Where Has All the Copper Gone? Alaska Native Elders Support Ambler Road.

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Today’s Key Takeaways:  100% support for Ambler Road from Alaska Native Elders who testified. Another oil war over Guyana? Pipeline capacity increasing for natural gas. Glut in copper supply has disappeared. Reading the tea leave on new permitting reform legislation. Carbon Capture Needs Enough Pipelines to Circle Earth Four Times?


All of the Alaska Native elders who spoke ahead of others were in support of the road, saying the road would create jobs for their people, some of whom struggle to provide for their families.
Lex Yelverton, Alaska’s News Source, December 13m 2023

On Wednesday, the Bureau of Land Management held a meeting for public commentary on the Ambler Road draft supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) and ANILCA 810 evaluation, sparking a protest.

Dozens of people gathered in opposition to the proposed road as those part of the nonprofit Native Movement chanted and projected messages like “NO AMBLER ROAD” onto the outside of the Loussac Public Library.

“You can take your interests, your enthusiasm out here tonight and bring it into that hearing, we want you folks to support communities that are against the Ambler Road,” said Austin Ahmasuk, the environmental justice co-director for Native Movement.

Kicking off the meeting, Steve Cohn, the director of Alaska BLM, invited the public who wished to speak or provide comment, calling public input “critical” in the process.

All of the Alaska Native elders who spoke ahead of others were in support of the road, saying the road would create jobs for their people, some of whom struggle to provide for their families.

Craig Jones, the deputy program manager of the Ambler Access Project, spoke of the project being beneficial for the people of his region and the state of Alaska.

“Without opportunity, we’re probably not going to be much of a community,” Jones said. “100% of my graduating class is no longer living in Ambler, that’s the case for many classes before and many classes after. [It] doesn’t seem like a big deal but our knowledge bearers are starting to move on and pass away and then there’s those of us that not only captured what we’re taught but have hopes of someday teaching it to our children.

“Without opportunity, that’s not going to happen.”

Kimberly Fry, an Alaska Native who worked in the mining industry, also fully supported the Ambler access road.

“Any infrastructure, any mining, any roads, we need to support,” Fry said. “We need to better our life in Alaska, we need to create jobs, we need to bring our minerals to resource, to market.”


Would the U.S. Intervene to Defend Guyana’s Oil Riches?
Greg R. Copley, OilPrice.Com, December 14, 2023

  • The escalating Venezuela-Guyana dispute could provide an opportunity for the AUKUS alliance to intervene in the region and counter the influence of China, Russia, and Iran.
  • US Southern Command has conducted joint operations with the Guyana Defense Forces and the U.S. has said it would support Guyana’s sovereignty.
  • Geopolitical maneuvering by China, Iran, and Russia has fueled tensions in the region, and with a presidential election looming in Venezuela, the stakes are only getting higher.

Venezuela’s revival of its border dispute with the Cooperative Republic of Guyana may provide an opportunity for the AUKUS pact – Australia, United Kingdom, United States – to reverse or challenge the gains of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Russia, Iran in South America, and the Caribbean.

The territorial dispute over the Essequibo region of Guyana extends back to 1840, ostensibly resolved with the Paris Arbitral Award of 1899, but was revived with the discovery of massive energy reserves off its coast in the early 21“ Century.

This was exacerbated by Venezuela and its allies in 2022-23 for a variety of reasons, and in ways that broke with years of bilateral and multilateral agreements and negotiations between the two states.

The US Southern Command has the new dispute on its radar, and the UK Government and the Commonwealth have been stirred into action. Southern Command, as of early December 2023, had begun conducting joint flight operations with the Guyana Defense Forces, sending a message to Venezuela. And US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Guyana Pres. Mohamed Irfaan Ali that the US would support “Guyana’s sovereignty and our robust security and economic cooperation.”



New pipelines will bring significant volumes of natural gas to new LNG export terminals
U.S. Energy Information Administration, December 12 , 2023

More than 20.0 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas pipeline capacity is under construction, partly completed, or approved to deliver natural gas to five U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals that are currently under construction, according to our Natural Gas Pipeline Project Tracker. Some of the new pipeline capacity is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and some is under the jurisdiction of the Railroad Commission of Texas. About 13.5 Bcf/d of pipeline capacity is currently under construction, and each new LNG terminal—Plaquemines in Louisiana and Golden Pass, Port Arthur, Corpus Christi Stage III, and Rio Grande in Texas—has one or more pipelines being developed.


