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Extracted: Daily News Clips 7/29/21

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips July 29, 2021

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PIPELINE NEWS

  • Star TribuneScorching drought exacerbates Line 3 water concerns in northern Minnesota
  • Brainerd DispatchAuthorities arrest 5 in Enbridge protest
  • KSTP6 arrested in human trafficking sting, including 2 Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline workers
  • Facebook: #RedRoadToDCWashington, DC Totem Pole Journey, Blessing Ceremony
  • Michigan AdvanceIndigenous activists protest Line 5 in Michigan on 20,000-mile journey to DC
  • Star TribuneBon Iver to head up Line 3 protest concert Aug. 18 at Duluth’s Bayfront Park
  • ReutersTC Energy to switch to green power to run N. American energy pipelines
  • Bismarck TribunePipeline to store synfuels plant’s carbon emissions locally approved by North Dakota regulators
  • Utility DiveHouse grills FERC about commission’s regulatory authority on cybersecurity, pipeline climate impacts
  • Manistee NewsDTE Energy to build natural gas pipeline in Manistee area
  • QC NerveNeighbors Still in the Dark about Colonial Pipeline Spill One Year After Discovery

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • E&E NewsInfrastructure deal whittles down climate spending

EXTRACTION 

  • ReutersJapex warns of $820 mln loss on Canadian oil sands exit
  • BloombergSuncor Cuts Fort Hills Oil Output Guidance Amid Mine Instability
  • ForbesThe U.S. Remained The World’s Top Oil Producer In 2020
  • E&E NewsExxon sting ensnares think tanks with climate credentials

OPINION

  • Virginia MercuryPipeline’s carbon offsets don’t come close to adding up
  • Calgary Sun: Just Transition all about phasing out fossil fuels
  • The HillBreak glass in case of emergency — but not for climate change

PIPELINE NEWS

Star Tribune: Scorching drought exacerbates Line 3 water concerns in northern Minnesota
By Jennifer Bjorhus  7/28/21

“Severe drought is exacerbating concerns about the construction of the Line 3 oil pipeline across northern Minnesota, with the project moving millions of gallons of water even as river and lake levels sink,” according to the Star Tribune. “DFL lawmakers are now asking state pollution regulators to halt all drilling along the pipeline route until the drought ends and the region’s numerous wetlands and rivers recover and can better dilute and flush any chemicals and sediment from the work. They also don’t want drilling to resume until the state has investigated nine drilling mud spills along the construction route this summer, according to a July 27 letter to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Commissioner Peter Tester signed by 32 DFL lawmakers. The lawmakers asked for detailed information on the nine incidents, which they said were violations of a water quality permit the MPCA issued to Calgary-based Enbridge for the project. They asked for the dates and locations of the incidents, for example, as well as the amounts of drilling fluid and bentonite clay released, the distance of spills to nearby waters or wetlands, and information on cleanup measures. Minnesota’s drought is particularly severe in the pipeline area, Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, told the Tribune. Upper Rice Lake, a shallow lake in Clearwater County near the headwaters of the Mississippi River, is so low “you can walk on the lake bottom, it’s that bad,” he said. “…This permit was touted as restrictive, and now we’ve had at least nine violations,” Hornstein said. “Is the system even working?”

Brainerd Dispatch: Authorities arrest 5 in Enbridge protest
7/28/21

“Five people, who live out of state, were arrested Friday, July 23, in connection to a protest of the Enbridge Line 3 project in Wadena County,” according to the Brainerd Dispatch. “The Wadena County Sheriff’s Office, along with several other law enforcement agencies, responded at 4 a.m. to the Enbridge Line 3 project. Upon arrival, deputies were alerted by construction workers of several individuals attempting to breach the fencing around the construction site. By the time the deputies got to the individuals, several had already climbed over the fence and made their way into the construction area, the Northern Lights Task Force reported in a news release. Four of the individuals were able to lock themselves to equipment on site, while a fifth was apprehended and arrested by deputies on scene. Several others fled the scene from deputies into the nearby wooded area. A specially trained extrication team was called to the scene and removed all individuals from the equipment… “Those charged with felonies received conditions and were ordered to post $1,000 bail/bond by the court prior to release.”

