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Extracted: Daily News Clips 7/23/21

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips July 23, 2021

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  • Native News OnlineWinona LaDuke Released From Jail With Conditions to Avoid Enbridge Line 3 Work Areas
  • Michigan AdvanceState pushes back against Enbridge’s request to pause Line 5 suit during Canada treaty talks
  • InforumFederal agency plans to fine Dakota Access for safety violations
  • Law360Keystone XL Fight Not Over After Permit Loss, Court Told
  • Law360FERC Staff Blasts Energy Transfer’s Bid To Duck $20M Fine
  • The Central VirginianGas pipeline shrouded in mystery


  • Utility DiveDemocrats’ ‘Hot FERC Summer’ campaign aims to boost FERC’s visibility on Capitol Hill
  • PoliticoRepublicans Accuse Army Corps Of Fossil Fuel Discrimination


  • KCBXSanta Barbara City Council votes to prohibit natural gas infrastructure in new buildings
  • ReutersNorthern California requires oil refiners to slash air pollution


  • Press releaseCenovus to buy renewable power from Cold Lake First Nations, Elemental Energy partnership
  • Press releaseCanada’s oil and natural gas industry demonstrates transparency and performance with report on emissions
  • Carlsbad Current-ArgusPermian Basin Leads U.S. In Oilfield Emissions, Could Be Ideal For Underground Carbon Storage


  • Oregon State UniversityResidential proximity to oil and gas drilling linked to lower birthweights in newborns, study finds
  • NRDCRegulation Is Too Weak for Radioactive Oil and Gas Waste
  • GuardianAre we being kept safe from ‘forever chemicals’ injected into fracking sites?
  • WV Gazette MailNew reports make case that natural gas production boom was a bust for Appalachia, urge economic transition


  • Financial TimesInsurers are falling short in tackling climate risk, warns top policy adviser



Native News Online: Winona LaDuke Released From Jail With Conditions to Avoid Enbridge Line 3 Work Areas

“Winona LaDuke was released Thursday from Aitkin County Jail in Minnesota, after spending three days in custody,” Native News Online reports. “LaDuke was held overnight in Aitkin County for violating conditions of release. She was arrested with six other women on Monday, July 19, for protesting in front of a Line 3 replacement site near the Shell River in Wadena County; Aitkin County issued a warrant for her arrest. After her initial appearance yesterday in Wadena County, her and 11 others posted bail and were released from custody except LaDuke. Aitkin County issued a warrant for LaDuke after being arrested on Monday, July 19 for violating conditions of her release. She was arrested on Jan. 9, 2021 for protesting at a Line 3 work site and posted bail with conditions to remain law-abiding. If a defendant violates conditions of bail, such as being arrested for additional charges in any jurisdiction, they may be arrested and face additional charges or be held in contempt of court. “I’ve been released after spending three nights in jail for being a water protector,” LaDuke said in a Facebook post after her release on Thursday afternoon. “This is what is called the ‘Enbridge Way’—make sure hundreds of Minnesota citizens are put in jail.” “…Do not enter any Enbridge Exclusion Zone or any marked areas of Enbridge work sites in Aitkin County or elsewhere, or any Line 3 locations or work areas,” read LaDuke’s amended release order filed on Thursday, July 22, in Aitkin County District Court. The release order also states that she may “not have any knowing contact with Enbridge works or any Line 3 works at or near such work zone.” Although LaDuke’s release order prohibits her to enter Line 3 work sites, it does not prohibit her to engage in lawful protesting in lawful areas.”

Michigan Advance: State pushes back against Enbridge’s request to pause Line 5 suit during Canada treaty talks
By Laina G. Stebbins, 7/22/21

“In a court filing Friday, Attorney General Dana Nessel shot back against Canadian oil company Enbridge’s “legally unfounded suggestion” that State of Michigan v Enbridge should be put on pause while Canadian and U.S. officials discuss the possibility of a Line 5 closure,” according to the Michigan Advance. “Arguing on behalf of the state of Michigan, Nessel challenged the notion by writing, “There is nothing remarkable, legally, or otherwise, about officials for two countries communicating on a topic of shared interest such as Line 5.” Michigan and Enbridge are currently awaiting a decision from a federal judge on which court — state or federal — will preside over the state’s lawsuit to enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Line 5 shutdown order… “There are no remaining deadlines or hearings in the case. It is unclear when Judge Janet Neff will make a ruling, but mediation between the two parties is expected to conclude by or around the end of August. If Neff rules in the state’s favor, State of Michigan v Enbridge will be sent back to the 30th Circuit Court and Whitmer, Nessel and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will be more likely to win a court order. If Neff rules in Enbridge’s favor, the lawsuit will be heard in federal court, which would be favorable to the oil company.”

