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The White House said Monday that it's awaiting a full environmental review before making any decisions on the disputed Line 5 oil pipeline from Canada. At a press briefing, a spokesperson for U.S. President Joe Biden was asked whether the White House was considering shutting down the pipeline. Karine Jean-Pierre denied that any decision had been made. She said the project was undergoing a full environmental review through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, announced months ago. She indicated that any decisions on the fate of the route would be guided by the results of that review. At issue is an old pipeline carrying 540,000 barrels per day of oil and other petroleum fuels from Canada, across the Great Lakes, then into Michigan, and finally into Ontario as a major fuel source for Eastern Canada. Michigan has ordered the pipeline shut down, prompting a legal fight and court-ordered mediation. After the state moved to end mediation talks in September, Canada invoked a 1977 treaty between Canada and the U.S. limiting either country's ability to impede a cross-border pipeline. Read the full story here

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I guess Trudeau et al can breath easy having dodged another bullet which would force them to take a stand for Canada.
Re the line 5 environmental review:

Quote

A spokesperson for the Army Corps of Engineers said an evaluation like this generally takes two years: first there is a preliminary phase, then a main phase of the work, then a draft environmental impact statement, which is followed by a final environmental impact statement, and ultimately a decision on a permit. 

The review has just begun and is in its preliminary phase said William R. Dowell.

"From start to finish — [it's] about two years long. The process varies — but that's the approximate length of time it takes."

 

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It's all about the money. As I said before, there is no shortage of oil, they just don't want to pump it at that price.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/u-s-predicts-oil-market-will-be-oversupplied-by-early-next-year-1.1679516

U.S. predicts oil market will be oversupplied by early next year

U.S. crude production is expected to rise to average 11.9 million barrels a day in 2022 as drillers make a comeback. A nearly 15 per cent rally in West Texas Intermediate crude prices since July is luring some shale producers to ramp up output, most notably private drillers. While the outlook marks an expected increase in supply, it is still far from the record annual volume reached in 2019 as the recovery across major shale regions has been mixed.

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Forked Tounge disease or reality?

Biden admin. slammed by climate groups over 'hypocritical' oil auction

completed Glasgow Climate Conference for "every nation to do its part" to solve the climate crisis, President Joe Biden's administration is preparing this week to hold an auction for drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico over impassioned objections from environmental organizations.Cli
 

"It's hard to imagine a more dangerous, hyocritical action in the aftermath of the climate summit," said Kristen Monsell, a lawyer for the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity. "Holding this lease sale will only lead to more harmful oil spills, more toxic climate pollution, and more suffering for communities and wildlife along the Gulf Coast."

The auction, set for Wednesday, will grant oil companies the opportunity to bid on nearly 80 million acres of lucrative federal waters, which would produce an estimated 1.12 billion barrels of oil and 4.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas over the next 50 years.

The winning bidder will have the right to build platform rigs up to 231 miles from shore and drill for oil at underwater depths of up to 11,000 feet. Environmental groups say the distance from shore and depth of drilling increases the likelihood of a repeat of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which caused 4 million barrels of oil to leak into the Gulf.

Brettny Hardy, an attorney with the environmental nonprofit group Earthjustice, said the development of those waters would amount to a "huge climate bomb" that would "compromise our future and move our climate action in the exact wrong direction."

Biden promised to end new drilling on federal lands during his presidential campaign, and issued an executive order pausing the lease sales during his first week in office, pending a review of their environmental impact.

In June, however, a federal judge ordered the resumption of those lease sales, siding with 13 states that sued the administration for overstepping its authority.

The administration has appealed the judge's ruling, but agreed to go forward with the leases while the matter works its way through the courts.

A spokesperson for the Department of Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which is tasked with coordinating the auction, said the administration is just adhering to the court's orders.

"[The administration] is complying with a U.S. District Court's injunction regarding [the auction] while the government appeals the decision," said spokesperson John Filostrat. "The Biden Harris Administration is continuing its comprehensive review of the deficiencies associated with its offshore and onshore oil and gas leasing programs."

%7B© ABC News 

The Interior Department said in August that, while it would adhere to the court's ruling, it will also "continue to exercise the authority and discretion provided under the law to conduct leasing in a manner that takes into account the program's many deficiencies."

But environmental advocates argue that the Biden administration has not exhausted its legal “authority and discretion” -- and in fact has several options at its disposal to delay or cancel the bidding.

"The administration has more than sufficient authority to choose not to hold the lease sale and to cancel it," Monsell said.

MORE: How Biden is reversing Trump's environmental actions

The Justice Department could file an emergency injunction to pause the lease pending its appeal, according to Hardy, or make the case in court that the environmental effects of the sale could conflict with other federal laws, like the National Environmental Policy Act.

Monsell and Hardy are leading a coalition of environmental groups in suing the administration to prevent the auction from moving forward, with the goal of winning an injunction before the leases come into effect, which the government said would be on Jan. 1.

In a press release announcing their lawsuit, the environmental groups accused the Biden administration of "folding to the oil industry," which has promoted the auction as "welcome news for the American worker and our national security."


Neither the Interior Department nor the White House has responded to allegations that the administration is buckling to pressure from the oil industry."As global energy prices rise, continued Gulf of Mexico leasing can help avert inflationary risks and proactively ensure affordable energy for all walks of life, especially low-income communities," said Erik Milito, the president of the National Ocean Industries Association, an offshore energy trade group.

%7B© Kevin Lamarque/Reuters President Joe Biden speaks during a press conference at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 2, 2021.

In Glasgow, Biden promised a return of American leadership on climate change issues, pledging to halve greenhouse emissions by 2050.

"We'll demonstrate to the world the United States is not only back at the table, but hopefully leading by the power of our example," he said.

Environmental groups said Biden's words ring hollow as long as these oil leases move forward.

"This isn't just hypocritical, it's outright deceitful," said Jeremy Nichols of WildEarth Guardians, a nonprofit environmental group. "It truly calls into question whether the Biden administration's climate agenda is nothing but broken promises."

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Forked Tounge disease or reality?

Biden admin. slammed by climate groups over 'hypocritical' oil auction

completed Glasgow Climate Conference for "every nation to do its part" to solve the climate crisis, President Joe Biden's administration is preparing this week to hold an auction for drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico over impassioned objections from environmental organizations.Cli
 

"It's hard to imagine a more dangerous, hyocritical action in the aftermath of the climate summit," said Kristen Monsell, a lawyer for the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity. "Holding this lease sale will only lead to more harmful oil spills, more toxic climate pollution, and more suffering for communities and wildlife along the Gulf Coast."

The auction, set for Wednesday, will grant oil companies the opportunity to bid on nearly 80 million acres of lucrative federal waters, which would produce an estimated 1.12 billion barrels of oil and 4.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas over the next 50 years.

The winning bidder will have the right to build platform rigs up to 231 miles from shore and drill for oil at underwater depths of up to 11,000 feet. Environmental groups say the distance from shore and depth of drilling increases the likelihood of a repeat of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which caused 4 million barrels of oil to leak into the Gulf.

Brettny Hardy, an attorney with the environmental nonprofit group Earthjustice, said the development of those waters would amount to a "huge climate bomb" that would "compromise our future and move our climate action in the exact wrong direction."

Biden promised to end new drilling on federal lands during his presidential campaign, and issued an executive order pausing the lease sales during his first week in office, pending a review of their environmental impact.

In June, however, a federal judge ordered the resumption of those lease sales, siding with 13 states that sued the administration for overstepping its authority.

The administration has appealed the judge's ruling, but agreed to go forward with the leases while the matter works its way through the courts.

A spokesperson for the Department of Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which is tasked with coordinating the auction, said the administration is just adhering to the court's orders.

"[The administration] is complying with a U.S. District Court's injunction regarding [the auction] while the government appeals the decision," said spokesperson John Filostrat. "The Biden Harris Administration is continuing its comprehensive review of the deficiencies associated with its offshore and onshore oil and gas leasing programs."

%7B© ABC News 

The Interior Department said in August that, while it would adhere to the court's ruling, it will also "continue to exercise the authority and discretion provided under the law to conduct leasing in a manner that takes into account the program's many deficiencies."

But environmental advocates argue that the Biden administration has not exhausted its legal “authority and discretion” -- and in fact has several options at its disposal to delay or cancel the bidding.

"The administration has more than sufficient authority to choose not to hold the lease sale and to cancel it," Monsell said.

MORE: How Biden is reversing Trump's environmental actions

The Justice Department could file an emergency injunction to pause the lease pending its appeal, according to Hardy, or make the case in court that the environmental effects of the sale could conflict with other federal laws, like the National Environmental Policy Act.

Monsell and Hardy are leading a coalition of environmental groups in suing the administration to prevent the auction from moving forward, with the goal of winning an injunction before the leases come into effect, which the government said would be on Jan. 1.

In a press release announcing their lawsuit, the environmental groups accused the Biden administration of "folding to the oil industry," which has promoted the auction as "welcome news for the American worker and our national security."


Neither the Interior Department nor the White House has responded to allegations that the administration is buckling to pressure from the oil industry."As global energy prices rise, continued Gulf of Mexico leasing can help avert inflationary risks and proactively ensure affordable energy for all walks of life, especially low-income communities," said Erik Milito, the president of the National Ocean Industries Association, an offshore energy trade group.

