor, for being on or near pipelines or construction sites allegedly without permission… “In White Hat v. Landry, attorneys for the protesters and the journalist have argued that the law is unconstitutional because it is so vague that it violates due process, as well as the First Amendment… “Just days after the amendments to the “critical infrastructure” law went into effect in Louisiana on August 1, 2018, three people protesting the Bayou Bridge Pipeline on navigable waters were pulled from their kayaks by law enforcement officers moonlighting for a private security company hired by Bayou Bridge Pipeline, arrested, and charged under the law. More arrests followed over the next two months. In total, 17 people, including a journalist covering the opposition to the pipeline project, were arrested and charged under the law…  “Companies like Energy Transfer Partners and the politicians that do their bidding are trying to deter us from defending our communities from the devastating impacts of new fossil fuel infrastructure,” said Cindy Spoon, one of the protesters pulled from her kayak in a waterway and arrested and charged with trespassing on critical infrastructure. “They have tried to criminalize us and our actions since the Indigenous resistance at Standing Rock. In our cases specifically, Bayou Bridge employees and St. Martin Parish police officers acted unlawfully. They were willing to go as far as to break the law themselves to illegally arrest us. The refusal to prosecute us just proves what we already knew: these critical infrastructure laws are unconstitutional. We have the right to resist and we will not be deterred.”

Facebook: L’eau Est La Vie Camp: Felony charges have been dismissed for all Water Protectors that took action in 2018 against the Bayou Bridge pipeline
7/13/21

“Felony charges have been dismissed for all Water Protectors that took action in 2018 against the Bayou Bridge pipeline. The charges stem from Louisiana’s ALEC backed “critical infrastructure” laws that specifically criminalize pipeline protests. During the height of the #NoBayouBridge campaign, 17 people were charged with these felonies. We are celebrating this victory and continuing the fight with lawsuits that challenge the constitutionality of the law and sue for wrongful arrest. “Today, we are counting Coup on a trifecta of colonizers. Energy Transfer Partners, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and the politicians along with their police forces who viewed our powerful grassroots resistance to the Bayou Bridge Pipeline as a viable threat to their capitalist greed and waged an unjust war to silence us,” said Anne White Hat, one of the people arrested and charged under the law. “Louisiana’s ‘critical infrastructure’ law is an attempt to take away our personal freedom along with our constitutional right to protest. I stand proud of our work and am grateful for the countless allies who bravely stepped forward to support the first direct actions to stop oil and gas in the swamps of south Louisiana. Climate change will soon overcome our ability to survive unless we take action to mitigate the root cause, direct or otherwise. We will not stop our work to protect our water for future generations, and we will continue to stand for the rights of Mother Earth, who has no voice and who ultimately has the last say.”

KATC: Bayou Bridge protesters will not be prosecuted
7/13/21

“A group arrested during a protest against the Bayou Bridge pipeline in the basin will not be prosecuted,” KATC reports. “District Attorney Bo Duhe confirmed with KATC that he has declined charges against the people accused of trespassing. Duhe said that some of the property where they were arrested had multiple owners, and some of those owners had granted the protesters access. Each criminal law has different elements that must be proven, called “elements of the offense.” One of the elements of the offense of trespassing is unauthorized entry onto a property. Duhe said that, after several recent court rulings, his review of all the evidence indicated he would not be able to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt. “We were waiting on some of the cases that were on-going in the civil arena, to see where they ended up,” Duhe told KATC. “That weighed into the evidence in the criminal prosecution. Based upon those rulings, at the end of the day, we felt that the evidence was insufficient to support a criminal charge.” A press release issued on behalf of the protesters said they were “charged with felonies,” but they never were. Duhe confirmed he never formally charged them with any crime. They were booked by law enforcement, but that does not constitute “charging.” Police can arrest someone, but prosecutors must charge them.”

Bloomberg: Canceled Keystone Pipeline Moots GOP State Suit, DOJ Tells Court
Maya Earls, 7/13/21

“The Biden administration told a Texas federal judge it should end a lawsuit by Republican-led states over an order revoking a permit for the now-canceled Keystone XL pipeline project,” Bloomberg reports. “TC Energy Corp has made it clear that it won’t build the pipeline no matter how the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas rules, according to the Justice Department. As a result, Texas, Montana, and other red states no longer have a legally cognizable interest in the outcome of the case, and the court can’t grant the states effective relief, DOJ said Monday in its motion to dismiss.”

Williston Herald: Energy Transfer suing PHMSA
7/13/21

“A subsidiary of Energy Transfer has sued the Pipeline and hazardous Materials Safety Administration to keep secret its risk modeling for the Mariner East 2 pipeline, which bisects Pennsylvania,” the Williston Herald reports. “The company argues the data should be kept secret because it could help criminals or terrorists target the line.”