KSTP: 6 arrested in human trafficking sting, including 2 Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline workers
Tommy Wiita, 7/28/21

“The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says six people, including two Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline workers, have been arrested in relation to a human trafficking operation that took place last month in Beltrami County,” KSTP reports. “Investigators with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA)-led Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force led the operation in partnership with the Tribes United Against Sex Trafficking (TRUST) Task Force, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office and the Bemidji Police Department. The operation was conducted from June 25 to 26. During the operation, suspects responded to an ad on a sex advertisement website. Investigators arrested the suspects as they arrived at an arranged meeting place for a commercial sex crime. Enrbidge confirmed on June 28 that two of its employees were involved in the arrest. “

Facebook: #RedRoadToDC: Washington, DC Totem Pole Journey, Blessing Ceremony
7/29/21

“The House of Tears Carvers and our partners cordially invite you to our final blessing ceremony in Washington, D.C., after thousands of miles traveled and dozens of events across the country on the #RedRoadtoDC Totem Pole Journey. The event will be on July 29th as we come to the final stop on our journey to draw attention and action to sacred sites and Indigenous rights. Learn more: http://redroadtodc.org “In July, the delivery of a totem pole from Lummi carvers and spiritual leaders to the new Administration, along with events in Washington, D.C., will be the summit of a cross-country tour connecting twenty of the country’s Native-led struggles where sacred lands, waters, and wildlife are imperiled by dams, climate change, and extractive industries. Ceremonial welcomes, online “virtual journey” events and live-streamed outdoor events, and media-making from the road will build support for the sovereign right of tribal nations to shape local and federal solutions, and to act on our collective ancestral responsibility to protect sacred places and the natural world for generations to come.”

Michigan Advance: Indigenous activists protest Line 5 in Michigan on 20,000-mile journey to DC
By Laina G. Stebbins, 7/29/21

“Tribal citizens on a 20,000-mile, cross-country journey to highlight sacred Indigenous sites and call on President Joe Biden’s administration to protect them made their ninth and final stop in Mackinaw City this week,” the Michigan Advance reports. “The activists were met and welcomed Tuesday morning by Native people from numerous tribes across Michigan, including the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe and the Bay Mills Indian Community, who together called on Biden to shut down the Enbridge-owned Line 5 oil pipeline running under the environmentally sensitive Straits of Mackinac. The effort, dubbed the “Red Road to DC,” will culminate Thursday at the National Mall in D.C., where a 25-foot, 5,000-pound totem pole carved by members of the Lummi Nation will be delivered to U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland for the Biden administration… “We aren’t the only ones at risk from the devastating effects of a pipeline spill. Fishermen, the tourism industry, our Michigan economy are all endangered if Line 5 continues to operate in our waters. President Biden must address this crisis immediately,” Bay Mills Tribal Chairperson Whitney Gravelle said during Tuesday’s event.. “Engagement with and respect for Tribes and Indigenous peoples where we do business is very important to us,” Enbridge spokesperson Ryan Duffy told the Advance. “Enbridge recognizes the legal rights of Indigenous Peoples and the important relationship they have with their traditional lands and resources. We work with Indigenous communities in a manner that recognizes and respects these rights.”

Star Tribune: Bon Iver to head up Line 3 protest concert Aug. 18 at Duluth’s Bayfront Park
By Chris Riemenschneider, 7/28/21