An Expected Surplus of Copper has Suddenly Disappeared
Institute for Energy Research, December 14, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Copper is an essential mineral for Biden’s energy transition, but an anticipated glut has disappeared around the world as politics and technological and economic problems have stopped or stalled projects. A shortage is now predicted by some.
  • The United States has large copper resources, but mines in Alaska, Minnesota, and Arizona, which would increase national security in an energy transition, have been stopped by Biden.
  • Copper in scarce supply could elevate prices if demand should suddenly increase.

An expected surplus of copper going into 2024 has suddenly all but disappeared as a series of large new mineral projects that were scheduled to start up around the world are facing problems. Instead of the surplus, the mining industry’s supply has dwindled due to political and social opposition, the difficulty of developing new operations, and the day-to-day challenge of mining. In the past two weeks, one of the world’s biggest copper mines was ordered to close due to public protests, and operational problems has forced one of the leading mining companies to cut its production forecasts. This is another setback for the Biden administration since copper is an essential metal needed to reach net zero carbon dioxide.

Despite mining companies being key to facilitating the shift to green energy, President Biden has stood in the way of expediting that industry in the United States. He has revoked mining leases, delayed, or denied permits, and listed fauna and flora as endangered, stopping mines cold in many cases in Minnesota, Arizona, and Alaska. The “electrify everything” aspect of Biden’s climate promises cannot be done without copper. The International Energy Agency has warned that minerals shortfalls would lead to a slower energy transition.



NEW PERMITTING REFORM LEGISLATION: Democratic Reps. Sean Casten and Mike Levin, co-chairs of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, are out with a new permitting reform measure – likely the last legislative measure overhauling the permitting process to be introduced before the election year.

The bill, dubbed the Clean Electricity and Transmission Acceleration Act (CETA), aims to support the buildout of transmission lines connected to clean energy projects – a key piece of infrastructure that’s critical to the Biden administration’s goals of transitioning away from fossil fuels. However, the industry is facing a series of bottlenecks as it’s struggling to meet demand, with utilities and stakeholders wrestling on where to site lines and who will pay for them.

The measure adopts the language of various Democratic bills, and serves as a “consensus transmission and permitting reform bill of the House Democratic Caucus,” according to Casten.

“Last Congress, Democrats made the single largest investment in climate action in U.S. history,” Levin said. “Now, we must unlock its full potential by addressing the transmission permitting issues that are preventing us from bringing clean energy from where it’s generated to American households.”

What the bill does: By amending the Federal Power Act, the bill would direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to create new rules on improving the interregional planning, siting, and deployment of transmission lines, and would grant FERC the exclusive authority to approve where the projects are placed. The measure also includes provisions to promote the development of renewables with a 30% transmission investment tax credit, and makes changes to improve how the grid is managed.

Other areas the bill touches on: 

Renewable energy on public lands: CETA would establish a production goal for clean energy projects, and work to minimize disturbances from the projects for towns and the environment. The bill would also direct revenues to fund conservation efforts.

Offshore wind: The bill would reform the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act – which establishes U.S. jurisdiction over the region – to further build out offshore wind, while creating a compensation fund for those that may be negatively impacted by the development of a project.

Community engagement: CETA would also aim to improve the community engagement process by requiring agencies to complete community impact statements assessing environmental and public health factors, mandating agencies engage with environmental justice and tribal communities, and requiring the consideration of cumulative impacts and greenhouse gases when conducting an environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act. The bill also aims to increase the capacity to complete environmental reviews, and conduct community engagement at the state and local level and at FERC.

Dead in the House: The bill exclusively focuses on the permitting approval of transmission for clean energy – which is a non-starter for Republicans, who want streamlined permitting for fossil fuel projects as well. So, it’s safe to say that it stands a slim to none chance of passing the House as a standalone bill.

Reading the tea leaves (or rather, the jet fumes): Lawmakers are leaving town today for the holiday break, and once they get back in January, much attention will be paid to funding the government. Plus, it’s an election year, so the odds of comprehensive legislation getting passed into law in a divided Washington will plummet.

From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy, December 14, 2023