Federal court sends Hilcorp’s Liberty Project back to BOEM to try again for approval
Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media, December 7, 2020
A federal appeals court has overturned approval for Hilcorp’s Liberty Project, an offshore drilling prospect located east of Deadhorse, in the Beaufort Sea.
Liberty Project received key approval from the federal government in Oct. 2018 to become the first oil and gas production well in federal Arctic waters. But on Monday, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with environmental groups who brought a legal challenge, saying agency review of the project was inadequate.
The judges said the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management should have quantified the well’s greenhouse gas emissions, including the impact of the oil it produced and sent overseas. They also faulted the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for not estimating the non-lethal impact drilling would have on polar bears.
Hilcorp became the sole owner of Liberty Project when it purchased BP’s oil and gas production assets in Alaska earlier this year.
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:
NORD STREAM 2 ON ALERT WITH NDAA VOTE: The House will vote today on the compromise annual defense policy bill, which includes a fresh round of expanded sanctions targeting Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Germany.
The new sanctions in the National Defense Authorization Act are intended to stop Russia from upgrading a ship it needs to lay the final pipe, along with businesses that would insure, test, inspect, and certify the pipeline — which is just 100 miles short of completion. But it’s unlikely to stop Russia from finishing it, as Josh reported last week.
What else is in the NDAA: It also includes requirements for the Defense Department to report to Congress on the vulnerabilities military installations face from extreme weather and the agency’s greenhouse gas emissions, as well as update a roadmap to adapt to the effects of climate change.
And it seeks to reduce reliance on imports for critical minerals.
Trump administration moves to open millions of acres to potential mining in Western Alaska
Alex DeMarban, Anchorage Daily News, December 8, 2020
In another late stage move, the Trump administration on Friday released a final report that could open millions of acres of wilderness in rural Alaska to mining.
The Bureau of Land Management’s final environmental report proposes to update resource management plans for 13.5 million acres it oversees in the state’s western and Interior regions, including lands south of the central Yukon watershed and west of Denali National Park and Preserve.
“We’ve worked hard to develop a plan that strikes a balance between the protection of critical subsistence resources, development of local resources, and conservation of important fish and wildlife habitat,” Chad Padgett, Alaska director for the agency, said in a statement on Friday.
The agency has proposed making mining an option on 13.4 million acres, nearly all the land under consideration in the Bering Sea/Western Interior planning area. That’s up from the current 8.7 million acres, established in plans developed in the 1980s.
Water Resources Development Act of 2020.
The following statement was released today by National Mining Association (NMA) President and CEO Rich Nolan in support of the Water Resources Development Act:
“The mining industry strongly supports the bipartisan work in the House and the Senate to pass the Water Resources Development Act of 2020, which makes strong investments in our nation’s water infrastructure, ports and navigation systems. Through increased funding for dredging and port maintenance through the crucial Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, and additional system funding for the Inland Waterway Trust Fund, Congress has provided essential support for the safe, efficient transportation of American goods – including domestically-mined materials that are the heart of our manufacturing, energy, medical and defense supply chains – that can meet growing needs both at home and abroad. We encourage the president to quickly sign this important bill that will help underpin the nation’s economic recovery.”
Related: House and Senate Reach Agreement on $9.9B WRDA Bill
CLIMATE CHANGE CONVERSATIONS
Not much Presidential power comes with declaring a “national climate emergency”.
David Bookbinder, Niskanen Center, November 25, 2020
- One section of the Powerplant and Industrial Fuel Use Act of 1978 provides that “if the President declares a severe energy supply interruption, as defined in section 6202(8) of this title, the President may, by order, prohibit any electric powerplant or major fuel-burning installation from using natural gas or petroleum, or both, as a primary energy source for the duration of such interruption.” Such a declaration can last only 90 days.
- The second provision, 42 USC 6212a, is more intriguing because a national emergency declaration allows the President to put “restrictions on the export of crude oil,” and there is no limit on its duration. This year, the U.S. exported about 8.5 million barrels a day (a little less than 10% of current global daily consumption). But since there is more than enough global excess production capacity to make up that kind of shortfall, I’m not sure what that would do for the climate except perhaps temporarily drive prices up and consumption down. On the other hand, the impact on U.S. oil exporters would truly be something–crude is trading at about $45/barrel, so they would take a hit of almost $400 million a day.