%7B© Kevin Lamarque/Reuters President Joe Biden speaks during a press conference at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 2, 2021.

In Glasgow, Biden promised a return of American leadership on climate change issues, pledging to halve greenhouse emissions by 2050.

"We'll demonstrate to the world the United States is not only back at the table, but hopefully leading by the power of our example," he said.

Environmental groups said Biden's words ring hollow as long as these oil leases move forward.

"This isn't just hypocritical, it's outright deceitful," said Jeremy Nichols of WildEarth Guardians, a nonprofit environmental group. "It truly calls into question whether the Biden administration's climate agenda is nothing but broken promises."

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2 Stocks That Just Hiked Their Dividends by 20-25%

Karen Thomas, MSc, CFA  6 hrs ago
 
 
 
 
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image.png.98e96284f380fd194a8af2d7b8475eab.png

Companies that increase their dividends over time create shareholder value. Therefore, knowing which companies are increasing dividends is key. We simply need this information in our search for top stocks to buy. This year has been a very productive one. The TSX is trading at all-time highs. Also, investors have been benefitting from companies who are rapidly returning capital to shareholders — companies like Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ)(NYSE:CNQ) and Sun Life Financial (TSX:SLF)(NYSE:SLF).

Without further ado, let’s look into these two stocks that have recently significantly hiked their dividends by 20-25%.

 

Canadian Natural Resources stock: An oil and gas leader that’s also a top dividend stock

The first stock that I want to discuss is Canadian oil and gas giant Canadian Natural Resources. CNQ is a $60 billion, top-tier Canadian oil and gas company. It’s also an example of how a well-run and well-managed oil and gas company can create tons of shareholder value. As you know, the oil and gas sector has been shining in 2021. With this, we have seen rising dividends across the board. After many consecutive years of raising its dividend, CNQ just announced a big whopper of an increase, payable in January. In fact, its 25% dividend increase that is a reflection of booming times.

So, this increase represents the 22nd year of consecutive increases. It’s also the largest one yet. Clearly, this increase can be maintained over time, as Canadian Natural’s long-life assets will be able to support it. This is because cash flows associated with these assets are stable, steady, and resilient. They require comparatively low capital expenditures and provide a high degree of predictability.

%7B© Provided by The Motley Fool Dividend stock Canadian Natural Resources stock

At this time, Canadian Natural’s dividend yield is an attractive 4.5%. Also, CNQ stock has soared almost 70% in 2021. What does this mean for investors? Well, oil is trading at $80. Natural gas is also reaching heights that it hasn’t hit in a very long time. Clearly, the supply/demand imbalance in the oil and gas sector remains. This means low supply and high demand. Therefore commodity prices continue to be pushed higher. It will actually take a while to work through this and for things to rebalance. Expect more good things from CNQ as cash flows continue to soar.

Note the majority of the shareholders:

Top 10 Owners of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd

Stockholder Stake Shares
owned
Total value ($) Shares
bought / sold
Total
change
Capital Research & Management Co.... 9.84% 116,625,666 4,957,757,062 -9,618,990 -7.62%
Capital Research & Management Co.... 6.90% 81,808,970 3,477,699,315 +3,994,981 +5.13%
Fidelity Management & Research Co... 4.44% 52,595,072 2,235,816,511 +24,548,453 +87.53%
RBC Global Asset Management, Inc. 3.30% 39,168,303 1,665,044,561 -1,483,917 -3.65%
1832 Asset Management LP 3.06% 36,249,076 1,540,948,221 +4,458,217 +14.02%
TD Asset Management, Inc. 2.74% 32,460,407 1,379,891,902 -1,608,961 -4.72%
Capital Research & Management Co. 2.49% 29,522,820 1,255,015,078 +1,373,345 +4.88%
The Vanguard Group, Inc. 2.46% 29,203,109 1,241,424,164 +768,352 +2.70%
Fidelity Investments Canada ULC 2.40% 28,439,233 1,208,951,795 -8,871 -0.03%
Canada Pension Plan Investment Bo... 2.15% 25,509,259 1,084,398,600 -3,851,900 -13.12%

Top 10 Mutual Funds Holding Canadian Natural Resources Ltd

Mutual fund Stake Shares
owned
Total value ($) Shares
bought / sold
Total
change
American Funds EuroPacific Growth... 4.51% 53,489,206 2,273,826,147 -3,764,878 -6.58%
American Funds Capital World Grow... 2.49% 29,463,166 1,252,479,187 +1,366,424 +4.86%
American Balanced Fund 2.27% 26,920,411 1,144,386,672 +563,153 +2.14%
Canada Pension Plan 1.86% 22,062,447 937,874,622 -1,632,553 -6.89%
Capital Income Builder 1.76% 20,810,675 884,661,794 0 0.00%
American Funds Fundamental Invest... 1.52% 17,986,913 764,623,672 0 0.00%
Caisse de D�p�t & Placement du Qu... 1.52% 17,970,149 763,911,034 -51,364 -0.29%
Vanguard Total International Stoc... 1.26% 14,909,034 633,783,035 -77,944 -0.52%

the rest of the article is at: https://www.msn.com/en-ca/money/topstories/2-stocks-that-just-hiked-their-dividends-by-20-25/ar-AAQJRKt?ocid=msedgntp

 

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Germany halts Nord Stream 2 pipeline approval, gas prices soar

The US and some European nations have opposed pipeline over concerns it will make Europe more dependent on Russian gas.

AP21320365216638.jpg?resize=770%2C513
Construction finished on the Nord Stream 2 earlier this year, but it is not yet operational [File: Dmitry Lovetsky/AP]
Published On 16 Nov 2021
 

The squeeze of higher natural gas prices on European households and businesses could get even more uncomfortable after Germany’s energy regulator on Tuesday slammed the brakes on a greenlight needed to allow Russian gas to flow to Europe through the long-delayed Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Construction finished on the Nord Stream 2 earlier this year, but it is not yet operational. The pipeline, which is owned by Russian gas giant Gazprom and has investment from some major European firms bypasses Ukraine to pump Russian gas under the Baltic Sea directly to Europe.

Long a geopolitical lightning rod, Nord Stream 2 has attracted opposition from the United States, Ukraine and some European nations who are concerned that it will make Europe even more reliant on Russian natural gas.

Ukraine also stands to lose transit revenues once the pipeline is operational.

But geopolitical concerns could be of cold comfort to European and British consumers who are shelling out a lot more for natural gas this year, thanks to a global energy crunch and uncertainty over when Russia will start pumping more gas to Europe.

Natural gas prices vaulted 9 percent on Tuesday after Germany’s network regulator said it had suspended its procedure to certify the operator of Nord Stream 2.

The German regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur, said the certification process was halted because the Swiss-based operator of the pipeline needed to form a company under German law.

“Following a thorough examination of the documentation, the Bundesnetzagentur concluded that it would only be possible to certify an operator of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if that operator was organized in a legal form under German law,” the regulator said in a statement.

The regulator added that the Swiss-based operator had formed a German subsidiary and that the approval process will move forward once the operator has transferred major assets and budgets for staffing to that subsidiary.

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country could  help ease Europe’s natural gas supply crunch once German regulators gave the go-ahead for gas to start flowing legally through Nord Stream 2.

Russia has already pumped gas under the Baltic Sea via Nord Stream 1, which has the capacity to carry 55 billion cubic metres.

Nord Stream 2 will double that volume and make Germany a central distribution hub for natural gas.

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CLEAN TECH

Bill Gates’ TerraPower will build its first advanced nuclear reactor in a coal town in Wyoming

PUBLISHED WED, NOV 17 20211:29 PM ESTUPDATED 2 HOURS AGO
SHAREShare Article via FacebookShare Article via TwitterShare Article via LinkedInShare Article via Email
KEY POINTS
  • Kemmerer, Wyoming, a frontier coal town, is announced as the location for the first demonstration nuclear power plant for Bill Gates’ company, TerraPower.
  • The plant will cost about $4 billion, half coming from TerraPower and half coming from the United States government.
  • The plant will be operated by Rocky Mountain Power, a division of PacifiCorp, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Energy, and will play a role in its decarbonization strategy.
 

Kemmerer, Wyoming, is a frontier coal town. It was organized in 1897 by coal miners and still employs people in the coal and natural gas industries today.

Kemmerer, Wyoming, is a frontier coal town. It was organized in 1897 by coal miners and still employs people in the coal and natural gas industries today.
Photo courtesy TerraPower

TerraPower, a start-up co-founded by Bill Gates to revolutionize designs for nuclear reactors, has picked Kemmerer, Wyoming, as the preferred location for its first demonstration reactor. It aims to build the plant in the frontier-era coal town by 2028.

Constructing the plant will be a job bonanza for Kemmerer, with 2,000 workers at its peak, said TerraPower CEO Chris Levesque in a video call with reporters on Tuesday.

 

It will also provide new clean-energy jobs to a region dominated today by the coal and gas industry. Today, a local power plant, coal mine, and natural gas processing plant combined provide more than 400 jobs -- a sizeable number for a region that has only around 3,000 people.

 
ADVERTISING

“New industry coming to any community is generally good news,” Kemmerer Mayor William Thek told CNBC. “You have to understand, most of our nearby towns are 50 miles or more from Kemmerer. Despite that, workers travel those distances every day for work in our area.”

