Alaska and 12 other states sue Biden administration to reverse pause on oil and gas lease sales
Kevin McGill, Associated Press, March 24, 2021
Thirteen states sued the Biden administration Wednesday to end a suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal land and water and to reschedule canceled sales of offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska waters and western states.
The Republican-leaning states, led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, seek a court order ending the moratorium imposed after Democratic President Joe Biden signed executive orders on climate change on Jan. 27.
The suit specifically seeks an order that the government go ahead with a sale of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico that had been scheduled for March 17 until it was canceled; and a lease sale that had been planned for this year in Alaska’s Cook Inlet.
And it calls for other suspended lease sales to go forward. Sales also have been postponed for federal lands in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Montana, Oklahoma, Nevada, and New Mexico.
Biden and multiple federal agencies bypassed comment periods and other bureaucratic steps required before such delays can be undertaken, the state’s claim in the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in the federal court’s Western District of Louisiana.
The Department of the Interior declined immediate comment.
The lawsuit notes that coastal states receive significant revenue from onshore and offshore oil and gas activity. Stopping leases, the lawsuit argues, would diminish revenue that pays for Louisiana efforts to restore coastal wetlands, raise energy costs and lead to major job losses in oil producing states.
Although Landry and the lawsuit’s supporters said the moratorium has already driven up prices and endangered energy jobs, Biden’s suspension doesn’t stop companies from drilling on existing leases. But a long-term halt to oil and gas sales would curb future production and could hurt states like Louisiana that are heavily dependent on the industry.
Biden’s team has argued that companies still have plenty of undeveloped leases – almost 14 million acres in western states and more than 9 million acres offshore. Companies also have about 7,700 unused drilling permits – enough for years.
Administration officials have declined to say how long the pause on lease sales will last.
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia are the other plaintiff states.
Western Energy Alliance, an industry lobbying group based in Colorado, sued over the leasing suspension in federal court in Wyoming on the same day it was announced. The Biden administration had not responded to the complaint as of Wednesday.
The Interior Department is hosting a livestreamed forum on the leasing program Thursday as it considers changes that could affect future sales and how much companies pay for oil and gas they extract. A report outlining initial findings and the next steps in the review is due this summer.
Following New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed action to ban natural gas hookups in new buildings in the city by 2030 and restrict the abundant and environmentally-sound energy choices of families and businesses, a new report released by CEA found an energy ban could conservatively cost every household in New York City more than $25,600.
The report entitled, “Wealth Inequality: The Hidden Cost of New York City’s Natural Gas Ban,” examined the impact of an energy ban forced onto families and New Yorkers depending on the appliance models, home configuration, labor, and reliance on natural gas. Using open-source consumer data, CEA developed a cost calculator to provide an estimate of what a typical household in New York City could expect to pay as a result of such short-sighted policies to ban natural gas service and use.
Click here to read the report.
Alaska-Focused Resource Company’s Shares Uplisted to OTCQB Venture Market
Streetwise Reports, March 23, 2021
Goldrich Mining Co. (GRMC:OTCQB) in a news release announced its “successful uplisting to the OTC Markets Group Inc.’s OTCQB® Venture Market (OTCQB).” Goldrich Mining advised that its common shares commenced trading under the ticker symbol “GRMC” on the OTCQB effective March 19, 2021.
The firm explained that the OTCQB is a venture market operated by the OTC Markets Group, Inc. OTCQB listed companies are required to be up to date in their financial reporting and must complete an annual verification and management certification process in order to maintain listing.
Goldrich added that to gain and maintain OTCQB listing, which the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission recognizes as an established public market, companies must meet certain minimum bid price test and other financial conditions.
The company’s Chief Executive Officer William Schara stated, “We are excited about Goldrich’s uplisting on the OTCQB exchange as it provides GRMC with greater market exposure, upgrades our position in the public markets, further broadens our shareholder base and will provide better access to capital by advancing our shares to a more robust trading market providing for more active trading.”
Goldrich stated that it is focused on developing the Chandalar gold district in Alaska and that “it controls a land package spanning 23,000 acres of highly prospective gold targets and historic mines.” The firm is presently concentrating its efforts at Chandalar by monetizing the existing placer mine assets and is working toward building a lode gold mine.
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:
BANKS ARE STILL POURING MONEY INTO FOSSIL FUELS: The world’s 60 largest banks invested $3.8 trillion in fossil fuels between 2016 and 2020, according to a new report from several environmental groups, undercutting the increasing number of pledges from big banks to align their financing with the Paris climate agreement.
