Author Archives: Mary Eiserman

Not Just Another Pipeline – The expansion of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline is a breathtaking betrayal of Minnesota’s Indigenous communities – and the environment.

From The New York Times. Minnesota Gov. signed off on final water permits for Enbridge to complete an expansion of its Line 3 Pipeline. December 28, 2020

The new section of pipeline will allow the pumping of oil sands and other forms of crude oil from Alberta to Wisconsin. It will cut through Indigenous treaty lands along the way. Despite pending lawsuits, construction has already started.

This is not just another pipeline, but a potential ‘climate bomb’ as it will facilitate the production of one of the most carbon-intensive fuels on the planate for decades to come. An environmental impact assessment of the project found the potential impact of the pipeline’s carbon output to be 193 million tons per year, the equivalent of 50 coal-fired plants or 38 million vehicles on the road.

In addition to this massive carbon cost, the destructive mining of the tar sands will affect the environment of Alberta’s boreal forests permanently. And if the pipelines leak, the sludgy mixture is almost impossible to clean up. The pipelines route will run through two watersheds draining directly into Lake Superior. The Great Lakes contain 84 percent of North America’s available freshwater and the pipeline is an existential threat to our water supply.

Young people are chaining themselves beneath pipeline trucks, clamping themselves to bulldozers, facing down semi trucks. It is unbearable. They know exactly what is at stake.

The continued strong bipartisan support for the Chesapeake Bay Program is welcome news for Virginia.

From Virginia Mercury. Appropriations omnibus increases Chesapeake Bay Program funding by $2.5 million. December 22, 2020.

The bump in funding comes despite Trumps request to slash the budget, and as the program’s six states enter the final stretch of a decade-long push to clean up the nation’s largest estuary.

The Blueprint plan signed by the six states sets a 2025 deadline for each to meet major targets in reducing sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus that flow from agricultural fiends, city streets and sewage treatment plants into the bay.

Mountain Valley gets another approval for pipeline construction

From The Roanoke Times. The pipeline gained another 17 miles Thursday in its quest to complete construction of the natural gas pipeline by the end of next year. December 17, 2020.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the company’s request to resume work on a stretch of the 303-mile pipeline that passes through Giles and Craig counties, between two sections of the Jefferson National Forest.

In 2018 FERC issued a stop-work order on an approximately 25 mile section of planned pipeline following an appellate court throwing out a U.S. Forest Service permit for the pipeline to cross 3.5 miles of national forest.

But, in a 2-1 decision Thursday, the commission ruled that Mountain Valley had presented sufficient evidence to show that resuming work on a 17-mile segment of the pipeline on private land would not harm the forest. The decision was not without dissent however, with Commissioner Richard Glick writing ‘That is a serious mistake’.

New FERC Office

The new omnibus spending bill that Congress has just approved (and which the President may or may not sign) includes among its 5,000+ pages language establishing an Office of Public Participation at FERC. 

The package would also direct FERC to establish an Office of Public Participation, marking a major win for consumer advocates who have long pushed for a greater say in the commission’s oversight of electricity markets and major natural gas infrastructure projects.

“For too long, public interest organizations have lacked the resources to meaningfully participate in important FERC proceedings,” Tyson Slocum, energy program director at watchdog group Public Citizen, said in a statement.

“Providing intervenor compensation to consumer groups, environmental justice organizations and other members of the public interest will revolutionize public interest representation and democratize policy making at FERC.”

Slocum called the requirement to set up the office the biggest development at FERC in 20 years.

If Trump signs the package into law, FERC will have 180 days to inform Congress about how it will design, fund and operate the office.

The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 authorized FERC to create such an office — and authorized more than $7 million over four years — but it was never created, and Congress never set aside more funding.

To Cut Emissions to Zero, U.S. Needs to Make Big Changes in Next 10 Years

From The New York Times. New research details major infrastructure work that would need to start right away to achieve Biden’s goal of zero emissions by 2050. December 15, 2020 

Princeton Researchers used some of the most comprehensive models of America’s energy system to lay out several detailed scenarios for how the country could slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 as endorsed by President-elect Biden. The scenarios look at what combinations of technologies could zero out emissions at lowest cost, as well as assessing the staggering amount of infrastructure that would need to be built in just the next 10 years.

Reaching Net Zero Emissions in Virginia Could Increase State GDP

From Forbes Reaching Net Zero Emissions in Virginia Could Increase State GDP More Than $3.5 Billion Per Year. December 9, 2020

An ambitious policy package, going above and beyond the Virginia Clean Economy Act signed in April, would implement climate policies across the transportation, buildings, industrial, land, and agricultural sectors. It could put Virginia on a 1.5°C pathway and generate massive economic benefits: By 2050, this scenario could achieve net-zero emissions, generate more than 12,000 job-years, and increase state GDP by more than $3.5 billion per year.