Inforum: Federal agency plans to fine Dakota Access for safety violations
Adam Willis, 7/22/21

“A federal agency hit operators of the Dakota Access Pipeline, Thursday, July 22, with a potential $93,200 in fines for violations of several pipeline safety protocols,” Inforum reports.”In a letter sent to the pipeline’s parent company, Texas-based Energy Transfer, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration alleged seven infractions of safety regulations. The letter did not indicate that any of these violations have led to leaks from the pipeline. The fines were assessed in response to two of the infractions: in one case, Energy Transfer’s failure to prepare and follow an operations manual, and in a second, the company’s failure to comply with recommended practices of the American Petroleum Institute. In a separate violation, the agency said Energy Transfer failed to correct a feature used to mitigate pressure in the line. A records request by the agency found this issue contributed to more than 9,500 alarms in Energy Transfer’s local monitoring systems between the start of pipeline operations and December of 2019. Also in the letter was an allegation stating the company neglected to inspect a safety relief valve at a South Dakota pump station during the 2018 calendar year, while another said the company improperly placed storm water drainage tanks at six western North Dakota facilities… “It’s not surprising to learn that the operator of the Dakota Access Pipeline has failed to adhere to a long list of safety regulations,” Standing Rock Vice Chairman Ira Taken Alive told Inforum.. “An oil spill from this pipeline would be devastating to our drinking water supply and that of millions of people downstream, placing us all in harm’s way.”

Law360: Keystone XL Fight Not Over After Permit Loss, Court Told

“Activists say their challenge to the now-defunct Keystone XL pipeline isn’t over just because President Biden revoked its permits, arguing that a potential change in presidential administrations down the line means the contentious construction could still be revived,” Law360 reports.

Law360: FERC Staff Blasts Energy Transfer’s Bid To Duck $20M Fine

“Federal Energy Regulatory Commission enforcement staff said Wednesday that Energy Transfer Partners failed to rebut any of the evidence supporting a proposed $20 million fine against the company for demolishing an allegedly historic building while constructing the $4.2 billion Rover pipeline project,” Law360 reports.

The Central Virginian: Gas pipeline shrouded in mystery
David Holtzman, 7/21/21

“So far there are more questions than answers about a proposed natural gas pipeline that would cross Louisa County on its way to a power plant in Tidewater Virginia,” The Central Virginian reports. “Balico LLC, the company that wants to build the pipeline, is the same one that received a state permit in 2018 to build the plant in Charles City County. Irfan Ali, Balico’s owner, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch this week that he does not need state approval for the pipeline, except for environmental permits. But Greg Buppert, an attorney for Southern Environmental Law Center in Charlottesville, told the Virginian Balico almost certainly will need backing from the State Corporation Commission [SCC]. “If a developer wants to use the power of eminent domain, they’ve got to go to the SCC for approval,” Buppert said.  Given the project’s length – it would stretch from a connection point at the Transco pipeline in western Louisa to Charles City County – Balico is likely to encounter numerous landowners who won’t be supportive. Joanna Hickman, who lives in Louisa County near Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, was among the property owners who received a letter from Balico earlier this month requesting permission to conduct survey work on their land. “I just said, ‘No, no, no,’ and sent it back. I think it’s a bad idea,” Hickman, who has 170 acres, told the Virginian. “They’d have a lot of expense to go around me.”


