Today’s Key Takeaways: Americans’ support for nuclear energy hits all-time high. Young voters angry with Biden over Alaska oil drilling project. FERC ruling supports LNG efforts. A barrier removed for Pebble Mine. Biden ignores environmental groups request for a plan to phase out oil and gas production on public lands.
NEWS OF THE DAY:
Support for nuclear energy highest in a decade: Gallup
Julie Shapero, The Hill, April 25, 2023
Americans’ support for nuclear energy is at its highest point in a decade, according to a new Gallup poll.
Fifty-five percent of respondents said they strongly or somewhat favor the use of nuclear energy as a method of providing electricity in the U.S., while another 44 percent said they oppose the use of such energy.
U.S. nuclear opinions
Overall, do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the use of nuclear energy as one of the ways to provide electricity for the U.S.?
Support for nuclear energy has steadily increased since hitting a record low in 2016, when 44 percent supported its use, Gallup noted.
Many Young Voters Bitter Over Biden’s Support of Willow Oil Drilling
Lisa Friedman, The New York Times, April 24, 2023
Young voters annoyed with Biden over Alaska oil drilling project: ‘He chose the wrong side’
Hann Panreck, Fox News, April 25, 2023
US Natural Gas Gets A Boost With FERC Ruling On Rio Grande LNG
David Blackmon, Forbes, April 26, 2023
By a 3-1 margin, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) voted on April 21 to reaffirm approvals initially issued in 2019 that will allow NextDecade’s big new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility to move forward. The vote to reaffirm the decision was made necessary by an order issued 18 months ago by the District of Columbia US Court of Appeals.
In an interview on Monday, NextDecade Chairman and CEO Matt Schatzman confirmed the FERC decision now clears the way to move quickly to a final investment decision (FID) on the project. “We have publicly disclosed that we expect to make it (FID) by the end of Q2,” he says.
Schatzman went onto say that the company’s plan remains to confirm the FID for the first three trains in what would ultimately become a five-train plant. The initial three trains would be capable of processing 17.6 million tons/year of LNG.
Corps to reconsider permit rejection for proposed Pebble mine
Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media, April 25, 2023
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will reconsider its decision denying a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine.
In 2020, the Army Corps rejected Pebble’s application for a large open-pit gold and copper mine upstream from Bristol Bay. But now the company has partially won its administrative appeal of that decision.
The announcement suggests that one barrier to the controversial mine is not as solid as opponents had hoped.
In an 81-page ruling Tuesday afternoon, the agency’s reviewing officers conclude the Alaska District made a few mistakes, particularly in how it dealt with the possibility of a catastrophic failure of a dam that would contain waste rock from the mining operation. The permit denial was in part based on the potential damage to fish and water quality in the event of a catastrophic dam breach, even though the Army Corps concluded a catastrophic event isn’t “reasonably foreseeable.”
“My decision to remand the permit application denial back to the Alaska District is not a permit authorization,” Gen. Kirk Gibbs, the commander of the Pacific Ocean Division, said in an emailed statement. “The District has been asked to re-evaluate specific issues in the administrative record to ensure that the decision is well-supported.”
Pebble faces other obstacles, beyond the Corps permit. Earlier this year the Environmental Protection Agency, at the urging of tribes and others that fish the salmon-rich waters of Bristol Bay, concluded the mine was incompatible with the Clean Water Act. The EPA decision effectively vetoed any proposal to develop the Pebble deposit that would have a similar impact on the same rivers.
The Corps’ administrative ruling sends the permit application back to the Alaska District for reconsideration of particular aspects.
There was no immediate response from the Pebble Partnership, which has been pursuing the project for more than two decades.
GROUPS SUE INTERIOR OVER OIL AND GAS PHASEOUT PETITION: Environmental groups sued the Biden administration for not responding to an administrative petition they filed earlier this year requesting the administration put together a plan to phase out oil and gas production on public lands.
The petition, led by Center for Biological Diversity, was filed in January under the Administrative Procedure Act, which allows interested parties to petition for the issuance, amendment, or repeal of a rule.
Plaintiff groups, which also include Wildearth Guardians and Friends of the Earth, argued the Interior Department failed to comply with its regulations for “prompt consideration” of the petition and asked the court to compel the department’s response.
Their petition included a recommended schedule for phasing down production to 50% of its 2020 baseline in 2026. By 2035, the schedule provides for production levels to be only 2% of 2020 levels.
The Biden administration has moved forward with planning and scheduling new lease sales more steadily since the Inflation Reduction Act passed. Lease sales in several states are scheduled to take place next month, and the Bureau of Land Management has begun scoping for Q3 sales.
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy