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Extracted: Daily News Clips 8/9/21

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

By Mark Hefflinger

News Clips August 9, 2021

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PIPELINE NEWS

  • New York TimesWinona LaDuke Feels That President Biden Has Betrayed Native Americans
  • WFXR10 pipeline protesters lock selves to construction equipment, blockades at Montgomery County MVP site
  • Facebook: Appalachians Against PipelinesThe two pipeline fighters who locked themselves to a drill earlier today have been extracted, arrested, and bailed out of jail
  • Facebook: Appalachians Against PipelinesDozens of pipeline fighters and water protectors are taking action this morning in Elliston, VA to STOP THE MOUNTAIN VALLEY PIPELINE!
  • Wisconsin Citizens Media CooperativeWater walk begins from headwaters of Mississippi, headed to Capitol by August 25
  • Associated PressMore oil shipped as Dakota Access Pipeline expansion starts
  • The InterceptMINNESOTA LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY BLOCKS RELEASE OF PUBLIC RECORDS ABOUT SURVEILLING PIPELINE OPPONENTS
  • TruthoutMinnesota Fusion Center Has Classified Its Data on Line 3 Protests as “Secret”
  • Argus MediaCanadian producers eye Asia-Pacific market
  • Globe and MailTrans Mountain asks CER to step in amid complaints about Burnaby permits
  • Daily LocalApartment complex denied right-to-know request

WASHINGTON UPDATES

  • E&E News‘Game changer’? Deal on orphaned wells sparks debate

STATE UPDATES

  • Washington PostLouisiana needs sand to rebuild its coast. Old oil and gas pipelines are blocking the way
  • Fort Collins ColoradoanLarimer County tightens oil and gas rules, becoming perhaps the most strict in the state
  • Cheyenne PostOil and gas leasing pause won’t hurt Wyoming, report concludes
  • Colorado NewslineReport finds little impact on Western states from federal oil and gas leasing pause

EXTRACTION

  • NPRMajor Report Warns Climate Change Is Accelerating And Humans Must Cut Emissions Now
  • E&E NewsExxon suspended from climate group after sting tape
  • Wall Street JournalExxon Considers Pledging ‘Net Zero’ Carbon by 2050
  • WPREnvironmental Groups Want Agency To Review Climate Impacts Of Superior Gas Plant

RESEARCH & SCIENCE

  • GuardianReduce methane or face climate catastrophe, scientists warn
  • BBCThe search for the world’s largest methane sources
  • Press releasePoor urban, rural areas could bear financial burden of move from natural gas to electricity for energy needs

CLIMATE FINANCE

  • Financial TimesClimate laggards could ‘let down’ Lloyd’s of London

OPINION

  • TIMEThe Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Is a Return to the Old Way of Politics. That’s A Problem for the Climate
  • The BreachAlberta’s anti-energy inquiry aims to undermine First Nations opposition to Tar Sands

PIPELINE NEWS

New York Times: Winona LaDuke Feels That President Biden Has Betrayed Native Americans
By David Marchese, 8/9/21

“Right now in northern Minnesota, the Canadian oil-and-gas-transport company Enbridge is building an expansion of a pipeline, Line 3, to carry oil through fragile parts of the state’s watersheds as well as treaty-protected tribal lands,” the New York Times reports. “Winona LaDuke, a member of the local Ojibwe tribe and a longtime Native rights activist, has been helping to lead protests and acts of civil disobedience against the controversial $9.3 billion project. “I spend a lot of time,” she tells the Times, “fighting stupid ideas that are messing with our land and our people.” So far the efforts of LaDuke, who is 61 and who ran alongside Ralph Nader as the Green Party’s vice-presidential nominee in 1996 and 2000, have been in vain. The Biden administration declined to withdraw federal permits for the project, a stance that Line 3 opponents see as hypocritical given the president’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline as well as his vocal support for climate action. “I have had the highest hopes for the Biden administration,” LaDuke tells the Times, “only to have them crushed.” Not long after we spoke, LaDuke was arrested and jailed for violating the conditions of her release on earlier protest-related charges, which required her to avoid Enbridge’s worksites. She has since been released… “Are you saying that you think Biden has some specific animosity toward the Ojibwe? No. He doesn’t have animosity, but he’s privileging a Canadian multinational. He knows that this pipeline runs right through our reservations. They know, and have a choice of what they’re going to support. I think it’s a trade-off for him: I canceled Keystone, and so we’ll just let this one go through, because it’s a replacement pipe. It’s not. It’s a new pipe.”

