Canada has big plans to use hydrogen to cut emissions – and produce more oil

Canada has big plans to use hydrogen to cut emissions – and produce more oil

SOURCE: Reuters DATE: September 4, 2020 SNIP: Canada’s main crude-producing province Alberta looks to use hydrogen to fuel expansion of its oil sands without increasing emissions, even as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promises strong action against climate change, officials with the two governments said. Alberta will announce no later than October a strategy to develop “blue hydrogen” as a cleaner alternative to using natural gas to extract crude at steam-driven oil sands sites, Associate Minister of Natural Gas Dale Nally told Reuters in an interview. Deploying cleaner feedstock will allow Alberta to produce more oil without exceeding its 100 megatonne annual limit on provincial carbon emissions, Nally said. “Hydrogen will allow us to continue to move the bar and reduce the carbon intensity of the oil sands until you get to a point where there is no difference in (greenhouse gases) in conventional oil and oil sands,” he said, adding that Alberta’s hydrogen plan is synchronized with Ottawa’s. “Reducing the carbon intensity of the oil sands would allow of course more expansion.” Blue hydrogen is produced from natural gas, with the carbon byproduct captured and stored. [Ed Note: File under “definition of...
Mining for renewable energy could be another threat to the environment

Mining for renewable energy could be another threat to the environment

SOURCE: Phys.org and Nature DATE: September 2, 2020 SNIP: Researchers have warned that mining threats to biodiversity caused by renewable energy production could surpass those averted by climate change mitigation. A University of Queensland study found protected areas, key biodiversity areas and the world’s remaining wilderness would be under growing pressure from mining the minerals required for a clean energy transition. UQ’s Dr. Laura Sonter said renewable energy production was material-intensive—much more so than fossil fuels—and mining these materials would increase as fossil fuels were phased out. “Our study shows that mining the materials needed for renewable energy such as lithium, cobalt, copper, nickel and aluminum will create further pressure on the biodiversity located in mineral-rich landscapes,” Dr. Sonter said. The research team mapped the world’s mining areas, according to an extensive database of 62,381 pre-operational, operational and closed mining properties, targeting 40 different commodities. They found that areas with potential mining activity covered 50 million square kilometers of the planet—35 percent of the Earth’s terrestrial land surface excluding Antarctica—and many of these areas coincided with places critical for biodiversity conservation. “Almost 10 percent of all mining areas occur within currently protected sites, with plenty of other mining occurring within or nearby sites deemed a priority for future conservation of many species,” Dr. Sonter said. “In terms of mining areas targeting materials needed specifically for renewable energy production, the story is not much better. We found that 82 percent of mining areas target materials needed for renewable energy production, of which, 12 percent coincide with protected areas, 7 percent with key biodiversity areas and 14 percent with wilderness. And,...
Renewable energy corporations fight endangered species status for Joshua trees

Renewable energy corporations fight endangered species status for Joshua trees

SOURCE: LA Times DATE: August 18, 2020 SNIP: Renewable energy corporations have launched an eleventh-hour campaign to derail a petition seeking endangered species protection for Joshua trees, saying it could hinder development of the solar and wind power projects California needs to wean itself off fossil fuels. The state Fish and Game Commission on Aug. 20 is expected to vote on whether to accept the petition, which was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity. Approval has been recommended by state biologists. As a candidate for listing, a species is temporarily afforded the same protections as a state endangered or threatened species. A final decision by the five-member state panel is expected next year. If the trees are listed, the law requires state wildlife managers to devise a recovery plan, which could limit development across thousands of acres of southeastern California’s sunniest real estate. About 40% of the western Joshua tree’s range is on private land where a state endangered-species law would apply, according to the petition, and includes the cities of Palmdale, Lancaster, Hesperia, Victorville and Yucca Valley. [O]pponents of the petition suggest that saving Joshua trees may not be as important as the economic consequences. One renewable energy company, Terra-Gen Power, has asked the state commission to delay its vote until January so that state legislative committees can first investigate the implications of listing Joshua trees on state climate goals, energy projects, power purchase agreements and employment opportunities. Before a commission vote on the matter, Terra-Gen Power said it wants state wildlife authorities to provide it with “clear, unambiguous” instructions on how to expedite permits to remove...
Trump in final push to open up Alaska’s Arctic refuge to oil and gas drilling

Trump in final push to open up Alaska’s Arctic refuge to oil and gas drilling

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: August 17, 2020 SNIP: The Trump administration is taking the final steps to let oil and gas companies drill in the Arctic national wildlife refuge – which environment advocates call the nation’s “last great wilderness”. The US interior department will auction leases before the end of the year, secretary David Bernhardt told the Wall Street Journal. That could make it harder for Democrats to reverse the decision if Joe Biden wins the election in November. The 19-million-acre refuge in north-east Alaska, known as ANWR, is a wellspring for wildlife. The move will open up the 1.6 million-acre coastal plane, where polar bears and foxes reside and to or through which millions of migratory birds fly. The porcupine caribou herd is critically important to the indigenous Gwich’in people, many of whom make their homes on or near its migration route. “This is our nation’s last great wilderness,” said Adam Kolton, the executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League. “Nowhere else in the five-nation circle polar north do you have such abundant and diverse wildlife.” Trump…has been touting his “energy dominance” agenda, rolling back methane standards for the oil and gas industry last week. Republicans in Congress changed the laws to require leasing in part of the refuge in their tax bill in 2017, when they controlled both chambers. The refuge has been protected since 1980. Polls show a majority of Americans oppose drilling in ANWR. “There’s no good time to open up America’s largest wildlife refuge to drilling, but it’s absolutely bonkers to endanger this beautiful place during a worldwide oil glut,” said Kristen Monsell, an...
‘This land is all we have left’: tribes on edge over giant dam proposal near Grand Canyon

‘This land is all we have left’: tribes on edge over giant dam proposal near Grand Canyon

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: August 12, 2020 SNIP: Phoenix-based Pumped Hydro Storage LLC has received a preliminary permit from federal regulators for its Big Canyon Pumped Storage Project – a string of four huge dams near the Little Colorado River, along with reservoirs and a power-generation facility. The preliminary permit does not allow construction, but it gives Pumped Hydro priority in getting a license to build. The project is the third Pumped Hydro has proposed in the Big Canyon region – the two previous ones received major pushback from tribes and environmentalists. If built, it would function as both a battery and station for generating up to 7,900 gigawatt-hours of electricity. It would pump groundwater up into four reservoirs, one of which would flood Big Canyon. That water would be stored as potential power, ready to be unleashed down canyons, through generators and toward the Little Colorado River when electricity is needed [sic… electricity is never “needed” only “wanted”]. The environmental and cultural costs of this proposal would be major. Tribal members and environmentalists say the project would flood several miles of canyons sacred to the Navajo; risk damaging cultural sites for several tribes; draw vast amounts of critical groundwater; potentially harm habitats for plants and animals, including some endangered species; and risk adverse effects for waterways leading into the Grand Canyon. Any electricity the Big Canyon project generates would go off the reservation, probably to the bigger cities in southern Arizona. Opposition from tribal and environmental organizations is fierce. “This land is all we have left. And yeah, we’re gonna fight. I’m gonna fight,” said Rita Bilagody, a...