For TerraPower, picking a location was a matter of geological and technical factors, like seismic and soil conditions, and community support, said Levesque.

Once built, the plant will provide a baseload of 345 megawatts, with the potential to expand its capacity to 500 megawatts.

For reference, one gigawatt or 1,000 megawatts of energy will power a mid-sized city, and a small town can operate on about one megawatt, according to a rule of thumb Microsoft co-founder Gates provided in his recent book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.” The United States uses 1,000 gigawatts and the world needs 5,000 gigawatts, he wrote.

 

It will cost about $4 billion to build the plant, with half of that money coming from TerraPower and the other half from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program.

“It’s a very serious government grant. This was necessary, I should mention, because the U.S. government and the U.S. nuclear industry was, was falling behind,” said Levesque.

“China and Russia are continuing to build new plants with advanced technologies like ours, and they seek to export those plants to many other countries around the world,” Levesque said. “So the U.S. government was concerned that the U.S. hasn’t been moving forward in this way.”

Once built, it should provide power for 60 years, Levesque said.

How TerraPower’s reactors are different

The Kemerrer plant will be the first to use an advanced nuclear design called Natrium, developed by TerraPower with GE-Hitachi.

Natrium plants use liquid sodium as a cooling agent instead of water. Sodium has a higher boiling point and can absorb more heat than water, which means high pressure does not build up inside the reactor, reducing the risk of an explosion.

Also, Natrium plants do not require an outside energy source to operate their cooling systems, which can be a vulnerability in the case of an emergency shut-down. This contributed to the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, when a tsunami shut down the diesel generators running its back-up cooling system, contributing to a meltdown and release of radioactive material.

 

An artists rendering of a Natrium power plant from TerraPower.

An artists rendering of a Natrium power plant from TerraPower.
Photo courtesy TerraPower

Natrium plants can store also heat in tanks of molten salt, conserving the energy for later use like a battery and, enabling the plant to bump its capacity up from 345 to 500 megawatts for five hours.

The plants are also smaller than conventional nuclear power plants, which should make them faster and cheaper to build than conventional power plants. TerraPower aims to get its plants to a cost of $1 billion, a quarter of the budget for the first one in Kemmerer.

“One important thing to realize is the first plant always costs more,” said Levesque.

Finally, Natrium plants produce less waste, a problematic and dangerous by-product of nuclear fission.

‘Times are changing’

The Kemmerer plant still faces a couple of hurdles, including federal permitting.

“There’s a comprehensive licensing process overseen by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, that, frankly, is expensive. There, there are many, many reviews,” Levesque said.

Also, the fuel that the Natrium plant uses is called high-assay low-enriched uranium, or HALEU, which is not yet available at commercial scale.

The existing nuclear fleet in the United States runs uranium-235 fuel that is enriched up to 5%, the Department of Energy says, while HALEU is is enriched between 5% and 20%.

“Sadly, we don’t have this enrichment capability in the U.S, today. And this is an area of great concern of the US government, and specifically the Department of Energy,” Levesque said.

But it’s coming, Levesque said. “I’m really certain that we’re going to establish that capability” in another public-private partnership, similar to the way the Natrium power plant demonstration is being built.

Once built, the plant will be turned over to Rocky Mountain Power, a division of Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s PacifiCorp, to operate.

There, it will become part of Rocky Mountain Power’s decarbonization plan.

Coal-fired plants like the Naughton facility in Kemmerer “have benefited our customers for decades with very low cost power,” Gary Hoogeveen, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power, said Tuesday. “And we appreciate that. But times are changing,” Hoogeveen said.

“External requirements from the federal government, state governments, regulatory agencies are going to require that we change and we’re going to need to decarbonize and as we go down that path, we see the Natrium project as being incredibly valuable to our customers.”

“Wyoming is a tremendous wind resource state,” Hoogeveen said. And so far, Rocky Mountain Power has built 2,000 megawatts of wind power capacity in Wyoming, and that’s going to grow. “We expect to build many more thousands of megawatts of wind capacity in the state.”

But the nuclear power plant in Kemmerer will be a key bridge for the state, Hoogeveen said.

“It is a great spot for absorbing the intermittency of of the renewable resources and using the storage that’s built in that is so incredibly valuable to us,” he said.

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Illinois paid $694 million to keep nuclear plants open, showing why greening the grid is so hard

PUBLISHED SAT, NOV 20 20218:18 AM EST
SHAREShare Article via FacebookShare Article via TwitterShare Article via LinkedInShare Article via Email
KEY POINTS
  • Illinois legislators agreed to spend up to $694 of taxpayer money over the next five years to keep a handful of nuclear power plants open.
  • The operator of the plants, Exelon, said they were losing hundreds of millions of dollars and that nuclear can’t compete with cheap natural gas and subsidized wind and solar.
  • Critics say that Exelon had the state over a barrel and that longer-term solutions are necessary to make clean energy cheaper and more accessible.
 

Byron, UNITED STATES: The Exelon Byron Nuclear Generating Stations running at full capacity 14 May, 2007 in Byron, Illinois, is one of 17 nuclear reactors at 10 sites in three US states, is the nation's largest operator of commercial nuclear power plants and third largest in the world. In the US, nuclear operators have focused on improving safety and efficiency at existing plants. There have been no notable US accidents since 1979 at Three Mile Island and the US reactor fleet has produced at about 90 percent of licensed capacity since 2001, up from efficiency figures of the early 1980s. Nuclear plants today produce about 20 percent of the electricity used in the US. Dozens of electrical company?s are seeking licenses for as many as 31 new nuclear power reactors in the US.  AFP PHOTO/JEFF HAYNES (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images)

Byron, UNITED STATES: The Exelon Byron Nuclear Generating Stations running at full capacity 14 May, 2007 in Byron, Illinois, is one of 17 nuclear reactors at 10 sites in three US states, is the nation’s largest operator of commercial nuclear power plants and third largest in the world. In the US, nuclear operators have focused on improving safety and efficiency at existing plants. There have been no notable US accidents since 1979 at Three Mile Island and the US reactor fleet has produced at about 90 percent of licensed capacity since 2001, up from efficiency figures of the early 1980s. Nuclear plants today produce about 20 percent of the electricity used in the US. Dozens of electrical company?s are seeking licenses for as many as 31 new nuclear power reactors in the US. AFP PHOTO/JEFF HAYNES (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images)
JEFF HAYNES | AFP | Getty Images

In September, Illinois lawmakers agreed to spend up to $694 million of taxpayer money over the next five years to keep several money-losing nuclear power plants open.

Nuclear energy produces no greenhouse gas emissions, meaning it can contribute to lowering carbon emissions. But today’s nuclear plants often can’t compete on price against cheaper existing sources of energy, particularly natural gas and government-subsidized renewables.

 

The negotiations in Illinois are a microcosm of a larger debate taking place across the country about the role existing nuclear power plants should play in the clean energy future.

For two of the nuclear plants at stake, the operator, Exelon, had already filed paperwork with federal regulators to shut them down for financial reasons. Lawmakers agreed to pay to keep the nuclear plants open so that Illinois could meet its clean energy goals, and Exelon agreed to keep two other marginal nuclear plants in the state open as well.

The deal is a culmination of a lot of painstaking negotiations and “midwestern practicality,” according to Illinois Deputy Governor Christian Mitchell.

But not everybody agrees. Illinois gets a much larger percentage of power from nuclear than other states, and it would’ve taken a massive new investment in renewables to meet the state’s clean energy goals. In a sense, Exelon had the state over a barrel.

“This is now the second round of such subsidies that Illinois is paying out,” explained Steve Cicala, a non-resident scholar at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, referring to a previous round included in an energy jobs bill in 2016.

 

“When this runs out, they’ll be doing the same ‘pay us or the plant gets it’ dance.”

The need for nuclear today

The latest battle started in Aug. 2020 when Exelon Generation announced that it would to retire two of its Illinois nuclear power plants in fall 2021. Byron was scheduled to close in September 2021 and Dresden would close in November 2021. Exelon said the plants were losing hundreds of millions of dollars, although it declined to disclose exact figures to CNBC.

“Submitting decommissioning paperwork is like a parent dangling their keys and saying ‘I’m really leaving...’ when their kid doesn’t want to put down the video game controller and get in the car,” Cicala said.

It can be hard to justify offering government subsidies to a profitable company with a market capitalization of $52 billion. Exelon in total earned $1.2 billion in GAAP profits in the third quarter of 2021 and its Exelon Generation subsidiary, which operates the plants, earned $607 million. However, as is often the case with utilities, its results can vary widely — for the first nine months of the year total, Exelon earned $1.32 billion and Exelon Generation showed a loss of $247 million, both worse than the equivalent period last year.

Exelon says it is unfair to ask it to compete in an open competitive energy market where carbon-emitting energy sources are able to emit their waste into the air for free while nuclear power plants have very strict and expensive waste management regulations to comply with.

Meanwhile, legislators were anxious to pass a comprehensive energy bill that moves the state toward 100% clean energy by 2050. The two nuclear plants at issue provided nearly 4,200 megawatts of power, while two others on the edge of viability, Braidwood and LeSalle, provided another 4,700. For reference, 1,000 megawatts of energy will power a mid-size city, according to Bill Gates’ book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.”