Associated Press: US regulators criticize Buffett’s failed $1.3B pipeline deal
by JOSH FUNK, 7/13/21

“Federal regulators say Berkshire Hathaway’s $1.3 billion deal to buy a natural gas pipeline from Dominion Energy that fell apart this week should have never been attempted because a similar deal drew strong opposition in the past,” the Associated Press reports. “The acting director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition, Holly Vedova, told AP Tuesday that the companies involved should have known that the deal was unlikely to get approved because the agency previously opposed a similar combination involving Dominion’s Questar pipeline and Berkshire’s Kern River pipeline. “It is disappointing that the FTC had to expend significant resources to review this transaction when we previously filed suit in 1995 to block the same combination,” Vedova told AP. “Given our prior action, and the even closer competition that developed between the pipelines since then, this is representative of the type of transaction that should not make it out of the boardroom.”

Williston Herald: PHMSA will enforce deadline for controlling methane emissions
7/13/21

“The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has submitted an advisory bulletin underscoring its plans to enforce a Dec. 27 deadline for controlling methane emissions from pipelines,” the Williston Herald reports. “The deadline was set by the PIPES Act, which requires operators to update inspection and maintenance plans with procedures to prevent and minimize both intentional (vented) and unintentional (fugitive) pipeline emissions… “The plan also requires operators to address replacement or remediation of pipelines made from cast iron, bare steel, certain vintage plastic, or other legacy materials known to disproportionately cause a large share of incidents involving methane leaks.”

Sierra Club Pennsylvania: Strategies for Challenging Pipeline Projects: Mariner East and The Safety 7 Case
7/14/21

“The “Safety Seven” Chester and Delaware County residents filed a lawsuit against Sunoco/Energy Transfer Partners before the PA Public Utility Commission in order to halt construction of the Mariner East pipelines until serious safety concerns can be mitigated.  While the case is about safety, this project is destroying our environment and our communities to produce single-use plastics and prop up the dying fracking industry. The outcome of this case will impact the air, water, and soil quality of PA and neighboring states, and the production and implementation of single-use plastics internationally. We will hear an update from those involved in the case as well as how it fits in the broader fossil fuel picture and what lessons can be learned. Date and Time: Wed, Jul 14, 2021  7:00 PM  (Local Time) Register here for this webinar and find more information about the SC/PA Dirty Energy Team at www.sierraclub.org/pennsylvania/dirty-energy-team

Noozhawk: Society of Fearless Grandmothers Rally Implores Goleta Banks to Cap Funding for Pipelines
IRENE COOKE, 7/13/21

“The Society of Fearless Grandmothers-Santa Barbara, in collaboration with Sunrise Movement-Santa Barbara, 350-Santa Barbara, Women’s March-Santa Barbara, Standing Rock Coalition-Santa Barbara, Democratic Socialists of America-Santa Barbara and Extinction Rebellion-Santa Barbara will rally on Friday, July 16, telling Goleta banks to stop funding dangerous fossil fuel pipelines and sending an urgent plea to President Biden to use his executive powers to stop the Enbridge Line 3 Project,” Noozhawk reports. “Demonstrators will gather in the CVS parking lot, 5875 Calle Real in Goleta, at 11:45 a.m. and begin marching at noon to Wells Fargo Bank, 195 N. Fairview Ave., and Union Bank, 299 N. Fairview Ave., continuing to Bank of America, 5892 Calle Real, and Chase Bank, 5787 Calle Real… “The Society of Fearless Grandmothers-Santa Barbara marches in solidarity with Indigenous Water Protectors, fighting to stop the Enbridge Line 3 Project, a pipeline that violates treaty rights and threatens Indigenous lands in northern Minnesota.”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

Associated Press: US drilling approvals increase despite Biden climate pledge
By MATTHEW BROWN, 7/12/21

“Approvals for companies to drill for oil and gas on U.S. public lands are on pace this year to reach their highest level since George W. Bush was president, underscoring President Joe Biden’s reluctance to more forcefully curb petroleum production in the face of industry and Republican resistance,” the Associated Press reports. “The Interior Department approved about 2,500 permits to drill on public and tribal lands in the first six months of the year, according to an Associated Press analysis of government data. That includes more than 2,100 drilling approvals since Biden took office January 20. New Mexico and Wyoming had the largest number of approvals. Montana, Colorado and Utah had hundreds each. Biden campaigned last year on pledges to end new drilling on federal lands to rein in climate-changing emissions. His pick to oversee those lands, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, adamantly opposed drilling on federal lands while in Congress and co-sponsored the liberal Green New Deal. But the steps taken by the administration to date on fossil fuels are more modest, including a temporary suspension on new oil and gas leases on federal lands that a judge blocked last month, blocked petroleum sales in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and cancellation of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada. Because vast fossil fuel reserves already are under lease, those actions did nothing to slow drilling on public lands and waters that account for about a quarter of U.S. oil production. Further complicating Biden’s climate agenda is a recent rise in gasoline prices to $3 a gallon ($0.79 a liter) or more in many parts of the country. Any attempt to limit petroleum production could push gasoline prices even higher and risk souring economic recovery from the pandemic. “He’s walking the tightrope,” energy industry analyst Parker Fawcett with S&P Global Platts told AP, noting that Keystone and ANWR came without huge political costs because they were aimed at future projects. “Those easy wins don’t necessarily have huge impacts on the market today,” Fawcett said. “He is definitely backing off taking drastic action that would rock the market. … What you’re going to see is U.S. oil production is going to continue to rebound.”

