No blue wave-oil industry dodges cannonball. $ for US critical minerals.

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The oil industry narrowly avoided an election disaster. Now it’s showing signs of life
Matt Egan, CNN Business, December 1, 2020

The gloom-and-doom dominating the oil industry is finally starting to ease just a bit.

Oil prices are showing signs of life, rebounding from their unprecedented dip below zero this spring. Coronavirus vaccine breakthroughs are sparking hope for a return in demand for jet fuel and gasoline. And a blue wave did not materialize during the November election, easing fears of a fossil fuel crackdown from Washington.

That scenario is persuading investors to pile into beaten-down oil stocks. During Wall Street’s blockbuster month of November, six of the top seven S&P 500 stocks were in the oil industry. Occidental Petroleum (OXY) spiked by a stunning 73%. Devon Energy (DVN), Apache (APA) and Diamondback Energy (FANG) climbed by more than 50% apiece.

The Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) rallied 28%, the second-strongest month since the fund launched in 1998, according to Refinitiv, narrowly missing the record set in May.


BHP seals deal with Shell to fuel LNG-powered ship fleet
Nick Toscano, The Sydney Morning Herald, December 1, 2020

Mining giant BHP has awarded Shell a landmark contract to supply fuel for the world’s first fleet of liquefied natural gas-powered Newcastlemax bulk carriers as it seeks to lower shipping emissions.

As part of the company’s pledge to slash emissions across its supply chain, BHP this year said it would charter five vessels from Eastern Pacific Shipping, powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) instead of bunker fuel, to carry 10 million tonnes of iron ore a year from Australia to China from 2022.

Using carriers powered by LNG rather than diesel would eliminate NOx (nitrogen oxide) and SOx (sulphur oxide) emissions, and sharply reduce carbon dioxide emissions, according to the miner.

BHP chief commercial officer Vandita Pant said awarding the contract to Shell marked a significant step in the company’s ambitions of reducing the carbon footprint across its shipping supply chain. 


Trump taps loan program he tried to kill to help mining
Bloomberg News, December 1, 2020

The Trump administration is tapping an Energy Department clean-energy loan program it tried to kill to help uranium producers as well as miners of other minerals deemed critical by the administration.

The Energy Department announced Tuesday that it will issue guidance giving preference to projects involving critical minerals within an existing loan program housed within the agency that provides both direct loans as well as loan guarantees.

Other minerals that have been deemed “critical to U.S. national security and the economy” include lithium, chromium, cobalt, helium, vanadium, according to a list maintained by the Interior Department.

“Reliable access to domestically-produced critical minerals is of crucial national security importance,” said Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette. “These critical minerals make up essential products for our military, energy technologies, national infrastructure, transportation, and economy.”


Local voters to request a recount of Anchorage Republican Rep. Lance Pruitt’s 13-vote loss to Democrat Liz Snyder
James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, December 1, 2020

A group of 10 Anchorage voters intends to request a recount of the state election that saw Alaska’s top House Republican, Anchorage Rep. Lance Pruitt, lose by 13 votes to Democratic challenger Liz Snyder.

The voters’ attorney, Stacey Stone, said late Tuesday that the group will submit signatures for a recount soon.  “There is a group that’s organized from District 27 that plans to request a recount. I’m not certain when that will be filed, but it should be shortly,” she said.

Late Monday, a Pruitt aide had said that Pruitt himself would request the recount. Pruitt, reached late Tuesday, said that isn’t accurate. “I am not requesting a recount, but I do know of some constituents that intend to, and they are doing it separate from me,” he said.

The Alaska Division of Elections certified the results of Alaska’s 2020 general election on Monday afternoon, opening a five-day window for losing candidates or voters to request a recount. State law allows voters to request a recount of a House race if they obtain at least 10 signatures from an affected legislative district.

Geopolitics and financial realities: Oil and gas still have huge role amid transition, Yergin says
Gareth Chetwynd, Upstream, December 1, 2020

A shift in Chinese policy toward controlling carbon emissions may intensify the global energy transition now gathering pace, but oil and gas will still have an important role to play in the global energy market for years to come, according to Daniel Yergin, vice president of consultancy giant IHS Markit.

Participating in Brazil’s Rio Oil & Gas 2020 digital event, Yergin said aligning factors in what he terms the G2 countries — China and the US — meant that it is now appropriate to consider energy policy through a prism of “before and after” the COP21 Paris climate agreement


Biden’s Environmental Lawyers Tasked With Bulletproofing Agenda
Bloomberg Law, December 1, 2020

As President-elect Joe Biden begins naming his picks for powerful Cabinet positions, many environmental lawyers are turning their attention to a slate of lower-profile but influential legal roles that will shape the new administration’s work on pollution, climate change, and natural resources.

Politically appointed lawyers at the Environmental Protection Agency, Interior Department, and Justice Department will play pivotal parts in the Biden administration, guiding policy choices, defending new regulations in court, and cracking down on violators.

“The top legal positions, like EPA general counsel, are often not the focus of Senate confirmation battles, but they carry significant responsibility in how to execute the policy agenda that is set by others in an administration,” said Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP’s Matthew Z. Leopold, who served as the EPA’s top lawyer under President Donald Trump.

Federal agencies’ top lawyers are part of every major decision an administration is making, Obama-era Interior solicitor Hilary Tompkins said. “They are trusted advisers to the leadership of their respective agencies, and they do have considerable authority.”

The rumor mill is churning over whom Biden will tap for plum jobs, including EPA general counsel and Justice Department environment chief. Environmental attorneys from law firms, academia, and nonprofits have their predictions—and suggestions—but the Biden team is tight-lipped for now. Previous administrations didn’t announce nominees for those roles until a few months after inauguration.

Here are the top environmental law spots for the Biden administration to fill.