To replace that much power with renewables would have required a tremendous amount of new wind and solar construction in the state.

The current capacity-weighted average size of a solar farm is 105 megawatts, and for wind it is 188 megawatts, Jason Ryan, spokesperson for American Clean Power, a membership organization representing the renewable industry, told CNBC.

That means the state would’ve had to construct about 85 solar farms, or more than 47 wind farms.

If the nuclear power plants were retired now, “renewables wouldn’t be ready in time to take their place,” Jack Darin, the director of the Sierra Club’s Illinois chapter, told CNBC. The environmental lobbying group does not support nuclear power as a long-term clean energy solution because of the nuclear waste that is generated, among other reasons. But Darin also suggested that building new natural gas plants would be worse in the long run.

“Once a gas plant is built, and pipelines are brought in, those are very likely to run for decades and decades and pump out carbon pollution,” he said.

Why are nuclear plants losing money?

According to nuclear advocates, plants constructed decades ago simply cannot compete on an economic basis with other forms of energy in today’s U.S. market. Ultra-cheap natural gas drove energy prices down across the board, and nuclear power plants have not been able to cut costs enough to be competitive.

“The trend that you’ve been seeing across the country of premature nuclear retirements are all entirely about economics,” according to Exelon’s Kathleen Barron, who oversees government and regulatory affairs for the company.

Exelon owns electricity generation facilities throughout the Midwest, mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Texas and California. Of those facilities, more than 85% of its output was nuclear in 2020, with natural gas making up most of the rest.

All of Exelon’s nuclear power plants in Illinois (except the Clinton nuclear plant) hook into PJM, which runs the largest electrical grid in the U.S. and operates one of the largest wholesale electricity markets in the world. Power generators bid into the wholesale marketplace and PJM accepts the mix of sources that keeps rates lowest.

“Everyone bids in, and then we accept the offers from lowest to highest until we reach the target capacity number we need to reach,” explained PJM spokesperson Jeff Shields.

PJM’s mix of energy sources has changed over the last 15 years or so, with natural gas increasing to about 40% of the total electricity and renewables increasing slightly to sit at 6%. Over the same time, coal has consistently decreased over time and now stands at 19%.

Along the way, nuclear has remained relatively constant at about 35%.

While the composite mix has changed, the wholesale electricity price has largely remained flat over the last 15 years when adjusted for inflation, PJM said.

Cicala argues the real problem isn’t the total supply of energy, but the ability to move power from the rural areas where it’s generated to high-demand areas like the city of Chicago. Today, there’s a surplus of inexpensive wind power in those rural areas — where Exelon’s nuclear plants are located — driving prices down.

“The plants would be in a much better financial situation if they could get the prices that power goes for downtown rather than downstate. Investments in high-voltage transmission could solve that problem and be done with it, rather than re-creating a crisis every few years and throwing money at it,” Cicala said.

“Ultimately this is a problem of too much supply depressing prices. The nuclear subsidies attempt to fix this problem by encouraging even more supply. It’s like thinking that one more flush is going to fix an overflowing toilet.”

 

 

Exelon’s Barron disagreed.

“While transmission improvements in certain areas would aid the expansion of renewable energy and improve grid reliability, they would have no meaningful impact on the underlying market and policy failures that have put nuclear operators at a competitive disadvantage,” said Barron in a statement.

“What we need are state and federal policies that recognize the carbon-free benefits of nuclear energy, much as existing policies value the environmental benefits of wind and solar.”

The arbitrator comes in

To enable a fair discussion, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency hired Synapse Energy Economics in January to complete an independent audit of Exelon’s financials.

“Everyone had a baseline of agreement — from the governor, to the legislature, to the environmental groups to our union allies — everyone agreed that we needed to keep the nuclear fleet online. The only question was, ‘What is going to be a sufficient level of support to allow them to continue to operate?’” Deputy Governor Mitchell told CNBC. “That was really where the push was.”

A redacted version of the audit is publicly available, and CNBC has reviewed a version with fewer redactions, but none of the reports contained a precise breakdown of what each plant was losing, citing proprietary business information. That’s because energy trades on a competitive marketplace, and competitors could use that information to just barely undercut Exelon.

“We see this with other utilities and merchant generators, so Exelon is not unique,” said Max Chang, a principal associate at the auditing firm. “It would be really nice to improve transparency.”

The independent audit did confirm that Exelon was losing money on the plants and recommended a $350 million state subsidy.

Exelon disagreed with the number, saying the auditor left out some of Exelon’s costs and that the report was overly optimistic about where energy prices would trend.

Synapse later admitted its projections of energy prices were off. “As it turns out, our estimates of capacity prices are too high for 2022 and 2023 and our estimates of energy prices are too low for 2021 and possibly for 2022,” Chang told CNBC.

“The $694 million was within the bounds of our analysis. The report focused on the 95th percentiles, not the maximum values.”

Consumer protection advocates agreed the final deal was necessary. “The most cost-effective way to deal with climate change is just to build on what we’ve got,” said David Kolata, the executive director of the Citizens Utility Board, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to protect the interests of consumers.

“It became apparent to folks that you can’t, at the end of the day, cost-effectively reach 100% clean energy if existing nuclear plants close prematurely,” Kolata told CNBC. “None of this is an argument for a blank check for Exelon or for nuclear,” he added.

Another part of the deal says that if federal money becomes available to subsidize existing nuclear fleet, then Exelon must apply for those funds and return any money due back to the Illinois taxpayers.

“That made it much easier for us to pass a bill that had this $700 million nuclear support element to it, because if the feds do act, then there’s a strong likelihood that that money will be rebated to or maybe never collected at all from the ratepayers,” said Bill Cunningham, the assistant majority leader in the Illinois Senate, who was the Democratic point person on the negotiations.

That could come into play now that the Democratic-controlled Congress has passed President Biden’s infrastructure spending plan and could be on track to pass the larger Build Back Better plan.

In the end, Exelon won by keeping the plants open, Cicala said.

While a nuclear plant may lose money at times, it’s hard to turn on and off — think of it a like a 24-hour convenience store that makes more money at 8 a.m. than it does at 4 a.m.

“Of course, given the opportunity to get subsidized by the government, the 24/7 store is going to complain about how much money they’re losing at 4 a.m.,” Cicala told CNBC. “But there’s option value to holding onto the plant if the economics aren’t working for them right now — look how quickly gas prices can change!”

Exelon CEO Chris Crane celebrated the deal in the quarterly financial report, too, calling the legislation a critical milestone.

As far as costs to consumers, the total subsidy comes down to about 80 cents a month for the average customer, according to Exelon’s Barron.

 

Exelon Corp.'s Dresden Generating Station nuclear power plant stands in Morris, Illinois, U.S., on Saturday, March 19, 2011.

Exelon Corp.’s Dresden Generating Station nuclear power plant stands in Morris, Illinois, U.S., on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Unlikely bedfellows in an imperfect compromise

Although contentious, the final agreement involved some unlikely political alliances, which offers hope for similar compromises in the long-term transition to carbon-free energy.

Some environmental groups do not consider nuclear power to be clean energy because of the carbon emissions necessary to construct a plant and the toxic waste which needs to be stored long-term. But they were willing to join arms with nuclear power generators in order to meet short-term carbon-emission goals for Illinois.

Labor unions also wanted to keep the nuclear power plants open because they provide high-paying, community-sustaining jobs, pitting them against environmental advocates, who normally come from the same side of the political spectrum.

Pat Devaney, the Secretary Treasurer of the Illinois American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), told CNBC organized labor supported the bill and glad to see the nuclear power plants kept online.

“The economies of those whole regions, in regards to property tax funding for school and public safety, I mean, it would have just been decimated entire regions of our state” if the plants were to have shut down, Devaney told CNBC.

Environmentalists who wanted the plants shut down think the jobs argument is overblown.

“We dubbed that the nuclear hostage crisis,” said David A. Kraft, director of the Nuclear Energy Information Service, an anti-nuclear non-profit. “What we mean by that is you know they would cry economic hardship, we’re losing money, we’re gonna close the plants. And wouldn’t that be awful — you’re going to lose all those jobs.”

Kraft does not believe the financial woes of the plants are a reason to give operators subsidies.

“Competent adults plan for their retirement. We think utilities should do the same thing,” Kraft told CNBC.

Ultimately, Illinois ended up with an imperfect compromise. But the fact that it was possible to reach a compromise in the name of reducing carbon emissions was an accomplishment.

“Even if the bill isn’t what we would write if we were kings and queens, we’ve got to move forward,” J.C. Kibby, the clean energy advocate for the National Resources Defense Council for Illinois, told CNBC.

“It was on the back of years and years of organizing and education. And that filtered up to putting elected officials in place who understood that how important that existential threat of climate change was,” said Kibby. “So as a friend of mine says, ‘You’ve just got to do the work.’”

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Should be charged with inciting violence.

'Pipelines will be blown up' says David Suzuki, if leaders don't act on climate change

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Long-time environmental activist David Suzuki made an extreme statement over the weekend about what could happen if politicians and global leaders don’t act to reverse climate change.

“There are going to be pipelines blown up if our leaders don’t pay attention to what’s going on,” he told an Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island protest in Victoria on Saturday. He made the statement not as a threat but a warning.

