Greenhouse Gases (GHG) must be controlled to meet climate goals

Shell Wants Biden to Reverse Methane Emissions Rollback

From an Article by David Wethe, Bloomberg News on Yahoo! Finance, November 10, 2020

(Bloomberg) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc will push for the reversal of President Donald Trump’s rollback of methane emissions rules and the introduction of carbon pricing when Joe Biden moves into the White House next year.

“Some of the regulatory rollbacks that we’ve seen under the current administration haven’t actually benefited our industry,” Shell U.S. President Gretchen Watkins said Tuesday on a webcast hosted by the Greater Houston Partnership.

The easing of direct regulation of methane emissions put the energy industry in a “backwards-facing position,” while the absence of carbon pricing makes it harder to incentivize new technologies like carbon capture, Watkins said.

“Whoever is in the White House, we will work constructively with them and are actually very much looking forward to building that relationship with the new administration that’s coming in in January,” she added.

The oil and gas industry, which has long been the target of environmental groups, faces increasing pressure from shareholders managing trillions of dollars to address greenhouse-gas emissions such as methane. Shell joined BP Plc in September in calling for Texas regulators to end the routine flaring of natural gas, a by-product of the oil boom in the shale patch.

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Biden should tackle methane on day 1 to impose lasting oil, gas rules

The primary source of methane is natural gas production

From an Article by Ellie Potter, S & P Global, November 13, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden could enact enduring methane regulations on the oil and natural gas sector, so long as he sticks to his campaign promise to make such rules a day-one priority, attorneys said.

“I think if he was efficient and this was one of the priorities, he could,” Christine Wyman, senior principal with Bracewell LLP, said in an interview. “I think it probably is about four-years worth of work.”

The former vice president included “requiring aggressive methane pollution limits for new and existing oil and gas operations” among his top priorities heading into his first day on the job, according to Biden’s clean energy revolution plan.

The Trump administration finalized several rules that effectively rolled back the bulk of the Obama-era methane regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, or BLM. Biden’s upcoming four-year term could afford the president-elect enough time to repeal and replace President Donald Trump’s methane rules on new and existing methane sources in the oil and gas sector, according to several attorneys.

Specifically, the EPA finalized two rules in August that no longer require oil and gas companies to monitor facilities for methane leaks and removed volatile organic compound regulations from transmission and storage infrastructure. In doing so, the agency effectively rescinded its authority to regulate methane emissions from existing oil and gas sources. The Obama administration initiated the process to begin developing a regulation for existing sources in late 2016, but the Trump administration scrapped those efforts a few months later.

The Biden administration would have to justify imposing EPA methane regulations on the oil and gas sector just months after the agency explained its rationale for no longer regulating the greenhouse gas, Wyman said. In putting forth a replacement rule, the incoming administration may have to devote more resources to “trying to respond to what the Trump administration did and bolster the record there,” she said.

Under Biden, the EPA could finalize durable rules by strengthening regulations on new sources, reversing Trump’s rollbacks and simultaneously beginning a rulemaking for existing methane sources, according to Rosalie Winn, senior attorney with the Environmental Defense Fund.

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WARNING: This is a US Foreign Trade Zone

Industry Targets Peaceful Protest via “Critical Infrastructure” Legislation

From an Article by Ted Auch, PhD, Great Lakes Program Coordinator and Shannon Smith, Manager of Communications & Development, FracTracker Alliance, July 9, 2020

The oil and gas industry continues to use rhetoric focusing on national security and energy independence in order to advocate for legislation to criminalize climate activists. Backlash against protestors and environmental stewards has only increased since the onset of COVID-19, suggesting that industry proponents are exploiting this public health crisis to further their own dangerous and controversial policies.

Industry actors contributing to the wave of anti-protest bills include American Petroleum Institute (API), IHS Markit, The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), and most effectively, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), by way of its primary financial backer, Koch Industries (Fang, 2014, Shelor, 2017).

ALEC is the source of the model legislation “Critical Infrastructure Protection Act” of 2017, intended to make it a felony to “impede,” “inhibit,” “impair,” or “interrupt” critical infrastructure operation and/or construction. Close approximations – if not exact replicas – of this legislative template have been passed in 11 hydrocarbon rich and/or pathway states, and 8 more are being debated in 4 additional states.

The “critical infrastructure” designation in ALEC’s “Critical Infrastructure Protection Act” is extremely broad, including over 70 pieces of infrastructure, from wastewater treatment and well pads, to ports and pipelines. However, along with the 259 Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ) supervised by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), security is of such importance because over 50% of this infrastructure is related to oil and gas. According to our analysis, there are more than 8,000 unique pieces of infrastructure that fall under this designation, with over 10% in the Marcellus/Utica states of Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Regarding FTZ, the US Department of Homeland Security doesn’t attempt to hide their genuine nature, boldly proclaiming them “… the United States’ version of what are known internationally as free-trade zones … to serve adequately ‘the public interest’.” If there remains any confusion as to who these zones are geared toward, the US Department of Commerce’s International Administration (ITA) makes the link between FTZ and the fossil fuel industry explicit in its FTZ FAQ page, stating “The largest industry currently using zone procedures is the petroleum refining industry.”

Much of the oil, gas, and petrochemical industries’ efforts stem from the mass resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Native American tribes and environmental groups spent months protesting the environmentally risky $3.78 billion dollar project, which began production in June 2017, after Donald Trump signed an executive order to expedite construction during his first week in office.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe also sued the US government in a campaign effort to protect their tribal lands. The world watched as Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company building the pipeline, destroyed Native artifacts and sacred sites, and as police deployed tear gas and sprayed protesters with water in temperatures below freezing.