Even though the banks’ fossil fuel financing fell 9% last year as production and demand dropped amid the pandemic, the banks still invested more last year than they did in 2016, the year after the Paris climate deal was adopted, the report notes. The groups releasing the report include Rainforest Action Network, Oil Change International, and Sierra Club.
The environmental groups found big U.S. banks — JPMorgan, Citi, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America — poured the most money into fossil fuels over the four-year time period examined. All of those banks have now set goals to either reach net-zero financed emissions or align their financing with the Paris Agreement.
Nonetheless, the environmental groups say banks’ climate policies are strongest related to blocking future financing for specific projects, such as oil and gas development in the Arctic. That financing, however, accounted for just 5% of the fossil fuel funding tallied in the report.
Why Biden’s climate agenda might be very, very ‘quiet’
Shannon Osaka, Grist, March 23, 2021
The United States made its last, best attempt to pass a comprehensive climate plan 12 years ago. The bill, known in Congress as the Waxman-Markey Act, was big, splashy, and controversial. It included a nationwide cap on carbon dioxide emissions, restrictions on coal plants, and $190 billion in clean energy spending. For some Americans and oil lobbyists, it was sure to lead to higher fuel prices and lost jobs. For others, it looked like the last chance to avoid increasingly dangerous levels of global warming.
Waxman-Markey is now seen as an object lesson in the problems with giant, well-publicized legislation. The bill died, only narrowly passing in the House and never reaching a Senate vote. And it was the start in a long string of failures to curb carbon pollution across the country: President Barack Obama’s follow-up, the Clean Power Plan, got tangled up in the courts and was never implemented. Statewide proposals for prices on CO2 in Washington and Oregon were shot down by those worried about rising energy costs.
Now, with President Joe Biden — who has said that “we can, and we will, deal with climate change” — in the White House, and his fellow Democrats in control of Congress, the country is poised to try again. But this time lawmakers and policy experts have a new idea about the best way to shepherd the U.S. into a new, greener era. It’s not big or splashy, not a sweeping, nationwide carbon tax, or a giant, economy-transforming Green New Deal. It’s “quiet climate policy” and, in the post-COVID-19 era — with Congress planning a package to revamp the country’s decrepit infrastructure — it just might work.
2030 is the new 2050 for emissions-cutting pledges
Ben Geman, Axios, March 24, 2021
Pledges to end net emissions by midcentury are now commonplace for big countries and companies, but several looming summits are putting a fresh focus on a much closer horizon.
Driving the news: U.S. officials intend to unveil a 2030 greenhouse gas emissions-cutting target under the Paris deal by April 22 — the date of a big summit Biden is hosting.
- And more broadly, the next major UN climate conference in Scotland late this year is aimed at showcasing nations’ updated medium-term pledges — and how they’ll breathe life into them.
- China, the world’s largest emitter by far, is under lots of scrutiny because it has not yet unveiled policy specifics behind its vow to have its emissions peak before 2030.
- Nikkei Asia reported Tuesday that Japan plans to unveil a more ambitious 2030 target before the G7 summit in June.
Where it stands: John Kerry, President Biden’s climate envoy, used a multilateral meeting Tuesday to call for countries to show “concretely” how they’ll meet those midcentury pledges with nearer-term steps.
- “The scientists tell us it just doesn’t work to issue a mid-century goal without reducing sufficiently between now and 2030,” Kerry said at the annual Ministerial on Climate Action hosted by China.
- “Without that, and without a miracle, it’s as highly improbable as it is highly implausible that you could ever get to 2050 net zero in a way any country would ever choose,” Kerry said.
- Separately, new analysis from the investor network Climate Action 100+ finds that among scores of the world’s largest carbon-emitting companies, there’s a “critically important” need for “more robust” medium-term targets (i.e. the 2026-2035 range). Reuters has more.
The intrigue: A deeply reported Washington Post story gets to the dilemma facing U.S. officials — crafting a 2030 pledge over the next few weeks that’s ambitious but not just a paper tiger.
- That’s especially tricky because while Biden is looking to leverage executive actions at agencies government-wide, his push for deep cuts will require lots of help from the narrowly divided Congress.
- “Nobody will be satisfied with good targets without anything backing it up,” Laurence Tubiana, a former French climate diplomat who now heads the European Climate Foundation, tells the paper.
Why it matters: Any hope of meeting the Paris Agreement’s longshot target of limiting warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial means steep cuts need to be happening now.
- The UN’s science panel estimates that a path toward that goal would mean greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 need to be 45% below 2010 levels.
- UN officials made that point when releasing a late February report finding that medium-term pledges thus far don’t create anything close to a pathway to those cuts.