Utility Dive: Democrats’ ‘Hot FERC Summer’ campaign aims to boost FERC’s visibility on Capitol Hill
Catherine Morehouse, 7/21/21

“What do the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, rapper Megan Thee Stallion and climate change have in common? They’re all tied to a new campaign launched on the House floor Tuesday intended to boost FERC’s visibility on Capitol Hill,” Utility Dive reports. “The “Hot FERC Summer” campaign, launched by Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., and supported by other Democratic members of Congress is a play on Stallion’s 2019 hit “Hot Girl Summer” — a move Casten’s office hopes will bring increased attention to FERC at a critical time for climate and clean energy policy… “Casten, a former energy executive, has previously described FERC as potentially the “single most impactful agency in the government, as far as dealing with the climate crisis.” “…Casten, along with Reps. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., Mike Levin, D-Calif., and Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., on Tuesday re-introduced the Energy PRICE Act, a policy that would clarify FERC’s authority to consider greenhouse gas emissions in ratemaking. The legislation effectively points out that under the Federal Power Act, the commission has the authority to include greenhouse gas emissions and other external factors, when considering what rates are just and reasonable. With that clarity from Congress, FERC could conclude that under its existing statutory authority, it could unilaterally implement a carbon price in U.S. wholesale power markets, something that has been otherwise debated by legal experts… “Casten will also next week reintroduce the Right to Timely Rehearings at FERC Act, intended to expedite the rehearing process to level the playing field for all stakeholders engaged with FERC.”

Politico: Republicans Accuse Army Corps Of Fossil Fuel Discrimination

“Oil-state Senate Republicans want the administration to clarify a provision in the Army Corps of Engineers’ fiscal 2022 budget request against helping the fossil fuel industry,” Politico reports. “In a letter yesterday to the Office of Management and Budget, the group said such a limitation could upset waterway improvement initiatives in Louisiana and other oil and gas states where fossil fuels are transported by ship and barge. Limits would also circumvent congressional intent in authorizing projects. ‘Congress has not given the Executive Branch the authority to categorically exclude an entire industry from eligibility for congressionally authorized federal projects,’ the lawmakers wrote… “At issue is a provision included in the appendix of the Army Corps’ fiscal 2022 request that says a key objective is to limit ‘work that directly subsidizes fossil fuels including work that lowers the cost of production, lowers the cost of consumption, or raises the revenues retained by producers of fossil fuels.’ In other sections of the budget plan the Army Corps outlined two key objectives: climate mitigation and environmental justice. The objectives focus on ‘increasing infrastructure and ecosystem resilience to climate change and decreasing climate risk for communities based on the best available science’ and ‘promoting environmental justice in disadvantaged communities.’ Republicans have looked to apply pressure to Army Corps permitting decisions to safeguard fossil fuel projects. Most notably, Republicans have been pushing the corps to keep the Dakota Access pipeline running.”


KCBX: Santa Barbara City Council votes to prohibit natural gas infrastructure in new buildings

“The Santa Barbara City Council voted unanimously July 20 to prohibit natural gas in all new construction in the city,” KCBX reports. “…This ordinance only affects new buildings where an electric alternative is available. Buildings still must be constructed with the capability to be electrified when the technology becomes available. Cooking appliances in restaurants and institutional kitchens are exempt from the ordinance. Alelia Parenteau is the city’s energy and climate manager. She told KCBX energy use accounts for about 39 percent of Santa Barbara’s greenhouse gas emissions. Of that, close to all of it is related to building energy use, split almost equally between electricity and natural gas. Parenteau said this ordinance is meant to help achieve the city’s 2035 carbon neutrality goal. “Every new building locks in future emissions for decades to come,” Parenteau told KCBX. “These are long term assets and we have an opportunity to avoid those emissions in the future which is a prudent approach when we’re trying to get to zero.” Santa Barbara is also joining more than 46 other cities across the state that have already made similar commitments.”

Reuters: Northern California requires oil refiners to slash air pollution
Laila Kearney, 7/21/21

“Northern California regulators on Wednesday directed two of the state’s largest oil refineries to slash their fine particulate air pollution, which will require costly modifications at the plants,” Reuters reports. “The 19-3 vote by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District governing board means refineries in the area, including Chevron Corp’s (CVX.N) Richmond plant and PBF Energy Inc’s (PBF.N) Martinez refinery, will have to install wet gas scrubbers to reduce pollution spewed by their gasoline-making fluid catalytic cracking units (FCCU) within five years. The new requirement is expected to cut PBF and Chevron’s particulate matter emissions from its cat crackers by about 70%, the air quality district estimates. Refineries emit heavy amounts of pollution as crude oil is processed into fuel, and small particulate matter – consisting of solid or liquid airborne particles – is among the most harmful pollutants. Prolonged exposure is known to lead to respiratory, pulmonary and cognitive health problems.”


