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Biden administration passes up chance to block Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline replacement

Court filing signals president doesn't plan to cancel federal permits for the project

The Associated Press · Posted: Jun 25, 2021 10:12 AM MT | Last Updated: 1 hour ago
 
enbridge-20180816.jpg
In this file photo, Enbridge workers weld pipe just west of Morden, Man. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

The Biden administration signaled in a court filing this week that it does not plan to cancel federal permits for Enbridge's Line 3 oil pipeline project, despite pleas by Native Americans and environmental groups for the president to intervene.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used the filing to defend its decision in November to grant Enbridge a water permit for the project, the last major approval the Calgary-based company needed.

 

Wednesday's filing by the Corps and its attorneys at the Department of Justice marks the first time President Joe Biden's administration has taken a public position on Enbridge's plan to replace its aging Line 3, which carries oil from western Canada to Enbridge's terminal in Superior, Wisc., the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported.

Environmental organizations expressed displeasure Thursday.

"Allowing Line 3 to move forward is, at best, inconsistent with the bold promises on climate and environmental justice President Biden campaigned and was elected on," Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement.

But Enbridge said in a statement that the Corps' filing "is an expected next step in the court appeal process," and that it laid out the federal agency's "very thorough review" of Line 3's federal permits.

Indigenous lawsuit

Two Ojibwe bands and three environmental groups sued the Corps in federal court late last year. They claimed the Corps did not properly evaluate the pipeline's impact on climate change, and that the agency should have conducted its own, full environmental impact study on the pipeline instead of relying on the state's.

Their lawsuit also alleges that the Corps failed to fully consider treaty rights. The pipeline crosses lands where several tribes claim treaty rights to hunt, gather and fish.

The Corps asked for the case to be dismissed, saying the agency met all requirements under federal environmental law. The permit allows Enbridge to drill beneath certain rivers during construction and discharge dredged material.

The Minnesota segment of the pipeline is more than 60-per-cent complete. The Wisconsin and Canadian sections are already carrying oil. Protests along the route in Minnesota have ramped up significantly over the past few weeks.

Since Biden took office in January, opponents of Line 3 have repeatedly called for him to stop the project. The most practical legal way for him to do that would be by revoking Line 3's Army Corps permit, or by ordering that the permit to be redone.

"Today's decision is the Biden administration on autopilot, defending a Trump water permit for a massive tar sands pipeline that is actually indefensible," said Andy Pearson, an organizer with MN350, a climate change group.

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It continues to amaze me that the vocal minority are still taking aim at "Bad Oil" and continue to ignore BC's dirty little secret.

Canada's Teck Resources signals hit from British Columbia wildfire

4 hrs ago

 

(Reuters) - Canadian miner Teck Resources Ltd on Tuesday estimated third-quarter steel-making coal sales would be reduced by 300,000-500,000 tonnes due to a rail service disruption from the wildfires in British Columbia.

The company's shares closed down 4.9% in Toronto, while its U.S-listed stock ended 5.7% lower.

Rail service between Teck's steel-making coal operations and west coast terminals has been disrupted due to damage to the rail line near Lytton, the company said.

A forest fire that began after three days of record-breaking temperatures has destroyed most of the small western Canadian town of Lytton. [https://reut.rs/3At77Yl]

The company, which sold 6.2 million tonnes of steel-making coal in the first three months of the year, said second-quarter sales were unaffected as the disruption began on the last day of the period.

(Reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

 

Coal mining is big business in the B.C. Rockies. It could get bigger if these projects are approved

Four proposed projects are undergoing environmental review in the Kootenay Rockies, where open-pit coal mining is tied to longstanding pollution concerns
Ainslie Cruickshank
April 1, 2021  8 min. read
 
Coal is a big industry in B.C. and it is on the verge of getting even bigger with the proposal of five coal mines along the Rocky Mountains. Photo: Callum Gunn
 

In the face of widespread public backlash, the Alberta government agreed to rethink its plan to open parts of the Rocky Mountains and foothills to open-pit coal mining — but it’s a different story just across the provincial border, where an already massive industry could get bigger. 

