Trump Plan Would Open Huge Area of Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve to Drilling

Trump Plan Would Open Huge Area of Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve to Drilling

SOURCE: Inside Climate News DATE: June 26, 2020 SNIP: Along the northern edge of Alaska, millions of square miles of land are home to countless animal species—hundreds of thousands of caribou, scores of threatened bird species, polar bears and more. This isn’t the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, although the same is true there. It’s the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a few hundred miles west of the refuge, and some of its most ecologically sensitive lands may soon be open for business to the oil industry. Since early in the Trump administration, the U.S. Interior Department has sought to open new areas of the NPR-A to drilling, including the area around Teshekpuk Lake, a region that has long been considered too ecologically sensitive for drilling. “Teshekpuk Lake is the feeding and calving grounds of our caribou, geese, fish we depend on for survival,” said Martha Itta, the tribal administrator of the Native Village of Nuiqsut, which is adjacent to the reserve. “Drilling in the Teshekpuk area would be devastating to our people. We will no longer be able to hunt being surrounded by industry. We will go hungry.” Earlier this year, the Trump administration released a plan for drilling in part of the Alaskan Arctic that provided a range of options. A few of them expanded the area allowed for drilling, but only slightly. One, called Alternative D, opened up almost all of the region—including Teshekpuk Lake. On Thursday, the Bureau of Land Management released its final environmental review and announced which option it preferred: Alternative D, plus 300,000 acres. The plan would make a total of roughly 6.8 million acres...
Oil exploration could leave decades-long scarring in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Oil exploration could leave decades-long scarring in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

SOURCE: Anchorage Daily News DATE: June 17, 2020 SNIP: Modern seismic work conducted for oil companies could leave decades-long scars on the tundra, similar to tracks left by heavy vehicles in the 1980s, according to a paper led by researchers with the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The research paper, published in April in the journal Ecological Applications, comes as the federal government plans to auction leases for oil exploration in the refuge this year for the first time. Seismic exploration, in which vehicles travel over protective ice and snow to analyze oil potential underground, would likely precede drilling in the refuge. The paper analyzed “landscape impacts” from seismic work conducted in the refuge in the mid-1980s that relied on older, two-dimensional seismic shoots. It also looked at past studies of impacts from three-dimensional seismic shoots starting in the 1990s. The paper estimated potential impacts of SAEexploration’s 2018 proposal. Vehicles would make about 40,000 miles of tracks in the refuge as they crisscrossed the tundra in a grid pattern, the paper said. About 3,700 miles of those winter trails, or close to 10%, would still be visible a decade after the shoot, the paper says. The impacts include thawing permafrost and permanent changes in...
California Will Use Diesel This Summer to Help Keep Lights On

California Will Use Diesel This Summer to Help Keep Lights On

SOURCE: Bloomberg DATE: June 11, 2020 SNIP: Despite environmental concerns, California will allow PG&E Corp. to use diesel-powered mobile generators to keep some electricity flowing when the utility proactively cuts power to prevent live wires from sparking fires in high wind. State regulators signed off Thursday on PG&E’s plan to use about 450 megawatts of diesel generation to power homes, businesses, hospitals and other critical facilities as part of the utility’s effort to reduce disruptions during the shutoffs. Last fall, regulators criticized PG&E for intentionally blacking out millions of customers to prevent power lines from sparking fires during dry, windy conditions. PG&E said it considered more environmentally-friendly options but they proved too costly or impractical to deploy in time this year. The company said its mobile generators can use fuel made from vegetable oil and that it will continue to explore cleaner alternatives for the coming...
Australia Fast-Tracks a $1 Billion Coal Mine

Australia Fast-Tracks a $1 Billion Coal Mine

SOURCE: Bloomberg DATE: June 11, 2020 SNIP: A giant Glencore Plc coal project in Australia has been fast-tracked as the nation turns to its vast natural resources to lift the economy out of its first recession in almost three decades. The A$1.5 billion ($1 billion) Valeria mine in Queensland has been designated a “coordinated project”, which the state said Friday would help to get new jobs happening quicker. That comes as the national government stands firm in the face of calls at home and abroad to shift away from the highly polluting fuel. “This new mine has the potential to create hundreds of new jobs as Queensland recovers from the extraordinary shock of the global coronavirus pandemic,” state Treasurer Cameron Dick said. “Coal mining has a long history in Queensland and will continue to be a major industry for many years to come.” The coal industry brings in around A$70 billion in annual export revenue. The government is betting on strong consumption of the fuel in Asia. Glencore’s proposed mine in the state’s Bowen Basin coal heartland will produce around 20 million tons a year of thermal and metallurgical coal, equal to about 4% of the nation’s output. That’s double the size of Adani’s controversial Carmichael project, also in Queensland, which has been targeted by climate activists for potentially opening up a new region to coal mining. Pembroke Resources Pty’s 15-million-ton-a-year Olive Downs met coal project, also in the Bowen Basin, is proceeding with the state’s backing after receiving environmental approval last month. Queensland is also encouraging the development of new gas resources, with a joint venture between Royal...
Interior to push drilling in Florida waters after November election

Interior to push drilling in Florida waters after November election

SOURCE: Politico DATE: June 10, 2020 SNIP: The Trump administration is preparing to open the door to oil and gas drilling off Florida’s coast — but will wait until after the November election to avoid blowback in a swing state whose waters both parties have long considered sacrosanct, according to four people familiar with the plan. Drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico would fulfill a long-sought goal of energy companies, giving them access to potentially billions of barrels of oil that have been off-limits since the federal government withdrew leases it had sold in 1985. But even the possibility of drilling is a politically explosive topic for Floridians, who worry that oil spills would devastate their tourism-based economy in a reprise of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. President Donald Trump, who has set “energy dominance” as a key national goal, has eased regulations on offshore drilling put in place by the Obama administration. Interior has spent years working on a proposed drilling plan that would expand oil companies‘ access to waters around the country’s coastline, including a draft plan issued in 2018 by the Trump administration that considered opening the federal waters off both of Florida’s coasts. That plan also included an expansion of offshore drilling in California, a move that would escalate the ongoing battles between the state and the administration over environmental issues since Trump took office. The people did not know whether the final proposal will include that section of coastline as well. The Trump administration’s efforts to open up additional stretches of shoreline to oil and gas production have run into opposition from both...