Friends of the Earth: We read the 495-page Energy Infrastructure Bill: it’s a kick in the gut to climate justice
7/13/21

“Friends of the Earth just released an analysis of the full 495-page Energy Infrastructure Act of 2021. The analysis reveals that the bill, worth $95 billion in investments across the multiple sectors, authorizes $28.8 billion in nuclear, carbon capture, and dirty hydrogen compared to only $410 million in direct authorizations for wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal, for a ratio of 70:1 dirty to clean energy. When combined with the bill’s storage and efficiency programs, Manchin’s proposal still amounts to twice the spending on dirty energy than on clean.  “The Biden Administration promised to center climate in its infrastructure investment. Manchin’s proposal does the opposite, lining the pockets of polluters with zero regard for the seriousness of the climate crisis” said Sarah Lutz, Climate Campaigner at Friends of the Earth. Key spending includes: $12.6 billion on carbon capture and storage; $7 billion for dirty hydrogen to be produced from fossil and other dirty sources; $9.2 billion for nuclear, including a $6 billion bailout for existing reactors $1.9 billion giveaway to logging interests. The Energy Infrastructure Act of 2021 was introduced by Senator Joe Manchin and will undergo a markup session tomorrow in Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The proposal is one part of the pending infrastructure package, falling within the American Jobs Plan. “We can’t rely on those who created the problem to fix it, but that is exactly what this legislation would have us believe,” said Basav Sen, Co-Chair of the Energy Democracy Working Group at the Climate Justice Alliance, about the proposal at large. “Instead of funding non-polluting alternatives, it throws public money at expensive, unproven technologies that will allow the fossil fuel industry to continue poisoning frontline communities and trashing the planet. ”

Washington Post: The bogus GOP claim that Biden is responsible for higher gasoline prices
Glenn Kessler, The Fact Checker, 7/13/21

“It’s that time of year again: Gasoline prices have spiked, and politicians are trying to make political hay,” according to the Washington Post. “As millions of Americans travel this holiday weekend, they are feeling the cost of Biden’s policies at the pump. Gas prices are at their highest level in 7 years,” said Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, in a tweet, July 3.  “Nowhere are Americans feeling the pain more than at the pump. Gasoline prices have spiked about 70 cents per gallon since President Biden was inaugurated. They will only continue to climb,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), wrote in a Fox News opinion article, July 2. “Average gas price: June 2020: $2.21 June 2021: $3.07 President Biden’s economy!”, said  Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), in a tweet, June 21. The Fact Checker has had to deal with this faux issue for decades. We wrote about it in 1996 when then-Sen. Bob Dole campaigned for president and urged a repeal of the 4.3 cent gasoline tax because gasoline then was on track to reach $1.31 a gallon. We wrote about it in 2000 when gas prices appeared to have popped to the highest level ever. We wrote about it in 2012 when Republicans misleadingly complained that gasoline prices had doubled in President Barack Obama’s term. And here we are again. President Biden has been president for only six months, and somehow his policies have already led to high gasoline prices. That’s not how it works, folks. Let’s explain what’s going on… “If you go back over 35 years of Energy Department data, there is almost a perfect — 95 percent — correlation between yearly crude prices and gasoline prices, Finley said. So why has the cost of crude oil increased in recent months? It was unusually low because the coronavirus pandemic flattened economies around the world. Now that mass vaccination is helping to reopen many economies, demand is increasing again. But supply is lacking.”

Law360: IRS Ruling Opens Runway For Stalled Carbon Capture Deals
7/9/21

“In a revenue ruling issued July 1, the Internal Revenue Service clarified that an investor in a carbon capture project doesn’t need to own every component of carbon capture equipment within a so-called single process train to qualify for the carbon sequestration tax credit under Section 45Q of the Internal Revenue Code, Law360 reports. The scope of ownership required — described in more detail below — led to difficult structuring exercises in cases where new carbon capture equipment components were planned to be added onto an existing, but incomplete, carbon capture process train. The ruling also clarifies the definition of carbon capture equipment and the timing of when carbon capture equipment is treated as placed in service for both 45Q tax credit and depreciation purposes when new components are added to an existing process… “The 45Q credit for carbon sequestration provides a dollar-for-dollar reduction in federal income tax liability based on each metric ton of qualified carbon oxide captured at a qualifying plant and then permanently buried, used as a tertiary injectant in an enhanced oil or natural gas recovery project, or utilized in a manner that results in the permanent isolation or displacement of the carbon oxide. The construction of the facility that includes the carbon capture equipment must begin by the end of 2025 to qualify for tax credits… “Resolving the multiparty ownership questions addressed in the ruling should accelerate the pace of carbon capture project financing transactions, many of which were being held up by lingering uncertainty around facts similar to those in the ruling. The ruling will also encourage more flexible — and cheaper — tax equity structuring. It’s now clear that a tax equity financing vehicle doesn’t need to own the entire process train, as many advisers feared would be necessary. This should both lower capital costs and increase the pool of potential projects into which tax equity will consider investing.