“My whole message here? It is that so long as we cling to the models or systems that we’ve built our laws, our politics, and our economics as being more important than everything else? We’re hooped,” CHEK News showed him saying.

“People in Extinction Rebellion are saying we’re headed in a direction of extinction and we’re rebelling against it. That’s why I’m here.”

In the protest that organizers called a Funeral for the Future, hundreds marched in the wake of catastrophic results from extreme weather last week in B.C. and following a disappointing COP26 gathering. They urged governments to do something about the ongoing climate emergency.

“It is now the age of consequences,” said Dr. Don Goodeve, an organizer with Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island. “We need action. We need a declaration of a climate emergency by (British Columbia’s) NDP government and we need them to begin to act with the reality of that emergency. We need changes in policy, no more investment in fossil fuel infrastructure.”

“What has just happened with the unprecedented rainfall and floods and Premier Horgan has the temerity to come back and say, well, six months ago, nobody could have predicted this,” said Goodeve. “Well, yes, they could. The scientists have been telling us for over 30 years the consequences of unbridled expansion of fossil fuels and the continued investment in fossil fuel infrastructure, and not addressing the root causes of the climate crisis.”

Suzuki said B.C. — and the world — is in “deep, deep doo-doo” unless serious action is taken, especially within the food-supply chain.

“We cannot go on having a food chain that is 6,000 or 7,000 miles long,” he said. “We’re a northern country, why the hell are we able to buy fresh tomatoes and lettuce and fresh fruit 12 months a year? We’ve got to start living in a way that reflects the place that we live,” and not use emissions-causing transport to get such produce to Canada.

Suzuki did not attend this year’s COP26 conference, because, as he told CTV’s Your Morning , not only does he not want to fly anymore, but also because “it’s the 26th conference,” he said with some emphasis. “For the first time in 26 meetings, they’ve got fossil fuels actually in their documents this year. Is this progress?”

The lack of movement by Canada on the environmental front continues to fuel his passion. “Canada has made promise after promise after promise to reduce or cap our emissions,” he said. “We have never ever even tried to meet the promises we’ve made.

“It’s all negotiations and horse-trading,” he said. “The largest delegation of people that have official status there are the 503 delegates from the fossil fuel industry — that’s more than all of the representatives of the eight countries most heavily impacted by climate change.”

 

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The ‘net zero’ myth

Setting ‘net-zero’ goals will not help us rein in global warming.

  • Khaled Diab
    Khaled Diab is an award-winning journalist, writer and blogger.
Published On 22 Nov 2021
 
2021-11-06T132931Z_1949345212_RC20PQ9NEL
Demonstrators hold up signs during a protest as the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) takes place, in Glasgow, Scotland on November 6, 2021 [Reuters/Hannah McKay]

Earlier this month, the world’s leaders got together to small talk about the weather and to big talk about the climate at the 26th edition of the UN’s climate change conference (COP26) in Glasgow. On the sidelines, activists (myself included) campaigned to persuade governments to replace platitudes with attitude, inaction with action.

Nevertheless, the hot air and greenwashing were plentiful, with delegates with ties to fossil fuel companies outnumbering even the largest country delegation. In the pavilion section, greenwashing came from the nuclear industry, representatives of which in banana suits claimed that living near nuclear power stations was as safe as eating a banana, as well as from major coal producers like Australia, and major oil producers such as the Gulf states, each of whom had a gigantic stand.

In the closing plenary, minister after minister urged consensus and collective action for the sake of their children or grandchildren and the future of humanity. However, despite the platitudes, rich countries, from the United States to EU states, showed little appetite to downscale their lifestyles and emerging economic powerhouses, such as China and India, exhibited little willingness to clean up their reliance on coal and other dirty fossil fuels.

This left low-income countries and island states feeling a profound sense of betrayal. This was eloquently expressed by Shauna Aminath, the environment minister of the low-lying Maldives, which could become uninhabitable by 2050 and possibly vanish from the map by the turn of the century, while its vital coral reef is dying off at an alarming rate.

“[This is] yet another conversation where we put our homes on the line, while those who have other options decide how quickly they want to act,” she told her fellow ministers in the final session of the conference. “The difference between 1.5 and 2C is a death sentence for us.”

Beyond kicking the hot potato of meaningful climate action down the road to mid-century for future generations to deal with, another favoured tactic of countries and corporations is to make vague net-zero emission pledges. More than 140 countries have promised to be net zero mostly by 2050, with some countries aiming for sooner and others for later. China has set 2060 as its target date and India is aiming for 2070.

Businesses, from giant multinationals to local steakhouses in Glasgow, have also been falling over themselves to announce net-zero pledges. At least a fifth of the world’s 2,000 largest corporations had already made such promises before COP26.

This is great news, right?

Well, not really. There are indeed a few countries and companies that have seriously committed to lowering their carbon (and ecological) footprint through an ambitious strategy to reduce their emissions and pursue sustainable production and consumption models.

But, for many, climate strategies amount to little more than a PR exercise. Possibly the most ludicrous net-zero claims are the ones being made about fossil fuel products. One flagrant example of this was Shell’s “Drive Carbon Neutral” campaign in the Netherlands, which claimed that consumers could offset their petrol emissions by paying just one euro cent  ($0.012) extra per litre at the pump.

To my mind, this is akin to a modern reincarnation of the indulgences sold by the medieval church. But, here, instead of “sinners”, polluters pay a token amount to absolve themselves of guilt but without making any meaningful change to their destructive behaviour.

Although these indulgences may help Shell executives sleep better at night and motorists feel less guilty about their gas-guzzling vehicles, this stunt does next to nothing for the climate. For that reason, the Dutch advertising standards agency asked Shell to remove the ad after nine law students filed a complaint accusing the oil giant of greenwashing.

Unfortunately, Shell is not alone in making these preposterous claims. There is a troubling new trend among fossil fuel companies of marketing gas and oil which they claim is carbon neutral. A recent investigation we conducted at Carbon Market Watch found that such claims currently being made by oil and gas companies amount to brazen greenwashing.

To the untrained ear, net zero (also known as carbon neutrality) sounds deceptively like zero – and therein lies the marketing genius behind this term and its rapidly gaining popularity. It gives the impression that emissions will be (largely) eliminated.

However, while one factor in this equation relates to cutting down the level of greenhouse gas emissions, the other involves so-called offsetting, i.e. balancing emissions in one place against reductions in another. Offsetting can be achieved through natural solutions that enhance nature’s carbon absorption capacity (such as afforestation or restoring wetlands), investing in renewable energy elsewhere, by buying someone else’s emissions reductions, or by using largely unproven technologies in the future to capture carbon from industrial processes or the air.

If we were to attempt to offset all our emissions by planting trees, this would require at least 1.6 billion hectares (4 billion acres) of new forests, Oxfam estimates. This afforested land would cover five Indias or more than all the farmland on the planet. This would not only lead to mass hunger, it is impractical and impossible. We would need a Planet B to offset this Planet A.

The “net-zero” mantra can distort reality and present as equal yet wildly different realities. For instance, a serious country or company may have a carbon-neutrality plan which relies on slashing emissions by 90 percent and neutralising the remaining 10 percent through offsets. A company or country looking for easy solutions or to greenwash its image could aim for the inverse: 10 percent reductions and 90 percent offsets.

Even though these two hypothetical cases are both theoretically “net zero” or “carbon neutral”, they are not equivalent nor equal. The first is about taking meaningful action to clean up the atmosphere, while the second is about atmospherics and cleaning up one’s image.

The cover provided by the fig leaf of net zero allows the unscrupulous to dress up inaction as determined action. This helps explain why emissions on paper can appear to be falling while in the air, where it really matters, they continue to rise.

After the temporary blip due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is on course to return to pre-pandemic emissions levels and, without radical action, emissions will continue to rise steadily in the coming years.

In the vital near term, when we need to massively roll back emissions this decade if we are to keep global heating below or near the critical 1.5C threshold, ambition is severely wanting. When totted up, the combined commitments of world governments will shave a measly 7.5 percent off global emissions by 2030 compared with 2010 levels, according to a UN assessment of national plans, rather than the 65 percent scientific research says is imperative.

To make matters even direr, governments appear to have been underreporting their countries’ emissions, partly thanks to creative “net” accounting that unrealistically exploits natural carbon sinks. The gap between actual and reported global emissions could be as high as 13.3bn tonnes a year, the equivalent of the exhaust of nearly 3 billion cars, a new Washington Post investigation estimates.

What all this reveals is that reporting net emissions and aiming for “net zero” is befogging the road ahead and leading to dangerous levels of procrastination and complacency on the part of governments and corporations.

To properly illuminate the challenges on the horizon, we must abandon talk of “net zero” and speak about emissions and offsets separately. While offsetting can be used to compensate for essential and unavoidable economic activities, climate action must be overwhelmingly focused on reining in real emissions by 65 percent this decade. What we desperately need are climate heroes, not greenwashing zeroes.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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On 11/12/2021 at 6:52 PM, st27 said:

Wow….the dirty secret is making headlines … from the CBC no less:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/when-will-steel-go-green-1.6244485

UMMMM.  Coal is a primary ingredient in steel.  you can't have steel without Carbon and that Carbon comes from coal.  I suppose you could replace steel with carbon fi....oh wait

 

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Exactly….my point is that the greenies are willing to overlook steel and cement production, but focus on things like a carbon tax on everyday necessities (heating your home in the winter) to give the impression they are fighting climate change, all the while filling government coffers (yes, citizens get a rebate).