Coal is British Columbia’s most valuable mined commodity: the provincial government forecast production to be worth almost $4 billion in 2020. Eighty-three per cent of that production took place in the Kootenay Rockies, where Teck Resources operates four metallurgical coal mines.

Though Teck is a major employer and economic contributor in the region, its mines are also a persistent source of selenium pollution. Some conservationists fear the problem could worsen if any of the four proposed coal mines in the area are built.

Coal mining in B.C. Rockies could expand with these proposals | The Narwhal

 

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“the vocal minority are still taking aim at "Bad Oil"

Vocal minority??? How about our federal liberal, woke, environmentally aware, socially conscious feminist sock wearing pm?? In his 6 years in office, not once have I heard him make a statement condemning BC’s coal industry. Lots of talk about eliminating coal burning industries, but nothing about eliminating coal production and the jobs/taxes it supports.

I long for the day when a reporter springs that issue on him at his sermon from the cottage.

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54 minutes ago, st27 said:

“the vocal minority are still taking aim at "Bad Oil"

Vocal minority??? How about our federal liberal, woke, environmentally aware, socially conscious feminist sock wearing pm?? In his 6 years in office, not once have I heard him make a statement condemning BC’s coal industry. Lots of talk about eliminating coal burning industries, but nothing about eliminating coal production and the jobs/taxes it supports.

I long for the day when a reporter springs that issue on him at his sermon from the cottage.

No worries there, he will deflect or simply not reply to the question or so his track record suggests. 

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Sadly, canadians are smug enough and naive enough to think that how could a modern, environmentally conscious woke country like Canada be a major producer of dirty coal.

How could Justin give this his tacit approval? How come this wasn’t mentioned at the Paris accord? Oh wait, we have banned those dirty plastic straws….the work is done!

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Coal exports rise despite federal phase-out

Thermal coal from Alberta's Vista mine fuelling demand for power generation

  • Calgary Herald
  • 8 Jul 2021
  • GABRIEL FRIEDMAN

In mid-june, the federal Liberals announced what sounded like a one-two punch for Canada's thermal coal sector.

Calling it the fuel of a “previous century,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government joined with other G7 countries and agreed Canada would no longer finance new thermal coal plants and mines abroad. Meanwhile, at home, his cabinet announced it would apply strict scrutiny to any proposed new thermal coal mines or expansion projects.

But phasing out Canada's thermal coal sector won't happen overnight. In fact, if anything thermal coal exports have grown over the past couple years, and may grow further as new markets open up in Asia. As a result, even as western countries phase out coal production, new plants in Asia mean that peak demand may result in a plateau rather than a gradual decline — and Canada has been sending millions of tonnes overseas for years and in 2019, a new mine in Alberta added millions more.

“We'll get to peak coal demand in the next few years, if we haven't hit it already,” said Philip Wagner, principal analyst for the North American coal sector at the research firm IHS Markit. “But demand's not going to drop off super fast.”

There are still coal plants being built in Japan, China, Indonesia and other Asian countries, according to Wagner.

Although some of these countries, including Japan and China, have both committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero,” by 2050 and 2060, respectively, that still leaves several decades during which time coal — the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 30 per cent in 2018 according to the International Energy Agency — could be burned to generate electricity.

Even though Canadian thermal coal must be shipped halfway around the world, Wagner said it remains marketable to Asian countries for several reasons. First, it helps diversify their supply and safeguard against disruptions, an important consideration as other thermal coal-producing countries, like Indonesia, build new coal plants and consume more of their own domestic production.

Secondly, Canadian thermal coal has a high energy output, so one tonne may produce equivalent energy to a larger amount of coal produced elsewhere. That helps offset shipping costs, he said.

Wagner said Asia may have already hit peak demand, “but the decline won't be falling off the cliff, it'll be steady.”

Although Canada reported $4.5 billion in total coal exports in 2020, the vast majority was metallurgical coal, which is used for steelmaking.

By contrast, thermal coal is burned to generate electricity and releases air pollutants such as acid rain-inducing sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury. In Alberta, coal production has also been controversial because the waste can contaminate local watersheds and destroy vegetation and animal habitats.

