NEWS OF THE DAY:
Biggest copper mining project in decades begins production
Cecelia Jamasmie, Mining.Com, May 26, 2021
Canada’s Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN) has begun producing copper concentrate at its Kamoa-Kakula project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) months ahead of schedule as the metal continues to trade close to all-time highs.
Kakula, the first mine planned at the concession, is initially forecast to generate 3.8 million tonnes of ore a year at an average feed grade “well in excess of 6% copper” over the first five years of operation, the company said.
Dutch court orders Shell to cut its emissions in landmark ruling
Andrew Freedman, Axios, May 26, 2021
In a precedent-setting ruling, a Dutch court ruled Wednesday in favor of environmentalists and more than 17,000 residents of the Netherlands, by ordering Royal Dutch Shell to cut its emissions of greenhouse gases.
Why it matters: It’s the first court ruling that orders a major oil company to make its emissions plans more consistent with Paris Climate Agreement targets, and it could spur legal action against other oil and gas firms.
Driving the news: The case was brought in April 2019 by Dutch citizens who alleged that Shell’s continued oil and gas exploration threatens their human rights by robbing them of a more stable climate. Environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth also participated in the lawsuit.
Details: The Dutch district court in the Hague ordered Shell to cut its carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 relative to 2019 levels. The court ruled that the energy company’s existing emissions reduction plans, calling for a reduction of emissions intensity of 20% by 2030, were insufficient, and could result in human rights violations.
- The ruling includes so-called Scope 3 emissions, which are the greenhouse gases released when Shell’s oil and gas is burned for generating energy.
- While many court cases have been brought in the U.S. and elsewhere against governments for not acting to rein in planet-warming greenhouse gases, the Shell ruling is part of a wave of challenges from climate activists that target oil and gas companies.
- Shell “fully intends to appeal the ruling,” the company stated.
Between the lines: Shell has established a more aggressive emissions reduction strategy than many other major oil and gas companies, with the goal of reaching net zero “absolute emissions” in 2050.
What they’re saying: “This is a monumental victory for our planet, for our children, and is a stop towards a livable future for everyone,” said Donald Pols, director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands, in a statement.
- “Urgent action is needed on climate change which is why we have accelerated our efforts to become a net-zero emissions energy company by 2050, in step with society, with short-term targets to track our progress,” Shell said in a statement.
- We are investing billions of dollars in low-carbon energy, including electric vehicle charging, hydrogen, renewables, and biofuels. We want to grow demand for these products and scale up our new energy businesses even more quickly. We will continue to focus on these efforts and fully expect to appeal today’s disappointing court decision,” the company stated.
Go deeper: Shell CEO: You need us on climate change
Responding to senators, Glick agrees FERC should not stall on gas projects
S & P Global Platts, May 25, 2021
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Richard Glick has assured a group of senators that the commission would not delay acting on pending gas project certificates while it considers reforms to its policy for approving projects.
His comments responded to an April 29 letter from 25 US senators urging FERC to act promptly and also warning the regulator against adding new policy considerations into the decisions on those projects.
The lawmakers, including Senators John Hoeven, Republican-North Dakota, and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin, Democrat-West Virginia, wrote that many of the proposed projects before the commission, some pending for more than a year, were “critical to addressing supply issues and strengthening our energy infrastructure.”
Glick responded in letters to individual senators made public in the FERC docket May 24. Agreeing that FERC should not delay, he stressed that on May 20 the commission had issued orders approving certificates for proposed pipeline projects in Minnesota and Nevada.
Just as former FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre did after he opened an earlier inquiry into possible changes to FERC’s 1999 natural gas pipeline certificate policy in 2018, Glick said, “I can assure you that the commission will not wait to act on certificate applications while we consider options for approving the process.”
A new round of comments on FERC’s pipeline policy was due May 26, in answer to a February notice of inquiry seeking added input on environmental justice and climate issues (PL18-1).
In response to Glick’s letter, Hoeven said he was pleased to see FERC approve two pipeline certificates and appreciated Glick’s agreement that pending projects should not be delayed.
“However, there are still 12 projects awaiting consideration before the commission, some of which have been delayed for an extended period of time,” Hoeven said in an emailed statement May 25. “We look forward to FERC’s continued action on these applications, without delay and in accordance with Chairman Glick’s commitment.”
The back-and-forth comes amid a dispute over whether FERC should be adjusting its approach on contentious issues such as greenhouse gas considerations on a case-by-case basis, or instead wait until it tackles the review of the broader pipeline policy. Commissioners James Danly and Mark Christie have argued that FERC should address significant shifts in the broader docket, rather than in isolated project dockets with few participants.
Glick noted in his response to senators that while the notice of inquiry was first opened by McIntyre in 2018, no action was taken by the two subsequent chairmen. His reassurances about avoiding delay come after a tense May open meeting left behind questions about how quickly FERC can resolve differences and act on more projects.
