Biden to boost mining but kill union pipeline jobs. Fracking helps environment. AK Senate Committees.

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News of the Day: 

Big U.S. oil drillers have federal permits to mute effect of any Biden ban
Jennifer Hiller, Nichola Groom, Reuters, January 21, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden’s promised ban on new oil and gas drilling on federal lands would take years to shut off production from top shale drillers because they already have stockpiled permits, according to Reuters interviews with executives.

But smaller independent oil drillers without the resources of big corporations were more worried about Biden’s vow to toughen regulations and stop issuing new permits on federal lands, part of his sweeping plan to combat climate change and bring the economy to net zero emissions by 2050.

Federal lands are the source of about 10% of U.S. oil and gas supply. Fossil fuels produced on federally managed lands and waters contribute nearly 25% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to government estimates, making them an easy target for the administration’s climate agenda.

Biden’s pledge would reverse former President Donald Trump’s efforts to maximize drilling and mining on federal property. But it will not end production in those areas overnight.

The seven companies that control half the federal supply onshore in the Lower 48 states have leases and permits in hand that could last years.


Fracturing and the environment
Dr. Ali Daneshy, World Oil, January 21, 2021

One of the industry’s premier experts says hydraulic fracturing actually reduces the environmental impact of oil and gas production by increasing the productivity of each well.

Over the last few years, there has been a lot of public debate about the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing, as well as advocacy by some of our civic and political leaders for banning the process as a way of improving environmental quality. This article makes an in-depth analysis of the subject and the advisability of such action.

The environmental impact of oil and gas is usually discussed under a single umbrella. But careful and learned examination of the subject teaches us that the proper way to analyze the topic is to break it into its two main separate and independent parts—its production, and its use/consumption. The activities falling under the production heading include drilling, completions (including fracturing), and lifting the produced fluid to the surface. The use/consumption portion covers its many industrial applications.


TC Energy Reacts to Keystone Pipeline Development
Andreas Exarheas, Rigzone, January 21, 2021

TC Energy Corporation (TSX, NYSE: TRP) has announced that it is disappointed with the expected action to revoke the existing Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and said it would directly lead to the layoff of thousands of union workers.

Commenting on the latest Keystone XL Pipeline development, American Petroleum Institute (API) President and CEO Mike Sommers said, “revoking the Keystone XL pipeline is a significant step backwards both for environmental progress and our economic recovery”.

“Pipelines are the safest, most environmentally friendly way to transport energy, and the economy cannot recover at full speed unless we deliver reliable energy from where it is to where it is needed. The Keystone XL Pipeline has been through more than ten years of extensive environmental reviews, and … [the] announcement is a slap in the face to the thousands of union workers who are already a part of this safe and sustainable project,” he added.


President Biden to boost US mining, green energy metals
Cecilia Jamasmie, Mining.Com, January 20, 2021

Biden used his inaugural address to call for unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can get past the dark moment by working together.

Canadians, however, don’t seem too optimistic as news of Biden’s reported plans to cancel TC Energy’s (TSX, NYSE: TRP) Keystone XL pipeline permit via executive action has grabbed headlines over the past two days.

President Biden is expected to make an announcement on the issue before the end of the day. He is also likely to unveil a timeline to revive some of the rigorous environmental regulations enacted during the Obama administration, later revoked by the Trump administration.

Analysts believe that any slowdown effects in the mining sector will be offset by Biden’s plans to support domestic production of metals used to make electric vehicles, solar panels, and green technologies, crucial to his $2 trillion climate plan.

Biden has said he’d back bipartisan efforts to foster a domestic supply chain for lithium, copper, rare earths, nickel, and other strategic materials that the US imports from China and other countries.


Alaska Senate Committee Assignments:

Rules: Gary Stevens, chair, Micciche, vice chair, Hughes, Stedman, Begich
Finance: Co-chairs Click Bishop, Bert Stedman, Hoffman, Von Imhof, Wilson, Olson, Wielechowski 
Education: Roger Holland, chair, Stevens, vice chair, Hughes, Micciche, Begich
Natural Resources: Josh Revak, chair, Micciche, vice chair, Bishop, Stevens, Von Imhof, Kiehl, Kawasaki
State Affairs: Mike Shower, chair, Reinbold, vice chair, Costello, Holland, Kawasaki
Health and Social Services: David Wilson, chair, Hughes, vice chair, Costello, Reinbold, Begich
Judiciary: Lora Reinbold, chair, Shower vice chair, Hughes, Myers, Kiehl
Community and Regional Affairs: Shelley Hughes, chair, Rob Myers, vice chair, Hoffman, Wilson, Gray-Jackson
Transportation – Rob Myers, chair, Shower vice chair, Bishop, Micciche, Kiehl
Labor and Commerce: Mia Costello, chair, Roger Holland, vice chair, Revak, Stevens, Gray-Jackson
Legislative Budget and Audit: Natasha Von Imhof, chair


Big business backs key climate change regulations
Amy Harder, Axios, January 21, 2021

Two of Washington’s biggest lobbying groups say they support the Biden administration’s plan to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas wells.

Why it matters: The shift, instigated by the Chamber of Commerce and American Petroleum Institute, is one of the most concrete signs of how corporations are beginning to support action on climate change in the face of pressure from investors, politicians and the public.

Catch up quick: The organizations have for years opposed any direct regulation of methane, a greenhouse gas that’s the primary component of natural gas.

  • Methane makes up about 10% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, but its warming impact on the planet is more potent over a shorter period than carbon dioxide, the most common heat-trapping gas.
  • Methane, an invisible gas, leaks in the production and transportation processes of the fuel.
  • Investors have increasingly called on oil and gas producers to cut methane emissions, and President Biden has vowed to regulate them no matter what the industry thinks.

What they’re saying:

  • “We support the direct regulation of methane for new and existing sources in accordance with the Clean Air Act,” Mike Sommers, API’s president, and CEO, told Axios Tuesday.
  • The Chamber of Commerce updated its website Wednesday to say it supports cutting methane emissions, including “by direct regulation under the Clean Air Act.”

But, but, but: The organizations are couching their support around an additional process within the Clean Air Act, America’s bedrock pollution law, that could add many months to writing a regulation. Environmental advocates dispute this position.

How it works: Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president at API, says that to comply with the law, Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency must go through a scientific process confirming that methane from oil and gas wells contributes to endangering the public’s health and welfare.

  • The Obama administration issued a broader scientific finding in 2009 concluding that all greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, did that.
  • Macchiarola says that finding applied to mobile sources, not stationary sources like oil and gas wells, and was in a different part of the law.
  • He says calling for this review isn’t tantamount to a delay and that such a finding is needed to stand up to legal scrutiny.

The other side: Peter Zalzal, an expert at the Environmental Defense Fund, says the EPA already made an additional scientific finding on this matter in 2016 as part of the Obama administration’s early work regulating methane.

  • “There’s broad agreement that methane significantly contributes to harmful climate pollution and EPA has already made this finding in 2016, so let’s get going,” Zalzal said.

Go deeper: In aggressive climate plan, Biden’s position on natural gas is fuzzy