NEWS OF THE DAY:
Manchin hearing from both coal, natural gas
Jeff Jenkins, Metro News, December 27, 2021
Leaders of the coal and natural gas industries have different messages for U.S. Senator Joe Manchin and the future of any further negotiations on the Build Back Better plan.
During a Monday appearance on MetroNews “Talkline,” United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts explained the statement the union released last week after Manchin told the White House he couldn’t support Build Back Better.
Roberts wants Manchin to resume negotiations.
“To try to reach an agreement that would benefit all working-class people and people who might find themselves in a more unfortunate position,” Roberts said Monday.
Meanwhile, GOWV, that natural gas industry’s trade organization in West Virginia, joined several similar organizations from surrounding states on a letter to Manchin Monday thanking him for his leadership against Build Back Better.
“Provisions of the reconciliation package – including the methane gas tax – would have been devastating to sustained job growth, while stinging consumers with higher energy costs as many bear the inflation burden,” the letter said.
During an appearance on “Talkline” earlier this year, Gas & Oil Association of West Virginia (GOWV) Executive Director Charlie Burd said at some point Congress will understand there must be a future for fossil fuels.
“I believe that there will be a level of reality that kind of takes hold in Washington, D.C. over time as they see these programs to eliminate fossil fuels will not really achieve the goals that they want to achieve,” Burd said.
The latest version of BBB includes $555 billion for climate investment to move the country to clean power with incentives to move in that direction. Roberts said it would be a mistake to think what the UMWA is urging Manchin to do is support attempts to eliminate fossil fuels.
“When we say, ‘Let’s continue to negotiate.’ if there’s additional protections the senator (Manchin) or the fossil fuels industry would like to see, that’s what we should be doing,” Roberts said.
Roberts said Build Back Better is much bigger. He said what’s needed is a protection of democracy.
“What we should be doing here is trying to do what we can for those who need the help of the United States government and what we can do to bring jobs into the state of West Virginia and what we can do to provide health care,” Roberts said.
Natural gas production in West Virginia topped 2.5 trillion cubic feet in 2020. Four of the top 5 producers in the country operate in West Virginia.
The joint letter to Manchin from the trade organizations said investment is need in fossil fuels not a pulling away.
“Innovation – not elimination – will continue to drive our economy, protect our national security and reach our shared environmental goals,” the letter said.
Oil prices are headed beyond $80 in 2022: analyst
Brian Sozzi, Yahoo!Finance, December 28, 2021
Streible thinks oil prices are at risk of hitting $60 in the near-term due to an Omicron-related demand slowdown. But that will likely prove to be a buying opportunity in front of a “long-term” rally in 2022.
“We are going to see the demand picture continue to pick up going into the [summer] driving season. Hopefully, we can get this pandemic behind us. You’ll see all that pent-up travel demand really take back off again. Flights were pretty full over the holiday weekend, but we expect them to get even fuller as the capacity picks up. If you look at the supply side on crude oil, we have 432 million barrels. The five-year average is 460 million, so supplies are quite tight. We don’t expect OPEC to take any kind of reaction by picking up their supply picture. So we expect any kind of small supply shock would send prices higher. We are expecting $85 to $90 [a barrel] oil next year,” said Streible on Yahoo Finance Live.
The call comes as the bulls begin to retake the oil market despite the fast-spreading Omicron variant starting to weigh on global economic growth.
Oil prices rose to a one-month high Monday, a move that saw benchmark brent crude settle around $79 a barrel. The price of brent crude oil extended its gain on Tuesday.
The bullish move higher hasn’t extended much to the sector’s most well-known stocks, however.
Shares of Exxon and Chevron are each up about 2% in the past five trading sessions, lagging the gains in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (2.7%) and S&P 500 (3%), according to Yahoo Finance Plus data.
Oil’s recent bull move has some predicting further pain at the gas pump in 2022.
Gas price tracking outfit GasBuddy predicted in a new report on Tuesday — which it shared exclusively with CNN —that the national average price for gas will reach $3.41 a gallon in 2022 compared to $3.02 this year. GasBuddy didn’t rule out gas prices hitting $4 a gallon by the Memorial Day holiday.
