News of the Day:
Tribes exempt from pause in U.S. federal drilling program
Reuters, January 25, 2021
Native American tribes are exempt from the Biden administration’s temporary suspension of U.S. oil and gas leasing and permitting on federal lands, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Interior said on Monday.
The clarification comes after an oil-producing tribe in Utah last week asked Interior for an exemption from the 60-day pause, saying it would hit its economy and sovereignty.
“The approval process for oil and gas activities does not apply to tribal and individual trust lands,” Interior spokesman Tyler Cherry said in an email, referring to the secretarial order issued on Jan. 20, President Joe Biden’s first day in office.
Connections: Utah tribe blasts Biden’s drilling freeze on federal lands as ‘direct attack’ on sovereignty
Biden to Suspend New Federal Oil and Gas Leasing Pending Review
Timothy Puko, Ken Thomas and Andrew Restuccia, The Wall Street Journal, January 26, 2021
President Biden is planning on Wednesday to halt new oil and gas leasing on federal territory, people familiar with the matter said, setting up a confrontation with the oil industry over the future of U.S. energy.
The Biden administration has drafted an order to impose the moratorium while it conducts a review of the federal oil and gas leasing program, the people said, in what is potentially a first step toward his campaign pledge to end future leases. The order is expected to be included in a package of measures across government aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and boosting land conservation.
As a candidate, Mr. Biden had said he would push the country to “transition away from the oil industry” because of its pollution, and he has acted more swiftly and broadly to do that than many expected.
In addition to the moratorium on oil and gas leasing, Mr. Biden is expected to set a goal of protecting 30% of federal land and water by 2030, the people said. The president is also planning to re-establish a White House council of science advisers that was established during the Obama administration. Mr. Biden’s plans were reported earlier by Bloomberg News and other publications.
New LNG projects will start going ahead, but green credentials to be closely watched
Nina Chestney, Reuters, January 26, 2021
Companies will press ahead with some new liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in the next few years despite pressure on lenders to divert funding from fossil fuels, industry executives said, but scrutiny of their environmental standards will be tight.
Several LNG projects have been delayed or cancelled in recent years due to weak gas prices and worries about oversupply.
While prices have recovered somewhat as Asian demand picks up, lenders also face growing calls to starve fossil fuel projects of finance due to pressure to meet climate change targets.
Mark Gyetvay, chief financial officer, and deputy chairman of the management board of Russian gas producer Novatek, said that by the end of the decade, the LNG market will be 150 million tons short on the supply side.
US gives high priority status to Graphite One’s Alaska project
Mining.Com, January 20, 2021
The US Government’s Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Committee designated Graphite One’s (TSX-V: GPH) Graphite Creek project as a high-priority infrastructure project (HPIP), following a nomination by Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy.
In its decision, the FPISC states that it has determined that the project qualifies as an HPIP under the ‘manufacturing’ and ‘renewable energy’’ sectors.
The designation means that Graphite One can elect to list on the Federal Permitting Dashboard, which ensures that federal permitting agencies coordinate their project review authorities, resulting in a more efficient process than the one pursued under regular channels.
The Graphite Creek project is considered the highest grade and largest known, large flake graphite deposit in the US.
Lieutenant governor to introduce bill to repeal automatic PFD voter registration initiative
Sean McGuire, KTUU News, January 25, 2021
The lieutenant governor is set to introduce legislation that would repeal a 2016 voter initiative that automatically registers Alaskans to vote when they apply for a Permanent Fund dividend.
Wasilla Republican Sen. Mike Shower pre-filed an election reform bill with a similar provision. His legislation would mean that Alaskans could register to vote when applying for their PFD, but they would need to tick a box signaling that that is their intention.
Automatic voter registration in Alaska was approved by almost 65% of voters through the state’s initiative process at the November 2016 general election. Over 70,000 more Alaskans registered to vote between October of 2016 and January of 2021.
Meyer said the initiative created a process that’s “convenient” for Alaskans to register to vote but said repealing it isn’t intended to disenfranchise anyone. Voters would need to ensure they’re registered to vote 30 days before an election, which is the deadline under state law.
CLIMATE CHANGE CONVERSATIONS:
Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency
Jordan Carney, The Hill, January 25, 2021
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Monday night that President Biden should consider declaring an emergency when it comes to the climate.
“It might be a good idea for President Biden to call a climate emergency,” Schumer told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.
Schumer appeared to be referencing Biden making a national emergency declaration, with the Senate leader noting that former President Trump used it for the border wall.
Declaring a national emergency would give Biden more leeway on combating climate change, including being able to direct additional funding.