“A renewed effort to stop construction of Canadian oil company Enbridge’s Line 3 in northern Minnesota will bring a pipeline of musicians to Duluth’s Bayfront Festival Park for an all-star concert Aug. 18 led by Wisconsin’s Grammy-winning indie-rock favorites Bon Iver,” the Star Tribune reports. “Lissie, Charlie Parr, Low’s Alan Sparhawk, David Huckfelt, Mumu Fresh, Larry Long, and Native performers Annie Humphrey, Quiltman, Dorene Day Waubanewquay and Corey Medina will also perform at the show, dubbed the Water Is Life Festival. The daylong event is a fundraiser for environmental nonprofit Honor the Earth, founded by Line 3 protest leader Winona LaDuke… “Huckfelt, former co-leader of the Pines and a close ally of LaDuke, told the Tribune the concert is a sign of a renewed effort to stop Line 3 following the recent halt of the similarly targeted Keystone Pipeline and what he called “a daily litany of crimes against Minnesota.” “…In reaction to the concert, Enbridge representatives issued a statement Wednesday that claimed the company has spent more than $250 million on the Line 3 replacement project benefiting “tribal nations, citizens, communities, and contractors.” “We support everyone’s right to an opinion about the energy we all use but had hoped everyone would come to accept the multiple approvals of the project based on six years of thorough science-based regulatory study and review by various permitting bodies.”

Reuters: TC Energy to switch to green power to run N. American energy pipelines
Nia Williams, 7/29/21

“Canadian pipeline operator TC Energy Corp (TRP.TO) could spend billions of dollars on its plans to lower emissions by switching to renewable energy to run its huge network of U.S. and Canadian oil and gas pipelines,” Reuters reports. “Calgary-based TC Energy, which ships oil and gas through nearly 100,000 kilometres (62,140 miles) of pipelines, one of the biggest networks in North America, has been encouraged by a better-than-expected response to a request in April for information on wind power for projects in the United States… “TC’s decision to power pipelines with wind and solar, instead of natural gas, is similar to smaller-scale plans by rival Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO) and would go some way toward meeting investor demands to improve its environmental performance… “TC’s scope 1 and 2 emissions – that is, emissions it produces or that are produced to supply it with power – from its oil and gas pipelines were nearly 14 million tonnes in 2019, according to the company website… “It would take 5 to 7 GW to power the entire U.S. and Canadian pipeline network, he estimated. That compares with total installed wind power capacity in the United States of 118 GW, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. BMO Capital Markets estimated in a note to clients that securing 620 megawatts of wind power would cost around $1 billion in capital investment, which implies the cost of converting TC’s whole U.S. and Canadian network would run to several billion dollars… “Some shareholders say they would prefer TC to invest in new pipelines or return cash to investors, rather than spend money on powering pipelines with renewables. “Is it as good (a use of capital) as investing in pipelines, acquiring assets, or buying back shares? I suspect probably not,” Martin Cobb, senior vice president at Lorne Steinberg Wealth Management, which owns shares in TC, told Reuters.”

Bismarck Tribune: Pipeline to store synfuels plant’s carbon emissions locally approved by North Dakota regulators
AMY R. SISK, 7/28/21

“North Dakota regulators have approved a permit for a pipeline that will transport carbon dioxide captured from Basin Electric’s Great Plains Synfuels Plant to a nearby site for underground storage,” the Bismarck Tribune reports. “The pipeline will extend 7 miles from the Mercer County plant to a series of proposed wells where CO2 would be injected deep into rock formations below the earth’s surface. “By mile, this is a short pipeline but I would argue it is one of the most important pipeline projects North Dakota has seen because it does signal the next chapter in energy development,” Brian Kroshus, a member of the Public Service Commission, which voted unanimously Wednesday to permit the project, told the Tribune. “…State leaders have embraced the idea of capturing carbon dioxide from industrial sources and injecting it underground for permanent storage, rather than allow it to be released into the atmosphere where it contributes to climate change. “North Dakota is going to be a leader,” Commission Chair Julie Fedorchak told the Tribune. “This is an important step in the right direction.” “…The flurry of announcements by North Dakota companies to capture their emissions and store them underground is partly the result of a federal tax credit that aims to make the projects more financially viable.”

