Energy

Essential energy industry news & intel to start your day.
April 19, 2021
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  • The United States and China have committed to work together on the climate crisis after U.S. climate envoy John Kerry spent last week with Chinese officials — including veteran negotiator Xie Zhenhua — ahead of President Joe Biden’s upcoming climate summit. The two countries, which are among the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, pledged to work on the issue “with the seriousness and urgency that it demands,” despite diplomatic differences on a number of other subjects. (The Washington Post)
  • BP PLC reportedly intends to stop flaring natural gas in the Permian Basin by 2025, spending roughly $1.3 billion on infrastructure to capture the natural gas produced as a byproduct of the energy giant’s oil operations. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • A group of progressive lawmakers, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), is set to release legislation later today billed as the “Green New Deal for Public Housing Act,” which would aim to modernize the country’s public housing system and contribute to the renewable energy transition. The act is the first of several proposals that progressives are expected to unveil in the near future, as they move to influence the ultimate results of Biden’s proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan. (The New York Times)
  • A group of 35 major investors controlling $11 trillion in assets is applying pressure on 27 of the world’s largest banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and BNP Paribas SA, to stop financing projects that result in significant carbon emissions, pushing them to align their investments with a goal of net-zero emissions and to link executive pay with the target. (Financial Times)
 

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Events Calendar (All Times Local)

 

What Else You Need to Know

General
 

The Fed Faces Criticism as It Wades Into Climate and Equity Issues

Jeanna Smialek, The New York Times

The Federal Reserve is proudly politically independent. That makes key discussions around climate change and racial inequity a balancing act.

 

The details in Biden’s infrastructure plan that could bring Republicans to the table

Zoya Teirstein, Grist

Nuclear energy and hydroelectric power could be crucial bargaining chips for Biden as he attempts to establish a bipartisan foothold.

 

Interior head Haaland revokes Trump-era orders on energy

Matthew Daly, The Associated Press

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Friday revoked a series of Trump administration orders that promoted fossil fuel development on public lands and waters, and issued a separate directive that prioritizes climate change in agency decisions.

 
Climate Change and Emissions
 

White House removes scientist picked by Trump official to lead key climate report

Jason Samenow, The Washington Post

Betsy Weatherhead, chosen to steer the government’s National Climate Assessment, has been reassigned to the U.S. Geological Survey.

 

Shell, Exxon Look to Profit From Capturing Customers’ Carbon Emissions

Sarah McFarlane, The Wall Street Journal

Oil companies have for decades made money by extracting carbon from the ground. Now they are trying to make money putting it back.

 

U.S. must halve emissions to galvanize global climate action – UN chief

Valerie Volcovici and Kate Abnett, Reuters

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres wants the United States to commit this week to at least halving its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 — a move he said could unlock similar action from the world’s other large emitters.

 

Rush for carbon credits spurs surge in power company schemes

Camilla Hodgson, Financial Times

Questions raised over climate impact of offsets generated by projects that are already well-funded.

 

Is California suffering a decades-long megadrought?

Alex Wigglesworth, Los Angeles Times

California has entered another drought. But depending on who you ask, the last one may have never really ended.

 

Loan Markets Are Pricing In Climate Transition, Penalizing Coal

Alastair Marsh, Bloomberg

Credit markets are starting to price in the transition to a low carbon economy.

 
Renewables and Storage
 

Landmen Who Once Staked Claims for Oil and Gas Now Hunt Wind and Sun

Rebecca Elliott, The Wall Street Journal

The slumping petroleum industry is shifting work from securing drilling rights to lining up properties for wind turbines and solar panels. But the landman profession is shrinking.

 

New Lithium Giant Emerges to Feed Surging Battery Demand

James Thornhill, Bloomberg

A planned $3.1 billion merger of two Australian miners is set to create one of the world’s biggest producers of lithium products key to meeting fast-growing global demand for electric vehicle batteries.

 

The era of subsidies for wind and solar may be ending far too soon

Michael J. Coren, Quartz

Last August, solar developers entered an auction to sell power into the Portuguese electricity grid. And many planned to lose money on every megawatt. One of the winning bidders, Spanish solar firm Enerland, offered to sell electricity for €11.14 (US$13.12) per megawatt-hour (MWh), one of the lowest auctioned electricity prices in history. One megawatt hour is slightly more than the average home in the US consumes per month.

 
Oil, Gas and Alternative Fuels
 

Gas Is the New Coal With Risk of $100 Billion in Stranded Assets

Rachel Morison, Bloomberg

Natural gas is falling out of favor with emissions-wary investors and utilities at a quicker pace than coal did, catching some power generators unaware and potentially leaving them stuck with billions of dollars of assets they can’t sell.

 

The Tech Tracking Down Methane Leaks

Naureen S. Malik and Aaron Clark, Bloomberg

From satellites to drones to cameras, here’s the gear helping scientists, activists,  and regulators crack down on harmful methane leaks around the world.

 

Saudi Aramco Looks to Supply-Chain Finance to Free Up Cash

Julie Steinberg and Summer Said, The Wall Street Journal

Saudi Aramco wants to finance billions of dollars in payments to its suppliers, the latest in a series of moves by the crude giant to generate cash in a low-oil price world, according to people familiar with the proposal.