STATE UPDATES

Colorado Sun: An oil company that no longer exists faces a $344,000 fine Colorado doesn’t expect to collect. But that’s the point.
Mark Jaffe, 6/12/21

“Colorado oil and gas regulators have levied a $344,000 fine they don’t expect to collect from a company that no longer exists,” the Colorado Sun reports. “It was a legal stratagem for the state to seize a $20,000 bond from the bankrupt, Houston-based Alta Mesa Resources LP for failing to clean-up an abandoned well site in Huerfano County. The bond will cover only a fraction of the estimated $75,000 cost to remediate the well site, with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission paying for the rest. There have been nearly four years of issuing letters, violation notices and hearing notices to seize the bonds. The commissioners were perplexed and not happy. “This seems awful complicated to clean-up one bankrupt operator well that we’ve known about for upwards of multiple years,” Jeff Robbins, the commission chairman said during a July 7 hearing on the case. “It is incumbent on this commission to take this as a learning moment and uncomplicate that process,” Robbins said. “This full-time commission ought to have a rule in place that if we think a bond needs to be pulled, we go pull the bond after full due process.” “…In addition to discussing steps to more quickly get hold of bonds, the commission is now in the process of developing financial assurance rules to guarantee that operators put up adequate funds to plug and remediate a well if it is abandoned. The draft rules are proposing each well carry the equivalent of a $78,000 bond.”

Big Easy Magazine: Formosa’s New St. James Project Is The Real Pest
Sean Fahey, 7/12/21

“Residents of Louisiana are intimately familiar with the annoying Formosan termite, but now there’s a new pest by the name of Formosa. Formosa Plastic Group (FPG), a petrochemical company, has plans to build a new facility in St. James Parish, a parish at the heart of “Cancer Alley,” Big Easy Magazine reports. “The community is predominantly Black and incredibly overburdened by existing industrial activity, as is. This plant is expected to double present air pollution in the area and would be the largest new source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. It comes as no surprise that the community of St. James Parish is not pleased. Sharon Lavigne, resident of St. James Parish, winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, and founder of RISE St. James, recently spoke on the issue in an online panel hosted by Earthworks, an environmental non-profit. Lavigne expressed concern about FPG’s “Sunshine Project” and the 24 acres of land they have purchased for the project, arguing that the company will drive the community out with further pollution and industrialization of the area. Lavigne further called for a moratorium on industrial development in the area and reparations for community members for past and present abuses… “Formosa Plastic Group is based in Taiwan, hence the name. It is one of the largest economic actors in the country and, as Huiting Hsu pointed out, one can trace a long history of conflict between the Taiwanese people and FPG. There were protests against FPG in response to the production of a new facility in the 1990s. In 2013, fish farmers protested the company’s refusal to pay out damages for irresponsible sand pumping that destroyed over 300 hectares of land. More recently, researcher Ben-Jei Tsuang of National Chung Hsing University “presented evidence suggesting increased cancer risk in the vicinity of an FPG hydrocarbon-processing facility in Mailiao.” The company filed libel lawsuits against Tsuang to no avail, but what is clear is that Formosa wants to silence evidentiary objections to their practices. As one of Tsuang’s lawyers, Severia Lu, once said about FPG, “they have more than enough money to fund research to rebut his findings, rather than use litigation.”

EXTRACTION 

Financial Post: Oilsands assets worth $13.4 billion may be up for grabs with Big Oil on divestment spree
Yadullah Hussain, 7/14/21

“Canadian oilsands assets with a potential price tag of $13.4 billion may be up for sale as oil majors divest their heavy oil assets in Western Canada, according to a new report,” according to the Financial Post. “Given the pressure to both cut emissions and invest in renewable energy, we expect the super majors to shed mostly upstream oil and gas assets to fund investments into renewables,” Jeffrey Craig, a Veritas Investment Research Corp. analyst, said last week in a report, Climate Policy Creates a Buyers’ Market. The likely candidates to buy these assets are what Craig calls Canada’s “Final Four” — Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Suncor Energy Inc., Cenovus Energy Inc. and Imperial Oil Ltd. — given the exodus of major international oil players over the years and the consolidation within the industry. Along with MEG Energy Inc., the group accounts for 90 per cent of Canada’s oilsands production. “We expect Canada’s oilsands asset to be the first to come to market,” he said. “A poor reputation for oilsands internationally suggests the only logical buyers would be Canada’s Final Four operators.” The $13.4-billion price tag is a conservative estimate, Craig told the Financial Post. “They may be worth much more than what we put in, but could be sold for much less.”