Utility Dive: House grills FERC about commission’s regulatory authority on cybersecurity, pipeline climate impacts
Catherine Morehouse, 7/28/21

“Cybersecurity, transmission reform and the future of pipeline deliberations came under scrutiny Tuesday during a House hearing focused on federal energy regulatory authorities,” Utility Dive reports. “…Republicans and Democrats on the subcommittee were split on how or whether they felt the commission should consider environmental justice and climate change when reviewing whether to approve a gas pipeline or other infrastructure. Republicans expressed concern about FERC considering greenhouse gas emissions, arguing that the commission is not an environmental regulator, but Glick maintained that the commission was directed by several court decisions to be more judicious in how it approves pipelines, including considering their impacts on the climate crisis. He also said that considering these impacts does not necessarily mean the commission won’t approve the project, as was the case in FERC’s approval of the Northern Natural pipeline replacement. “Just because you were to find a particular project that has a significant level of emissions doesn’t mean you have to deny the project,” Glick said.

Manistee News: DTE Energy to build natural gas pipeline in Manistee area
Jeff Zide, 7/29/21

“DTE energy will be building an additional natural gas pipeline in the Manistee area,” the Manistee News reports. “This pipeline will use no public money and will use existing gas pipelines to be converted into gas transmission lines. The existing pipeline will be converted by DTE Michigan Lateral Co.’s (DMLC) and it will build two connector pipelines, Rogers City Connector and the Norwalk Manistee Connector. The reason for the pipeline is to ensure more stability in the natural infrastructure in the Northwest Michigan area, according to Matt Helms, Public Information Officer for the Michigan Public Service Commission. Helms emphasized project as a fail safe measure, to keep natural gas flowing in case an emergency, accident or extreme weather event… “This will ensure that if one pipeline fails, there will be a second source of natural gas as a failsafe measure, Helms said, as a way to avoid what happened in Macomb County in 2019 or in Texas earlier this year.”

QC Nerve: Neighbors Still in the Dark about Colonial Pipeline Spill One Year After Discovery
Ryan Pitkin, 7/28/21

“Shannon Ward grew up attending protests and rallies for any number of causes, beginning in the 1960s, but the gathering she attended at Veterans Park in Huntersville on Sunday, July 25, was different. Ward lives just hundreds of feet from the Oehler Nature Preserve, the site of last year’s Colonial Pipeline gas spill, the largest such spill in North Carolina history and the largest in the United States in 20 years, and is fearful for what it means for the well on her property,” QC Nerve reports. “…The rally was organized by the Charlotte, Mooresville and Asheville hubs of the Sunrise Movement, an environmental activist coalition focused on elevating the urgency of climate change solutions. Rally organizers decried the lack of attention that’s been given to the Colonial Pipeline spill since its discovery in August 2020. They called on officials to hold Colonial Pipeline accountable for the massive amounts of gas spilled in the nature preserve, to stop supporting further pipeline infrastructure, and to support the passage of Joe Biden’s Civilian Climate Corps Act… “They had a schmoozer guy who came out and pretended to answer questions for a while, and you’d ask him questions and he’d say, ‘Oh that’s a great question, I’ll have to check on that,’ and you’d never hear back,” Ward told QC Nerve. “But as soon as we got a lawyer, they quit talking to us.”

WASHINGTON UPDATES

E&E News: Infrastructure deal whittles down climate spending
By Adam Aton, 7/29/21

“Billions of dollars in climate spending have been cut from the bipartisan infrastructure deal,” according to E&E News. “Public transit and electric vehicle spending could be roughly $20 billion lower under the infrastructure deal announced yesterday compared with the bipartisan framework that senators and the White House announced in June. The Biden administration is touting the deal for $550 billion in new spending as the single largest infrastructure investment in U.S. history. But the lower funding levels could threaten President Biden’s goal of building a half-million charging stations, if not his larger ambition of cutting emissions in half by 2030 — the minimum that’s needed, scientists say, to maintain a safe climate. It also ratchets up political pressure on Democrats. With virtually no margin for defections, the party faces internal divisions between progressives who are alarmed at the mounting scale of climate impacts and centrists who are wary of massive federal spending or are concerned about its potential effects on industry. The deal announced yesterday proposes $39 billion for public transit. Last month, negotiators had settled on $49 billion. (Biden had originally sought $85 billion.) Electric school buses were trimmed to $2.5 billion. The June framework had called for $7.5 billion for “electric buses/transit,” according to a White House fact sheet. Now, the deal directs $2.5 billion of that money to “low-emissions” buses, and $2.5 billion of it to ferries (with some of that funding earmarked for Alaska). Electric vehicle charging stations had their potential funding cut by about half.” “…Biden and Congress can’t get distracted by this pathetic version of an infrastructure package that only waters down much needed climate priorities, like transit, even further,” the Sunrise Movement’s advocacy director, Lauren Maunus, told E&E.

