Biden expected to cancel Keystone XL project on first day in office

January 19, 2021 by  
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Sources close to the U.S. President-elect Joe Biden indicate that he plans to cancel the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline project on his first day in office. Such reports have been causing unrest in Canada, with some leaders warning that if the project is canceled, there could be a diplomatic row between the two countries. According to a  report published  by Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC), the words “Rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit” appear on Biden’s to-do list on his first day in office. The Keystone XL pipeline project was proposed to develop a pipeline that would move oil from Canada to Nebraska. But since the start, the project has been opposed by environmentalists, leading to several revisions. Opponents of the project say that the pipeline will be a major contributor to climate change and may show the country’s unwillingness to move away from an oil-based economy. Related: Federal judge blocks the Keystone XL Pipeline According to Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., Kirsten Hillman, the project would be beneficial to both the U.S. and Canada. Hillman said that she will continue to promote the project so long as it offers benefits for both countries. “There is no better partner for the U.S. on climate action than Canada as we work together for green transition,” Hillman said in a statement. According to Alberta Premier Jason Kennedy, canceling the project would kill jobs and weaken U.S. security, because the country would have to depend on OPEC oil imports. However, those opposed to the project have said that Alberta, the source of the oil , would be the biggest beneficiary in the project and that the pipeline would worsen climate change. In Canada, construction is underway, with the international border crossing already complete. The company in charge of the project, TC Energy Corp., has claimed that it will achieve net-zero emissions by 2023. However, critics do not subscribe to the narrative, given that the pipeline itself will be supplying oil. The project was approved in 2017 by the outgoing President Donald Trump . However, the pipeline had initially been rejected by the former U.S. President Barack Obama. Following its approval in 2017, various environmental groups moved to court, slowing the progress of the project in the U.S. Via Reuters and CBC Image via Chesapeake Climate

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Biden expected to cancel Keystone XL project on first day in office

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge lease sale attracts few bidders

January 8, 2021 by  
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The Trump administration has suffered a major blow to its environmental policy rollbacks. On Wednesday, the open bid for oil companies to drill in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge came to an end, without any big oil companies placing a bid. Interestingly, only three bidders expressed interest in the leases, one of the bidders being the state of Alaska. The other two bidders were small companies based in Alaska . Nine of the coastal plane land parcels issued for lease did not receive any bidders, except for a state-owned economic development corporation. By the end of the bidding period on Wednesday, almost half of the land issued had not received a single bid. Related: Trump administration furthers Arctic drilling plan “They held the lease in ANWR — that is history-making. That will be recorded in the history books and people will talk about it,” said Larry Persily, an observer of the fossil fuels industry. “But no one showed up.” Most oil experts believe that the slow uptake of the parcels can be attributed to the global recession, a drop in oil prices and the continued pressure by environmental groups against drilling. Persily explained that even though politicians may be interested in pursuing oil in reserved areas, many oil companies are no longer interested in such a risky business. At the conclusion of the bid, the lease had raised $14.4 million. Half of all the bids came from the economic development corporation, which does not participate in oil drilling . The company has never been involved in the oil exploration business. “I laughed out loud. It was a joke. A joke to the American people,” said Desirée Sorenson-Groves, director of the Arctic Refuge Defense Campaign. “I’ll tell you, I have a message to those who bid today, there were only three. But here’s the message: ‘You will never ever drill in the Arctic Refuge. We’ll stop you.’” Via NPR Image via Alexis Bonogofsky / USFWS

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Arctic National Wildlife Refuge lease sale attracts few bidders

Climate change doubles natural disaster costs in the US

January 8, 2021 by  
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If you think that investing in solar panels and a sustainable wardrobe instead of fast fashion are expensive, take a look at how climate change is escalating the cost of repairing disasters. The U.S. spent $95 billion on fixing damage caused by natural disasters last year, which was almost twice the 2019 costs. These figures come from Munich Re, a German company that provides insurance to other insurance companies and is an expert in insurance-related risks. Last year was one of the warmest on record. In the U.S., people suffered from hurricanes in the south and east as well as massive wildfires in the west. “ Climate change plays a role in this upward trend of losses,” said Ernst Rauch, chief climate scientist at Munich Re, in an interview with The New York Times . Related: Wildfires have burned 2.3M acres across California this year Hurricane Laura, which hit southwestern Louisiana in August, was the costliest U.S. catastrophe in 2020, causing $13 billion in damage. But Hurrican Laura was only one of 30 named storms last year, 12 of which made landfall. Together they cost $43 billion in losses, accounting for nearly half the 2020 U.S. disaster total. Once hurricanes hit the land, climate change makes them likelier to stall, pummeling areas with wind and rain for more extended periods than usual, Rauch explained. Other types of costly storm activity in 2020 included tornadoes, hailstorms and derechos, a type of long-lived windstorm. An August derecho in Iowa and other parts of the Midwest decimated soybeans and cornfields and caused nearly $7 billion in damage. Insurers are worried. New buildings need to stand up better to natural disasters. “We can’t, as an industry, continue to just collect more and more money, and rebuild and rebuild and rebuild in the same way,” said Donald L. Griffin, a vice president at the American Property Casualty Insurance Association. “We’ve got to place an emphasis on preventing and reducing loss.” Of course, the U.S. isn’t the only country to be ravaged by the effects of climate change. Internationally, last year saw summer flooding in China, with only 2% of losses insured, and Cyclone Amphan, which hit Bangladesh and India, in May. Very few of Cyclone Amphan’s victims were insured. According to Munich Re, only $3 billion out of a total of $67 billion in natural disaster damage across Asia was covered last year. Via The New York Times Image via NOAA