ETP’s bottom line and reputation were damaged during the fight against DAPL. Besides increasingly militarized law enforcement, the oil and gas industry has retaliated by criminalizing similar types of protests against fossil fuel infrastructure. However, the tireless work of Native Americans and environmental advocates has resulted in a recent victory in March 2020, when a federal judge ordered a halt to the pipeline’s production and an extensive new environmental review of DAPL.

Just days ago, on July 6, 2020, a federal judge ruled that DAPL must shut down until further environmental review can assess potential hazards to the landscape and water quality of the Tribe’s water source. This is certainly a victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other environmental defenders, but the decision is subject to appeal.

Since the DAPL conflict began, the industry has been hastily coordinating state-level legislation in anticipation of resistance to other notable national gas transmission pipelines, more locally concerning projects like Class II Oil and Gas Waste Injection Wells, and miles of gas gathering pipelines that transport increasing streams of waste – as well as oil and gas – to coastal processing sites.

The following “critical infrastructure” bill has already been enacted:

STATE: West Virginia, BILL: HB 4615, TITLE: New Penalties For Protests Near Gas And Oil Pipelines, DATE PASSED: 3/25/20

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See also: Stopping a massive fracked-gas pipeline takes a village > Appalachian Voices, Jessica Sims, November 20, 2020

As of this evening, the people who have been occupying several tree-sits in the path of construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Montgomery County, Va., over the past 2-1/2 years remain on site. A county judge had issued an order last week that they come down, and on Thursday had found them in contempt of court and subject to fines. These individuals have occupied the tree-sits now for 808 continuous days in a testament to their commitment to protecting the planet from the dangers of fossil fuel. While the outcome of their herculean efforts is yet unknown, the fight to stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline continues unabated by thousands of people across West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and beyond. (Appalachian Voices does not fund, sponsor or engage in activities such as tree-sits and pipeline blockades.)

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Memorial Service for 52nd Anniversary of Farmington #9 Coal Mine Explosion

November 21, 2020

Farmington No. 9 Mine Disaster Memorial on the World Wide Web Article by Eddie Trizzino, Fairmont Times West Virginian, November 20, 2020 FAIRMONT — On this day in 1968, the Farmington No. 9 Mine exploded in a burst of gas and dust, trapping miners inside resulting in the death of 78 people. Mike Caputo, a [...]

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PTTG Cracker Build Decision Again Postponed (Indefinitely) in Thailand

November 20, 2020

Concerned Ohio River Residents (CORR) react to the construction delay of the Belmont County cracker plant From a Report by Karen Compton, WTRF News 7, Wheeling, WV, November 14, 2020 BELMONT COUNTY, OHIO — Vincent DeGeorge, PhD and Ella Jennings of the Concerned Ohio River Residents (CORR) released a statement reacting to the delay of [...]

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West Virginia 2021 Legislature Should Approve Power Purchase Agreements

November 19, 2020

West Virginia fails to legalize Power Purchase Agreements in 2020 By Autumn Long, Solar United Neighbors, 3/6/20 The 2020 session of the West Virginia Legislature came to a close without action on solar Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). After several false starts in the Senate and House of Delegates, legislation supporting PPAs failed to materialize. Solar [...]

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Solar United Neighbors Promotes Successful Energy Systems in WV

November 18, 2020

Robert Goes Solar -– Falling Waters, West Virginia From Solar United Neighbors in West Virginia, July 2, 2019 Go solar and join the future! System size: 11.4 kW Why did you decide to go solar? My wife and I have owned an electric vehicle since 2015 and we knew we wanted to have enough solar [...]

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New 90 MW Solar Farm Approved for Raleigh County WV Despite Opposition

November 17, 2020

Raleigh County votes to diversify its energy portfolio From an Article by Jessica Farrish, Beckley Register Herald, September 1, 2020 Raleigh County Commission, on a 2-1 vote, welcomed the county’s first solar farm, a decision that was backed by Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce. Raleigh Commission President David Tolliver and Commissioner Ron Hedrick voted in [...]

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Solar Energy Development for West Virginia Coal Fields

November 16, 2020

Surface coal mine lands in Appalachia could be repurposed for solar development From an Article by William Driscoll, PV Magazine, 2/27/20 Solar could be installed on a coalfield in West Virginia if The Nature Conservancy’s plans are realized. The Nature Conservancy, a global land conservancy with $1 billion in annual revenues, is exploring the options. [...]

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Solar Energy Development in West Virginia for Clean Electricity

November 15, 2020

SOLAR DEVELOPMENT IN THE STATE OF WEST VRGINIA ———- A Path to a Brighter Economic Future ———- Technical Report by Downstream Strategies, The Nature Conservatory and WVU Center on Energy & Sustainable Development, 2019 INTRODUCTION West Virginia has the potential to generate a significant amount of electricity from solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to power homes, [...]

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FirstEnergy Corp. Continues Long Range Plans on Climate Change

November 14, 2020

FirstEnergy Pledges to Achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2050 From an Announcement by FirstEnergy Corp., Akron, Ohio, November 9, 2020 AKRON, Ohio, Nov. 9, 2020 — Aligned with its mission to help build a brighter and more sustainable future for the communities it serves, FirstEnergy Corp. today announced a pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. [...]

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