EXTRACTION 

Reuters: Japex warns of $820 mln loss on Canadian oil sands exit
Yuka Obayashi, 7/29/21

“Japanese state-backed oil producer Japan Petroleum Exploration Co (Japex) (1662.T) warned on Thursday of a 90 billion yen ($820 million) loss from exiting its Hangingston oil sands project in Canada, sending its shares down,” Reuters reports. “Japex has agreed to sell its entire stake in the oil sands project to Canadian oil sands developer and operator HE Acquisition Corp, as profits from the project have been weaker than expected with volatility in local prices and tight pipeline capacity, company spokesperson Yuki Goto told Reuters. The decision also reflected expected waning demand for the fuel in the global push to cut carbon emissions, Goto said… “The move follows several global oil majors which have rushed to sell Canadian oil sands assets over the past four years over concerns ranging from high production costs and emissions to scarcity of capital for fossil fuel projects.

Bloomberg: Suncor Cuts Fort Hills Oil Output Guidance Amid Mine Instability
By Robert Tuttle, 7/28/21

“Suncor Energy Inc. cut its full-year production guidance at its Fort Hills oil sands mine to between 45,000 and 55,000 barrels a day from a previous 65,000 to 85,000 barrels a day because of additional required work on the mine,” Bloomberg reports. “Instability on the south side of the mine requires so-called overburden removal to occur, which is to be completed by the end of the year, the company said in its second-quarter earnings release. Fort Hills will continue at the current production level for the remainder of the year and “transition to both primary extraction trains” by late 2021 to reach full production in early 2022. Fort Hills cash operating costs have also been updated to between C$37 and C$42 a barrel from C$25 to C$29 a barrel. Canada’s newest oil sands mine’s bitumen output collapsed due to Covid 19. Suncor shut one of the two so-called production trains at its Fort Hills mine last year as oil prices and demand collapsed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The company resumed operation of the second train late last year and had planned to transition to operating both trains at normal rates during the third quarter.”

Forbes: The U.S. Remained The World’s Top Oil Producer In 2020
Robert Rapier, 7/28/21

“…Despite the impact the pandemic had on U.S. oil production, the U.S. remained the world’s top oil producer at 11.3 million BPD.2 Russia and Saudi Arabia retained their positions at #2 and #3,” according to Forbes. “However, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries engaged in production cuts in 2020 in response to the pandemic. Note that these production numbers are for crude oil and lease condensate. The U.S. also leads all countries in the production of natural gas liquids (NGLs), which partially end up in the oil products supply chain. So, if NGLs are included, the U.S. has an even larger lead over Russia and Saudi Arabia. The Review reports that global proved oil reserves declined by 0.1% to 1.72 trillion barrels.”

E&E News: Exxon sting ensnares think tanks with climate credentials
By Corbin Hiar, 7/29/21

“In May 2018, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on the geopolitical implications of oil and gas production in the United States. The four witnesses who testified all had one thing in common: Their institutions each had received money that year from Exxon Mobil Corp,” E&E News reports. “The event could hardly have gone better for Exxon, the largest U.S. oil and gas company. The witnesses, including highly credentialed experts from the Brookings Institution and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, extolled the economic and political benefits of the U.S. drilling boom. The Brookings scholar mentioned climate change in passing; the CSIS expert didn’t bring it up at all. Now some experts and congressional investigators are wondering why… “Exxon has donated $600,000 to Brookings since 2018 and nearly $2.1 million to CSIS over the same period, according to contributions disclosed by the $240 billion company, some of which were first reported by The New Republic. The think tanks have acknowledged their support from Exxon but say it has no influence over their climate and energy research. Furthermore, they have no control over how the oil company, or anyone else, uses their research once it’s published… “It creates an appearance of a conflict of interest that warrants investigation into the facts of how the money and the research related to one another,” Steve Coll, the author of “Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power” and dean of Columbia Journalism School, told E&E.  “It’s important because it goes to credibility of research that is being brought to public hearings to influence public understanding and policy.”