Stats Canada does not release data on thermal coal exports, citing the need to protect confidentiality of certain businesses under the Statistics Act.

Canada produced less than one per cent of global thermal coal in 2020, according to the International Energy Association. It forecasts production will shrink 0.7 per cent by 2025, and, even though coal use is on the rise in parts of Asia, IEA analysts have concluded that global coal consumption, including both metallurgical and thermal, already peaked in 2013 and will decline as countries accelerate a shift away from coal.

But for now the world continues to seek out Canadian coal.

Wagner said the Vista mine in Hinton, Alta., near Jasper National Park, accounts for nearly all Canadian thermal coal exports.

Vista started exporting some of its production in 2019, producing 1.3 million tonnes that year, followed by 4.8 million tonnes in 2020, according to statistics on the Alberta Energy Regulator's website.

In January, after exhausting its permitted tailing ponds, where waste is stored, and failing to obtain permitting to build new tailings ponds, Vista shut down for maintenance and laid off 300 workers.

In late April, Vista Holdings LLC, the mine's parent company, filed for Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act protection. The company did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.

By late May, however, it had resumed production, and Wagner predicted it would ramp up production again shortly.

While there are other thermal coal mines in Canada, most produce for domestic consumption, as Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan still use coal to produce electricity.

Overall, according to the AER, thermal coal exports have increased from about 2 million tonnes per year between 2015 and 2018, to 5.4 million tonnes in 2020. This year, roughly 725,000 tonnes had been exported through April, a downward trend which may reverse as Vista ramps up again.

According to its 2012 feasibility study, the Vista mine can produce 11.2 million exportable tonnes of coal per year for 30 years.

Meanwhile, a showdown looms between the federal government and thermal coal proponents: Vista has applied for a federal permit that would allow it to more than double its production.

In announcing the new federal policy in June that deems thermal coal projects “likely to cause unacceptable environmental effects” and “not aligned with Canada's domestic and international climate change commitments,” Jonathan Wilkinson, federal minister of the environment and climate change, specifically said Vista would face tougher scrutiny.

“We cannot prevent (any company) from bringing forward projects into the system, but the bar in terms of approval is very high,” Wilkinson told the Financial Post.

Still, between 2018 and 2020, Canadian ports exported between 11 and 13 millions tonnes of thermal coal, according to Ember, an organization that tracks such data, and was founded by the U.K. environmentalist Baroness Bryony Worthington.

Wagner said much of this coal was produced by U.S. mines and just exported through ports in British Columbia.

Binnu Jeyakumar, director of clean energy at the Pembina Institute, said recent policy changes by the federal government and net-zero commitments by other governments around the world mean that the market for coal is only likely to shrink in the coming years.

There are also looming issues about what will happen to the communities in Alberta, where coal mining supports the local economy with jobs, and the government will need to help these places transition to a cleaner economy, Jeyakumar said.

While Canada's coal exports may continue growing, she argued that the writing is already on the wall.

“When you're making an investment in something like coal mining, you need to have your eye out on where the coal market is going to be in a decade,” Jeyakumar said. “I don't see how one can say that the trajectory is not declining.”

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ENERGY REBOUND

Profits `never been better'

  • Calgary Herald
  • 10 Jul 2021
  • CHRIS VARCOE Chris Varcoe is a Calgary Herald columnist. cvarcoe@postmedia.com

A little more than a year ago, Calgary oilman Roger Tang was busy shutting in oil production at Deltastream Energy Corp.

The CEO of the privately held firm, active in the Slave Lake region of Alberta, had throttled back output from 12,000 barrels per day (bpd) to less than 1,000 as crude prices wilted during the initial stages of the pandemic.

Today, the Calgary-based oil company has not only brought its idled production back online, but it's also planning to boost output to 15,000 bpd by early next year.

“We are very excited. We are accelerating our drilling programs, ramping up production,” Tang said Friday.

“I have worked in this industry for about 35, 40 years. This is the first time I have seen such a big change.”

As the Canadian oil and gas industry heads into the Calgary Stampede season, it's got a few reasons to celebrate.

Commodity prices are moving up. Cash flow levels and profits are growing.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil prices shot up briefly to their highest point in six years earlier this week, before closing Friday at US$74.56 a barrel.

