Today’s Key Takeaways: ND judge blocks implementation of Biden’s WOTUS rule in 24 states – including AK. Chat GPT impact on oil and gas jobs. China doubles down on coal. Climate scientists disagree with Biden “doomerism.”
NEWS OF THE DAY:
CAN WOTUS EVER WITHSTAND SCRUTINY? District Judge Daniel Hovland’s preliminary injunction blocking the Biden administration’s Waters of the United States rule in 24 GOP-led states that leveled the challenge isn’t the final word.
But, at the very least, it represents the third consecutive WOTUS rewrite to run into significant legal trouble and creates more uncertainty around this arcane regulation, plunging the courts and stakeholders back into what the Chamber of Commerce has called the “water regulatory version of Groundhog Day.”
Background: The Biden administration and supportive congressional Democrats were hopeful that the new WOTUS rule, the meat of which EPA and the Army Corps said they brought in from the legacy definition that existed for decades before the Obama administration first rewrote it in 2015, would be on firmer legal ground than the Obama- and Trump-era rules.
The administration played up its new rule’s reliance on Supreme Court precedent such as Justice Anthony Kennedy’s significant nexus standard and said the rule “provides clear rules of the road that will help advance infrastructure projects” and all the rest.
Not for this court: The 2023 rule “is neither understandable nor ‘intelligible,’ and its boundaries are unlimited,” Hovland ruled yesterday.
Hovland, whose preliminary injunction came after District Judge Jeff Brown had already paused WOTUS’s implementation in Texas and Idaho, also agreed with Brown that EPA failed to implement Justice Kennedy’s standard coherently and said the GOP-led states challenging the rule would be likely to succeed in arguing that EPA swept too widely.
A nod to Congress: The judge also weighed Congress’s recent approval of the Congressional Review Act resolution to nullify the rule and called it “doubtful” that Congress endorsed the current efforts to expand the limits of the Clean Water Act.
What’s next: Half the country will now be subject to the new WOTUS rule and half will not— unless and until an appeals court blocks the injunction or there’s a ruling on the merits of the case.
A ruling from the Supreme Court in Sackett v. EPA could also clarify the scope of agency authority or the standard the government ought to use to define WOTUS’s scope.
Or it may not, in which case we’ll be back to update you on the next round of litigation.
Will ChatGPT Affect Oil and Gas Jobs?
Andreas Exarheas, Rigzone, April 13, 2023
There is absolutely no question that ChatGPT, and artificial intelligence, generally speaking, as it evolves, will affect oil and gas jobs.
That’s what Gladney B. Darroh, the founder and president of Houston based Piper-Morgan Search, told Rigzone, adding that “it will reduce the overall need for people.”
“To understand what’s coming to oil and gas you need look no further than a recent New York Times article about A.I.’s performance in more than 275,000 breast cancer cases – ‘A.I. software matched the performance of human radiologists when acting as the second reader of mammography scans. It also cut down on radiologist’s workloads by at least 30 percent and the technology increased the cancer detection rate by 13 percent because more malignancies were found by A.I.,” Darroh noted.
“This is just the beginning for A.I.’s impact in the health care industry. Extrapolating from this article, it is not any great leap of logic to understand clearly how A.I. application in health care is a precursor for the oil and gas industry,” he added.
“The fact is, anything in the energy industry that requires data to be interpreted, measured, or quantified, A.I. will be able to do all of it more accurately and much faster – if not now, soon, as in the next five to 10 years,” Darroh continued.
China doubles down on coal ahead of potential summer blackouts
Andrew Hayley, Reuters, April 12, 2023
China plans to accelerate the approval of new coal mines and fast track the construction of already approved mines to support its baseload energy supply during demand spikes, Liang Changxin, an official from the National Energy Administration (NEA), said on Wednesday.
Peak energy demand is expected to exceed 1.36 billion kilowatts this summer, representing a “significant increase on last year”, Liang added.
Some provinces could face power cuts this summer as a result, the NEA official warned.
China’s energy consumption typically spikes in the summer months due to household demand for air conditioning.
This, combined with a related slump in power from hydro sources due to low rainfall, led to a wave of blackouts across southwest China last year.
Officials have repeatedly stressed the role of coal as a “ballast stone” in the energy mix amid a national energy security drive, even as the country attempts to transition toward a greener, renewables-led power system.
‘Doomerism’: Why scientists disagree with Biden on 1.5 C
Scott Waldmann, Climatewire, April 4, 2023
Damned. Lost. Done.
President Joe Biden keeps saying the world as we know it will be gone if global temperatures rise beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius.
His comments are raising concern among scientists who say the president risks adding to public confusion about the dangers of surpassing the 1.5 C threshold, an event that is expected to occur in about a decade.
Biden has been ratcheting up his warnings about breaching that benchmark in recent speeches, claiming that future generations would be damned and that “we lose it all” if the world overshoots that target.
But those assertions go beyond what many climate scientists say would happen. Surpassing 1.5 C is dangerous, they say, but it’s not a point of no return.
Biden’s rhetoric is “misleading and unhelpful,” said Michael Mann, a climate scientist at the University of Pennsylvania. The best way to view what lies beyond 1.5 C is as a continuum of worsening climate impacts, he said, rather than as a climate cliff.
“It indeed feeds doomerism since there’s a very real possibility that we will fail to limit warming below 1.5 C,” Mann said of Biden’s remarks. “If we miss that exit ramp, we don’t continue headlong down the fossil fuel highway. We get off at the earliest possible exit.”
Biden is not alone in using severe language to describe the possibility of bypassing the 1.5 C threshold, the most ambitious goal in the Paris Agreement. Scientists have said each tenth of a degree will lead to more permafrost thawing, higher sea levels and intensifying drought.
Similar rhetoric has been used by other officials.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has said “global temperatures must not increase more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrialized levels in order to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change.” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has said humanity is on “a fast track to climate disaster.” Activist groups have also made the same claim, including the Sunrise Movement, which called it a “critical threshold.”
But Biden’s comments stand out to scientists for their finality and because the president can reach people worldwide. They also come as scientists warn more clearly than ever that the 1.5 C threshold will likely be surpassed soon. It could occur in the lifetime of the 80-year-old president.