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Climate change doubles natural disaster costs in the US

Polar bears get a big win as court dismisses Arctic oil drilling project

December 10, 2020 by  
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Animal rights defenders and other advocacy groups found a reason to celebrate on Monday after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rejected the Trump administration’s Liberty Project approval. The Liberty Project is a proposal to drill for offshore oil in Arctic waters. In opposition to the proposed project, several climate advocacy groups joined hands in a court battle to have the project rejected. Speaking on Monday, Kristen Monsell, the legal director at The Center for Biological Diversity, said that the court’s ruling has averted a disaster. Related: Oil companies use cooling technology to continue Arctic drilling “This is a huge victory for polar bears and our climate,” Monsell said. “This project was a disaster waiting to happen that should never have been approved. I’m thrilled the court saw through the Trump administration’s attempt to push this project through without carefully studying its risks.” Marcie Keever, the legal director of Friends of the Earth, one of the advocacy groups involved in the case, also applauded the ruling. “Thankfully, the court put the health of our children and our planet over oil company profits,” Keever said. The court cited various discrepancies with the proposed project. The court pointed out that the project had not considered the impact of the oil drilling activities on the local climate . In addition, the court also found that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to consider how the Liberty Project would affect polar bears before issuing the approval. This means that the Trump administration has been found in direct contravention of the Endangered Species Act, a law that the government should defend and protect. Despite the momentary win for polar bears in the Liberty Project case, the animals are still at great risk due to the continuing efforts to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas companies. Research has shown that the Arctic is warming up at a much faster rate than other areas of the planet. Further exploration of this natural environment continues to have devastating consequences for the local communities, animals and climate. Via EcoWatch Image via Hans-Jurgen Mager

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Polar bears get a big win as court dismisses Arctic oil drilling project

Oil companies use cooling technology to continue Arctic drilling

October 21, 2020 by  
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Big oil companies are now turning to technology to protect their business from the effects of climate change. Companies that have been exploring the Arctic for oil drilling are now fighting with the effects of thawing and unstable permafrost. However, even the impacts on their infrastructure are not enough to stop these companies from exploring further. While they might have to pay more to steady their infrastructure, many fossil fuel companies are now developing and using technology to keep permafrost from melting in order to continue drilling. ConocoPhillips is one of the leading oil companies exploring for oil in the Arctic. The company developed special technology that would prevent permafrost — upon which its infrastructure is anchored — from melting. With plans to pump 160,000 more barrels of crude oil daily from its new project in Alaska’s North Slope, the company had to find a way of retaining its resources in the fast-melting region. So ConocoPhillips developed devices that will cool the ground beneath its structures . Related: Arctic permafrost already thawing at a rate not expected until 2090 Many would expect that due to the visible effects of climate change in the Arctic, the government would bar oil companies from further drilling. However, the Trump administration has made it even easier for oil corporations to expand into protected regions. While other countries are also advancing oil exploration in the region, the U.S. has gone so far as to finalize plans to open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. The plans include allowing companies to operate at Teshekpuk Lake, a unique and important habitat that is also used by local Indigenous communities for fishing and hunting. While the U.S. government is promoting oil exploration in the Arctic, those who rely on these natural ecosystems are already feeling the pain of climate change. Last year, fishing crews in Utqiagvik had to wait several weeks longer than usual for the arrival of bowhead whales due to rising temperatures. Given that the community relies on the whales for their diet, continued exploration may mean that the locals will face food scarcity in the future. As locals struggle to deal with the changes caused by greenhouse gases , oil companies are changing their tactics to be able to continue drilling, which only worsens climate change and its detrimental impacts on the Arctic. Via The Guardian Image via Florence D.