Reuters: Europe’s climate masterplan aims to slash emissions within a decade
Kate Abnett, 7/12/21

“The European Union is set to take the lead in climate policy action among the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters this week, with a raft of ambitious plans designed to cut emissions drastically over the next decade,” Reuters reports. “The policies, if approved, would put the bloc – the world’s third-largest economy – on track to meet its 2030 goal of reducing planet-warming emissions by 55% from 1990 levels. The “Fit for 55” package being released on Wednesday will face months of negotiations between the 27 EU countries and the European Parliament. Other major economies including China and the United States – the world’s top two emitters – have committed to achieving net zero emissions, which scientists say the world must reach by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change. But the EU is the first to overhaul its legislation to drive greener choices within this decade among the bloc’s 25 million businesses and nearly half a billion people… “Tougher EU CO2 standards for cars could effectively ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars in 2035. EU countries will face more ambitious targets for expanding renewable energy… “Already, the plans have exposed familiar rifts between richer western and Nordic EU states where electric vehicle sales are soaring, and poorer eastern countries that are worried about the social cost of weaning their economies off coal.”

E&E News: Troubled refinery bankrupt after EPA shutdown
By Sean Reilly, 7/13/21

“The troubled Limetree Bay refinery has filed for bankruptcy, two months after EPA regulators invoked rarely used emergency powers to halt operations at the plant in the U.S. Virgin Islands,” E&E News reports. “Severe financial and regulatory constraints have left us no choice but to pursue this path, after careful consideration of all alternatives,” Jeff Rinker, CEO of Limetree Bay Ventures LLC, said in a statement posted yesterday on the company’s website announcing the Chapter 11 reorganization… “The filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas comes barely five months after the refinery relaunched production following a lengthy quest to gain the Trump administration’s approval to produce low-sulfur fuel. When running, the plant can process more than 200,000 barrels of crude each day. But in May, EPA ordered the emergency shutdown on the grounds that the facility’s operations posed an imminent danger to St. Croix residents in the wake of flaring mishaps that rained an oily mist on nearby homes and led to the release of large amounts of hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide, according to a lawsuit brought by the agency yesterday… “It was only the fourth time in EPA history that the agency had resorted to that Clean Air Act shutdown authority, a spokesperson said at the time..”

DeSmog: Texas Company Exposed by DeSmog for Radioactive Fracking Waste Practices Threatens Legal Action
7/13/21

“On April 22, DeSmog published a year-long investigation by reporter Justin Nobel into the practices of the environmental services company Lotus LLC, which operates a major West Texas disposal facility for radioactive oilfield waste. Nobel’s reporting revealed that the Lotus facility has at times struggled to safely manage the radioactive waste it receives, which comes not only from across the United States but is also imported from other countries. The investigation was based on correspondence with federal and state regulators, hundreds of pages of documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, photographs of the site, and interviews with an industry source familiar with the Lotus disposal site. While Lotus was at first cooperative during Nobel’s investigation — which included interviews and communications with Lotus director of global operations James Dillingham — the company began pushing back against the evidence uncovered in the investigation and threatening potential legal action should DeSmog publish it. Since the article’s publication, Lotus has continued to pursue a variety of efforts to have the article and its photographs removed. The latest incident involves Texas-based lawyer Shaun McCabe, who contacted Nobel claiming that he is being sued by Lotus for providing confidential information to Nobel and asking for a signed affidavit from Nobel “that states you know who your sources are and it was not me.”

RESEARCH & SCIENCE

Guardian: Biden’s clean energy plan would cut emissions and save 317,000 lives
Oliver Milman, 7/13/21

“A Biden administration plan to force the rapid uptake of renewable energy would swiftly cut planet-heating emissions and save hundreds of thousands of lives from deadly air pollution, a new report has found amid growing pressure on the White House to deliver a major blow against the climate crisis,” according to the Guardian. “Of various climate policy options available to the new administration, a clean energy standard would provide the largest net benefits to the US, according to the report, in terms of costs as well as lives saved. A clean energy standard would require utilities to ratchet up the amount of clean energy, such as solar and wind, they use, through a system of incentives and penalties. The Biden administration hoped to include the measure in its major infrastructure bill but it was dropped after compromise negotiations with Republicans. But the new report, conducted by a consortium of researchers from Harvard University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Syracuse University, suggests it would be the most effective tool in reaching a White House goal of 80% renewable energy use by 2030. Joe Biden has said he wants all electricity to be renewable by 2035. A clean energy standard to reach the 80% goal by the end of the decade would save an estimated 317,500 lives in the US over the next 30 years, due to a sharp reduction in air pollution from the burning of coal, oil and gas.”

