New Athabascan name for Peak Gold. Interior nominee pulled after Murkowski objection.

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Oil Company Leaders Support Carbon Pricing Plan
Timothy Puko, The Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2021

Top oil company executives, in a meeting with White House officials Monday, expressed support for putting a price on carbon emissions as a means to address greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

White House environmental officials hosted the videoconference meeting with executives from 10 of the industry’s biggest companies, including giants like Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC. The meeting was the White House’s first with oil industry leaders after a series with other industries.

Gina McCarthy, the White House national climate adviser, told executives the administration must focus on oil-and-gas companies—especially their emissions of the greenhouse-gas methanein addressing climate change as a priority, according to people familiar with the meeting.

Among those attending were Exxon CEO Darren Woods, Chevron Corp. Chief Executive Mike Wirth, Shell U.S. President Gretchen Watkins as well as Mike Sommers, president and chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute.


Can Natural Gas Be Part of a Low-Carbon Future?
Michael E. Webber, Scientific American April 2021 Issue

In the mid-2010s it became common to say that natural gas would be a bridge fuel to a zero-carbon future, in which solar, wind and other renewable technologies provide all of our energy without any carbon dioxide emissions to worsen climate change. But if natural gas is really a bridge, then it’s not part of the long-term plan. And if we actually build the bridge, we’re likely to stay on it.

Natural gas consumption in the U.S. has risen by a third in the past 15 years. Gas accounts for 32 percent of total energy consumption and is now the biggest source of electricity nationwide, largely displacing coal-fired power plants. Natural gas—primarily methane—burns much cleaner than coal does, and it provides ready backup to variable wind and solar farms. That sounds promising, except burning natural gas still creates CO2. Methane in wells and pipelines can leak into the atmosphere, amplifying global warming. And once the last coal plant closes, natural gas plants become the dirtiest electricity sources.

To reduce CO2 emissions, society has to decarbonize its energy systems as quickly as possible. Building more wind and solar farms is relatively inexpensive and fast, and it accelerates the shutdown of coal plants. But exploiting the best locations—the windswept plains and sunbaked deserts—requires a greatly expanded transmission grid to bring the electrons to major cities and manufacturing complexes. Those wires and poles introduce risks from windstorms, floods and fires—all rising because of climate change—and township after township routinely fights expansion plans: “Not in my backyard.”

The natural gas infrastructure, almost all belowground, is far less prone to interruption. The U.S. has about three million miles of natural gas pipelines running underneath nearly every major city in the contiguous 48 states. After adding all the compressors, tanks and storage caverns, the infrastructure is worth several trillion dollars. The power plants themselves add hundreds of billions of dollars more. The nearly 70 million households served by natural gas have furnaces, water heaters and cooktops worth at least another $100 billion. Multiply all that sunk investment by about five for the entire world. Gas is also more intertwined than any other energy source with other sectors of society—transportation, buildings (for heating and cooking) and industry (for heat and as a feedstock for chemicals)—making it harder to replace.

Swapping out that infrastructure before its natural lifetime ends would also entail financial losses for the current owners, who will push back. The replacement technology could cost taxpayers, ratepayers and homeowners, who will push back, too. And more electricity does not readily solve the need for liquid fuels burned in trucks, ships and planes or for intense heat in industrial foundries, distilleries and refineries that make volumes of metals, cement, glass, jet fuel and chemicals. The energy density of liquid fuels is difficult to match.

If we can clean emissions out of the natural gas system, it could be part of a carbon-neutral future instead of a bridge. The technology exists to extract the carbon or to transform the gas so that carbon coming out and carbon going in balance to zero or near zero.


Manh Choh is the new name for Peak Gold
Shane Lasley, North of 60 Mining News, March 18, 2021

Kinross Gold Corp. March 14 announced that the Peak Gold project in eastern Alaska has been renamed Manh Choh, which means Big Lake in the Upper Tanana Athabascan language. This name, chosen by Village of Tetlin Chief Michael Sam and the tribal council, refers to the 7.5- by 4.5-mile Tetlin Lake, a site of high cultural significance in the Tetlin community.

Kinross says this mutual agreement on the name is symbolic of the mining company’s approach in developing the high-grade gold project.