WFXR: 10 pipeline protesters lock selves to construction equipment, blockades at Montgomery County MVP site
Colleen Guerry, 8/9/21

“Dozens of protesters are reportedly taking action in Montgomery County Monday morning — including 10 people who have locked themselves to construction equipment and other blockades — against the Mountain Valley Pipeline,” WFXR reports. “According to Appalachians Against Pipelines, the blockades include wooden models of an endangered candy darter and a yellow finch, both of which are native species threatened by the pipeline. “Right now we’re looking at a future with extreme water shortages, accelerating difficulty in growing food, mass human displacement due to natural disasters and manmade disasters caused by pipelines like these,” stated Mandy, one of the people taking action on Monday, Aug. 9… “This marks at least the sixth protest in southwest Virginia involving Appalachians Against Pipelines since mid-April.”

Facebook: Appalachians Against Pipelines: The two pipeline fighters who locked themselves to a drill earlier today have been extracted, arrested, and bailed out of jail
8/6/21

“The two pipeline fighters who locked themselves to a drill earlier today have been extracted, arrested, and bailed out of jail! These folks halted work at the site where the Mountain Valley Pipeline is slated to cross under I-64 in WV for 2.5 hours this morning. 👏👏👏 One person was charged with 4 misdemeanors (trespass, 2 obstruction charges, and conspiracy) with bail set at $5,000. The other was charged with 6 misdemeanors (trespass, 3 obstruction charges, and 2 conspiracy charges) with bail set at $7,500. Below is the full statement from one of the pipeline fighters: “In the expansive timeline of industrial extraction, halting work for a single day might feel molecular, but today’s action is anything but isolated. Today’s action stands in community with all that has transpired, all those that will continue to resist, painting a larger picture of the resiliency of grassroots organizing in Appalachia and the overwhelming value of direct action in rural spaces. “As I write and as you read, 303 miles of Appalachian soil is being held captive by the Mountain Valley Pipeline. As pipeline construction intrudes upon the ground under the pads of our feet, we are reminded of the long history of rural communities, of Appalachian flora and fauna reduced to a mere commodity for the sake of bolstering a capitalistic agenda. “Our story isn’t about an earth that’s burning- it’s long been burned. Rather, our story lies in the ashes that grace the topsoil, the dust that garnishes the trees. It’s the ways in which we walk through the rubble of once was that defines our collective tale.”

Facebook: Appalachians Against Pipelines: Dozens of pipeline fighters and water protectors are taking action this morning in Elliston, VA to STOP THE MOUNTAIN VALLEY PIPELINE!
8/9/21

“Dozens of pipeline fighters and water protectors are taking action this morning in Elliston, VA to STOP THE MOUNTAIN VALLEY PIPELINE! 10 people have locked themselves to construction equipment and other blockades, including a wooden candy darter (an endangered species) and a wooden yellow finch, both of which are native species threatened by the MVP. Banners on site read, “STOP Mountain Valley Pipeline” and “Defend the Sacred.” Another pipeline fighter at today’s action stated: “What I hope for is that our action today, in addition to stopping construction on the evil snake, inspires you to be disruptive and to embrace the power of refusal. It’s easy to see injustice, but now is the time to put your body in the way — and when folks tell you to get back in line, you can refuse. When the cops tell me to unlock myself from this equipment, I will refuse. Despite the vast power of the state, I have the power to refuse in ways that cause real disruption, and you do too!” The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a 42-inch diameter, 300-plus mile, fracked gas pipeline that runs from northern West Virginia to southern Virginia. The pipeline’s construction is 3.5 years behind schedule, several billion dollars over budget, and still missing permits including those needed to cross streams, waterways, and the National Forest.”

Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative: Water walk begins from headwaters of Mississippi, headed to Capitol by August 25
8/7/21

“This morning, water walkers left Fire Light Camp on the Mississippi on a walk to St. Paul. They will be walking for two weeks to their destination of the Minnesota State Capitol Building, arriving by August 25th. The Capitol Building will hold a large welcome event to celebrate the walkers, and tell President Biden to step in and direct the Army Corps to cancel this pipeline’s permits,” the Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative reports. “Enbridge is currently violating 21 river crossings, and hundreds of waterways across Minnesota. In the style of walks led by the American Indian Movement (AIM), water protectors are on a prayerful walk in solidarity with Mississippi River, “Nibi” (water), and to #HonortheTreaties that all of our ancestors signed. You are invited to join some or all of the walk, host walkers, and join events along the route. Go to Treaty People Walk for Water for more details.”