Eos: America’s Natural Gas Pipeline Routes and Environmental Justice
By Elizabeth Thompson, 7/13/21

“Most research into the environmental and social impacts of the oil and natural gas industries focuses on the beginning and end of the process: where resources are extracted and where they are refined and consumed. Very little attention, however, is paid to middle infrastructure—the enormous vascular system of pipelines crisscrossing the United States. In a new study, Emanuel et al. address this continent-wide gap by comparing natural gas pipeline density to social vulnerability at the county level,” Eos reports. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created a social vulnerability index that measures how well a community can prepare for, handle, and recover from hazards and disasters, either natural or human-caused. A county with high social vulnerability would be poorly equipped to handle a potential pipeline disaster. The researchers found that more socially vulnerable counties in the United States tended to have higher pipeline densities, while less socially vulnerable counties had lower pipeline densities. The correlation is stronger for counties with the highest pipeline densities. The authors point to the policy implications of the inequitable distribution of environmental harms connected with the construction and operation of this vast network of infrastructure. The burdens of pipelines—including noise, reduced property values and land use options, risk of leak or explosion, and cultural harm—fall disproportionately on the communities least capable of handling them… “The scientists suggest that future projects undergo more rigorous environmental justice assessments that incorporate culture- and community-focused research and local perspectives. They call upon other scientists to partner with marginalized communities to identify and quantify impacts that may be overlooked or ignored by the powerful forces behind pipeline projects. Finally, they remind decisionmakers to consider the cumulative risks of existing oil and natural gas industry infrastructure, including the issues that follow climate change, which also tend to affect those most vulnerable.”

NPR: Your Trash Is Emitting Methane In The Landfill. Here’s Why It Matters For The Climate
JAMES BRUGGERS, 7/13/21

“A single flip-flop. An empty Chick-fil-A sandwich bag. A mattress. A sneaker, navy with a white sole. A little orange bouncy ball. Garbage is strewn among thigh-high drifts of dirt, used to bury the filthy, weather-worn items at the Orange County Landfill in Florida and prevent the intrusion of insects, rats and pigs,” NPR reports. “Bulldozers smooth the dirt into place while tractor-trailers deliver ever more trash. Vultures and seagulls circle above. A bald eagle lands nearby. “Anything you will see out in the real world you’ll see it here,” David Gregory, manager of the solid waste division of the Orange County Utilities Department, told NPR. “Because when people throw things away, this is where it comes.” According to the Environmental Protection Agency, landfills such as this one on the edge of Orlando are among the nation’s largest sources of methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide and a major contributor to global warming. A seminal U.N. report published in May found that immediate reductions in methane emissions are the best, swiftest chance the planet has at slowing climate change. Landfills emit methane when organic wastes such as food scraps, wood and paper decompose. But the challenges to reining in methane are big, beginning with even quantifying how much leaves landfills. Industry operators insist the EPA overestimates emissions. Yet independent research looking at emissions from landfills in California and a top EPA methane expert said that the agency significantly underestimates landfill methane. The EPA has “been understating methane emissions from landfills by a factor of two,” Susan Thorneloe, a senior chemical engineer at the EPA who has worked on the agency’s methane estimation methods since the 1980s, told NPR. Part of the problem may be that the EPA’s methods for estimating landfill methane emissions are outdated and flawed, Thorneloe said.”

CLIMATE FINANCE:

Wisconsin State Journal: Climate activists try new strategy to push UW Foundation to divest from fossil fuel companies
Kelly Meyerhofer, 7/8/21

“Climate activists on the UW-Madison campus have long argued that the university foundation’s investments in fossil fuel companies are immoral,” the Wisconsin State Journal reports. “Now they’re arguing that those investments are illegal, too. The US could potentially be facing its worst drought in 1,200 years. Veuer’s Maria Mercedes Galuppo has the story. The Climate Defense Project, a nonprofit legal group, recently lodged a complaint with the state Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) on behalf of nearly 200 students, faculty, alumni and community members. The Wisconsin Department of Justice received the complaint, but spokesperson Rebecca Ballweg said the office doesn’t have authority to take action on it and referred questions to DFI, which has the power to conduct investigations and hold hearings into charitable organizations. If DFI determines there’s been a violation, it can issue a warning, deny, suspend or revoke a registration, or refer a case for possible legal action to another agency. A 2020 report from Gov. Tony Evers’ climate change task force recommends divesting state funds from fossil fuel companies, though it also said there is no clear mechanism to require private university foundations to do so. The Climate Defense Project argues there is one — by enforcing a 2009 state law that stipulates nonprofit entities have a duty to invest in line with their charitable missions. “There’s this law on the books that hasn’t been that strictly enforced in the past,” attorney and Climate Defense Project co-founder Ted Hamilton told the Journal on what led the group to pursue this avenue. The group alleges that the UW Foundation’s investment in fossil fuel companies that are driving climate change is in direct conflict with UW-Madison’s mission to provide an environment where students and staff can “discover, examine critically, preserve and transmit the knowledge, wisdom and values that will help ensure the survival of this and future generations and improve the quality of life for all.”

