Biden Climate Chief to Meet Oil Leaders Wary of Crackdown
Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Bloomberg Green, March 22, 2021
Oil and gas industry leaders are set to meet with White House National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy Monday afternoon, as the Biden administration prepares to crack down on greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.
The meeting, which will take place virtually and include lobbyists and leaders of industry trade groups, was described by two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because the session is not public. A White House spokesman did not immediately comment on the planned discussion.
McCarthy, President Joe Biden’s top domestic climate policy chief, met earlier with utilities and automakers that also stand to be affected by the administration’s plans for throttling greenhouse gases and promoting emission-free energy. The Biden administration is preparing to unveil a new emission-reduction goal next month as part of the U.S. return to the Paris climate agreement.
Oil industry heads have been pressing for discussions with administration officials following Biden’s Jan. 27 declaration of a pause in the sale of new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters. Industry officials have cast the sector as a willing partner in efforts to fight climate change, while arguing that continued oil and gas development is essential for a thriving U.S. economy and national security.
Today the Alaska Senate Resources committee will hear an update from Qilak LNG and the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation/Alaska LNG at 3:30pm. You can watch the hearing at www.akleg.gov by clicking on “Live Now” and “Senate Resources Committee”. Access to the documents for the presentation below.
A teaser from the Qilak testimony:
“While Alaska has pursued pipeline-based LNG to ice-free ports, Russia has successfully begun direct LNG exports with icebreaking tankers While Alaska focused on permitting an 800-mile pipeline to liquefaction facilities in Cook Inlet, through AGDC, something revolutionary was happening nearby in the Arctic. In 2017, Russia launched direct export of LNG from the Yamal Peninsula to Northeast Asia, through the Arctic Ocean and via the Bering Straits. Fifteen advanced icebreaking tankers were built, and markets in both the Atlantic Region and the Pacific region have been served with production of 16.5 million tons per year of LNG (approximately 2.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.) In 2019, Russia announced it had secured markets and financing from several Asian countries to expand LNG exports to close to 40 million tons per year with the Arctic LNG 2 project. A further six icebreaking Mk II LNG tankers are on order with enhanced ice breaking performance for this second project. We learned from the first Yamal project not only that the Arctic Ocean is reliably navigable, but we also learned some geography. First, compared to Yamal, the producing areas in the North Slope of Alaska are 2,000 miles closer to the maximum ice edge in the Arctic Ocean and Bering Straits. The Russians are sailing right past us. Second, our State’s proposed 800-mile, multi-billion-dollar pipeline only brings the gas around 40 miles closer to market: The North Slope and Cook Inlet ports are virtually equidistant to Tokyo. “
Pebble assails Corps economic findings
Shane Lasley, North of 60 Mining News, March 19, 2021
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does not subscribe to the idea that it is better for the residents of the Bristol Bay region of Southwest Alaska to have worked and lost than never to have worked at all.
In its public interest review for the Pebble project, Army Corps determined that some Bristol Bay residents that become accustomed to increased income and lower living costs from developing Pebble may be forced to move out of the region or lower their standard of living after a mine at the copper-gold-molybdenum-rhenium deposit ends.
These are among the “economic detriments” Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. is challenging in its appeal of Army Corps’ negative record of decision for Pebble last November.
A request for appeal prepared by Pebble Limited Partnership, a Northern Dynasty subsidiary formed to advance the Pebble project, was accepted by the Army Corps Pacific Ocean Division in February.
In its appeal, the Pebble Partnership wrote that the social and economic impact conclusions in Army Corp Alaska District’s public interest review give “undue weight to speculative harms not supported by the record while giving little weight to the project’s undisputed benefits to local communities, the region, and the state.”
“In sum, the record demonstrates the significant, long-term socio-economic benefits of the project to local communities, including jobs, infrastructure, health, education and decreased cost of living. Nonetheless, the ROD outrageously asserts that there are adverse economic effects that would outweigh the benefits at the local and regional level. The (Alaska) District relies on pure conjecture to support this finding,” the company penned in the appeal.
‘In the dark of night’: Trump’s Interior chief snuck Murkowski an eleventh-hour win
Adam Federman, Politico, March 19, 2021
Just days before leaving office, then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt ordered federal officials to use a risky legal strategy to advance a controversial road project through a wildlife refuge in Alaska, according to a memo obtained by POLITICOandType Investigations — a move that if implemented, could erode public land protections across the state.
The January 15 Bernhardt memo to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to move forward with the permitting of a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Alaska stunned critics who have opposed the project for more than two decades.
“To be deciding huge questions like this in the dark of night with the secretary taking the law into his own hands is totally inappropriate,” said Pat Lavin, senior policy adviser with Defenders of Wildlife, which is currently involved in litigation over the road project. “It is a kangaroo court for our public lands.”
A long-standing priority for the Alaska delegation — and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski in particular — the 19-mile Izembek road, which was proposed to connect the village of King Cove with an airport in nearby Cold Bay, would cut through federally designated wilderness lands in the refuge.
Supporters of the project say the road would provide residents, the majority of whom are Alaska Natives, with access to medical care in the event of an emergency; opponents argue that it would do irreparable harm to a globally recognized wetland ecosystem that provides critical habitat to thousands of migratory bird species and is really designed to benefit the commercial seafood industry. King Cove, on the remote edge of the Alaskan Peninsula, is home to one of the state’s largest canneries.
U.S. and China discussed climate change, but did not form working group
Fadel Allassan, Axios, March 2, 2021
A delegation for the Biden administration “discussed the climate crisis” with Chinese counterparts during talks in Alaska this week, but the two sides did not form a working group on the issue, contrary to a Chinese media report, a State Department spokesperson tells Axios.
Driving the news: The report followed the first face-to-face diplomatic meetings between officials from the U.S. and China since the start of Joe Biden’s presidency. The talks indicated Biden does not “plan to wholly abandon the Trump administration’s tough tone in discussions with Beijing” writes NBC News.
What they’re saying: “More broadly, we know the climate challenge does not get successfully addressed without significant additional action by China,” the spokesperson told Axios. “China represents almost 30 percent of global emissions, in addition to its carbon-intensive investments abroad.”
- The spokesperson called Chinese President Xi’s promise to achieve net zero emissions before 2060 “a significant step forward,” but added that China needs to do more to reach Paris Agreement goals.
- “We will continue to engage China and other key countries as we move forward to address the climate crisis. All countries must raise their ambitions as we move toward COP26 in Glasgow,” the spokesperson said.
Flashback: U.S. Climate envoy John Kerry in January said that the U.S. must deal with China on climate change as a “critical standalone issue,” but that the Biden administration will not stop confronting Beijing on human rights and trade abuses.