Associated Press: More oil shipped as Dakota Access Pipeline expansion starts
8/6/21

“More oil is being shipped through the Dakota Access Pipeline to the dismay of opponents who say the line expansion should not have gone into service before an environmental study has been completed,” the Associated Press reports. “Energy Transfer executives said during a quarterly earnings call this week that the line can now transport 750,000 barrels of oil daily, which is 180,000 more than before. Energy Transfer is adding pump stations to boost the pipeline’s horsepower, and said once the full expansion is up and running, as much as 1.1 million barrels of oil will flow through the pipeline each day… “An attorney for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which opposes the line and its expansion, told AP the purpose of the Corps’ review “is to study the impact of things before they occur, not after.” “This is outrageous,” attorney Jan Hasselman said after learning that part of the expansion had gone into service. “This is a pipeline that does not have federal permits across the Missouri River. It is subject of a federal enforcement action due to multiple safety violations and instead of dialing back, they’re pushing even more oil through.”

The Intercept: MINNESOTA LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY BLOCKS RELEASE OF PUBLIC RECORDS ABOUT SURVEILLING PIPELINE OPPONENTS
Will Parrish, 8/7/21

“FOLLOWING CRITICAL STORIES about the policing of anti-pipeline activists, a Minnesota law enforcement agency barred a federally affiliated body from releasing documents through the state’s public records laws, according to documents obtained by The Intercept. “The Minnesota Fusion Center, a police intelligence-sharing partnership affiliated with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is sidestepping the state’s freedom of information law by citing security concerns, though it had in the past released records related to its policing of pipeline opponents. The fusion center is refusing to release any public records pertaining to activities, including surveillance, against opponents of the energy firm Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline until after it is constructed, according to one of the documents. The unusual policy came after The Intercept and other media outlets published stories documenting law enforcement surveillance and coordination with private security during protests against Line 3, part of a trend in which aggressive policing against pipeline opponents across the U.S. was reported by media. Many of the news stories concerning Minnesota police activities were based on records provided under the Minnesota Data Practices Act and reporting on anti-pipeline struggles in other states has relied on similar public transparency laws. “It is a little unprecedented for a police agency to refuse to disclose records concerning its activities like this with respect to one specific construction project,” Freddy Martinez, a transparency law expert and policy analyst for the group Open the Governmen, told the Interceptt. “I’ve never seen something quite like this.” Big Wind, a Northern Arapaho tribal member opposing the pipeline told the Intercept police are attempting to cover up their activities because freedom of information requests have exposed damaging and embarrassing information about them that has helped further the struggle against the pipeline.

Truthout: Minnesota Fusion Center Has Classified Its Data on Line 3 Protests as “Secret”
Chris Schiano, 8/8/21

“Almost all records held by Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) related to the environmentally harmful Enbridge Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline are classified as secret, according to memos provided to Unicorn Riot as part of a denial of public records requests,” Truthout reports. “The BCA investigates crime scenes and police shootings, and also runs the Minnesota Fusion Center. A designation memo from the Minnesota Department of Safety (DPS), dated January, 16, 2019, declares a wide swath of BCA data as secret under the designation of “security information.” The January 2019 security designation specifically mentions data collected by the Minnesota Fusion Center. BCA’s parent agency, DPS, is currently led by Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, who signed the security memo classifying BCA’s fusion center data. Fusion centers are controversial intelligence hubs created around the USA during the explosion of unchecked domestic surveillance programs after the September 11, 2001 attacks and passage of the PATRIOT Act. They serve as information sharing points for local, state, and federal police as well as private security firms and corporations. Fusion centers are regularly implicated in monitoring political activities and cultural events that are supposed to be protected under the First Amendment. They’ve also been shown to cite right-wing conspiracy websites like Infowars as if they were reliable sources of intelligence. A 2012 Senate investigation found that during their first decade of existence, fusion centers produced “shoddy, rarely timely” reports and never discovered or helped stop any terrorist activity.”

Argus Media: Canadian producers eye Asia-Pacific market
Brett Holmes, 8/9/21

“Canadian producers are eyeing increased access to the Asia-Pacific market as a new crude pipeline to the Pacific coast inches closer to becoming reality,” Argus Media reports. “The Trans Mountain expansion (TMX) will add 590,000 b/d of pipeline capacity from western Canada and is expected on stream in December 2022. The project, catering for heavy crude, will nearly triple the capacity of the present 300,000 b/d line, which runs from Edmonton, Alberta, to Burnaby, British Columbia, on Canada’s west coast. It will be the first pipeline in decades to offer meaningful access for Canadian producers to new markets without needing to go through the US and could enable a near 600,000 b/d increase in Alberta heavy crude shipments to the coast and then to China — assuming that the crude is available and demand from west coast refiners has been satisfied… “Aside from Trans Mountain, Canadian crude is exported along Enbridge’s 2.85mn b/d Mainline system, TC Energy’s 590,000 b/d Keystone line, Enbridge’s 310,000 b/d Express system and by rail, mainly to the US. These pipelines are running at capacity — export line congestion has been a feature of the Canadian crude market for some time. Enbridge had to reject 54pc of requests for space on its heavy crude pipelines in August, and inventories in Alberta remain near record highs as producers finish maintenance programmes. Some relief is on the way, with Enbridge close to completing its Line 3 Replacement Project, raising capacity along the line to Wisconsin to 760,000 b/d from 390,000 b/d. The project is on track to start up in the fourth quarter. Enbridge expects the expanded Line 3 and TMX to fill up “relatively quickly” as western Canadian producers have been waiting for more pipeline space and are ready to boost output by 400,000-500,000 b/d when that happens, Enbridge chief executive Al Monaco says.”

