BlackRock Backs Off ESG. Chart It:  Alaska LNG Demand. 

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Today’s Key Takeaways:  Interior Deputy Alaska is “point of spear” on climate.  Ecuadorians limit drilling in Amazon.  Can Cook Inlet meet Alaska LNG demand?  Graphite wars.  BlackRock’s support for ESG wanes. 


Interior deputy: Alaska is ‘point of the spear’ on climate
E & E News, August 22, 2023

Tommy Beaudreau is in Alaska to tout the Biden administration’s climate change and infrastructure investments.

“To be part of an administration that is truly delivering for Alaska and delivering for Alaska in a way that truly matters to people is the proudest part of what I could be doing in my career,” Beaudreau said during a news conference in Anchorage, where he was joined by White House Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu and Alaska Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola.

The Interior deputy, who grew up in Alaska, called it an “enormous pleasure to be able to come back to my home state” with Landrieu. Prior to the trip, Beaudreau said he told Landrieu — a Louisiana native — that “Alaska is gonna resonate really strongly with you, and like Louisiana, it’s just a big, small town and it’s real people with real challenges.”

The Biden officials heralded programs to expand Alaskans’ access to the internet, a project to conserve salmon habitat in the state and a program to relocate communities threatened by climate change.

“As everybody … is painfully aware, there are many Alaska Native communities and rural communities here in the state that are on the front lines of changes that we see happening throughout the world,” Beaudreau said.

“Alaska is the point of the spear,” he said, on “erosion, permafrost melt and extreme weather events that are impacting small towns and villages and communities throughout the state.”

Beaudreau pointed to the administration’s voluntary program launched last November that commits to spending an initial $135 million to relocating communities imperiled by climate change.

In Alaska, the Newtok Village and Native Village of Napakiak were both selected to receive relocation funding.

Alaska Native villages “are at risk of severe infrastructure damage due to climate-related environmental impacts, including sea-level rise, coastal erosion and extreme weather events,” the Interior Department said when it announced the program’s launch.

“These investments are crucial as we uphold our nation-to-nation relationships, protect tribal sovereignty and revitalize Indigenous communities,” Beaudreau said. “Another thing we’ll be doing this week is traveling up to Napakiak to see that work on the ground, talk to community leaders and help think through how to address the challenges that they’re facing.”

The Biden officials’ visit comes on the heels of other high-profile administration visits. First lady Jill Biden and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland traveled to Alaska in May to promote infrastructure investments.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was also in Alaska last week as part of the administration’s August push to tout its infrastructure and climate investments.

Landrieu noted those visits, adding that Attorney General Merrick Garland was also in Alaska on Tuesday. “That is just an example of how important Alaska is to President Biden,” Landrieu said.


ECUADORIANS VOTE TO END DRILLING IN PARTS OF THE AMAZON: Ecuadorians voted this weekend to end oil drilling in a protected part of the Amazon, delivering a blow to Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso, whose administration has supported drilling efforts in the country, and to state-run oil company Petroecuador, which produces some 60,000 bpd of oil in the Yasuni National Park alone.

Ecuadorians appeared poised to reject the referendum as of last night, when more than 90% of the votes had been counted. As of that reporting, roughly 6 in 10 voters had opted to reject it, according to The Hill. Rejection of the measure would require Petroecuador to dismantle its drilling operations in the Yasuni National Park’s Block 43 area, which alone contributes roughly $1.2 billion annually to the country’s budget.

Petroecuador said in a statement it would refrain from commenting on the referendum until all ballots are counted, but that it would ultimately comply with the will of the people.

From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy


From Global LNG Hub, August 23, 2023


Graphite Wars: The Trillion Dollar Battery Race Has A Big Problem
Tom Kool, OilPrice.Com, August 22, 2023

The EV industry faces a huge challenge of replacing, in record speed, internal combustion engines (ICE) that have ruled the roads for over a century—and domesticating the entire supply chain to meet the demands of an electric vehicle industry quickly closing in on a trillion-dollar market value. 

So far, it’s all been done backwards, which is how many revolutionary ideas unfold … 

North America is building EV factories first, then battery gigafactories. Only after these grand plans has enough attention been given to mineral processing. And coming in last, is mining of those critical minerals necessary to make it all happen.

This is the necessary reality. Investors saw what happened to lithium mining when it attempted to surge ahead into its proper place: The market wasn’t ready for supply to catch up with future demand, but lithium miners fought on. 

Now, it’s graphite’s turn.

Graphite makes up 95-99% of the anode (negative electrode) material in lithium-ion batteries, making it the largest component in any EV battery. Once you get past the lithium hype, quiet graphite is the most critical element here. A “lithium-ion” battery can contain 15X more graphite than lithium and make up some 25% of a battery’s total volume, leading Tesla’s Elon Musk to state that they should, effectively, be called “nickel-graphite batteries”. 



BlackRock’s support for shareholder proposals wanes
Andrew Freeman, Axios, August 23, 2023

BlackRock supported a smaller share of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) shareholder proposals this year compared to years past.

Why it matters: The move comes at a time when the world’s largest asset manager and its CEO, Larry Fink, have been criticized for championing and seemingly backing away from commitments to incorporate climate change-related and other factors into investment decisions.

Between the lines: In a new report Wednesday, BlackRock says it supported about 9% of all shareholder resolutions it voted on globally during the 2022-23 proxy voting season, including 7% of resolutions on issues including climate and the environment and social considerations.

  • That contrasts with the 2021-22 proxy year, when the company supported 21% of all environmental, social, and governance (ESG) shareholder proposals put to a vote.
  • In a possible indication of the politicization of the term ESG, it only appears in footnotes of the new stewardship report, compared to about two dozen times the year before.

Zoom out: BlackRock’s waning support for ESG proposals reflects a broader shift in the industry, with the investment philosophy coming under heavy partisan fire, and a growing number of high-profile players slowly backing away.

  • But as Axios’ Eleanor Hawkins recently reported, companies are simply becoming pickier about the battles they choose to fight, and when.

The bottom line: The report states that there was more than a 30% increase in shareholder ESG proposals this past year, but many were overly prescriptive or addressed actions companies were already taking.

  • “Because so many proposals were over-reaching, lacking economic merit, or simply redundant, they were unlikely to help promote long-term shareholder value and received less support from shareholders, including BlackRock, than in years past,” the report states.