Quote

Concrete is the most widely used man-made material in existence. It is second only to water as the most-consumed resource on the planet.

But, while cement - the key ingredient in concrete - has shaped much of our built environment, it also has a massive carbon footprint.

Cement is the source of about 8% of the world's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, according to think tank Chatham House.

If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest emitter in the world - behind China and the US. It contributes more CO2 than aviation fuel (2.5%) and is not far behind the global agriculture business (12%). 

 

 

 

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https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/24/shell-to-buy-power-from-worlds-largest-offshore-wind-farm.html

Oil giant Shell strikes deal to buy power from ‘world’s largest offshore wind farm’

KEY POINTS
  • The 15-year power purchase agreement relates to 240 megawatts from Dogger Bank C, the third and final phase of the 3.6 gigawatt Dogger Bank Wind Farm.
  • “Once the three phases are complete, which is expected by March 2026, Dogger Bank will be the largest offshore wind farm in the world,” Dogger Bank Wind Farm says.
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Higher gas prices killing your popularity? Look in the mirror, Joe Biden! 

The Biden administration’s message to America’s energy sector was clear: You are now a sunset industry

Last week, as U.S. gas and home heating prices hit new highs and his approval ratings new lows, President Biden decided to play the blame game. He asked the head of the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether oil companies have been illegally increasing prices. But there’s no mystery as to why energy prices are up. The president need look no farther than his own White House.

On the very first day of his presidency, Biden vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have transported an addition 830,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil to refineries on the Gulf coast, further reducing America’s dependence on riskier imports. It’s a poorly kept secret that Russia has now replaced Mexico and Saudi Arabia as the second largest U.S. oil supplier. Yes, that’s right: the U.S. is importing 844,000 bpd from Vladimir Putin.

Canada is still the number one source of oil imports to the U.S. But Keystone XL would have guaranteed several more decades of energy security and affordability. The oilsands are the third largest proven oil reserves in the world, and, unlike with conventional oil wells, their production rates do not decline over time.

 

Ten days later, President Biden halted the issuance of all new oil and natural gas leases on public lands and waters. In many western states these leases account for much of oil and gas production — in Wyoming, for example, 90 per cent . The president’s order was quickly and successfully challenged in the courts, which ruled that the moratorium required congressional approval. But that decision is now under appeal.

The Biden administration’s message to America’s energy sector was clear: You are now a sunset industry. Investors got this message, too, which explains why energy company valuations remain so low , despite rising oil prices and profitability. Why invest in drilling new wells if your government intends to destroy your future markets?

Fast forward to July: with gas prices spiking, the president publicly asked OPECto increase its output, in hopes of offsetting growing demand as the U.S. and other economies recover from COVID. OPEC predictably ignored him. The higher oil prices rise, the happier its members are. But why would a president want to increase Americans’ energy dependency on the most politically unstable region in the world? Many of his advisers may have been in diapers but Mr. Biden was a senator in the 1970s, when OPEC embargoes tripled the global price of oil not once but twice.

Then in August Biden handed over Afghanistan to the Taliban, sworn enemy of the West in general and the U.S. in particular. The U.S. withdrawal gives radical Islamic movements another safe base from which to wage “holy war” against Israel and the West. It also leaves them state-of-the-art military equipment that can and will be used to destabilize Iraq, Kuwait, UAE and Saudi Arabia — that is, the very core of OPEC. Despite the Abraham Accords, the Middle East seems likely to remain politically unstable and hostile to U.S. interests. Is this really the region Americans want to depend on for energy security and affordability?

Canada is an old and reliable ally of the United States. In terms of energy supply, if the choice is OPEC, Russia or us, the choice should be obvious . As a former Montana governor said, “You don’t have to send the national guard to Alberta.”

Which brings us to the recent COP26 climate change meetings in Glasgow, where the president proudly announced that high energy prices are not “a reason to back off our clean energy goals” but rather “a call to action … [and] only reinforce the urgent need to diversify sources.” But now, less than a week after claiming the mantle of climate change leadership, he has ordered the release of oil from America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to bring down the price of gasoline.

The hypocrisy of this policy flip-flop notwithstanding, it will have little effect on America’s increasing dependence on expensive imported oil. The administration’s prioritization of climate change and emissions reduction will continue to drive investment away from new oil and gas exploration. As domestic production stagnates and then declines, the U.S. will become more dependent on imported oil. Unless Washington reverses direction on new oil pipelines from Canada — such as Keystone — this means more dependence on OPEC. It already accounts for 48 per cent of global oil exports and is projectedto be at 57 per cent by 2045.

Global oil consumption has already returned to its pre-COVID level of 100 million bpd, on its way to 108 million bpd by the 2030s. Why? Because the 6.2 billion people who live in developing nations aspire to the same levels of comfort and health enjoyed by 1.3 billion Europeans and North Americans. Higher living standards entail higher energy consumption. Americans consume 21 barrels of oil a year vs. a global average of five barrels a year. Add to this that by 2050, the United Nations projects, world population will be two billion people higher — almost all of them in Asia and Africa. In the future as in the past, the world’s consumers will “drive the global energy bus.”

Want to play a true blame game for why Americans will be paying record high prices to fuel their cars and heat their homes this winter? Look in the mirror, Joe!

Ted Morton, former minister of energy and minister of finance in the government of Alberta, is an executive fellow at the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary.

https://financialpost.com/opinion/ted-morton-higher-gas-prices-killing-your-popularity-look-in-the-mirror-joe-biden

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National Post

Ellis Ross: Leonardo DiCaprio is wrong — the Coastal GasLink Pipeline is good for Indigenous people

Special to National Post  2 hrs ago

Dear Leo,

%7B© Provided by National Post Actor Leonardo DiCaprio participates in the Global Methane Pledge event during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 2, 2021.

I was confused and alarmed when I read your Tweet claiming “militarized raids” have been ordered against protestors participating in illegal and dangerous blockades opposing the Coastal GasLink project in Northern British Columbia.

But then I thought, given your busy schedule as a Hollywood movie star, you may not have learned the full story behind this transformative, environmentally sustainable project. So please, allow me to fill you in.

My people and many other First Nations communities, leaders, and elders, including 20 democratically elected Chiefs whose bands support the Coastal Gas Link project, are proud to champion British Columbia’s world-class resource sector.

These leaders have been elected by their communities, as I was when I fought to bring liquified natural gas (LNG) development to our province. I suppose you haven’t thought about how in siding with the unelected hereditary chiefs opposed to the Coastal Gas Link project, you are ignoring the democratic rights of thousands of First Nations people?

Although the democratic case for the Coastal Gas Link project is strong, I feel the need to outline for you why so many First Nations leaders and communities support developing our resources safely and sustainably.

First, by saying yes to natural gas development, my Northern British Columbia community was able to lift itself out of poverty. After decades of suffering, our community is now thriving. “Help wanted” signs have replaced foreclosure signs, jobs are available for all who are prepared to work hard, and our local infrastructure is among the best in Canada.

Employment creates purpose, stability, and meaning. More importantly, a good job and everything that comes with it gives young people something to strive for.

I’m comforted knowing my children and grandchildren will enjoy more opportunities than I did because my community chose jobs, growth, and environmentally sustainable resource development.

Secondly, LNG allows First Nations communities to lead the way in displacing heavier carbon emissions from abroad. First Nations people — myself included — care deeply about protecting our environment and doing our part to curb the impacts of climate change. Our people have long been strong stewards of the environment.

That’s why the state-of-the-art export facility in Kitimat uses cutting-edge industrial processes and the most sophisticated hardware on the planet. We’ve also partnered with LNG Canada to reclaim local salmon habitat and regenerate traditional fish stocks.

We are proud that the Coastal Gas Link project has allowed us to punch above our weight in reducing global emissions. So why are you trying to take that from us?

Thirdly, the revenues from resource development offer First Nations a path to economic self-determination — a future free from the cold, damp heavy blanket of the welfare state. British Columbia is the most environmentally conscious jurisdiction to extract resources from in the world. Full stop. We have the strictest environmental standards and our clean products like LNG help reduce global emissions from dirtier jurisdictions like China, India, and Russia.

I applaud your commitment to conservation and tackling climate change. That’s something that you and I have in common. However, I’m afraid you are terribly misinformed about the events unfolding here in British Columbia.

By encouraging illegal activity in the name of “conservation” you are, in reality, harming the hard-working people — Indigenous and non-Indigenous — who are leading the way on providing environmentally sustainable solutions for my province.

So please, do not use your considerable profile to block progress — or further fan the flames of division in British Columbia. We have come too far and accomplished too much to turn back now.

And please know that my band chose to embrace LNG.

In fact, we fought for it. We chose a path of productivity and progress. We chose pride in who we are as a community and what we can still become. We have an environmentally sound, sustainable, technologically-advanced, high-value industry and a safe, clean, happy, and healthy community that I have been privileged to represent in the British Columbia legislature since 2017.

But don’t take my word for it, come see for yourself.