Globe and Mail: Trans Mountain asks CER to step in amid complaints about Burnaby permits
MIKE HAGER, 8/5/21

“Trans Mountain is again asking the Canada Energy Regulator for permission to bypass the City of Burnaby as it seeks to clear dozens of trees and gain access to restricted land in order to construct its controversial pipeline expansion,” according to the Globe and Mail. “The Crown pipeline corporation filed its request with the federal agency this week, alleging Burnaby has used its permitting powers to stymy the expansion for the past four years. Trans Mountain is asking the regulator to rule that these municipal measures are unconstitutional, in part because the project was given federal “paramountcy” by Ottawa. In late 2020, the CER ruled that Trans Mountain did not need the city’s permission for some tree clearing work, but the corporation is now asking the regulator to expand that decision so it can cut down 86 more trees in three different areas. The new application, filed Aug. 3, is also asking for the project to gain new access to land on the other side of a railroad that its work crews are not allowed to cross. Greg McDade, external legal counsel for Burnaby, said he doesn’t see any point in the community even participating in this latest motion with the regulator, given the city’s consecutive losses with similar challenges. “The regulator has ruled on a number of occasions that, if Burnaby says no, they think the public interest is in the pipeline and they’re prepared to overrule [the city],” he told the Globe and Mail. “We don’t agree that there’s a stymieing happening here, Burnaby is exercising its jurisdiction appropriately and Trans Mountain doesn’t like it.”

Daily Local: Apartment complex denied right-to-know request
By Bill Rettew, 8/6/21

“A tug of war for information is ongoing between Mariner East pipeline builder Sunoco/Energy Transfer and Glen Riddle Station Apartments,” the Daily Local reports. “In December of 2020, Steve Iacobucci, property manager of the apartment complex, which was the site of heavy pipeline construction for more than six months, filed a right-to-know request. Iacobucci seeks 489 emails and other correspondence passed from June 2019 to the present time between Middletown Township and Sunoco/ET. So far Sunoco and the township have refused to release the documents, he contends. At the heart of Iacobucci’s open record RTK request are emails concerning what he said was a $1.8 million Sunoco payment to the township. An easement was granted for township-owned Sleighton Park. The property manager is disappointed that the township’s lack of a response defied an April ruling to release the information from the Office of Open Records. Sunoco and the township both appealed the office of open records decision to the Court of Common Pleas… “Middletown Councilman Mark Kirchgasser denied those claims. “The transaction where Middletown provided seven easements to Sunoco in exchange for $1.8 million and the subsequent use of those funds was conducted openly in public meetings, widely reported and posted for the public’s view on the township website. Middletown has and continues to provide full transparency during the Mariner East construction work in our township,” he wrote.

WASHINGTON UPDATES

E&E News: ‘Game changer’? Deal on orphaned wells sparks debate
By Heather Richards, 8/9/21

“Lawmakers are poised to make a historic investment to clean up abandoned oil and gas wells, but the $4.7 billion fund tucked into the bipartisan infrastructure proposal is missing a key reform sought by some Democrats,” according to E&E News. “Democratic lawmakers have pushed for increased bonding on federal oil and gas development and for pressure on states to shore up their bonding regulations in return for federal dollars. “This funding is a useful first step, but it is crucial that we continue to work towards passing bonding reform,” Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), whose bill, the “Oil and Gas Bonding Reform and Orphaned Well Remediation Act,” S. 2177 would increase bonding rates on federal and tribal lands, told E&E. He added: “Doing so would ensure we hold companies operating on public lands to the same high standards that responsible operators already follow.” Calls for bonding reform, echoed by many large environmental groups, are part of an attempt to stop abandoned wells from costing taxpayers in the future by ensuring that industry secures the cost of reclamation up front. Risk of abandonment will grow in the coming years, advocates say, especially as the world shifts toward cleaner fuels.”

