Trump Administration Announces Plan to Expand Oil Development in Alaska

Trump Administration Announces Plan to Expand Oil Development in Alaska

SOURCE: Yale E360 DATE: November 22, 2019 SNIP: The Trump administration announced a new plan that could open up an additional 6.6 million acres within the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska to fossil fuel development, several news outlets reported. One of the plan’s proposals would allow drilling on 80 percent of the reserve, considered the largest undisturbed tract of public land in the United States. Created in 1923 by President Warren G. Harding, the National Petroleum Reserve was originally set aside as an emergency oil supply for the U.S. Navy. Management of the land was transferred to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in 1976. The reserve is estimated to contain as much as 8.7 billion barrels of undiscovered oil, The Washington Post reported. Located on Alaska’s North Slope, the reserve is also an ecologically important area, providing critical habitat for thousands of migrating birds, caribou, polar bears, grizzly bears, wolves, and wolverines. The Obama administration enacted a plan in 2013 that limited drilling to about 50 percent, or 11.8 million acres, of the reserve, with the other half protected for wildlife and cultural values, Reuters reported. But the Trump administration argued that new oil discoveries and the spread of oil development elsewhere on the North Slope justify the new, expanded plan. “With advancements in technology and increased knowledge of the area, it was prudent to develop a new plan that provides greater economic development of our resources while still providing protections for important resources and subsistence access,” Chad Padgett, BLM’s Alaska state director, said in a statement. The plan is now subject to a 60-day public review. The...
Electric car future may depend on deep sea mining

Electric car future may depend on deep sea mining

SOURCE: BBC DATE: November 13, 2019 SNIP: The future of electric cars may depend on mining critically important metals on the ocean floor. That’s the view of the engineer leading a major European investigation into new sources of key elements. Demand is soaring for the metal cobalt – an essential ingredient in batteries and abundant in rocks on the seabed. Laurens de Jonge, who’s running the EU project, says the transition to electric cars means “we need those resources”. What is ‘deep sea mining’? It’s hard to visualise, but imagine opencast mining taking place at the bottom of the ocean, where huge remote-controlled machines would excavate rocks from the seabed and pump them up to the surface. The concept has been talked about for decades, but until now it’s been thought too difficult to operate in the high-pressure, pitch-black conditions as much as 5km deep. Now the technology is advancing to the point where dozens of government and private ventures are weighing up the potential for mines on the ocean floor. Why would anyone bother? The short answer: demand. The rocks of the seabed are far richer in valuable metals than those on land and there’s a growing clamour to get at them. Billions of potato-sized rocks known as “nodules” litter the abyssal plains of the Pacific and other oceans and many are brimming with cobalt, suddenly highly sought after as the boom in the production of batteries gathers pace. At the moment, most of the world’s cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo where for years there’ve been allegations of child labour, environmental damage and widespread...
Climate Change Is Breaking Open America’s Nuclear Tomb

Climate Change Is Breaking Open America’s Nuclear Tomb

SOURCE: LA Times DATE: November 10, 2019 SNIP: Between 1946 and 1958, the United States detonated 67 nuclear bombs on, in and above the Marshall Islands — vaporizing whole islands, carving craters into its shallow lagoons and exiling hundreds of people from their homes. U.S. authorities later cleaned up contaminated soil on Enewetak Atoll, where the United States not only detonated the bulk of its weapons tests but, as The Times has learned, also conducted a dozen biological weapons tests and dumped 130 tons of soil from an irradiated Nevada testing site. It then deposited the atoll’s most lethal debris and soil into the dome. Now the concrete coffin, which locals call “the Tomb,” is at risk of collapsing from rising seas and other effects of climate change. Tides are creeping up its sides, advancing higher every year as distant glaciers melt and ocean waters rise. The so-called Tomb now bobs with the tide, sucking in and flushing out radioactive water into nearby coral reefs, contaminating marine life. Officials in the Marshall Islands have lobbied the U.S. government for help, but American officials have declined, saying the dome is on Marshallese land and therefore the responsibility of the Marshallese government. “I’m like, how can it [the dome] be ours?” Hilda Heine, the president of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, said in an interview in her presidential office in September. “We don’t want it. We didn’t build it. The garbage inside is not ours. It’s theirs.” To many in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Runit Dome is the most visible manifestation of the United States’ nuclear legacy, a...
No choice but to invest in oil, Shell CEO says

No choice but to invest in oil, Shell CEO says

SOURCE: Reuters DATE: October 14, 2019 SNIP: Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) still sees abundant opportunity to make money from oil and gas in coming decades even as investors and governments increase pressure on energy companies over climate change, its chief executive said. Shell, which supplies around 3% of the world’s energy, set out in 2017 a plan to halve the intensity of its greenhouse emissions by the middle of the century, based in large part on building one of the world’s biggest power businesses. Still, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from Shell’s operations and the products it sells rose by 2.5% between 2017 and 2018. A defiant van Beurden rejected a rising chorus from climate activists and parts of the investor community to transform radically the 112-year-old Anglo-Dutch company’s traditional business model. “Despite what a lot of activists say, it is entirely legitimate to invest in oil and gas because the world demands it,” van Beurden said. “We have no choice” but to invest in long-life projects, he added. Shell plans to greenlight more than 35 new oil and gas projects by 2025, according to an investor presentation from...
Oil firms to pour extra 7m barrels per day into markets, data shows

Oil firms to pour extra 7m barrels per day into markets, data shows

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: October 10, 2019 SNIP: The world’s 50 biggest oil companies are poised to flood markets with an additional 7m barrels per day over the next decade, despite warnings from scientists that this will push global heating towards catastrophic levels. New research commissioned by the Guardian forecasts Shell and ExxonMobil will be among the leaders with a projected production increase of more than 35% between 2018 and 2030 – a sharper rise than over the previous 12 years. The acceleration is almost the opposite of the 45% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 that scientists say is necessary to have any chance of holding global heating at a relatively safe level of 1.5C. The projections by Rystad Energy, a Norwegian consultancy regarded as the gold standard for data in the industry, highlight how major players seem to be ignoring government promises, scientific alarms and a growing public outcry so they can pump more fossil fuels – and profits – out of the ground. Rystad bases its work on companies’ assets and a long-term oil price of $65 a barrel, similar to its current level. The forecast shows an almost 8% rise in the projected output of the top 50 oil and gas companies between 2018 and 2030, which would account for almost two-fifths of the remaining 1.5C carbon budget and increase the risk of heatwaves, hurricanes, forest fires and floods. At least 14 of the 20 biggest historical carbon producers plan to pump out more hydrocarbons in 2030 than in 2018, according to the Rystad data. Its analysis shows the US is the centre of the...