Press release: Cenovus to buy renewable power from Cold Lake First Nations, Elemental Energy partnership

“Cenovus Energy Inc. has entered into a power purchase agreement (PPA) to buy solar-power produced electricity and the associated emissions offsets from a partnership between Cold Lake First Nations (CLFN) and Elemental Energy Inc., helping Cenovus advance two of its environmental, social & governance (ESG) focus areas by addressing climate & greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as further supporting Indigenous reconciliation through economic engagement… “Cenovus has signed a 15-year PPA for the full output of the facility, providing the offtake contract necessary for the construction of the project and ultimately helping Cenovus mitigate its scope 2 emissions. Scope 2 emissions are those represented by purchased or acquired electricity, steam, heat and/or cooling. In Cenovus’s case, these emissions primarily result from purchased electricity. “Through this agreement we’re reinforcing our commitment to using multiple levers and innovative approaches to help us in our long-term ambition of achieving net zero emissions by 2050,” said Alex Pourbaix, Cenovus President & Chief Executive Officer. “This is also an excellent opportunity to further build on our long-standing relationship with Cold Lake First Nations in its partnership with Elemental.” “…In addition to climate & GHG emissions and Indigenous reconciliation, Cenovus has also identified water stewardship, biodiversity and inclusion & diversity as its other significant ESG focus areas.”

Press release: Canada’s oil and natural gas industry demonstrates transparency and performance with report on emissions

“The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) released a new report titled, Canada’s Natural Gas and Oil Emissions: Ongoing Reductions, Demonstrable Improvement. The report, which lays out the means to a lower-carbon future through innovation and new technology and illustrates the industry’s proven track record of lowering emissions-intensity, is the first in a series of planned Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) disclosures. Highlights of the report: From 2011 to 2019 combined natural gas, condensate and natural gas liquids production increased 32 per cent while emissions intensity in this sector decreased by 33 per cent; As a result of Canada’s flaring conservation practices, this country ranks among the lowest-emission natural gas producers globally; While production from Oil Sands In Situ facilities grew by 66 per cent from 2013 to 2019, emissions intensity dropped by 8 per cent; From 2013 to 2019 oil sands mining production increased 59 per cent as emissions intensity decreased by 14 per cent… “Supplying affordable, reliable and cleaner energy to a growing global population is the goal of Canada’s upstream energy industry. Advancing GHG emissions reduction is critical to realizing the vision for Canada to be a global supplier of choice with lower-carbon natural gas and oil.”

Carlsbad Current-Argus: Permian Basin Leads U.S. In Oilfield Emissions, Could Be Ideal For Underground Carbon Storage
Adrian Hedden, 7/22/21

“Reducing air pollution could mean injecting it beneath the oilfields in the Permian Basin of southeast New Mexico and West Texas,” according to the Carlsbad Current-Argus. “A June study published in the journal Geology suggested carbon sequestration could occur in old oilfields and would be less likely in that setting to cause earthquakes… “Scientists found the pre-drilled rocks in the Delaware had a lower seismic pressure and were less likely to have high-magnitude earthquakes when fluids or gasses were injected. They studied the impacts of saltwater injection, a method of disposing of byproduct water from hydraulic fracturing by pumping it back underground, on seismicity. In the northern Delaware, where oil and gas production and subsequent saltwater injection is frequent, the study found the rocks were less susceptible to earthquakes than in the southern portion of the sub-base where less activity occurred… “It’s not inconceivable that at some point, if you injected enough, you could probably cause an earthquake,” Mark Zoback, a Stanford scientist and author of the study, told the Argus. “But here in the area we study, we are able to document that what happened previously strongly affects how current operational processes affect the likelihood of earthquake triggering.” Injection-induced earthquakes tend to be low-magnitude and shallow, the study read, but continued injection could trigger deeper faults and lead to great damage from seismic events.”