STATE UPDATES

Washington Post: Louisiana needs sand to rebuild its coast. Old oil and gas pipelines are blocking the way.
By Sara Sneath, 8/5/21

“A Houston-based energy company is asking a federal bankruptcy court for permission to walk away from its aging infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico. Fieldwood Energy is attempting to shift responsibility for removing 1,715 wells, 276 platforms and 281 pipelines to oil and gas companies that previously held leases for the same area, according to court documents,” the Washington Post reports. “Under existing federal regulations, companies remain liable for decommissioning infrastructure on areas of federally owned seafloor where they previously produced oil and gas. But the former holders of the Fieldwood leases — including Chevron, BP and Shell — are attempting to get out of that obligation because of the cost, estimated at $9 billion. It’s a familiar story. A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report found that oil and gas companies have been allowed to abandon 97 percent of offshore pipelines in place without penalty. The abandoned infrastructure poses environmental concerns, but it has also created another problem: The pipelines are blocking access to the sand that Louisiana and other gulf states desperately need to rebuild their coastlines in the face of rising seas. The Gulf of Mexico swallows a football field of Louisiana coastline every 100 minutes on average. Barrier islands that have historically acted as speed bumps to hurricanes headed toward coastal communities are among the areas losing ground. Without them, the state is more vulnerable to climate change and severe weather. Geologists estimate that up to 11,000 million cubic meters of sediment are needed to restore the state’s coastline, but about 58 percent of the offshore sediment in the gulf that could be used to rebuild Louisiana’s coast is blocked by pipelines, Syed Khalil, a geologist with the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, told the Post. While there is enough sand for the coastal restoration projects that Louisiana has planned in the short term, the state’s fight to fend off rising seas will require more.”

Fort Collins Coloradoan: Larimer County tightens oil and gas rules, becoming perhaps the most strict in the state
Molly Bohannon, Sady Swanson, 8/3/21

“Larimer County commissioners approved new, stricter gas and oil regulations Thursday evening in an extension of the commissioners’ July 26 meeting,” the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports. “…At a minimum, the county’s regulations have to meet the state’s regulations, but in many ways, the new regulations go beyond the state requirements, county principal planner Matt Lafferty told the Coloradoan. “In a lot of ways we are similar to the state, but in a lot of instances we exceed the state (requirements),” Lafferty said… “With the new regulations approved by commissioners, oil and gas facilities must be at least 2,000 feet from: Schools, Hospitals or medical clinics, Senior living or assisted living facilities, Multifamily dwelling units, and State-licensed day cares. The COGCC requires oil and gas facilities be 2,000 feet from high-occupancy buildings, like hospitals and schools, but that state requirement does not include day care facilities, according to the county. For residential homes, county setbacks start at 2,000 feet and can go down to 1,000 feet, while the state setbacks start at 2,000 and can go as low at 500 feet, Lafferty told the Coloradoan.”

Cheyenne Post: Oil and gas leasing pause won’t hurt Wyoming, report concludes
Nicole Pollack, 8/5/21

“The Biden administration’s pause on federal drilling leases alarmed the oil and gas industry. But a new report argues that its economic impacts will be negligible — even for Wyoming,” according to the Cheyenne Post. “Decades of stockpiled leases will enable the industry to continue operating normally through the duration of the freeze, according to an analysis published this week by the Conservation Economics Institute. During a Zoom call introducing the report on Wednesday, institute director Evan Hjerpe described the pause as an opportunity to reform an uneconomical program without harming communities. “The federal oil and gas leasing program is woefully inefficient and outdated,” Hjerpe said. “Royalty rates, bonding, minimum lease bids and non-competitive leasing are all outdated and are all very inadequate. This results in heavy subsidies to oil and gas producers, results in pollution and results in a very poor return on investment for U.S. taxpayers.” But the Petroleum Association of Wyoming challenged the report’s conclusions, contending that its authors are not only advocating for leasing reform, but want to stop current drilling as well. The report suggests that approximately approximately 16,500 jobs — 4% of total employment in Wyoming — would be at risk if all federal oil and gas production ceased. The Petroleum Association disagrees. “We’re glad to see anti-energy groups like the authors of this study confirm that ‘oil and gas production on federal lands has played a significant role in Wyoming’s economic development’ even though the report purposely undercounts oil and gas related employment,” Ryan McConnaughey, the Petroleum Association’s communications director, wrote in an email to the Star-Tribune.