OPINION

Virginia Mercury: Pipeline’s carbon offsets don’t come close to adding up
William Limpert is a retired environmental regulator. He and his wife Lynn previously lived in Little Valley, Bath County, in the direct path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, 7/28/21

“The Mountain Valley Pipeline continues to try to divert attention from the destructive effects of its project,” William Limpert writes in the Virginia Mercury. “ In a July 12 news release, MVP announced that it would purchase more than $150 million in carbon offsets to make MVP operational emissions carbon neutral for the first 10 years of operation through a methane abatement project at a Southwest Virginia coal mine. A closer look behind the smoke and mirrors reveals the true nature of the carbon offset plan. MVP boasts that methane mitigation projects like their offset plan are cited in the 2021 UN  Global Methane Assessment and they quote that report: “Fast and ambitious methane mitigation is one of the best strategies available today to deliver immediate and long- lasting multiple benefits for climate, agriculture, human and ecosystem health.” But the MVP fails to mention that the report, with Assessment Chair Drew Shindell and others from Duke University contributing, also states ”At the same time, without relying on future  massive-scale deployment of unproven carbon removal technologies, expansion of natural gas infrastructure and usage is incompatible with keeping warming to 1.5° C.” In other words the UN report states that we shouldn’t be building any new fossil fuel  infrastructure — like the MVP. The hypocrisy of the press release is similar to the MVP saying that they are going to comply with one of the Ten Commandments, while secretly violating a number of the other commandments.“

Calgary Sun: Just Transition all about phasing out fossil fuels
Vitor Marciano is an energy advocacy consultant living in Edmonton, 7/29/21

“On July 20th Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan announced that the government would begin consulting on the “Just Transition Act.” O’Regan described it as a process leading to support oil and gas workers as the world moves away from fossil fuels. The media yawned, other politicians barely commented on it,” Victor Marciano writes for the Calgary Sun. “The “Just Transition” is an existential threat to Alberta. It is so much more than what team Trudeau describes it as. It’s a threat to the hundreds of thousands of Albertans directly and indirectly employed by the energy industry. It’s a threat to the even greater number of workers outside of Alberta whose jobs depend on supplying the oil industry. And, it’s a threat to the very real possibility that the oil and gas industry was going to innovate its way to net zero. But first google the phrase “just transition.” It was inserted into the Paris Climate Agreement by the environmental NGOs (ENGOs) and has been used for years as a code phrase of hard-left eco-socialist organizations that not only want to end the oil industry, they want to end free enterprise.”

The Hill: Break glass in case of emergency — but not for climate change
Ryan P. Burke, Ph.D., a veteran Marine Corps officer, is a professor of Military and Strategic Studies at the U.S. Air Force Academy and a nonresident fellow with the Modern War Institute at West Point, 7/29/21

“On his 20th day in office, President Biden declared a national emergency regarding the situation in Burma, citing “an unusual and extraordinary threat” to U.S. national security. Most Americans probably cannot identify Burma on a map (pro tip: it’s also called Myanmar), describe the situation there, or articulate how it is an “extraordinary threat” constituting a U.S. national emergency. And that is the problem. From civil war in a country most Americans know nothing about to global climate change, a national emergency can be anything a president wants it to be. But just because it can be doesn’t mean it should be,” Ryan P. Burke writes in The Hill. “…There is no legal definition of “national emergency.” Because of this, the National Emergencies Act (NEA) has become an evasion mechanism for presidents to achieve political goals by sidestepping legislative stagnation. The result is continued norms-erosion of presidential restraint, logic and measure in favor of procedural convenience. Declaring a national emergency should require more fidelity… “In order to justify a national emergency declaration, he must link climate to national defense and security. This is precisely what his executive order did a week into his presidency, stating climate is at the “center of United States foreign policy and national security.” And the DOD is on board, now referring to climate change as a “critical national security threat.”

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