The commission on May 20 approved by a 3-2 vote Northern Natural Gas’ Northern Lights 2021, a 45.6 MMcf/d project in Minnesota that entails additional compression, short segments of pipeline, and other modifications (CP20-503), along with Tuscarora Gas Transmission’s Tuscarora XPress project, a 15 MMcf/d compression project in Nevada (CP20-486).
FERC has yet to act on the 92.5-mile, 250 MMcf/d North Bakken Expansion Project, which would provide incremental firm capacity from six gas processing plants to a proposed interconnect with Northern Border Pipeline Company. Hoeven and other US lawmakers from North Dakota in March pressed FERC to act, contending the project had potential to cut methane emissions, alongside their assertions about its economic benefits. Adding a possible hurdle in that docket, the Institute for Policy Integrity has faulted FERC’s environmental assessment for a failure to project indirect GHG emissions or monetize emissions.
The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, in an email, said it was “pleased to see dialogue between FERC and Congress around predictable permitting processes for natural gas infrastructure.”
“We continue to believe that timely regulatory reviews for pending natural gas projects can deliver environmental and economic benefits while ensuring reliable energy for Americans across the nation,” the group added.
Donlin Gold announces plans for summer exploratory drilling season
Olivia Ebert, KYUK – Bethel, May 25, 2021
During the week of May 14, Donlin Gold announced plans to continue with exploratory drilling for the 2021 summer season. The announcement came just a week before the State of Alaska is expected to issue a verdict on a key permit for the company.
Donlin said that as of last season, it has discovered higher grade thickness than previously expected at its mine site. According to a paper from Canadian mining company Peloton, that means more efficient gold extraction. Donlin said that its 2021 drilling season results could be used to update its feasibility study.
By May 27, Alaska Commissioner of Environmental Conservation Jason Brune could either rescind or uphold a 2018 state water quality certificate that was issued to the proposed mine. If the state water quality certificate is rescinded, Donlin may not be able to access another critical permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Donlin has hired workers from 18 Y-K Delta communities for the season. The company is requiring workers to follow pandemic safety protocols and encourages all employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:
SENATE COMMITTEE PASSES INFRASTRUCTURE BILL WITH CLIMATE PROVISIONS: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved a surface transportation reauthorization bill by a 20-0 vote this morning, demonstrating that some bipartisan movement is possible on infrastructure.
“This is barely the end, but it’s a good beginning,” said Sen. Tom Carper, the Democratic chairman of the committee from Delaware who brokered the legislation with top committee Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia. “This sends a strong signal to sister committees that it’s time to go to work.”
Their $303.5 billion bill, covering five years, includes some funding for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, as well as climate-related sections that would seek to increase infrastructure’s resilience to the effects of climate change and encourage states to curb carbon emissions from on-road transportation sources. It’s similar to legislation passed by the committee 18 months ago, which never made it to the Senate floor.
Even so, these provisions are far more narrow than what Biden is seeking in his infrastructure plan.
More than One-third of Registered Voters Are Unwilling to Spend $1 Per Month on Climate Change Policies
Competitive Enterprise Institute, May 25, 2021
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) released a new poll today, measuring public sentiment on energy issues and climate change. The poll, conducted by CRC Research, is an online survey of 1,200 registered voters nationwide April 15-18, 2021 with a 2.83 percent overall margin of error.
Overall, the poll finds Americans are almost evenly split on the direction of the country, with 50 percent of respondents saying the United States is headed in the right direction and 48 percent of respondents saying things have seriously gotten off on the wrong track. Two percent of respondents were unsure or refused to respond.
While a strong majority of respondents (67 percent) are either somewhat concerned or very concerned about climate change, when asked whether climate change was a factor in their 2020 election vote or not 53 percent of respondents said no, climate change was not a factor. Only six percent of respondents said it was the top issue they considered when voting in 2020.
When asked about willingness to spend out-of-pocket to mitigate climate change, 35 percent of respondents said they would not spend a dollar. Fifteen percent said they would spend up to $10 of their own money on climate change policies. The poll also found 53 percent of respondents would be somewhat or very unlikely to spend extra money to replace a gas-powered car with an electric vehicle.
“When Americans unexpectedly pay more for gas and utilities because of events like electric grid failures and attacks on our pipelines and with the summer driving season ready to start next week, it is little wonder few voters clamor for costly new regulations. There is a lesson here if politicians are willing to listen,” said CEI President and CEO Kent Lassman. “Americans recognize that the moment demands policies that lower regulatory barriers to foster economic resilience and to allow the space for an enduring recovery.”
“This poll shows once again that Americans are unwilling to pay for the left’s anti-energy policies,” said Director of CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment Myron Ebell. “The more people learn about the Biden-Harris Blackout Agenda, the less support there will be for spending trillions of taxpayer dollars for no measurable benefits.”