Colorado Newsline: Report finds little impact on Western states from federal oil and gas leasing pause
CHASE WOODRUFF, 8/5/21

“Even if the federal government’s pause on new oil and gas leases on public lands became permanent, companies have already stockpiled enough leases to keep drilling on federally owned lands in Colorado for the next 35 years, a new analysis finds,” Colorado Newsline reports. “The estimate of “future years of drilling opportunities” was calculated in a study of the effects of the Biden administration’s leasing moratorium by researchers at the Idaho-based nonprofit Conservation Economics Institute. Their research, published Wednesday, was funded by the National Resources Defense Council, an environmental group… “Environmentalist critics have long faulted the federal leasing program for allowing drillers to cheaply amass large numbers of oil and gas leases on public lands. Leasing activity reached new highs during the Trump administration, with record amounts of federal land leased for drilling in many Western states. In Utah and Wyoming, researchers found, drillers’ current leasing stockpile could allow them to continue producing oil and gas for more than 60 years into the future. “Polluters cried economic duress when the administration set about reforming a broken system, and this shows just how misleading those claims are,” Josh Axelrod, senior advocate for the NRDC’s nature program, said in a statement. “The pause on leasing federal lands is not an economic threat — industry is already sitting on a stockpile of leases that could yield drilling for well over half a century.”

EXTRACTION

NPR: Major Report Warns Climate Change Is Accelerating And Humans Must Cut Emissions Now
Rebecca Hersher, 8/9/21

“Global climate change is accelerating and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the overwhelming cause, according to a landmark report released Monday by the United Nations,” NPR reports. “There is still time to avoid catastrophic warming this century, but only if countries around the world stop burning fossil fuels as quickly as possible, the authors warn. The message to world leaders is more dire, and more unequivocal, than ever before. “It is indisputable that human activities are causing climate change,” Ko Barrett, the vice-chair of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the senior adviser for climate at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told NPR. “Each of the last four decades has been the warmest on record since pre-industrial times.” “…One of the biggest recent advances in climate research is in the field of so-called attribution science, which ties global warming to individual weather events such as hurricanes or heat waves. Scientists can now say with certainty that humans are causing more extreme weather, including heavy downpours and extended heat waves and droughts. “This whiplash — this increase in both extreme wet and dry events — is projected to increase through the 21st century,” Kim Cobb, one of the report authors and a paleoclimate scientist at Georgia Institute of Technology, told NPR.

E&E News: Exxon suspended from climate group after sting tape
By Nick Sobczyk, 8/6/21

“Exxon Mobil Corp. has been suspended from the Climate Leadership Council following a secretly recorded video that showed one of the company’s lobbyists detailing its strategies to delay climate action,” E&E News reports. “Exxon was among the first corporate backers of the centrist group, known for its advocacy on a carbon fee and dividend proposal, but the sting tape released in June cast significant doubt on the company’s support for carbon pricing. “After careful consideration, we have decided to suspend ExxonMobil’s membership in both the Council and Americans for Carbon Dividends, our advocacy arm,” CLC and Americans for Carbon Dividends CEO Greg Bertelsen said in a statement. “We continue to believe that we will establish lasting climate solutions by bringing together a broad and diverse group of stakeholders who can work together to address this enormous challenge.” The suspension, first reported by Bloomberg, stems directly from the secret recording of Keith McCoy, a senior director for federal relations at Exxon. McCoy told a group of Greenpeace activists posing as headhunters that the company only supports carbon pricing because Congress lacks the “political will” to pass it. The tape raised suspicions that Exxon had been supporting groups like the Climate Leadership Council to green wash its public image while it continues to produce more fossil fuels.”

Wall Street Journal: Exxon Considers Pledging ‘Net Zero’ Carbon by 2050
By Christopher M. Matthews and Emily Glazer, 8/5/21

“Exxon Mobil Corp. is considering a pledge to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050, according to people familiar with the matter, in what would amount to a significant strategic shift by the oil company,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “In March 2020, Exxon Chief Executive Darren Woods described ambitious carbon reduction targets made by some European rivals as nothing more than a “beauty competition,” saying the pledges lacked tangible plans to achieve them. Mr. Woods and others on Exxon’s board are now giving the same idea serious debate, the people said. Mr. Woods is facing pressure from investors to demonstrate a bolder path to reducing emissions. Following a bruising proxy fight this year, an activist hedge fund elected three new members to the company’s board. The Irving, Texas, company hasn’t made a final decision on a “net zero” pledge, according to the people. It plans to unveil a series of strategic moves on environmental and other issues before the end of the year, the people said.”

