IT IS WEDNESDAY, MY DUDES. Welcome to Overnight Energy, your source for the day’s energy and environment news.
Today we’re looking at how both a pipeline leak and comments from an ExxonMobil lobbyist are affecting the oil industry, the star power against a proposed Minnesota pipeline, and the private sector backing a clean electricity standard.
EN-GULFED: 'Eye of fire,' Exxon lobbyist's comments fuel renewed attacks on oil industry
Environmentalists are ramping up their criticism of the oil and gas industry following revelations last week from an Exxon Mobil lobbyist on climate change and a viral "eye of fire" video from the Gulf of Mexico caused by a pipeline leak.
Progressives on Capitol Hill seized on the two events by pushing for robust climate provisions in forthcoming infrastructure legislation and renewing threats to haul company executives before Congress to testify.
Longtime congressional critics of the industry argued that the past week underscores the need to transition away from fossil fuels to mitigate climate change.
What are they saying?: “Any reasonable person would look at the events of the past week—the ocean on fire and the fossil fuel industry actively complicit in the continuing climate crisis—and realize we need to pass the biggest, boldest climate infrastructure package possible,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), sponsor of the Green New Deal in the Senate, told The Hill in a statement.
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said that the events give “more power” to climate legislation and efforts to restrict drilling on public land and waters.
CROSSING A LINE: Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline
Celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, Katy Perry and Mark Ruffalo are trying to push the Biden administration to oppose the controversial Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota, highlighting concerns about Indigenous rights and climate change.
“Construction of the project is an unfolding human rights crisis. Operating it over its lifetime would significantly exacerbate the climate crisis. It fails any reasonable test of climate justice,” reads a Wednesday letter, which was signed by a total of 200 people, including Jane Fonda, Amy SchumerAmy Beth SchumerWill Hollywood abandon Texas over abortion law? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Senate to vote on infrastructure bill; budget package up next Dave Chappelle, Jon Stewart to headline star-studded 9/11 benefit show MORE, Orlando Bloom, Danny Glover, Joaquin Phoenix and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tom SteyerTom SteyerOvernight Energy: 'Eye of fire,' Exxon lobbyist's comments fuel renewed attacks on oil industry | Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline | More than 75 companies ask Congress to pass clean electricity standard Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline Six things to watch as California heads for recall election MORE.
Enbridge's Line 3 vessel has spurred significant protests, as well as court challenges.
Its opponents say the project will negatively impact land and water where tribes hunt, fish and gather wild rice. Many have also objected to the fact that it would carry carbon-intensive tar sands oil from Canada.
Ruffalo speaks: In a press conference on Wednesday, Ruffalo argued that Biden should try to put a stop to the pipeline for the communities that came out to vote for him.
"Communities across the country mobilized to elect President BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat threatens to vote against party's spending bill if HBCUs don't get more federal aid Overnight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes MORE to office, and now we have joined forces once again to demand we follow through on the promises we made to protect these communities that were harmed by the Trump administration’s reckless actions and decades of environmental injustice," he said.
The pipeline’s supporters, meanwhile, have argued that it will contribute to the nation’s energy supply and that it has already been through environmental reviews and approved.
"The letter ignores the fact that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission addressed climate change in their decision granting Line 3 its Certificate of Need. They concluded that emissions from the ultimate consumption of oil transported on Line 3 do not result from the replaced pipeline, but instead from the continued demand for crude oil to produce refined products used by consumers," said Enbridge spokesperson Juli Kellner in an email.
STANDARD PROCEDURE: More than 75 companies ask Congress to pass clean electricity standard
More than 75 major U.S. companies including Apple, Google, Lyft and Salesforce signed a letter circulated Wednesday urging Congress to adopt a federal clean electricity standard.
In the letter, signers urged the federal government adopt a standard that achieves 80 percent carbon neutrality by the end of the decade, with a goal of completely emission-free power by 2035.
Signers of the letter, organized by sustainability advocacy group Ceres and the Environmental Defense Fund, also include automakers General Motors and Tesla.
The letter notes that the electrical power sector alone generates a full third of nationwide carbon dioxide emissions created by burning fossil fuels. It is also the source of about 50 percent of natural gas use nationwide, which is itself a major driver of methane upstream leaks.
Scientists have estimated human-produced methane accounts for at least 25 percent of current warming.
What they’re saying: “In addition to reducing emissions from the power sector, a clean electric power grid is also essential to unlock opportunities to reduce emissions in other sectors. Electrification of the transportation, buildings, and industrial sectors is a critical pathway for the U.S. to achieve a net zero-emissions future. Together, clean electricity and electrification could cut carbon pollution economy-wide by up to 75%,” the letter states.
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University of Michigan researchers: Reusable products aren’t always best for environment, WDIV reports
Wildfires threaten all of the West — and Latinos more than others, Politico reports
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