First Choice Energy

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Environmental Scientist Takes Aim at Belmont County Cracker Plant in Guest Column

From a guest column by environmental scientist and Uhrichsville resident Randi Pokladnik, written for the Herald-Star:
One [sic] again, JobsOhio, an economic development organization in Ohio, has awarded a huge sum of money, $20 million, to the Thailand chemical company PTT Global Chemical America and its South Korean partner, Daelim Industrial Co. The $20 million grant is for additional site preparation for a potential ethane cracker plant to be built at Dilles Bottom in Belmont County. This brings the total amount of money given by JobsOhio to this project to a whopping $70 million.

This announcement came shortly after a Columbus-based spokesperson for the company, Dan Williamson, attempted to assuage concerns of citizens by basically “greenwashing” the dangers associated with petrochemicals and the increase in single-use plastics production. He admitted in his interview that the company has been quiet thus far but “concerned residents staging protests against the project and meeting with state officials” made the company decide to get involved in the conversation on environmental issues. 
He said the company would “assess reducing greenhouse gas emissions and use renewable materials instead of fossil fuels.” However, all plastics, since the 1950s have been made from coal, oil or gas, and all petrochemical processes produce enormous amounts of carbon dioxide. Shell’s Monaca ethane cracker is allowed to emit 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide a year. Given these facts, Williamson’s proclamation seems disingenuous at best. 
He touted the “initiation of an upcycling plastic waste projects to transform plastic waste into useful items such as clothing and bags” with programs such as, “Trash to Treasure” or “Wear your Own Waste.” This project creates a T-shirt from 14 beverage bottles. These initiatives will hardly make a dent in the current plastic crisis facing our planet, especially the 100 billion beverage bottles sold in the United States each year. 
Recycling is now industry’s go-to answer for addressing the more than 300 million tons of plastic wastes created each year.
Click here to read the whole column. 

Ohio Bill Takes Aim at Unlawful Anti-Pipeline Protests

From Energy News Network:
Activists say a bill advancing in the Ohio legislature could criminalize activities such as offering rides, water or medical aid to anti-pipeline protesters. 
Even chanting “stop the pipeline” could be construed as encouraging damage to critical infrastructure under the bill’s vague language, critics say. 
Trespass, willful destruction of property and various other actions are already crimes under Ohio law. But Ohio Senate Bill 33 calls for heavier penalties for trespass or property damage that might affect “critical infrastructure.” The Ohio Senate passed the bill last spring, and the House Public Utilities Committee reported out a substitute version on Jan. 30. 
The broad definition of “critical infrastructure” would cover most oil and natural gas facilities, including many areas relating to pipelines and facilities to handle materials derived from oil and natural gas.
Click here to read more. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Write-Downs and Spending Cuts Are the Words of the Day in U.S. Shale

From Reuters:
U.S. shale gas producers are ripe for further spending cuts and write-downs, investors and analysts said, with prices at four-year lows and China’s rejection of some gas imports weighing on earnings. 
Natural gas production in the United States is at record levels, outpacing domestic consumption and leading to global supply glut. At the same time, China, the world’s largest importer of gas, has turned away shipments with its demand forecast to rise at the slowest pace in four years amid the coronavirus outbreak. 
As a result, several large gas producers, have reduced the value of their production assets.
EQT Corp, the largest U.S. gas producer, recently said it would take a write-down of as much as $1.8 billion, following CNX Resources Corp, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Chevron Corp in reducing the value of gas properties. 
U.S. shale gas producers’ Antero Resources Corp, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp and EQT kick off fourth-quarter results in coming days. Antero has pledged to sell assets while Cabot plans a 27% cut to its drilling budget.
Read more by clicking here. 

Marcellus Shale Coalition Warns About Dire Impacts of Sanders/AOC Fracking Ban Bill

From the Marcellus Shale Coalition:
Following the introduction of legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to ban the safe, responsible use of hydraulic fracturing, Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) president Dave Spigelmyer issued the following statement: 
“Banning the safe and strongly regulated use of hydraulic fracturing would bring our economy to a standstill. It would result in the loss of hundreds-of-thousands of good-paying jobs and wipeout billions of dollars of capital investment in Pennsylvania while reversing the environmental progress we have gained thanks to natural gas,” Spigelmyer said. 
“As a result of this disastrous policy, hard-working Pennsylvanians who have enjoyed a decade of affordable, reliable energy would be burdened with skyrocketing costs and our county would again be reliant on foreign nations to supply the energy we need. 
“Supporting and growing domestic shale production should be a core focus of any serious policy discussion aimed at continuing environmental progress, economic growth and American security.” 
BACKGROUND:
  • Devastate State, National Economy: Pennsylvania would shed 609,000 jobs, lose $261 billion in state GDP, and $23.4 billion in state and local tax revenues if Sen. Sanders and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’ plan is signed into law, according to a recent U.S. Chamber analysis. Nationally, this policy would eliminate 19 million jobs and reduce U.S. GDP by $7.1 trillion.
Click here to read the whole press release. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