Contango ORE Inc., which originally discovered gold at Manh Choh, has outlined 9.2 million metric tons of measured and indicated resources averaging 4.08 grams per metric ton (1.21 million ounces) gold and 14.19 g/t (4.2 million oz) silver in two adjacent deposits on the project.

With the idea of processing high-grade ore from Manh Choh in the mill at its Fort Knox Mine north of Fairbanks, Alaska, Kinross paid US$93.7 million to buy a 70% stake in this project that encompasses 675,000 acres of lands leased from Tetlin Village Council.

With the idea of processing high-grade ore from Manh Choh in the mill at its Fort Knox Mine north of Fairbanks, Alaska, Kinross paid US$93.7 million to buy a 70% stake in this project that encompasses 675,000 acres of lands leased from Tetlin Village Council.

Residents from the village of Tetlin handling drill core from exploration that outlined the gold-rich deposits at Manh Choh.

Prior to agreeing to acquire an interest in Manh Choh, Kinross met with the people of Tetlin and members of the village council. As a result, Tetlin Village continues to indicate support for the project plan based on transparent, strong partnerships that focus on trust and mutual respect.

“We look forward to the safe and responsible development of the project and the positive benefits it is expected to generate for our community,” said Chief Sam. “We also look forward to further building a relationship with Kinross, a company with a strong track record in Alaska.”

Kinross anticipates the first ore from Manh Choh to the Fort Knox mill in 2024.


White House yanks Interior nominee after Murkowski opposition
Ben Lefebvre, Politico, March 22, 2021

The oil state senator is said to have opposed another progressive Democrat to department leadership.

The White House has withdrawn its nomination of Elizabeth Klein to become the Interior Department’s deputy secretary, as the Biden administration faced push back from Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, sources familiar with the situation said Monday.

Details: Klein is a former Obama administration official and deputy director of the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center at the New York University School of Law who focused on renewable energy and climate change issues. The Biden administration pulled her nomination after hearing of opposition coming from Murkowski, a moderate Republican whose vote is crucial to Biden’s legislative agenda and who has sought to expand the oil and gas industry in her state, one of the sources familiar with the matter said.

The White House and a spokesperson for the Department of Interior did not immediately respond to questions. A spokesperson for Murkowski did not reply to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that would have considered Klein’s nomination, did not immediately answer questions.

Tommy Beaudreau, a former Interior official under the Obama administration and Alaskan native, is being vetted for a possible nomination as deputy secretary, said two people familiar with the matter. Murkowski floated Beaudreau’s name as a possible replacement for Klein, the people said.

Beaudreau is currently a lawyer at law firm Latham & Watkins’ environment, land & resources department, and global co-chair of the firm’s project siting & approvals practice. Beaudreau did not reply to a voice message.

Context: Murkowski earlier in March said she struggled in deciding to cast her vote to clear from committee Biden’s nomination of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, citing concerns that the administration would hobble oil and gas production on public land. Klein, a progressive on energy matters, was considered a step too far to serve as second in charge at Interior with Haaland, who had faced heat from Republicans on her past comments criticizing the oil and gas sector, one of the sourcessaid.


With new leadership, US Arctic research agency prioritizes climate change, sustainable development
Melody Schreiber, Arctic Today, March 22, 2021

With a shakeup in its leadership, the top Arctic science and research agency in Washington, D.C. plans to re-sharpen its focus on climate change and sustainable development.

David Kennedy, a former senior adviser on Arctic issues for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will be announced as the new chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission on Monday, according to agency staff.

Kennedy, who was already a USARC commissioner, having been appointed by President Donald Trump in December, replaces Jon Harrison, who was appointed chair by Trump in August. Harrison, who had no known background in Arctic science or research, will continue to serve as a commissioner for the agency.

Kennedy’s appointment as chair of the commission was issued by the Biden White House, which has prioritized climate change in its proposed Arctic policies, earlier this month.

The commission is an independent federal agency, created by Congress in the Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984, advising the White House and Congress on domestic and international Arctic research.

USARC develops Arctic research recommendations and serves as an Arctic scientific hub for the U.S. government and the state of Alaska.