“No question about it,” said Streible, on whether gas prices will march higher in 2022.
Another LNG Cargo Diverted from China to Europe Mid Voyage
Anne Koh, Sergio Chappa, Bloomberg, December 28, 2021
Traders may have diverted another cargo of liquefied natural gas to Europe instead of China amid the continent’s energy crunch.
The vessel Hellas Diana sharply changed course from Tianjin and is likely headed to Europe, according to Mathew Ang, an analyst at Kpler. The ship, which left Corpus Christi, Texas, around Nov. 27, U-turned near Hawaii and is traveling toward the Panama Canal, Bloomberg shipping data showed.
At least seven other cargoes originally bound for Asia have been diverted to Europe, where rapidly falling temperatures and energy shortages pushed Dutch TTF prices to record highs last week. The region is attracting more supplies as Asia’s biggest buyers are opting to use their inventories this winter instead of procuring more. Japan-Korea benchmark prices are trading at a rare discount to European rates.
Philippines ends open-pit mining ban to reinvigorate industry
Reuters, Mining.Com, December 28, 2021
The Philippines has lifted a four-year-old ban on open-pit mining for copper, gold, silver and complex ores, an official said on Tuesday, marking the second landmark policy move this year as the government tries to revitalize the industry.
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu has signed an administrative order lifting the ban, Mines and Geosciences Bureau Director Wilfredo Moncano said.
The government imposed the ban in 2017, when the ministry, which oversees the mining industry, was led by an anti-mining advocate who had blamed the sector for extensive environmental damage.
After several years of restrictive policies that have been blamed for stagnating the industry, the government now wants stalled and new mining projects to attract investments and help stimulate the pandemic-hit economy.
In April, President Rodrigo Duterte lifted a moratorium on new mineral agreements imposed in 2012.
Open-pit mining remained a globally accepted method of extracting minerals, Moncano said.
Cimatu’s predecessor at the environment department, Regina Lopez, had enforced the ban, infuriating miners who argued that the country’s large copper and gold deposits could be exploited only through open-pit mining.
But environmental activists expressed dismay over the policy reversal, with the Alyansa Tigil Mina (Alliance to End Mining) group describing it as “a short-sighted and misplaced development priority of the government.”
The Philippines’ annual export revenue from its mineral extraction industry could increase by up to $2 billion over the next five to six years as new mining projects take off, according to the government.
The Southeast Asian country is China’s biggest supplier of nickel ore and also has substantial copper and gold reserves.
More than a third of the Philippines’ total land area of 30 million hectares (74.1 million acres) has been identified as having “high mineral potential”, but only less than 5% of its mineral reserves has been extracted so far, according to the mines bureau.
Former candidate for US House, Alyse Galvin, will run for Alaska Legislature
Megan Pacer, Alaska’s News Source, December 27, 2021
Alyse Galvin, a candidate twice before for the U.S. House of Representatives, will run to serve in the Alaska Legislature.
Galvin has filed a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, but has not specified whether she will run for the Alaska House or the Alaska Senate. Galvin was not immediately available for an interview when reached Monday night.
By filing a letter of intent, Galvin can now begin fundraising. She posted on Twitter Monday night that she is waiting until the recently redrawn legislative districts are resolved before she decides which seat to run for in the Legislature. Several lawsuits have been filed from around Alaska in response to the new redistricting maps.
“I will let the redistricting process clarify before making a final decision on which seat I will seek,” Galvin said on Twitter. “My campaign is starting now as we close out 2021 and look forward to 2022. I hope you’ll please stay tuned for a donation link and additional information on how to join us.”
She was a Democratic-endorsed candidate in the 2018 and 2020 races for the U.S. House, the seat currently held by longtime incumbent Rep. Don Young.
Galvin, who lives in Anchorage, garnered 46.5% of the vote the first time she ran against Young in 2018, and over 45% of the votes when she challenged him again in 2020. She ran as an independent candidate in those races.
Vineyard Wind Harpooned By New Federal Lawsuit
Robert Bryce, Real Clear Energy, December 27, 2021
Despite more than a decade of hype and the promise of billions of dollars in federal and state subsidies, the offshore wind boondoggle – and yes, boondoggle is the right word for it – keeps getting torpedoed by delays and litigation.