EID Investigation Sheds Light on Activist-Driven Media Platform

by Spencer Walrath, Energy in Depth

Earlier this week, EID released our investigation into the new Drilled News platform, shedding light into the connections between this new media initiative and the climate litigation campaign. Thanks to our efforts, the platform was forced to come clean about their funders and relationship to the problematic litigation campaign.
Richard Wiles, Confirmed Key Contributor
Richard Wiles’ Center for Climate Integrity (CCI) has played an integral part in the climate litigation campaign including running numerous social media campaigns, hosting events across the country to promote litigation, submitting an amicus brief, and hiring a lobbyist to arrange meetings between city officials and plaintiffs’ attorneys. CCI is funded by billionaire donors both foreign and domestic to wage a climate litigation campaign against the nation’s energy producers and continues to be opaque about its backers.
While Drilled News is not a direct advocacy arm of CCI, it is closely linked with the project and its executive director, Richard Wiles. Drilled News now admits that Wiles played an instrumental role in obtaining their initial launch grant from the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD), CCI’s parent organization:
“Wiles introduced us to the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, which was critical to landing our initial launch grant. For that, we have consistently thanked him in our credits.”
Drilled was also forced to acknowledge that while they have editorial independence from IGSD, Wiles continues to play an active role in influencing the direction of the organization and is a key source for new story ideas:
“Does Wiles constantly send us pitches and ideas, and sometimes even unsolicited critiques of our work? Yes.”
Downplaying their relationship
Despite their admissions, Drilled continues to downplay their relationship with CCI. They claim their funding comes from IGSD – not CCI. However, the most recent season of their podcast tells a slightly different story. The transcript of season three, episode two reads as follows:
In addition, while Drilled admits that they gave Wiles an “executive producer” credit during the first season, they allege that such “lofty titles” were given to several individuals and weren’t reflective of their work on the show. However, Wiles is the only person ever disclosed as an executive producer of the show, and has the most prestigious title of anyone listed in the podcast’s credits:
Conclusion
In the end, the mere admission of this close relationship with Richard Wiles is an important lens to interpret Drilled News’ current and future content.
Far from objective, the Drilled podcast has relied on interviews from some of the most high-profile activists in the climate litigation space, including Kert DaviesMatt Pawa, Sher Edling consultant Ann CarlsonGeoffrey Supran, and ERI lawyer Marco Simons. In contrast, they have never interviewed a single energy company featured on the podcast.
EID is proud of its investigators, who successfully shed newfound transparency on an organization with deep ties to the climate litigation campaign. EID is filling a critical void by providing scrutiny on members of the climate litigation echo chamber and will continue to shed light on groups that lack transparency in their operations.

New Study Finds That Reality Doesn't Line Up with Perception on Water Contamination from Fracking

From the University of Texas at Arlington:
A study led by environmental researchers at The University of Texas at Arlington suggests a disconnect between the perception of groundwater contamination and the extent to which that contamination is attributable to oil and natural gas extraction. 
Members of the Collaborative Laboratories for Environmental Analysis and Remediation (CLEAR) at UTA found that samples from only five of 36 private water wells showed any potential indications of contamination from unconventional oil and gas development, a multifaceted process that includes hydraulic fracturing. The samples were collected from the Barnett, Eagle Ford, Haynesville and Marcellus Shale regions in response to anecdotal claims of oil- and gas-related contamination. 
The study, “Characterizing anecdotal claims of groundwater contamination in shale energy basins,” appears in the journal Science of the Total Environment
Kevin Schug, Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry and co-founder and director of CLEAR, led the study along with CLEAR co-founder Zacariah Hildenbrand. Other authors were Doug Carlton, CLEAR project manager; Paige Wicker, a graduate research assistant in the CLEAR lab; Sabrina Habib, an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina; and Paula Stigler-Granados, an assistant professor at Texas State University. 
“We found that the water quality data very rarely aligned with the perceptions that the well owners had of their individual situations,” Schug said. “This disconnect between perception and reality is possibly attributed to prevailing negative sentiments toward hydraulic fracturing as well as myriad environmental factors that make point source attribution very challenging.”
Find out more by clicking here. 

Hess CEO Says U.S. Shale is Beginning to Plateau, Acknowledges Climate Change as a Real Threat

From Reuters:
Shale pioneer John Hess said on Tuesday that key U.S. shale fields are starting to plateau, calling shale “important but not the next Saudi Arabia.” 
Over the past decade, the shale revolution turned the United States into the world’s largest crude producer and a force in energy exports. Yet that did not translate to higher stock prices or returns for investors, with the S&P 500 Energy sector only gaining 6% in a decade, far less than the 180% return for the broader stock market. 
Companies remain under pressure to trim budgets and produce enough free cash flow to pay investors higher dividends or buy back shares. The biggest industry challenge is the lack of long-term investment, Hess said. 
Production in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas is starting to plateau, while the Bakken field in North Dakota where Hess is a major producer will hit its peak production levels within the next two years, said Hess, who spoke Tuesday in Houston at the Argus Americas Crude Summit.
Read the whole article by clicking right here. 

Legal Challenge to Nuclear Bailout in Ohio Has Been Killed

From The Columbus Dispatch:
The challenge to overturn House Bill 6 – the ratepayer-financed bailout of Ohio’s nuclear power plants – is officially dead. 
At the request of the opponents of the controversial legislation, the Ohio Supreme Court dismissed Friday a case in which a federal judge had asked the justices to answer legal questions about placing referendums on Ohio ballots. 
The action followed the Thursday dismissal in U.S. District Court of the now-abandoned bid by Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts to force a vote on the $1 billion subsidy being routed to the owner of two nuclear plants on Lake Erie. 
The group dismissed last week its appeal before the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, saying it did not have the cash to continue its fight. 
The group had appealed an Oct. 23 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Edmund A. Sargus in Columbus that held it turned to the wrong court seeking additional days to collect signatures on its petition. 
Sargus instead sent the case to the state Supreme Court, which will not answer questions of state law that the judge raised about Ohio’s referendum process.
Click here to read more.