On behalf of all British Columbians, I invite you to visit my home, Kitimaat Village, and tour the state-of-the-art LNG Canada liquified natural gas plant. It would be my pleasure to show you the incredible benefits of this natural resource and to introduce you to some of the amazing people who proudly work every day to fuel the economies of the world with our clean, environmentally friendly products.

There is much more to British Columbia than you have seen on your movie sets or Twitter feed. So, I hope you accept my invitation — and please choose to fly commercial and not on a private jet when you visit. We must all do our part to control emissions.

Sincerely,

Ellis Ross, MLA

BC Liberal leadership candidate

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Stellantis CEO: Electrification Costs Are 'Beyond The Limits'

Mark Kane  1 hour ago
 
 
 
 
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image.png.f779b28bd9ecc9eef34cf3eb11e7c72e.png

 

"There is no way we can transfer 50% of additional costs to the final consumer."

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares finds the accelerated electrification very challenging for the automotive industry and warns about the side effects in the near future.

%7B© InsideEVs Stellantis

Carlos Tavares said at the Reuters Next conference (via Reuters), there is an external pressure - from governments and investors - put on the automakers to artificially speed up electrification, which comes at a very high cost.

"the costs are "beyond the limits" of what the auto industry can sustain"

The manufacturers are forced to invest heavily in plants and then must deal with higher production costs (compared to internal combustion engine cars), which threatens jobs and vehicle quality, he explains.

The main problem is that BEVs cost more upfront and with the increase in price, the volume decreases, because less customers can afford to buy a new car (regardelss of the later lower energy cost):

""What has been decided is to impose on the automotive industry electrification that brings 50% additional costs against a conventional vehicle," he said.

"There is no way we can transfer 50% of additional costs to the final consumer because most parts of the middle class will not be able to pay.""

Carlos Tavares outlines two paths - increase the prices and sell fewer cars, or accept lower profit margins. In his opinion, both paths will lead to cutbacks.

Thousands of jobs could be lost, but not only that. Manufacturers would like to have more time for testing or the quality will be undermined as well.

The accelerated electrification "is just going to be counter productive. It will lead to quality problems. It will lead to all sorts of problems."

According to Carlos Tavares, the company intends to avoid the cuts through boosting productivity beyond the industry norm of 2-3%, to 10%. As we understand, this way, Stellantis will lower the costs and be able to afford the accelerated electrification plan, or at least minimize its negative effects.

"Over the next five years we have to digest 10% productivity a year ... in an industry which is used to delivering 2 to 3% productivity improvement"

"The future will tell us who is going to be able to digest this, and who will fail. We are putting the industry on the limits."

EVs are becoming more and more competitive and their costs are falling (especially including the improved value proposition).

Hopefully, cost parity will be achieved in not-too-distant future, but the transition phase without a doubt will be very challenging for the established manufacturers that must change most of what they were doing for decades or even centuries.

On the other hand, they put themselves in that position by neglecting EVs in the past 10-20 years, instead of developing 1-2 models and gradually preparing for a smoother transition. The launch of the Tesla Model S in 2012 was the high time.

During the Stellantis EV Day 2021 in July 2021, Stellantis announced €30 billion ($34 billion) investment in electrification through 2025. The push includes new platforms and models, battery plants and new technologies.

Carlos Tavares adds also that "governments should shift the focus of climate policy toward cleaning up the energy sector and developing electric-vehicle charging infrastructure."

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CLEAN ENERGY

Why California should reconsider shutting down its last nuclear plant, scientists say

PUBLISHED WED, DEC 1 20215:03 PM ESTUPDATED 2 HOURS AGO
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KEY POINTS
  • Scientists from MIT and Stanford issued a report outlining a strategy for retrofitting the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in California to add revenue streams, like desalinating ocean water and producing clean hydrogen.
  • Under the plan, if Diablo Canyon were kept open through 2050, it could save $21 billion in energy grid costs and 90,000 acres of land that would otherwise need to be covered in photovoltaic solar panels to meet California’s climate goals.
  • PG&E, the owner of Diablo Canyon, told CNBC that while it is aware of the MIT and Stanford study, it is not reconsidering its decision to shutter the nuclear plant. However, report authors think another utility company could take over ownership of the plant.

In this article

 

PG&E Corp.'s Diablo Canyon plant in California. (Joe Johnston/San Luis Obispo Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

PG&E Corp.’s Diablo Canyon plant in California. (Joe Johnston/San Luis Obispo Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
San Luis Obispo Tribune | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University have published a 113-page report outlining ways to retrofit California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, which is currently scheduled to be decommissioned and closed in August 2025.

The plan would save up to $21 billion in power grid costs if Diablo Canyon were kept open until 2050.

 

In addition, keeping the plant open to 2050 would preserve 90,000 acres of land that would otherwise need to go to be covered in photovoltaic solar panels to meet California’s climate goals. The scientists also propose that Diablo Canyon could be used as a site for a desalinization plant to provide much-needed water to the state, and a plant to produce hydrogen for use in clean-energy solutions.

The report, entitled “An Assessment of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant for Zero-Carbon Electricity, Desalination, and Hydrogen Production” and published in November, is meant to spark new public conversations about the nuclear power plant’s future.

PG&E, the owner of Diablo Canyon, told CNBC it is not reconsidering its decision to decommission and close the plant. But the scientists behind the report hope another utility might take it over.

“There have been many such changes of ownership of nuclear power plants in the U.S. over the years,” said Jacopo Buongiorno, a nuclear science and engineering professor at MIT who co-led work on the report.

Buongiorno started the project in Sept. 2020 with Sally Benson, a professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford University. The final report lists eight authors, including seven academics and one consultant from Lucid Catalyst, a clean energy and decarbonization strategy firm.

 

“Funding for the study was all from internal university resources and philanthropic donations; no money from industry was sought or accepted,” Buongiorno told CNBC.

Cost and land savings

California lawmakers passed two regulations in 2018 requiring the state to shift to 100% carbon-neutral energy sources by 2045. That means the carbon-free electricity generated at Diablo Canyon could be worth billions, depending on how long the plant stays open.

If Diablo Canyon were to operate between 2025, its current expiration, and 2035, the cumulative cost savings to the energy grid would be $2.6 billion, according to Ejeong Baik, a Ph.D candidate at Stanford who led the analysis on electricity.

If Diablo were to operate through 2050, then the cumulative savings to the energy grid would be $21 billion.

The cost savings come from reducing expenditures on natural gas, photovoltaic devices, and energy storage technology that would be needed to replace the electricity output of 2,240 megawatts that Diablo Canyon provides.

“Meeting California’s climate goals will require continuous development and investment in renewable and energy storage technologies. What maintaining Diablo Canyon does is help reduce the burden of build needed for these resources, which eventually helps reduce the system costs as well,” Baik said.

Moreover, if California were to replace the energy provided by Diablo Canyon with solar panels, it would require 90,000 acres of land.

 

A chart from the report, "An Assessment of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant for Zero-Carbon Electricity, Desalination, and Hydrogen Production," published by MIT and Stanford scientists showing the land acreage needed to replace Diablo Canyon with solar panels.

A chart from the report, “An Assessment of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant for Zero-Carbon Electricity, Desalination, and Hydrogen Production,” published by MIT and Stanford scientists showing the land acreage needed to replace Diablo Canyon with solar panels.
From the report, “An Assessment of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant for Zero-Carbon Electricity, Desalination, and Hydrogen Production,” published by MIT and Stanford scientists.

Additional use cases: Desalination and hydrogen

In addition to the electricity benefits of keeping Diablo Canyon open, the MIT and Stanford scientists envision adding two revenue streams by building a desalination plant on location, and by using the nuclear energy generated by Diablo Canyon to make so-called clean hydrogen.

California needs clean fresh water because much of the state is suffering extreme to exceptional drought conditions.

For the report, the scientists proposed building a desalination plant similar in size to an existing plant in Carlsbad, Calif., using the “reverse osmosis” technique, where salt water is pushed through a semipermeable membrane which blocks the salt. Desalination of sea water is ubiquitous in the Middle East and North Africa, the report points out, but takes a lot of energy, which is why co-locating a desalination plant with the nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon could make sense.

The cost of of clean water produced at Diablo Canyon would be up to 50% cheaper than water being generated at Carlsbad, the report finds.

The desalination technology would be placed at least 1,000 feet from the coast in water at least 50 feet deep to protect marine habitats near the shore, the report said.

 

A chart from the report, "An Assessment of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant for Zero-Carbon Electricity, Desalination, and Hydrogen Production," published by MIT and Stanford scientists showing the desalination technology proposal.

A chart from the report, “An Assessment of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant for Zero-Carbon Electricity, Desalination, and Hydrogen Production,” published by MIT and Stanford scientists showing the desalination technology proposal.
The report, “An Assessment of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant for Zero-Carbon Electricity, Desalination, and Hydrogen Production,” published by MIT and Stanford scientists.

The report also envisions additional revenue from building a clean hydrogen plant connected to Diablo Canyon.

Hydrogen is emerging as a potential component in clean energy solutions. When consumed in a battery-like fuel cell to make electricity, hydrogen produces water as its only waste product. However, the production of hydrogen itself requires energy — which, depending on the source, can emit greenhouse gasses. Therefore, hydrogen is more of an energy carrier, or a way to make energy portable, than an energy source in itself.

