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This is where we’re at, Minnesota. It’s time for a SOLID “NO” on Enbridge’s proposed Line 3.

Perhaps you watched on April 20th as oil hit a below-zero low at -$37.63/barrel?  That’s a We’ll-Pay-You business model that just doesn’t work.  And now, as many of the Supermajors are divesting of assets… those assets now include employees.

Shell is cutting up to 9000 jobs… just five months after cutting its dividend – “for the first time since World War Two.”

Other big oil firms are facing similar challenges. Rival BP has also cut its dividend and recently announced it was cutting 10,000 jobs out of its global workforce of 70,000.”

[That’s… almost 15% of its workforce.] 

~ Shell to cut up to 9,000 jobs as oil demand slumps BBC News 9/30/20

Like other refiners in the United States, Marathon Petroleum – the biggest – is idling refinery capacity and cutting jobs to cope with the losses stemming from the demand crash in the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Exxon faces losses for a third straight quarter as demand continues to stagnate.

For the second quarter, Exxon reported at the end of July its second consecutive quarterly loss, which was the worst loss for the U.S. supermajor in its modern history.

Exxon booked a loss of US$1.1 billion for the second quarter due to the global oversupply and COVID-related demand impacts. This compares with earnings of US$3.1 billion for the same period last year.”

~ Exxon Set For Another Loss In Q3 by Tsvetana Paraskova 10/1/20 (my emphasis)

And… it seems not only has Big Oil been lying about Climate Change effects from their products for generations, but present-day oil gangsters are working to carefully prevent enough of us from realizing the sham as they work to hide the flaring of natural gas as they pull oil from the ground. Perhaps to prevent formation of a rebellion to stop them.  [Spoiler alert: It’s too late.]

At a discussion convened last year by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, a group that represents energy companies, participants worried that producers were intentionally flaring, or burning off, far too much natural gas, threatening the industry’s image, according to a recording of the meeting reviewed by The New York Times.

“We’re just flaring a tremendous amount of gas,” said Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, at the June 2019 gathering, held in Colorado Springs. “This pesky natural gas,” he said. “The value of it is very minimal,” particularly to companies drilling mainly for oil.

A well can produce both oil and natural gas, but oil commands far higher prices. Flaring it is an inexpensive way of getting rid of the gas.”

Yet the practice of burning it off, producing dramatic flares and attracting criticism, represented a “huge, huge threat” to the industry’s efforts to portray natural gas as a cleaner and more climate-friendly energy source, he said, and that was damaging the industry’s image, particularly among younger generations.

~ A Secret Recording Reveals Oil Executives’ Private Views on Climate Change by Hiroko Tabuchi 9-12-20

Some ~ already awakening to the alignment of the regulatory agencies and the oil industry dismissing concerns from landowners and environmentalists ~ are now calling for reforms.  As we’ve seen with Line 3 here in Minnesota with the PUC, MPCA, and DNR, every step of the way favors industry over residents.  Industry meets regularly in board rooms with no opposition ideas provided any space.  Meanwhile, citizens perhaps get a 3-minute public comment, which is summarily ignored and gets no response from government agencies, as I reported a few weeks back. A short 2-minute video is included at this link

And Scott Russell at Healing Minnesota Stories also wrote recently about the MEQB’s dismissal of the public voice while presenting the Minnesota State 2020 Water Plan, echoing my concerns regarding Indigenous Treaty Rights.

After nine speakers and roughly 20 minutes testimony, Bishop cut off additional Line 3 comments. “We should stick to the Water Plan and not the individual actions and projects,” she said. Comments on Line 3 “seem to be a bit beyond the Water Plan itself.”

Which is the problem in a nutshell. The EQB apparently doesn’t see a connection between the Water Plan and project-specific decisions state agencies have to make, on such things as permits for Line 3 or large feed lots.

Bishop started to move towards a vote, when Nookomis (Deb Topping), an enrolled member at Fond du Lac, asked to speak. She wanted to know if the EQB had consulted with any of the state’s Native Nations in developing the Water Plan and if anyone on the board was familiar with the Winters Doctrine.

No one knew about the Winters Doctrine. …

The EQB approved the Water Plan on a vote of 11-1.”

~ State’s new ‘Water Plan’ looks good on paper, critics say it lacks accountability by Scott Russell 10/2/20

The PolyMet issue has also revealed corruption at the MPCA as evidenced in a beautifully coherent LTE from Linda Herron

Judge John Guthmann’s ruling in the evidentiary hearing in the case of the Environmental Protection Agency’s comments on the water pollution permit to mine for PolyMet issued by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency… showed that the MPCA attempted to delay the EPA from submitting comments critical of the PolyMet mining project until the public comment period had ended.

In a permitting case as risk-laden to the St. Louis River watershed and to Lake Superior as the PolyMet mine, such manipulation of public information is an extremely troubling failure of enforcement of regulatory protections. The public has a right to information pertinent to all regulatory enforcement. In this case, important EPA comments expressing grave concerns about the lack of water quality-based effluent limits were withheld.

Paula Maccabee, advocacy director and counsel for the nonprofit WaterLegacy, stated, “We didn’t learn about the EPA’s withheld comments through the MPCA’s permitting processes. These comments were revealed only due to confidential (whistleblower) sources and Freedom of Information Act lawsuits filed by WaterLegacy and settled by the federal government.”