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Oil companies use cooling technology to continue Arctic drilling

Hurricane Laura causes dangerous chemical fire in Louisiana

August 31, 2020 by  
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It’s bad enough to stay shut in your house, terrified, as you ride out a Category 4 hurricane. But the people of Westlake, Louisiana had an additional reason to stay inside last week with the windows clamped tight as Hurricane Laura started a fire at BioLab, unleashing chlorine gas over the small town. The hurricane killed at least 14 people, obliterated buildings and tore off roofs as it blustered through southwest Louisiana, home to many of the state’s petrochemical industries. It blew directly over the Hackberry oil field, an area south of Lake Charles that combines active and abandoned oil wells, pipelines and storage tanks with a sensitive marsh ecosystem. It will take some time to figure out the extent of structural and environmental damage. The health consequences may never be known. People who live in this region will only be able to guess in the coming years whether their cancers and other diseases were caused by the chlorine gas or other chemicals, to which they are routinely exposed. Related: Environmental racism in America Chemical leaks are common in Louisiana. Communities around petrochemical companies are accustomed to hearing emergency sirens. Unfortunately, petrochemical companies are often placed in elderly and Black communities. Westlake is less than 5 miles from the decimated town of Mossville, which was started by formerly enslaved peoples in the 1790s. In 2014, the South Africa-based fuel company Sasol bought out most of the residents’ houses to expand its enormous petrochemical plant. Mossville residents were known for staggeringly high concentrations of dioxins in their blood, as found in 1998 tests conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. This highly toxic substance can impair the immune system, disrupt hormone functions, damage the reproductive system and cause cancer and diabetes . Dioxins can form by heating chlorine to high temperatures, which happened last week when BioLab ignited. The BioLab facility, which was built in 1979, occupies 15 acres inside a large industrial complex. It manufactures trichloroisocyanuric acid — a bleaching agent and industrial disinfectant — chlorinating granules and other chemical blends for cleaning products. The fire shut down nearby Interstate 10 and required residents to shelter in place for at least 24 hours. Petrochemical plants often cause problems in hurricanes. Chemical storage tanks are especially problematic. They are built to float, but when the water resettles, the tanks sometimes spring a leak. Floating roofs built to contain vapors often collapse or sink, the wind can buckle tanks and flying debris can puncture a tank’s sides. Because workers are generally evacuated when a storm is on the way, often nobody is there to fix a problem before it has major consequences. Via The Conversation , CNN and The Intercept Image via NOAA

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Hurricane Laura causes dangerous chemical fire in Louisiana

Trump administration furthers Arctic drilling plan

August 19, 2020 by  
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The Trump administration’s environmental protection rollbacks seem to now come daily. Today’s bad news? A plan to allow  oil  and gas companies to drill in Alaska’s so-far pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In 2017, a Republican tax bill opened part of the refuge to gas and oil leasing. Monday’s development pushed the plan further, aiming to sell the first drilling leases by the end of 2020. Many Republicans back the plan, despite opposition from environmental groups and Alaska’s Indigenous communities. Related: EPA loosens restrictions on methane emissions The over 19 million-acre refuge has long remained off-limits to development. Managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, most of the refuge is true wilderness, free from roads, trails and facilities, and open to the public for exploration. The few travelers who visit access the refuge by private planes and air taxis. Visitors may witness the Polar and grizzly bears , wolves, wolverines, caribou, beluga whales, musk oxen and walruses that call this area home. Though wildlife outnumbers people here, both the Gwich’in and Iñupiat people reside on and live off resources from the land.  Sometimes calling themselves “caribou people,” the Gwich’in have based their culture around these reindeer for centuries. The Gwich’in live in 15 villages across northeast  Alaska  and northwest Canada and have actively fought against gas and oil leasing. David Smith, a Gwich’in leader in Arctic Village, worries that the industries will harm caribou and change his nation’s way of life. “I would say this is like no other place on earth, so we shouldn’t be treated like any other place on earth,” Smith said in an interview with  Alaska Public Media . “I can drive in any direction and  hunt  freely. I can drive in any direction and go trapping.” Despite the recent news, the fight to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge continues. Still, environmental groups say that once companies buy drilling rights, it will be harder for future presidents to stop  Arctic  drilling. “The Trump administration never stops pushing to drill in the Arctic Refuge — and we will never stop suing them,” said Gina McCarthy, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “America has safeguarded the refuge for decades, and we will not allow the administration to strip that protection away now.” Via Thomson Reuters Foundation Image via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters

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Trump administration furthers Arctic drilling plan

Shell unveils net-zero emissions plan

April 20, 2020 by  
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The oil giant updated investors on sweeping new strategy to deliver net-zero emissions across its entire value chain by 2050.

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Shell unveils net-zero emissions plan

A surge of new plastic production is on the way

January 17, 2020 by  
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Major oil companies, facing the prospect of reduced demand for their fuels, are ramping up their plastics output.

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A surge of new plastic production is on the way

The shift to a low-carbon economy highlights overlap between ESG and finance

December 24, 2019 by  
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Supermajors are acknowledging write-downs, which pose threats to investors — but new standards could help them get on the same page.

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The shift to a low-carbon economy highlights overlap between ESG and finance

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