Vol 1. No. 6 – November 10, 2017
Welcome to the Friday Fossil Fuel Runoff, a weekly series from Eyes on the Ties highlighting the networks of power behind the week’s energy news. Here you’ll find oil and gas reporting from around the web with important context from the Public Accountability Initiative, including original research and power maps created by PAI and the LittleSis research community! If you have any feedback or tips, or would like to subscribe to an email version of these posts, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
FRACKADEMIA: University of Minnesota Duluth study promoting Enbridge Line 3 pipeline was funded by Enbridge-backed business group
A new report by PAI’s Derek Seidman exposes how an economic impact report by UMD was paid for by APEX, a business lobbying group where Enbridge’s US director of public affairs sits on the board.
The report, which used an unreliable economic modeling program and data inputs supplied by the pipeline company, was then cited as fact numerous times in local media, including by the editorial board of the Duluth News Tribune, which is also a dues-paying member of the group that commissioned the study
Read the full report, “Enbridge to Nowhere” at the PAI website and check out the map of UMD’s relationship with Enbridge below!
FRACKETEERS: Wall Street vulture firms pushing austerity in Puerto Rico are fueling climate change
On Monday, PAI’s Rob Galbraith published an article at Eyes on the Ties examining the oil and gas investments of some of the top holders of Puerto Rican debt, as identified by the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo.
One investor, Seth Klarman, holds more than $925 million worth of bonds backed by Puerto Rico’s sales tax. Klarman also owns $1.8 billion in equity in fossil fuel companies, including the liquefied natural gas exporter Cheniere Energy and the Appalachian fracking firm Antero Resources.
Klarman also sits on the board of trustees of the American Enterprise Institute, which has peddled climate change denial for years and, in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria, called the idea of forgiving any of Puerto Rico’s debt “perverse.”
You can get the whole story at Eyes on the Ties.
Extended Trump family-member gets climate change post at Department of Energy
Kyle Yunaska, brother-in-law to Eric Trump and one of the hottest bachelors of Washington, DC in 2013, was appointed chief of staff to the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis. The office, according to The Hill, “was once tasked with helping carry out former President Obama’s climate change agenda.”
Yunaska has no experience in energy policy, but he did donate $2,000 to Trump’s campaign.
Trump top environmental advisor nominee maybe has never boiled water before?
Senators grilled Trump’s White House Council on Environmental Quality nominee Kathleen Hartnett White about climate change and basic science concepts this week.
White expressed uncertainty about whether more or less than 50% of the heat trapped in the atmosphere is captured by the ocean and then refused to answer whether she thought water expanded as it was heated.
From White’s exchange with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse as transcribed by Charles Pierce of Esquire:
Whitehouse: OK, wow. Do you think if the ocean warms, it expands? Does the law of thermal expansion apply to seawater?
White: Again, I do not have any kind of expertise or even much layman’s study of the ocean dynamics or the climate change issue.
Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline halted, then resumed
On Monday, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals halted construction of Williams Companies’ Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline to review a complaint that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) had not adequately considered the climate impact of greenhouse gas emissions when permitting the pipeline.
That stay was lifted on Wednesday amid opposition from the Oklahoma pipeline firm and from FERC itself, PennLive reports.
As we have reported in the past, FERC has a long-standing revolving door relationship with the industry it regulates and has approved nearly 100% of the pipeline applications coming before it since 1986.
Natural gas maybe not so much of a bridge to renewables after all
A briefing from Oil Change International lays out five arguments that, even assuming zero methane leakage during natural gas drilling, transport, and burning, reliance on the fossil fuel does not meaningfully slow climate change.
From the report:
1. No Room for New Fossil Gas: Climate goals require the power sector to be decarbonized by mid-century. This means gas use must be phased out, not increased.
2. New Gas is Holding Back Renewable Energy: Wind and solar are now cheaper than coal and gas in many regions. This means new gas capacity often displaces new wind and solar rather than old coal.
3. The Wrong Gas at the Wrong Time: Claims that gas supports renewable energy development are false. The cheapest gas generation technology (CCGT) is designed for baseload operation, not intermittent peaking. In any case, most grids are a long way from renewable energy penetration levels that would require back up. Storage and demand response will be ready to step in by the time they are really required.
4. New Gas Locks in Emissions for 40+ Years: Companies building multi-billion dollar gas infrastructure today expect to operate their assets for around 40 years. Emissions goals mean this expectation cannot be met.
5. Too Much Gas Already: The coal, oil, and gas in currently producing and under construction projects is enough to exceed climate goals. Opening up new gas fields is inconsistent with the Paris goals.
That’s all for this week! Remember, if you want to receive an email version of this newsletter or have any tips for us, send us an email at email@example.com!