Oil markets have rallied as energy demand has rebounded with travel resuming, economies reopening — and continued production discipline by OPEC+ countries and U.S. shale producers.

Meanwhile, Western Canadian Select heavy oil prices reached their highest levels this week since late 2014, and closed Friday at US$61.84 a barrel, up $1.72 on the day.

For Canadian natural gas producers, the outlook is also bullish.

In Alberta, benchmark AECO natural gas traded at Cdn$3.63 per gigajoule, marking the strongest summertime prices seen since 2014, noted analyst Jeremy Mccrea of Raymond James.

“The profitability for this sector has probably never been better than what we're seeing here today,” Mccrea said.

“What a great time to start Stampede with these kinds of commodity prices.”

While some Stampede parties have been scaled back or cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the mood inside the Canadian industry is shifting.

“Everybody we meet is talking about Christmas parties; they're talking about a busy drilling season,” said Tang.

“People are still cautious, but if you're looking at that big price swing, (companies) are basically back to 100 per cent of what they left behind before the pandemic.”

The financial health of the industry has been upgraded, although it's coming back from an exceptionally low point.

Last year's dramatic collapse in oil markets, coming after several trying years with lukewarm prices, pipeline constraints and tepid investor interest, pushed some companies to the brink.

A few were swept away in a wave of consolidation.

Thousands of jobs disappeared as companies chopped spending and drove down costs to weather the storm.

Today, with the escalation of commodity prices, the Canadian industry is expected to generate $141 billion in total revenues this year, just shy of 2014 levels, according to ARC Energy Research Institute.

And here's a telling sign. After-tax industry cash flow levels are projected to hit an all-time high of $75 billion, as the Canadian industry has reduced costs, production levels have increased in recent years and companies are reinvesting less money than in the past.

“The debt levels are coming down … a lot of excess cash flow is not going to spending,” said institute executive director Jackie Forrest. “The industry is looking quite healthy.”

While the institute forecasts 4,245 oil and gas wells will be drilled this year — up more than 40 per cent from 2020 levels — it would still be the second-fewest number completed since the last oil-price crash in 2016.

Some private companies such as Deltastream Energy are increasing their capital budget; Tang said the firm's capital expenditures will almost double this year to around $150 million.

Yet, many public companies are reluctant to hike budgets, as investors want to see a relentless focus on profitability and returning money to shareholders.

Headwater Exploration president Jason Jaskela noted that when most Canadian producers began setting their spending plans late last year for 2021, oil prices were trading around $45 a barrel. Today, not only are benchmark prices higher, but the price differential for heavy oil is relatively narrow, helping companies pump out higher levels of cash and profits.

“It used to be the business was very focused on growth and as commodity prices moved higher, people put their foot on the gas,” Jaskela said.

“You will see some growth come back into the business as prices go up, but I think you will see companies also focused on earnings.”

There are indications more producers are growing confident that higher oil and gas prices are sustainable.

The Canadian Association of Energy Contractors reports 144 drilling wells were active this week in Western Canada, compared to only 27 a year ago.

“The customer mood has improved dramatically,” Total Energy Services CEO Dan Halyk said Friday.

“It's not like the good old days, yet, of 2014, but … the fundamentals look pretty good.”

Halyk noted demand for drilling and other services is climbing and the company is hiring.

However, much still depends on the pace of the global economic recovery, as well as the co-ordinated actions of OPEC and its partners when it comes to oil markets.

In Canada, few players are expecting major new oilsands projects to move ahead or production to suddenly surge. Climate concerns, ESG considerations and market access remain ongoing areas of attention.

Yet, after several bleak years, the industry has shifted out of survival mode and is now coming to terms with an improved outlook.

“Our industry has been beaten pretty hard in Canada and there are a lot of tired people,” added Halyk.

“It's gratifying to me to see some hope and enthusiasm coming back, and some of the challenges that come with having to ramp up.

“It's been a while since we've had to do that in Canada.”