TODAY IN GREENWASHING

Sierra Club: Mountain Valley Pipeline Attempts to Greenwash Polluting Fracked Gas Pipeline
7/12/21

“Backers of the fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline announced a new scheme today to purchase carbon offsets to make up for the operational emissions of its first 10 years in service. These offsets would do nothing to address the climate impact of extracting or burning the fracked gas that MVP would transport. If built, the pipeline would lead to annual emissions of over 89 million metric tons of climate pollution, equivalent to adding 26 coal plants or 19 million passenger vehicles. MVP claims that they’ll offset the operational emissions of their new fossil fuel project by buying into the cleanup of old fossil fuel projects that are now leaking methane. In their announcement, MVP cites the UN Global Methane Assessment, though they leave out the section of the assessment that says that expansion of fracked gas infrastructure is “incompatible with keeping warming to 1.5° C.” MVP hit yet another setback last week, when the US Environmental Protection Agency recommended against approval of a key water-crossing permit for the project. In response, Patrick Grenter, Associate Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign, released the following statement: “Decision makers and the public should not be fooled: this offset scheme does nothing to change the fact that MVP is a dirty fossil fuel project that would pollute our communities and exacerbate the climate crisis. This pipeline will cause more gas to be transported, and burned. It bears responsibility for far more than its operational emissions. Not only would this plan do nothing to mitigate the pollution and public health effects of frontline communities due to fracking, it also wouldn’t address the massive climate impact of actually burning the fracked gas this pipeline would transport. This is nothing more than a shameless ploy to greenwash this disastrous pipeline project.”

OPINION

Duluth News Tribune: Local View: Northern Minnesota is being lied to about Line 3
Yarrow Mead of Duluth has been part of Indigenous-led direct actions against the Line 3 Replacement Project and has been studying and researching the project since January, 7/9/21

“My fellow northern Minnesotans, we are being lied to repeatedly, and we are not as angry about it as we should be,” Yarrow Mead writes for Duluth News Tribune. “The construction of the Line 3 pipeline by the Canadian oil company Enbridge is a controversial subject in our state right now, and I understand why. Our way of life has been built by blue-collar industry. Northern Minnesotans are tough, hard-working, community-oriented, outdoorsy types, and Enbridge has led us to believe it is here to support us in that. I am concerned about climate change; I won’t lie. But today I would like to talk about something else. I want to talk about the fact that a foreign oil company has come into our state with the promise of hiring Minnesotans, protecting our interests, respecting our laws, and treating our home and us with respect. Little of that seems to be happening… “Enbridge told us it was going to hire us, northern Minnesotans, for the construction work. The company promised thousands of jobs. But, at the end of the first full month of construction in December, only 33% of those working on Line 3 were Minnesotans, according to a filing with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, as was reported by the Star Tribune. Enbridge led us to believe out-of-state workers would not bring crime to northern Minnesota. But there already have been major sex-trafficking stings in which multiple Line 3 workers were caught trafficking women and even children.”

Investor Place: Despite the Activists, ExxonMobil Will Be Just Fine
By Ian Bezek, 7/13/21

“ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) stock has become a battleground. Activists, not traders, are doing most of the battling,” Investor Place reports, “Activist investors, including plucky hedge fund Engine No. 1 have demanded (and won) multiple seats on ExxonMobil’s board of directors. These activists claim that Exxon hasn’t done enough to fight climate change and carry out its operations in a sustainable manner. Many owners of Exxon’s shares are worried about this situation. After all, how is an oil company supposed to function when its directors are increasingly focused on other issues? People are nervous that ExxonMobil’s business will be hurt, causing its profitability to decline. However, before dumping XOM stock, here are some points to consider… “However, nothing to which ExxonMobil has committed will wreck the company’s existing business. Indeed, Exxon has changed its strategic outlook far less than major European oil companies  such as TotalEnergies (NYSE:TTE) which have actively moved away from fossil fuels and are becoming full-fledged green energy plays. ExxonMobil, by contrast, was still trying to grow its oil and gas production right up until Covid-19 hit. In fact, it launched a bunch of new projects, such as its mega-field in offshore Guyana, that will keep delivering crude oil for many years to come. For years, the biggest complaint about XOM stock was that its dividend was unsafe. Since about 2015, ExxonMobil has struggled to ensure that its operating cash flow was higher than its dividend costs.”

