News of the Day:
U.S. Trade Authorities Deal Blow To Biden’s Electric Vehicle Plans
Alexander C. Kaufman, Huffington Post, February 10, 2021
The U.S. International Trade Commission on Wednesday banned one of the world’s biggest electric vehicle battery manufacturers from selling its cells in the United States, striking a blow to the Biden administration’s ambitious plan to electrify the nation’s auto fleet.
The decision bars South Korean giant SK Innovation from importing its batteries or the components to make them for 10 years, ruling that the company stole trade secrets from its cross-town rival, LG Energy Solution.
The ruling gave the automakers Ford and Volkswagen, which had designed key electric models around the SK Innovation battery, a few years to switch suppliers. But the decision casts a shadow over the future of SK Innovation’s $2.6 billion pair of battery facilities in Jackson County, Georgia, which already started hiring some of the nearly 3,000 workers the Seoul-based firm expected to employ by 2024.
Shell Hits Its Own Peak Oil, Plans to Reduce Output
Sarah McFarlane, The Wall Street Journal, February 11, 2021
Royal Dutch Shell PLC said it would start reducing oil production, calling an end to a decades-old strategy centered on pumping more hydrocarbons as it and other energy giants seek to capitalize on a shift to low-carbon power.
The move marks a historic shift for the company, which after starting out importing seashells began selling kerosene in the 19th century and had sought to grow its oil business ever since. Until recent years, it pursued expensive, environmentally challenging projects in Canadian oil sands and Alaska, driven by fears the world could run out of oil. Now, it sees demand faltering long before oil runs out.
Shell said Thursday its oil production had already peaked, and it expects output to decline 1-2% a year, including from asset sales, reducing its exposure to commodity prices over the longer term. The company plans to cut its production of traditional fuels such as diesel and gasoline by 55% in the next decade. At the same time, the company said it would double the amount of electricity it sells and roll out thousands of new electric vehicle charging points.
Qatar ramps up pressure on U.S. LNG producers with major expansion
Paul Takahashi, The Houston Chronicle, February 10, 2021
Qatar Petroleum’s plans to develop the world’s largest liquefied natural gas project ramps up pressure on U.S. producers, which have been building a slew of LNG projects along the Gulf Coast to meet the world’s growing demand for natural gas.
The Middle Eastern state oil company this week committed nearly $28.8 billion to expand its North Field East LNG project in Qatar, which can produce 32 million tonnes per year of LNG. The expansion would create the single largest LNG project in history, and help Qatar again become the world’s largest LNG producer by 2030, according to energy research firms Wood Mackenzie and Rystad.
State-owned corporation approves plan to spend $35 million on 200-mile mining road
James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, February 10, 2021
A controversial 200-mile mining road in northern Alaska advanced Wednesday as the board of a state-owned corporation agreed to split $70 million in pre-construction costs with a mining company interested in using the road.
The Ambler Road, a project of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, would connect the Dalton Highway to a region of northwest Alaska that holds several large metal mining prospects.
According to a proposed timeline, construction could begin by the middle of the decade, but the project faces practical and legal hurdles before then.
The road is opposed by environmentalists and local residents who oppose the effects it would have on a region of Alaska that includes Gates of the Arctic National Park.
AIDEA does not own the entire path of the planned road, which would cross land controlled by several different owners, including Doyon Inc., the regional Native corporation for Interior Alaska.
In a unanimous vote on Wednesday, AIDEA’s board of directors approved spending $35 million on predevelopment work needed to solve those right-of-way issues, permitting problems and other matters.
Another $35 million will be contributed by Ambler Metals LLC, a firm co-owned by mining companies based in Canada and Australia.
Shift to green energy ‘could cost oil states $13 trillion’ by 2040
Andrew Walker, BBC News, February 10, 2021
A new report says that oil and gas producing countries face a multi-trillion-dollar hole in their government revenue.
The report from the think-tank Carbon Tracker looks at the financial impact as the world cuts back on fossil fuels.
It says some countries could lose at least 40% of total government revenue.
It estimates the cumulative total revenue loss for all oil-producing countries by 2040 will be $13 trillion (in 2020 dollars).
That is as efforts to contain the rise in global temperatures drive the decarbonization of energy supplies.
Carbon Tracker describes its report as a wake-up call to oil producing countries and international policymakers. It says they have planned on the basis that demand for oil will increase until 2040.
But the agency warns that demand will have to fall to meet climate targets, and oil prices will be lower than oil producers and the industry currently expect.
The report looks at what would happen to government revenues if the increase in global temperature is limited to 1.65C.
Young Climate Litigants Push High Court Fight Some Call Reckless
Ellen M. Gilmer, Bloomberg Law, February 11, 2021
- Ninth Circuit refused to revive young plaintiffs’ claims.
- Outside lawyers warn of broad risks from high court
The young plaintiffs behind an ambitious climate lawsuit are taking their case to the U.S. Supreme Court, despite warnings from environmental lawyers that the attempt could backfire.
Lawyers for the 21 children and young adults in Juliana v. United States quickly announced plans Wednesday to file a Supreme Court petition after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit refused to revive their claims that the federal government has violated their constitutional right to a stable climate system.
Julia Olson, who represents the plaintiffs, said she and her clients were unmoved by detractors who worry a Supreme Court fight would undermine broader environmental litigation.
“Some people have a gut, fear-based response,” said Olson, who is executive director and chief legal counsel at the advocacy group Our Children’s Trust. She told Bloomberg Law she’s confident the justices will be receptive to the narrow legal question the plaintiffs plan to pose.
The plaintiffs have also sent letters to the Justice Department asking the Biden administration to come to the table to negotiate a potential settlement focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Biden hasn’t commented on the kids’ climate case, but on the campaign, trail pledged to “strategically support” plaintiffs in other types of climate litigation.
Outside lawyers, many of whom are sympathetic to the plaintiffs’ novel claims, say taking the issue to the high court could spell disaster for environmental interests if the justices agree to review the case.
The Ninth Circuit’s rehearing denial is “no doubt enormously disappointing” to the plaintiffs after their more than five-year effort to make the government take action “urgently needed to avoid the truly catastrophic consequences of climate change that the entire planet now faces,” Harvard Law professor Richard Lazarus said.
“For making clear the depth of the government’s past decades-long lapses in the face of industry malfeasance, the plaintiffs and their lawyers deserve the nation’s thanks,” he said. But Lazarus cautioned that seeking Supreme Court review would be “a serious strategic mistake” for those who care about climate issues.
“The result would far more likely be the establishment of binding legal precedent by the Supreme Court that sets back critically important efforts to address the climate issue rather than a Supreme Court ruling that promotes those efforts,” he said.