The latest harpoon to slam the nascent industry hit recently when the Austin-based Texas Public Policy Foundation sued three federal agencies in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. on behalf of several commercial fishing groups. The suit alleges that the permit awarded to the proposed 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project violates numerous federal laws including the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and National Environmental Policy Act.
The suit, which will almost certainly result in a long delay to the construction of Vineyard Wind, is the second federal lawsuit filed against the project in the past few months. In August, a group called Nantucket Residents Against Turbines filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and other federal agencies, alleging that the Vineyard Wind project, which will be located about 14 miles south of the island, will harm the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale. There are only about 400 Right Whales left on the planet.
The litigation was filed four months after a study found that the waters south of New England are crucial habitat for the Right Whale. Between 2011 and 2019, some 327 unique Right Whales were spotted in the region. Furthermore, the endangered whales have been sighted in the area south of the Vineyard Wind site every month over the past few years. The study also found consistent use of the area proposed for wind-energy development by a third of the species and nearly a third of breeding females.
The new suit, like the one filed by the Nantucket residents in August, contends federal authorities did not properly consider how the wind project will harm the whales. It says the National Marine Fisheries Service, did not “properly consider the impact of the project on the survival and recovery of the endangered species in the area.”
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the Right Whale is “one of the most endangered of all large whales, with a long history of human exploitation and no signs of recovery despite protection from whaling since the 1930s.”
The new lawsuit says that when federal authorities rendered their final approval of the permit for Vineyard Wind they admitted that the “entire 75,614-acre area will be abandoned by commercial fisheries due to difficulties with navigation.”
In a press release, Ted Hadzi-Antich, a lawyer at TPPF, said that by approving the project, “the federal government trampled the rights of Americans to pursue its misguided goal of developing offshore wind energy at any cost…it violated multiple federal statutes that protect the environment, national security, commercial fishing, and the nation’s food supply.”
Bonnie Brady is the executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. On Wednesday afternoon, Brady told me, “We tried to work within the system. But the federal permitting system is broken from start to finish. We had no choice but to sue.”
In addition to their negative impact on fisheries, the proposed offshore projects like Vineyard Wind are a terrible deal for whales, consumers, and wildlife.
Earlier this year, the US Energy Information Administration reported that offshore wind continues to be one of the most expensive forms of electricity generation. By 2026, the EIA expects producing one megawatt-hour of electricity from offshore wind projects will cost about $121, or more than three times the cost of producing that same amount of energy with natural gas ($37).
In March, the Biden Administration said it wanted to see 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind installed in U.S. waters by 2030. But installing thousands of offshore wind turbines, each armed with blades more than 100 meters long, will do untold damage to marine bird populations. As Rockefeller University’s Jesse Ausubel told me recently, the ongoing push for offshore wind will require “massive industrialization” of the oceans.
Indeed, building 30,000 megawatts of capacity – at 10 megawatts per turbine – would require anchoring about 3,000 offshore platforms along the Eastern Seaboard. That’s a staggering number of structures. For comparison, the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, which is one of the most productive offshore oil and gas provinces on the planet, has about offshore 1,900 platforms.
Ausubel has also looked at the offshore wind plans proposed by the countries in European Union. He said the EU’s plans for 300,000 megawatts of wind capacity would “alone require acreage of about 100,000 square kilometers or about two-thirds the surface of the Baltic or Black Seas or a bit less than half the land area of Great Britain plus Ireland.” He added, “Environmentalists have not yet grasped the massive industrialization of the oceans now underway and proposed.”
Among the few entities that will benefit if projects like Vineyard Wind get built are foreign companies. Vineyard Wind is owned by Avangrid Renewables (a subsidiary of Spanish utility Iberdrola,) and the Danish firm, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. Britain’s BP, Norway’s Equinor, and Denmark’s Ørsted are also pushing to develop several thousand megawatts of offshore wind capacity in US waters.
It’s time to end the hype about offshore wind and the giveaways to foreign corporations. Let’s hope these lawsuits succeed and they scuttle the offshore wind business once and for all. I’ll end by saying once again that if policymakers are serious about decarbonizing the electric grid, they need to get serious about nuclear energy.