Oregon State University: Residential proximity to oil and gas drilling linked to lower birthweights in newborns, study finds

“A new study from Oregon State University found that infants born within 3 kilometers of oil and natural gas drilling facilities in Texas had slightly lower birthweights than those born before drilling began in their vicinity. The study, published today in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that the type of drilling or resource being extracted did not change the result. “Most studies to date focus exclusively on unconventional natural gas drilling, or fracking. That particular process is a small subset of the oil and natural gas industry. We find it doesn’t matter — where people are extracting oil and gas resources, we’re still seeing an impact on infant health,” said study author Mary Willis, a postdoctoral researcher in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “A lot of policy is exclusively focusing on fracking, but our study shows that’s a really limited view of how this industry may impact local populations.” “…After accounting for other potential factors influencing birthweight, Willis and the research team found that living within 3 kilometers of an active drilling site was associated with a birthweight 7 to 9 grams lower than the birthweight of babies born before drilling began… “With this study, Willis said the team hoped to give policymakers a standard safe distance for drilling, but they found the health impact doesn’t totally dissipate at 3 kilometers (nearly 2 miles). “In the U.S., 17.6 million Americans live within 1.6 kilometers of at least one active oil or gas drilling site. That’s a lot of people residing really close to fossil fuel extraction.”

NRDC: Regulation Is Too Weak for Radioactive Oil and Gas Waste
Amy Mall, 7/21/21

“The U.S. oil and gas industry produced an estimated one trillion gallons of produced water in 2017. And this waste—along with drilling and fracking waste–can contain radioactive elements known as “technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material,” or TENORM. A new NRDC report describes these risks and how weak regulations fail to appropriately protect workers and communities. TENORM that is not adequately managed poses significant health threats to oil and gas workers and their families and people who live near oil and gas operations. Nearby residents may face an increased risk of cancer. Making the situation even more dangerous, many oil and gas activities take place in residential neighborhoods, in close proximity to homes, schools, and playgrounds. Despite the clear health risks, there are no dedicated federal regulations to ensure comprehensive and safer management of radioactive oil and gas materials… “Our review found that 4 of the 12 states have no standards at all for the level of radioactive material in oil and gas waste that can be accepted at landfills, only 3 require monitoring of radioactive material in the wastewater that leaches out of landfills, and 10 allow oil and gas waste to be spread on roads for uses such as dust suppression, deicing, or road maintenance. Compounding the problem, radioactive oil and gas wastes are frequently transported across state lines as waste haulers take advantage of the lack of consistent state regulations to search for the cheapest or easiest way to dispose of radioactive material.”

Guardian: Are we being kept safe from ‘forever chemicals’ injected into fracking sites?
David Bond, 7/21/21

“Not willing to rest their laurels on the theft of the future, the fossil fuel industry is now salting the earth with forever chemicals,” the Guardian reports. “In a bombshell exposé from Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and the New York Times last week it was revealed that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were readily used at fracking sites across the US. PFAS never break down, a disconcerting fact that has led many to call them “forever chemicals”. Such durability comes with surprising mobility as these chemicals have proven preternaturally gifted at gliding through geological and geographic borders with ease. Oh, and they are toxic. None of these worrisome properties proved sufficient to dissuade the fossil fuel industry from injecting PFAS into at least 1,200 fracking wells in the United States, including in states where wastewater from oil and gas operations is routinely sprayed on roads and farms… “We already know that over 200 million people have PFAS in their drinking water. Add to that the additional number of people surrounded by fracking sites in their literal back yards, and you have the majority of the population affected by a dangerous class of PFAS chemicals,” Phil Brown, who directs a research center on PFAS contamination, told the Guardian.”