The value of laws and safeguards rests on the trust of the people in their integrity and, just as importantly, their enforcement. Lapses or breaches of enforcement of environmental regulatory protections cannot be acceptable. Minnesotans demand a higher standard from all agencies entrusted with the care and protection of our natural resources for the sake of healthy communities across the state.”

~ Local View: Enforcement is key to environmental protections by Linda Herron | Oct 2nd 2020

And perhaps the corruption will get worse as fossil fuel magnates try to squeeze every penny they can from the ground as We Have Entered the “End Game” for Oil—With “Permanent Demand Destruction” noted in late July?

Indeed, every day renewables gets cheaper and cheaper. A paper published in the scientific journal Nature this week examined the potential for offshore wind competitiveness without any government subsidies.

The research examined wind power for five countries in Europe and found that offshore wind is going to be so cheap that it will soon no longer need government subsidies to compete, and that significant savings could soon be potentially passed on to consumers.

The lead researcher Dr. Malte Jansen, from the Center for Environmental Policy at Imperial College in London, said: “Offshore wind power will soon be so cheap to produce that it will undercut fossil-fueled power stations and may be the cheapest form of energy for the UK…This is an astonishing development.”

~ We Have Entered the “End Game” for Oil—With “Permanent Demand Destruction”  by Andy Rowell 7/31/20

As the game gets desperate, will we see more desperados?  Will Enbridge try to sneak in a bunch of workers from out of state as the election season distraction unfurls… thinking no one will notice? 

We’re watching as it’s looking like they are planning just such a scheme.  Word is that some areas along the proposed pipeline route are reporting local hotels booked solid as 2020 turns into 2021… Will Enbridge ignore the global calls to Keep Tar Sands in the Ground?  Or will they bully their way through the wetlands of Minnesota, bringing their sludge pushing pipeline with them?

It’s been a bad year for Big Oil. A decade ago, a barrel of oil could fetch around $100. This year, prices briefly touched zero. With coronavirus lockdowns partially lifted, crude is now selling for $40 – $45. BP says demand for fossil fuels will drop 50% to 75% by 2050. On cue, Unilever just announced it will rid its cleaning products of fossil fuels by 2030, in the name of cutting carbon emissions.

Last year, after buying Anadarko, Occidental Petroleum Corporation was a $80 billion corporation. It’s now worth about $12 billion and selling off assets. U.S. shale celebrated its second acquisitions boom from 2016 to 2019; now, many of these deals won’t work. Lenders are shying away from fossil fuels, lest they get stuck with the stranded assets.

It’s worth noting that Salesforce.com, the company that just replaced ExxonMobil in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, produces carbon-tracking software so companies can disclose emissions data to shareholders. The writing is on the wall, boldface.  …

Real Sustainability: Controlling Ourselves

Big Oil can’t go soon enough, but its replacements have to be used with care. Humans have already altered more than half of the Earth’s land surface. By August, just eight months into 2020, we used up the amount of resources it takes the planet a whole year to regenerate. A finite planet can’t take infinite growth—of our businesses or the Homo sapiens who run them.

We need to cut our energy use down. We need real plans to stop sprawl—especially now, as the remote work trend releases people from city living and allows them to head for the countryside.

If the pandemic can teach us to work without commuting, surely it can teach us to make peace with less extravagant lives. To shift from animal agribusiness to plant proteins. To stop binge flying. To hike locally, to more deeply appreciate the culture and beauty where we live. To wear condoms as well as masks. Eco-friendly ones, of course.

~ Big Oil’s Belated Conversion  Lee Hall  9-4-20
And, if they succeed, will we be better off than with their OLD Line 3? 

Not likely.

Per the data from 2010 to 2018, more than HALF of ALL incidents were on pipelines that were 20 years old or YOUNGER… with well over 80% of those incidents occurring on pipelines less than 10 years old! 

A new tar sands pipeline is far more dangerous and costly than Enbridge would like us all to believe as they remind us every day of our budget shortfalls they can help remedy.  And collusion with Enbridge comes at what cost to Minnesotans?  Are we sacrificing our clean waters, our tourism, our own food production so that a Canadian corporation can transport the dirtiest of fossil fuels through our state to sell it globally?

It seems that Commissioner Laura Bishop at the MPCA is gearing up to permit Enbridge to decimate Northern Minnesota as they all (MPCA and Enbridge) pretend the fossil fuel industry has a future in tar sands infrastructure.  I say the better path is to protect some of the cleanest NATURAL water infrastructure of Minnesota.  It’s not only the path the public is urging the MPCA to take, it’s literally their mission. 

Looks like they are ready!?!? 
The MPCA website says “the agency finds and cleans up spills or leaks” so maybe they are?  Note: They also have all their hashtags in place for their Core Values.  A+ [FFS]

Unfortunately, lots of marketing and cheerleading doesn’t protect the environment.  And dreamy idealistic plans don’t equate with concrete goals and measurables that result in agency and corporate accountability.  Perhaps this is why the water quality in Minnesota continues to degrade?

Hope the PUC, MPCA, DNR and other agencies will begin to listen. 

Before it’s too late?