 

‘A great deception’: oil giants taken to task over ‘greenwash’ ads

Damian Carrington, The Guardian

Some of the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies have used advertising to “greenwash” their ongoing contribution to the climate crisis, according to files published by the environmental lawyers ClientEarth. They describe the practice as “a great deception”.

 

US oil drillers ‘dying on the vine’ as PE flight prompts funding drought

Derek Brower and Justin Jacobs, Financial Times

Stricken operators launch ‘last gasp’ efforts to boost cash flow and attract buyers.

 
Transportation
 

Fatal Tesla Crash in Texas Believed to Be Driverless

Rebecca Elliott, The Wall Street Journal

Two men died after a Tesla vehicle that authorities believe was operating without anyone in the driver’s seat crashed into a tree Saturday night north of Houston.

 

DOE commits $100M in grants to put electric trucks on the road

Jeff St. John, Canary Media

The SuperTruck program funds research and development, and road tests are planned for this fall. But more real-world proof — and much more charging infrastructure — is needed.

 

Biden wants to build 500,000 EV charging stations. Where will they all go?

Shannon Osaka, Grist

It was President Joe Biden’s favorite phrase during the 2020 campaign, one that he repeated over and over again whenever the subject of electric cars came up: “500,000 charging stations.” Despite his reputation as an ardent fan of trains and Amtrak, the president has spent the last year conjuring an image of an America filled with electric vehicles by 2030, each one seamlessly zipping from one charging station to the next.

 
Electricity, Utilities and Infrastructure
 

Where Are the Lead Pipes? Finding Them May Prove Tough for EPA

Bobby Magill, Bloomberg Law

Incomplete local record-keeping may stymie EPA efforts to locate the nation’s lead pipes to meet President Joe Biden’s goal of replacing them and improving drinking water quality, authorities say.

 

Fed urges Texas to ‘winterise’ grid after $130bn storm damage

Justin Jacobs, Financial Times

The arctic blast exposed a power network that was unable to cope with freezing temperatures.

 

Goodbye, old freeways? How subtraction could address climate change

Kate Yoder, Grist

New research suggests we might be ignoring the easiest way to problem-solve.

 
Environment, Land and Resources
 

Huge plastics plant faces calls for environmental justice, stiff economic headwinds

Steven Mufson, The Washington Post

In Louisiana, Formosa Plastics Group plans a $9.4 billion manufacturing complex in a largely Black community.

 

Arizona mining fight pits economy, EVs against conservation, culture

Ernest Scheyder, Reuters

Early last year, Darrin Lewis paid $800,000 for a hardware store in a tiny Arizona town where mining giant Rio Tinto Plc hopes to build one of the world’s largest underground copper mines.

 

There’s a Booming Business in America’s Forests. Some Aren’t Happy About It.

Gabriel Popkin and Erin Schaff, The New York Times

The fuel pellet industry is thriving. Supporters see it as a climate-friendly source of rural jobs. For others, it’s a polluter and destroyer of nature.

 
Coal/Nuclear
 

Biden takes on Dems’ ‘Mission Impossible’: Revitalizing coal country

Zack Colman and Anthony Adragna, Politico

Despite deep skepticism from union allies, Democrats are determined to make their “Just Transition” away from fossil fuels work.

 

Coal financing costs surge as investors opt for renewable energy

Jillian Ambrose, The Guardian

Coal financing costs have surged over the last decade as investors demand returns four times as high as the payoff required from renewable energy projects to justify the risk of investing in fossil fuels, as the world moves towards cleaner energy sources.

 

Interior says it isn’t immediately reinstating coal leasing moratorium despite revoking Trump order

Rachel Frazin, The Hill

The Interior Department says a moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands is not being immediately reinstated even though Secretary Deb Haaland has revoked a Trump administration move that reversed it.

 
Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives
 

A Realistic Plan to Drive Economic Recovery While Protecting Our Climate

Gregory Wetstone (President and CEO, American Council on Renewable Energy), Morning Consult

At the heart of the Biden administration’s new American Jobs Plan are provisions designed to accelerate the transition to renewable power and modernize the nation’s outdated electric grid. A long-overdue response to pleas from scientists concerned by clear evidence of climate instability, these policies can also catalyze America’s economic recovery.

 

Kim Stanley Robinson on Cities as a Climate Survival Mechanism

Kim Stanley Robinson, Bloomberg

Getting through the 21st century without a mass-extinction event means making ourselves far more scarce. At least over large parts of the planet.

 

Yes, California is in a drought — even if officials aren’t saying it out loud

Peter Gleick, Los Angeles Times

California is suffering from severe drought again. This winter produced water conditions far below normal for the second year in a row, the eighth year in the last 10, the 14th year in the last 20. Los Angeles has had 39% of normal precipitation; San Diego, only 30%; San Francisco, 37%; Sacramento, less than 40%.

 

Oil companies don’t deserve reparations for fossil fuel bans. They’ll still want them

Nicolás M. Perrone, The Guardian

Energy conglomerates have recourse to special courts and legal regimes that they helped design – and they won’t go down without a fight.

 






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