WV Gazette Mail: New reports make case that natural gas production boom was a bust for Appalachia, urge economic transition
By Mike Tony, 7/21/21

“Appalachia’s natural gas boom turned out to be an economic bust that local and state officials can rebound from if they embrace the rising clean energy economy,” the WV Gazette Mail reports. “That’s the bottom line of two bottom-line-focused reports released Tuesday by nonprofit think tank Ohio River Valley Institute making an economic case for transitioning away from fossil fuels, especially natural gas development that has failed to convert production into prosperity. “We know that the Appalachian natural gas boom hasn’t just failed to deliver growth and jobs and prosperity so far. We now know that it’s structurally incapable of doing so,” Ohio River Valley Institute senior researcher Sean O’Leary contended during a webinar on the reports Tuesday. “[That] means that a lot of economic development strategies in the region need to be rethought.” The Ohio River Valley Institute’s analysis focuses on changes in income, jobs, population and gross domestic product — the total market value of goods and services produced — in 22 counties in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania from 2008 to 2019 that suggest a rise natural gas production in that span did little to lift up the economies in those counties… “Jobs increased in the counties that comprise “Frackalachia” by just 1.6% from 2008 to 2019, 2.3 percentage points behind all West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania counties and 8.3 percentage points below the national average, the report notes.”


Financial Times: Insurers are falling short in tackling climate risk, warns top policy adviser
Ian Smith, 7/20/21

“Insurers have not gone far enough in overhauling their underwriting practices to respond to climate change, with US groups the furthest behind, according to the head of a joint initiative between the industry, World Bank and UN,” the Financial Times reports. “The insurance industry has so far focused more of its effort in steering its vast investment portfolios away from polluting companies. But policymakers, investors and campaigners are increasing pressure on insurers to reduce their “insured emissions”, or the carbon footprint of the companies for which they provide cover. Ekhosuehi Iyahen, secretary-general of the Insurance Development Forum, a public-private initiative involving insurers such as AIG, Axa and Aviva, alongside the World Bank and UN, called for the industry to show “more ambition” in cutting the carbon impact of its underwriting… “But the industry needed to accelerate its efforts, she told the Financial Times. “There is an [climate] emergency,” she said. “That is why I say, yes, it is nice to have 2050, and we must all try to corral everybody around that, but actually the issue is even more urgent than that.” “I do think that we need to expand it into getting more American companies behind these endeavours,” she added, “Without that, I’m not sure we are going to make that much progress.”


Edmonton Journal: Opinion: Give oil and gas workers the tools to transition to net-zero energy jobs
Luisa Da Silva is the executive director of Iron and Earth. Bruce Wilson is chair of the board of Iron and Earth, 7/22/21

“Canada’s oil and gas workers get it. They understand that the world is changing and the need to address climate change is urgent. And they’re ready to contribute to the transition to a net-zero economy — with a little help,” write in Luisa Da Silva and Bruce Wilson write in the Edmonton Journal. “Just last week, our organization, Iron and Earth, released an Abacus Data poll showing that more than two-thirds of workers in Canada’s fossil-fuel sector believe we need to address climate change, and 61 per cent believe Canada needs to pivot to a net-zero economy. Achieving net-zero means our economy either emits no greenhouse gas emissions or offsets its emissions. Iron and Earth was formed by workers around the lunchroom tables of Canada’s oilsands during the 2015 oil price crash, out of concerns both for the economy and the planet. As the global pivot to a low carbon future quickens, Canada must lead the way to remain competitive. The poll found 69 per cent of workers are interested in switching to jobs in the net-zero economy but many (60 per cent) are concerned about being left behind. And with good reason. A recent Clean Energy Canada study found that fossil fuel employment is poised to drop another nine per cent by 2030. Encouragingly, the same study projected that net-zero jobs will double over the same period… “For Canada to thrive in the energy transition — and not lag behind other countries already investing in workers — our workers need upskilling support. Workers must be at the Just Transition table not just advising when these programs are designed, they must have the power to shape the legislation — ensuring the programs actually meet the needs of workers and their communities. And any advisory board must not only consider, but prioritize workers needs. This must be a consensus-driven process where workers’ voices are central, not just a campaign check-box.”