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And how much of that windfall do you think the oil producers will give back to the Canadian government in thanks and grateful for the bailouts they received?

https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/04/16/opinion/time-bail-out-alberta-workers-not-billionaire-oil-company-ceos#:~:text=In 2018%2C the federal government,cost taxpayers over %2416 billion.

 In 2018, the federal government not only gave Alberta oil producers a $1.6-billion bailout package, they also spent $4.5 billion buying the Trans Mountain pipeline, a project which now is estimated to cost taxpayers over $16 billion.

 

Throughout this same time, we saw production in the oilpatch grow and the big five oilsands producers have continued to pay out billions in dividends to their shareholders. While oilsands producers found a way to take care of their investors, workers who lost their jobs in the 2014 price shock were left behind. Employment numbers have never recovered to anywhere near 2014 numbers, despite the fact that Alberta is now producing more oil than at any time in its history.

Clearly, there is a pattern here: global forces drive down oil prices, Big Oil CEOs lean on Ottawa for a bailout, the federal government writes another big cheque to this already heavily subsidized industry, investors get paid and workers are again left behind.

 

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Oh… and by the way…here is the counter narrative to Deicer’s link

Quote

$359 Billion: What Canada’s energy sector paid governments from 2000 to 2018

Taxes paid by energy industry add up to as much as all employment insurance payments since 1996

 

Yes, that is from an industry feed….. as for the Natioanl Observer…...pay attention to the last sentence…

Quote

YOU NEED TO KNOW THESE FAKE NEWS OUTLETS WHO ARE ALREADY ACTIVE THIS ELECTION PUSHING ANTI-HYDROCARBON NEWS

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There has been a wave of anti-hydrocarbon news stories recently. One of them even suggested a few small companies from Calgary were controlling the election process. Others we brought to your attention through our fact checks. We wanted to direct your attention to these outlets that are publishing and promoting these stories.

Here are the details on a few left-wing, anti-progress “progressive” or ENGO sponsored so-called “news” outlets. Sadly, the biased mainstream media often treats these outlets as agenda setters and repeats their stories, giving credibility to overtly partisan misinformation:

 

National Observer was created by climate activists for the original purpose of reporting on “energy politics and the environment,” looking for “connections between powerful U.S. interests and Canadian politicians” and “where candidates in the 2015 federal election stand on pipeline projects, LNG, big oil, and how they think and feel about climate change.” It is run by Linda Solomon Wood who describes herself as an American radical who “threatened to move to Canada and then actually did.” National Observer has been funded by a variety of ENGOs, including the Tides Foundation and Tides Canada.

 

 

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2 hours ago, st27 said:

Oh… and by the way…here is the counter narrative to Deicer’s link

Yes, that is from an industry feed….. as for the Natioanl Observer…...pay attention to the last sentence…

 

 

Once again misleading headline to confuse.

While that amount may seem large, it is actually less than what was actually paid to governments in total.  It isn't all just taxes paid, it is a cumulative amount which also includes the major payments of leases and rent.  

So if you want to compare apples to oranges, make sure that the kitchen sink isn't thrown in as well.

My information from the Canadian Energy Center website.

https://www.canadianenergycentre.ca/672-billion-the-energy-sectors-revenues-to-canadian-governments-2000-2018/

Here is a breakdown of the subsidies and where they go.  

https://www.iisd.org/articles/unpacking-canadas-fossil-fuel-subsidies-faq

And the study in long form.

https://www.iisd.org/system/files/2020-12/tax-subsidies-fossil-fuels-canada.pdf

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More good news from Alberta!

https://nationalpost.com/sponsored/news-sponsored/bringing-the-benefits-of-renewable-energy-to-canadas-remote-northern-communities

Bringing the benefits of renewable energy to Canada’s remote northern communities

Empathy, meaningful consultation underlie ATCO’s approach to Indigenous partnerships

The remote northern Alberta community of Fort Chipewyan (Fort Chip) once relied exclusively on generators requiring large shipments of diesel fuel by ice road to generate electricity. Today, the 1,000 residents of Fort Chip enjoy the benefits of Canada’s largest off-grid solar project, reducing local diesel consumption by approximately 800,000 litres each year — just one of many projects in which integrated energy, housing, transportation and infrastructure solutions provider, ATCO [TSX: ACO.X] has been working with Indigenous community partners to provide cleaner, renewable energy.