Forbes: Rolling Back Trump’s Methane Rules Isn’t Enough: We Need A Methane Tax To Buy Time To Decarbonize
By Mark Agerton, Ben Gilbert and Jim Krane, 7/12/21

Global CO2 releases have risen by more than 50% since 1992, the year of the U.N.’s first climate summit. Three decades of failure show that stanching CO2 emissions is arguably the toughest collective problem humanity has ever faced,” Mark Agerton, Ben Gilbert and Jim Krane write in Forbes. “While taming carbon is crucial, that process shouldn’t delay Americans from choking off emissions of a much more powerful greenhouse gas: methane… “The energy industry is society’s second-biggest methane emitter after agriculture. And the U.S. energy industry ranks second in the world in emissions — just behind Russia’s. Zeroing out methane from the oil and gas sector is simpler and cheaper than doing so in agriculture and would actually move the needle on climate change. We think most oil-sector methane emissions would be detected and stopped with a federal tax somewhere north of $1,500 per metric ton in 2021. That’s equal to $29 per thousand cubic feet (mcf). A U.S. Senate bill introduced in March puts the charge at $1,800/ton in 2023. A lot of U.S. methane emissions occur through oil and natural gas production and transport, so oil and gas companies would be on the hook.“

Cincinnati.com: Opinion: Cut methane from oil, gas before its too late
Juliana Discher, of Mason, is the methane campaign contractor for The Ohio Environmental Council and a recent graduate of The Ohio State University, 7/12/21

“This past month, I joined environmental justice advocates, business owners and tribal leaders from across the country at a listening session hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to share how methane pollution from the oil and gas industry has impacted my local community in Greater Cincinnati,” Juliana Discher writes for Cincinnati.com. “Methane pollution from oil and gas production is fueling the climate crisis, and threatening the health and safety of Ohioans like me.Throughout the pandemic, attendance surged at Ohio’s state parks. Millions of Ohioans opted to go outside to reset, recharge, and get away from it all. Oil and gas development generates toxic chemicals including hydrogen sulfide, toluene and benzene that are released alongside the potent greenhouse gas methane, which has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide in the short-term. These air pollutants know no property boundaries and can trigger asthma attacks and harm lung development in children. Instead of opening up our state parks and forests to dangerous and degrading oil and gas development, we need to protect this vital pastime. Narrow interests – especially those that conflict with the interests of the broader public – should not be elevated above the interests and health of everyday Ohioans and their families.”

Santa Fe New Mexican: New Mexico must hold methane polluters accountable
Don Schreiber is a rancher and climate activist, 7/12/21

“On our family ranch in northwest Rio Arriba County, we’re home to grandkids, horses, cattle, elk, deer, wild turkeys — and also about 122 gas wells. We’re home to hopes and dreams and to a fossil fuel nightmare,” Don Schreiber writes for the Santa Fe New Mexican. “Hilcorp Energy, a privately owned company, owns every single one of those wells. Last month, Hilcorp made big news for being the biggest methane polluter in the nation, and the nation’s second-biggest climate polluter overall. Most of Hilcorp’s methane pollution is in New Mexico — right here in the San Juan Basin, where it has more than 10,000 wells, including all 122 on our ranch. Hilcorp is dumping its methane trash in our front yard. The Clean Air Task Force report released in May measured leaks and emissions reported by oil and gas companies. As this paper points out, “The Houston-based company’s methane emissions are the highest in the U.S. — and six times the national average — even though it is only the 19th largest fossil fuel producer.” The San Juan Basin, where we live, is also home to one of the most culturally rich and diverse parts of our state. It’s also where Hilcorp has profited by buying up aging and highly polluting gas wells while they seek to avoid state and federal methane waste regulations — many of which are already on the books.”

Guardian: Our climate change turning point is right here, right now
Rebecca Solnit, 7/12/21

“Human beings crave clarity, immediacy, landmark events. We seek turning points, because our minds are good at recognizing the specific – this time, this place, this sudden event, this tangible change. This is why we were never very good, most of us, at comprehending climate change in the first place,” Rebecca Solnit writes for the Guardian. “The climate was an overarching, underlying condition of our lives and planet, and the change was incremental and intricate and hard to recognize if you weren’t keeping track of this species or that temperature record. Climate catastrophe is a slow shattering of the stable patterns that governed the weather, the seasons, the species and migrations, all the beautifully orchestrated systems of the holocene era we exited when we manufactured the anthropocene through a couple of centuries of increasingly wanton greenhouse gas emissions and forest destruction… “A turning point is often something you individually or collectively choose, when you find the status quo unacceptable, when you turn yourself and your goals around. George Floyd’s murder was a turning point for racial justice in the US. Those who have been paying attention, those with expertise or imagination, found their turning points for the climate crisis years and decades back. For some it was Hurricane Sandy or their own home burning down or the permafrost of the far north turning to mush or the IPCC report in 2018 saying we had a decade to do what the planet needs of us. Greta Thunberg had her turning point, and so did the indigenous women leading the Line 3 pipeline protests… The rise in public engagement with the climate crisis is harder to measure. It’s definitely growing, both as an increasingly powerful movement and as a matter of individual consciousness. Yet something about the scale and danger of the crisis still seems to challenge human psychology. Along with the fossil fuel industry, our own habits of mind are something we must overcome.”

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