Hydrogen is produced from water by breaking the molecule into its component parts (hydrogen and oxygen) with a process called electrolysis. If the energy used in electrolysis is renewable or carbon-free, then it is considered clean. (Colloquially, there are any number of categorizations for hydrogen creation, including green, blue, pink, and brown hydrogen, which vary slightly based on the source.)

In this case, the scientists propose building a high temperature steam electrolysis (HTSE) plant, which would have a footprint of about 20 acres. The hydrogen plant would run hand-in-hand with the desalinization plant, which would supply the fresh water necessary to make hydrogen.

The clean hydrogen produced at Diablo Canyon could produce 110 million kilograms of hydrogen per year a cost of $2.01 to $2.46 per kilogram, which is a savings of up to 50% over the range of current costs of hydrogen produced with wind or solar power, and is cost-competitive with hydrogen produced with natural gas and carbon capture, the report says.

Very little chance of reversal

Overwhelming anti-nuclear sentiment in the state helped drive the 2018 decision to close the plant, as CNBC previously reported.

So even though the scientists say the economics justify keeping Diablo Canyon open, PG&E says it will not reconsider its decision.

“The state has made clear its position on nuclear energy, and the plan to retire Diablo Canyon Power Plant has been approved by the California Public Utilities Commission and the state legislature,” said Suzanne Hosn, a PG&E spokesperson. “Our focus therefore remains on safely and reliably operating the plant until the end of its NRC licenses, which expire in 2024 and 2025.”

Buongiorno isn’t surprised.

“They were signatories of the 2018 settlement leading to the decision to shut down Diablo, so we wouldn’t expect them to have a different position,” Buongiorno told CNBC. “However, we don’t envision that PG&E would continue to be the owner and operator of Diablo. They would be replaced by another electric utility.”

There are other barriers as well. For instance, the California Public Utilities Commission, a state energy regulatory agency, said whoever owns the plant would need to spend about $1 billion on retrofitting, including a seismic upgrade and a new water cooling system, before reversing the closure.

Buongiorno says the CPUC is wrong about the need for seismic retrofitting, pointing out that the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it would not be necessary, but he acknowledges that Diablo needs a new water cooling system. The cost of that system was included in the report’s analysis.

But the argument is probably academic, as most onlookers believe the fate of Diablo is set.

Wade Schauer, who was a research director at consultancy group Wood Mackenzie when the group published an extensive report on Diablo Canyon in 2016, agrees with much of the Stanford-MIT study. But he think’s it’s too late to undo the closing. Politically, the state has already moved on to other solutions like wind and solar.

“Much of the planned offshore wind development cannot happen unless Diablo Canyon closes to free up its substation for interconnection with offshore windfarms,” Schauer told CNBC. “There are many permits that would be required from the NRC and state agencies, new cooling technology, and much public opposition — it seems a very low probability Diablo Canyon’s life will be extended.”

Schauer thinks that’s bad news for the state.

“California will likely pay more for zero-carbon generation and firm back-up capacity and water and hydrogen over the next 10 to 20 years than it would have if it kept Diablo Canyon open.”

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Oil demand, climate change clash in California pipeline plan

19 hrs ago
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A proposal to replace an oil pipeline that was shut down in 2015 after causing California's worst coastal spill in 25 years is inching though a government review, even as the state moves toward banning gas-powered vehicles and oil drilling.

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Consideration of the $300 million proposal by Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline is expected to enter a critical phase next year at a time when new scrutiny is being placed on the state’s oil industry after an offshore pipeline break in October near Huntington Beach. That rupture released at least 25,000 gallons (94,635 liters) of crude that closed beaches and took a deadly toll on sea life along one of the world’s fabled surf breaks.

Farther north, the 123-mile (198 kilometer) Plains pipeline travels along the coastline near Santa Barbara before turning inland. It's buried and nearly invisible for much of its length to Kern County, in the state's midsection. For decades it was a vital link between oil platforms off the coast and processing plants on shore, with shipments averaging 1.8 million gallons (6.9 million liters) a day.

California Democratic U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla opposes the proposal, bluntly warning of future risks.

“We’ve seen time and time again how damaging offshore oil spills are to our coastal ecosystems as well as to our outdoor recreation and tourism economies,” Padilla said in a statement. “We should not risk repeating history by rebuilding or restarting the Plains pipeline.”

Plains spokesman Brad Leone said the company safely transported 90 billion gallons (341 billion liters) last year throughout North America. “Plains is committed to designing, constructing and maintaining these lines in a safe, reliable manner,” he said.

The project faces numerous hurdles, including a federal class-action lawsuit from property owners who say Plains lacks the right to use existing easements for a new pipeline. Lead trial counsel Barry Cappello said the project would rip up vineyards and coastal ranches and “our clients never signed up for that.”

Shon Hiatt, an associate professor at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business, said the company's motivation to revive the pipeline is obvious.

“They make money on that,” Hiatt said. “The price of oil is not going to be going down."

He said the cost of a barrel of oil could top $100 next year. It's about $77 now.

Documents filed by Plains with Santa Barbara County say the replaced pipeline, though smaller than its predecessor, could move up to nearly 1.7 million gallons (6.3 million liters) a day. At current prices, that much oil would be valued at more than $3 million daily, or potentially over $1 billion a year, though pipelines often do not run at full capacity.

Oil has been drilled in California since the 19th century, but the project is being debated as the state reckons with its fraught history with fossil fuels. Climate change is expanding the threat of wildfires, drought and tidal surges, and the state has positioned itself as a global leader in renewable energy and pioneering policies intended to slow the planet's warming.

California — by itself the world’s fifth-largest economy — plans to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars and trucks by 2035 and end oil production a decade later. The recent spill in Huntington Beach renewed calls to halt all drilling off the coast.

 

The Plains pipeline inevitably will be a symbol of that conflict: the desire for oil to fuel cars, heat buildings and make plastics versus growing political pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Biden administration — which recently auctioned vast oil and gas reserves in the Gulf of Mexico — faces the same dilemma.

California's oil and gas industry directly and indirectly supports over 365,000 jobs and has an annual output of over $150 billion, one study of 2017 data estimated. Nationally, the industry supported nearly 17 million jobs in 2020, according to a report from the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association, a trade group. California ranked second in direct industry employment, with about 75,000 jobs, though it was far behind Texas, the nation's leading producer with nearly 350,000 jobs.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has spoken about the economic challenges of retiring the industry even as he promotes a greener future for the state. His office declined to comment on the Plains project, noting it was under review by government agencies.

Environmentalists have pointed to the risk of spills — as well as earthquake threats — in arguing against a new line.

California is known as a birthplace of the modern environmental movement, and a watershed event was a massive 1969 spill off the coast of Santa Barbara. Despite that history and the move toward green energies, the Newsom administration has resisted taking a strong stance against new fossil-fuel projects, said Julie Teel Simmonds, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group that opposes the Plains pipeline.

The state’s decision on the project “is an opportunity for California to walk the talk” on weaning itself from oil, she said.

The Plains pipeline was last in service on May 19, 2015, when a corroded section above ground and running west of Santa Barbara ruptured, sending 140,000 gallons (529,957 liters) of oil onto a state beach and into the ocean.

Federal inspectors found Plains operators working from a Texas control room more than 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers) away had turned off an alarm that would have signaled a leak and, unaware a spill occurred, restarted the hemorrhaging line after it shut down.

Plains apologized for the spill and paid for the cleanup. Plains later was fined over $3 million. The cleanup cost $100 million, and a 2017 company report estimated costs from the spill at $335 million, not including lost revenues.

A key step in the review of the proposed pipeline — a complex environmental study conducted by Santa Barbara County — is expected by spring. Roughly a dozen federal, state and local agencies have a hand in considering the project, first proposed in 2017.

It largely would snake along the existing route. The new line — technically two connected pipelines, like its predecessor — crosses environmentally sensitive areas, including slices of the Carrizo Plains National Monument and Los Padres National Forest.

Three ExxonMobil platforms that relied on the line have been closed since the spill. ExxonMobil proposed establishing interim trucking routes to transport oil, which would allow the dormant offshore platforms to resume production. In a divided vote in early November, the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission urged county supervisors to deny the company’s proposal.

“Trucking remains the only option to transport crude to markets until a pipeline is available,” ExxonMobil spokeswoman Julie L. King said in a statement.

Environmental groups warn the decades-old platforms pose a separate risk from aging equipment; ExxonMobil says the platforms, while shut down, have been maintained in a "safe, preserved state.”

Also at issue: The existing line and its replacement would run through numerous areas with earthquake risks. According to a consultant's study conducted for Plains, the pipeline would cross 10 potentially active faults, as well as a dozen fingers of the active San Andreas Fault Zone.

“Portions of the pipeline could be subject to intense seismic shaking, and some areas could experience ground rupture in the event of a significant earthquake,” the study found, recommending safety steps that include covering the line with protective foam.

Bob Nelson, who chairs the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, said he would wait for detailed environmental reports next year before making a decision but was encouraged by what he has seen so far. He noted Plains could have sought to repair the existing pipeline but instead wants a new line built to modern safety standards.

“What it means is jobs,” Nelson said. With a continuing demand for oil, even as the state transitions away from fossil fuels, “I think that we should find a way to safely deliver it in an environmentally friendly ... fashion.”

Michael R. Blood, The Associated Press

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