In 2020 alone, ATCO participated in more than 50 mutually beneficial partnerships with Indigenous groups. Of the $271 million in revenue generated by these joint ventures that year, in excess of $129 million went to the company’s Indigenous partners — more than $71 million in net economic benefits and more than $58 million in procurement contracts.

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Nearly half of all Canadian private sector industries experienced a major drop in investment from 2015-19

Industry-Level Private Sector Capital Expenditures in Canada: 1990-2019examines how, despite the absence of a major recession (as Canada experienced in the early 1990s and 2008-09), more domestic industries experienced decreases in capital investment from 2015 to 2019 than at any other time since 1990. Critically, a majority of industries decreased investment in machinery, equipment and intellectual property products (such as software), which all significantly impact productivity.

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If You Want ‘Renewable Energy,’ Get Ready to Dig

Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of plastic.

 

 
Democrats dream of powering society entirely with wind and solar farms combined with massive batteries. Realizing this dream would require the biggest expansion in mining the world has seen and would produce huge quantities of waste. 

“Renewable energy” is a misnomer. Wind and solar machines and batteries are built from nonrenewable materials. And they wear out. Old equipment must be decommissioned, generating millions of tons of waste. The International Renewable Energy Agency calculates that solar goals for 2050 consistent with the Paris Accords will result in old-panel disposal constituting more than double the tonnage of all today’s global plastic waste. Consider some other sobering numbers: 

A single electric-car battery weighs about 1,000 pounds. Fabricating one requires digging up, moving and processing more than 500,000 pounds of raw materials somewhere on the planet. The alternative? Use gasoline and extract one-tenth as much total tonnage to deliver the same number of vehicle-miles over the battery’s seven-year life.

 When electricity comes from wind or solar machines, every unit of energy produced, or mile traveled, requires far more materials and land than fossil fuels. That physical reality is literally visible: A wind or solar farm stretching to the horizon can be replaced by a handful of gas-fired turbines, each no bigger than a tractor-trailer.

Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of nonrecyclable plastic. Solar power requires even more cement, steel and glass—not to mention other metals. Global silver and indium mining will jump 250% and 1,200% respectively over the next couple of decades to provide the materials necessary to build the number of solar panels, the International Energy Agency forecasts. World demand for rare-earth elements—which aren’t rare but are rarely mined in America—will rise 300% to 1,000% by 2050 to meet the Paris green goals. If electric vehicles replace conventional cars, demand for cobalt and lithium, will rise more than 20-fold. That doesn’t count batteries to back up wind and solar grids.

 
Last year a Dutch government-sponsored study concluded that the Netherlands’ green ambitions alone would consume a major share of global minerals. “Exponential growth in [global] renewable energy production capacity is not possible with present-day technologies and annual metal production,” it concluded.

The demand for minerals likely won’t be met by mines in Europe or the U.S. Instead, much of the mining will take place in nations with oppressive labor practices. The Democratic Republic of the Congo produces 70% of the world’s raw cobalt, and China controls 90% of cobalt refining. The Sydney-based Institute for a Sustainable Future cautions that a global “gold” rush for minerals could take miners into “some remote wilderness areas [that] have maintained high biodiversity because they haven’t yet been disturbed.”

What’s more, mining and fabrication require the consumption of hydrocarbons. Building enough wind turbines to supply half the world’s electricity would require nearly two billion tons of coal to produce the concrete and steel, along with two billion barrels of oil to make the composite blades. More than 90% of the world’s solar panels are built in Asia on coal-heavy electric grids.

Engineers joke about discovering “unobtanium,” a magical energy-producing element that appears out of nowhere, requires no land, weighs nothing, and emits nothing. Absent the realization of that impossible dream, hydrocarbons remain a far better alternative than today’s green dreams.

 Mr. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a partner in Cottonwood Venture Partners, an energy-tech venture fund, and author of the recent report, “The ‘New Energy Economy’: An Exercise in Magical Thinking.”

 

https://media4.manhattan-institute.org/sites/default/files/R-0319-MM.pdf

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