WPR: Environmental Groups Want Agency To Review Climate Impacts Of Superior Gas Plant
By Danielle Kaeding, 8/6/21

“Environmental and indigenous groups want a federal agency to take another look at the environmental and climate impacts of a proposed $700 million natural gas plant in Superior,” WPR reports. “Four organizations, including the Sierra Club and Clean Wisconsin, are petitioning the Rural Utilities Service to conduct a supplemental environmental assessment of the project proposed by La Crosse-based Dairyland Power Cooperative and Duluth-based Minnesota Power. Dairyland Power plans to seek a loan from the agency for its share of the project. The agency previously found that construction and operation of the 625-megawatt plant would have no significant environmental impact. But the groups argue the agency didn’t evaluate cumulative climate impacts of the plant in its environmental assessment. “This facility would emit 3 million tons of carbon every year for at least 30 years if it’s built, and there’s just no way to get to zero carbon if we keep building things that emit carbon,” Katie Nekola, general counsel for Clean Wisconsin, told WPR. Clean Wisconsin and the Sierra Club are also suing the Wisconsin Public Service Commission over its approval of the project, noting regulators didn’t review the climate impacts of the proposal. They say the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service must respond to their petition before making a decision on financing for the project.”

RESEARCH & SCIENCE

Guardian: Reduce methane or face climate catastrophe, scientists warn
Fiona Harvey, 8/6/21

“Cutting carbon dioxide is not enough to solve the climate crisis – the world must act swiftly on another powerful greenhouse gas, methane, to halt the rise in global temperatures, experts have warned,” the Guardian reports. “Leading climate scientists will give their starkest warning yet – that we are rushing to the brink of climate catastrophe – in a landmark report on Monday. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will publish its sixth assessment report, a comprehensive review of the world’s knowledge of the climate crisis and how human actions are altering the planet. It will show in detail how close the world is to irreversible change. One of the key action points for policymakers is likely to be a warning that methane is playing an ever greater role in overheating the planet. The carbon-rich gas, produced from animal farming, shale gas wells and poorly managed conventional oil and gas extraction, heats the world far more effectively than carbon dioxide – it has a “warming potential” more than 80 times that of CO2 – but has a shorter life in the atmosphere, persisting for about a decade before it degrades into CO2… “Climate change is like a marathon – we need to stay in the race. Cutting carbon dioxide will not lead to cooling in the next 10 years, and beyond that our ability to tackle climate change will be so severely compromised that we will not be able to run on. Cutting methane gives us time,” Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development and a lead reviewer for the IPCC, told the Guardian.

BBC: The search for the world’s largest methane sources
By Cheryl Katz, 8/6/21

“Stemming the methane leaks from landfills, oil fields, natural gas pipelines and more is one of the most powerful levers we have to quickly slow global warming,” the BBC reports. “The threat was invisible to the eye: tonnes of methane billowing skyward, blown out by natural gas pipelines snaking across Siberia. In the past, those plumes of potent greenhouse gas released by Russian petroleum operations last year might have gone unnoticed. But armed with powerful new imaging technology, a methane-hunting satellite sniffed out the emissions and tracked them to their sources… “Tracing emissions to their source is no easy task, however. Releases are often intermittent and easy to miss. Ground-based sensors can detect leaks in local areas, but their coverage is limited. Airplane and drone surveys are time-intensive and costly, and air access is restricted over much of the world. That’s where a sophisticated fleet of satellites – some recently launched, some soon to be deployed – comes in. A cluster of satellites launched by national space agencies and private companies over the last five years have greatly sharpened our view of what methane is being leaked from where. In the next couple of years, new satellite projects are headed for launch – including Carbon Mapper, a public-private partnership in California, and MethaneSAT, a subsidiary of the Environmental Defense Fund – that will help fill in the picture with unprecedented range and detail. These efforts, experts say, will be crucial not just for spotting leaks but also developing regulations and guiding enforcement – both of which are sorely lacking. “You can’t mitigate what you can’t measure,” Cassandra Ely, director of MethaneSAT, told the BBC.

Press release: Poor urban, rural areas could bear financial burden of move from natural gas to electricity for energy needs
8/5/21

“The push for consumers to go electric for their energy needs has significant environmental benefits as the world deals with the disruptive, deadly effects of climate change. Yet the economic burden of a big switch could fall more on lower income, minority communities. Research co-authored by Catherine Hausman, an associate professor at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy, finds a “thorny issue” in an otherwise noble transition effort to power our homes and buildings using electricity: Utilities losing natural gas customers will have to pass on the costs of maintaining legacy pipeline networks to a smaller pool of customers. Those higher bills may disproportionately affect low-income households. Hausman and her co-author, Lucas Davis of the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, say their work builds on research into equity issues in energy transitions. Their focus, however, is on what Hausman calls “an understudied dynamic issue: the role of customer loss in the recovery of legacy infrastructure costs.” Hausman and Davis used historical evidence from growing and shrinking utilities from 1997-2019. Population changes have been the primary driver of utilities’ rising and falling customer bases: The largest customer losses were in cities with flat or declining populations, high poverty rates and large Black populations. What’s more, their research found that most operational costs of utilities do not decrease despite a shrinking customer base. So those customers left behind—many already struggling to make ends meet—bear a higher cost: For a 15% reduction in residential gas customers, the researchers calculate bill increases of roughly $30 per year for remaining customers, but for a 90% reduction in customers, bill increases are calculated to be around $1,500 per year.”