The Hill: Why Biden’s Interior Department isn’t shutting down oil and gas
Joel Clement is a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and a senior fellow with the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), 7/23/21

“We’re now six months into the Biden administration and, despite some very encouraging climate action and refreshing candor about the urgency of the climate crisis, some observers have started to grumble that the White House has not yet demonstrated the hoped-for climate ambition, particularly as regards oil and gas extraction on our shared public lands, the purview of the Department of the Interior,” Joel Clement writes in The Hill. “Indeed, oil and gas permitting at the Interior Department has continued apace, if not increased: Multiple new fossil energy projects have gotten the greenlight, and early messaging from Interior Secretary Deb Haaland suggests that the existing ban on new leasing may not stand. All of this at a time of record-setting heat waves and a warming trend in which the past seven years are the hottest years on record — and likely some of the coolest years I will see for the rest of my lifetime. Why, during a widely-recognized climate emergency, has the Interior Department not acted more decisively to limit emissions from federal lands — the source of nearly one-quarter of our nation’s carbon emissions?” “…In a word, power. And in this case, the power in question resides in the U.S. Senate. I’m no fan of pointing fingers at Capitol Hill, it’s an easy and overused trope. In this case, however, because of the precarious one-vote majority held by Senate Democrats, and a reluctance to do away with the filibuster, those senators who stand astride the moderate divide have the power to quash the most essential climate actions on the part of the Biden administration, and they are doing so… “The prevailing political opinion is that keeping these key moderate senators happy is essential to getting anything done at all, but this approach is preventing the Biden administration from acting decisively to address a global climate emergency that is killing people — lots of people.”

Investor’s Chronicle: Oil’s endgame
By Mark Robinson, 7/22/21

“Most investors have been exposed, either directly or indirectly, to the vagaries of global oil markets at some point. But as major economies commit to replacing fossil fuels and fund managers increasingly tailor their portfolios to comply with environmental mandates, the question of ‘Big Oil’ has become much more binary. Put simply, is it a safe space for your capital any more? Or will the prospect of a disorderly realignment in oil markets – and consequent volatility – eventually favour the supermajors?,” Mark Robinson writes for Investor’s Chronicle. “In April 2020, shockwaves rippled through financial markets when Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) announced it was cutting its dividend for the first time since the second world war, following the pandemic-induced collapse in global oil demand… “Yet, investors remain hesitant. It probably doesn’t help that some of the oil majors have indicated that global demand for oil peaked just prior to the pandemic at about 100m barrels a day, although that view is at odds with independent producers’ projections (turkeys and Christmas spring to mind). There are also concerns that investments in the industry may be stymied by the push towards replacing the internal combustion engine with more environmentally-friendly alternatives. This could lead to smaller marginal producers, at least those most responsive to underlying price dynamics such as US shale drillers, being forced out of the market for want of development capital. Even some previously reliable private equity channels have dried up due to investor pressure over climate change.”

Union of Concerned Scientists: Unveiling the Public Health Burden of Natural Gas
Radhika Duvvuri, Medical student, Carle Illinois College of Medicine, 7/19/21

“Environmental health has always been of concern to me, as it is to many of us. Climate change has affected our lives in seemingly inconsequential but sad ways, like white Christmases becoming green Christmases just within the span of my childhood, but also in substantial ways, like excessively hot summers and increased flooding, to name a couple,” Radhika Duvvuri writes for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “My personal interest in our planet’s health was bolstered by watching documentaries demonstrating the gargantuan levels of greenhouse gases emitted from livestock in our modern system of industrial agriculture, in addition to opening my eyes to the disproportionate effects of water pollution from hog farms in mainly Black communities. My long-held enthusiasm for human biology, public health, and service eventually prompted my decision to go to medical school, where I sought to enroll in the Climate Aware Physicians elective offered during our summer break. Among the plethora of knowledge about climate change I’ve gained in the past two weeks, I learned that natural gas may not be so great for public health after all, contrary to what the industry has told the public… “If we truly want a healthy planet powered sustainably, gas cannot be the solution. Instead, we should support efforts to advance renewable energy like wind and solar power and increase energy efficiency measures to save consumers money and cut emissions. These technologies don’t require fuel and are significantly less risky than gas and coal from a financial perspective, not to mention avoiding the public health burdens described above. In each of the three states examined here—Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan—various proposals and initiatives are underway to transition towards clean energy economies while (ideally) minimizing reliance on gas. For example, in Illinois, the introduced Clean Energy Jobs Act would put the state on a path to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2030 and 100% renewable energy by 2050.”

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