CLIMATE FINANCE

Financial Times: Climate laggards could ‘let down’ Lloyd’s of London
Ian Smith, 8/8/21

“The chair of Lloyd’s of London has warned its brand could be “damaged” by insurers that are slow to remove their backing for the most carbon-intensive activities,” the Financial Times reports. “They could also “let down” the specialist insurance market’s efforts to confront the climate crisis, Bruce Carnegie-Brown told the Financial Times, as insurers come under increasing pressure to bring underwriting portfolios into line with global decarbonisation targets. “To some extent, there is a risk that we get let down by the last person who is continuing to do things that the rest of the market has given up doing, because [it] will still get labelled as ‘Lloyd’s is still underwriting things that people don’t think are acceptable’.” This was “frustrating”, he admitted. “If the Lloyd’s brand is getting damaged by minority participants in the marketplace, then we have to pay attention to it.” However, he cautioned that competition law restricted how fast it could move against particular sectors. The nature of the institution, where underwriters and brokers agree terms on insurance for a huge variety of assets, also means it is “not as easy to mandate changes” as it would be for a single company, he added. Investors, campaigners and intergovernmental bodies have urged insurers to make sure their portfolios support climate change targets by phasing out support for the most polluting industries and helping clients shift towards renewables. Lloyd’s has been repeatedly targeted by climate activists, labelling it an “insurer of last resort” for the coal sector.”

OPINION

TIME: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Is a Return to the Old Way of Politics. That’s A Problem for the Climate
Michael E. Mann is distinguished professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University. He is author of the recently released book, The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back our Planet., 8/6/21

“The bipartisan infrastructure package being negotiated in the Senate promises to fund some important climate programs, with sizable expenditures for cleaning up abandoned oil wells, replacing lead pipes and repairing roads and bridges. The $50 billion in climate resilience funding will protect people from the storms, droughts, floods and other extreme weather events made worse by climate change. Unfortunately, it will do little to address the coal, oil and gas use that is driving climate change. Even worse, many sections, if not removed, will actively make it worse,” Michael E. Mann writes for TIME. “The looming bipartisan infrastructure deal, if it passes, will be celebrated as a return to pre-Trump politics where politicians reach across the partisan divide, compromise where necessary, and work toward the wrong shared goals. But it’s business as usual when it comes to the defining challenge of our time: the climate crisis. The bill provides nothing tangible to expedite the country’s urgent need to transition towards renewable energy. This deal is a far cry from meeting the moment we find ourselves in. It does not address our dependence on fossil fuels, and instead further enables it. Instead, it is focusing money and resources on technologies that don’t work while ignoring the clear winners—solar, wind, etc.—we have in front of us. In the bill’s current incarnation, I am left wondering what happened to President Joe Biden’s pledge to transform our heavily fossil-fuel-dependent economy into a clean-energy economy. In his campaign he promised to end climate-damaging carbon emissions from U.S. power plants by 2035. But this bill wastes billions of dollars on dubious carbon capture and the fossil fuel industry’s attempt to use hydrogen as a cover to build new gas plants—both of which will do nothing more than strengthen the industry’s hold.”

The Breach: Alberta’s anti-energy inquiry aims to undermine First Nations opposition to Tar Sands
by Pamela Palmater, 8/6/21

“Since being elected, Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney has been bent on attacking First Nations, scientists, environmentalists, or anyone who opposes reckless development of the tar sands,” Pamela Palmater writes for The Breach. “When that does not work to deter the growing criticism, he attempts to distract Albertans with the myth of foreign entities trying to destroy Alberta’s energy industry. His latest effort is a $3.5 million dollar public inquiry that appointed accountant Steve Allan to look into “the role of foreign funding, if any, in anti-Alberta energy campaigns.” Allan’s inquiry—which rejected public hearings as “too costly and lengthy”—appears to finally be reaching its publication. According to a draft obtained by The Breach, the commissioner engaged only with “those thought to have an important perspective.” Spoiler alert: it is heavily focused on hearing from individuals who are pro-oil instead of the many First Nations, scientists, and civil society groups with serious concerns about the tar sands. The Allan Inquiry appears to be less like an objective public inquiry and more like another PR tool being used by Kenney to distract the public from the very real economic, social, legal, and environmental damages caused by the tar sands. It comes on top of Kenney’s $30 million dollar, tax-payer-funded, oil propaganda war room.”

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