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Date: 2022-07-04 Page is: DBtxt001.php txt00020512

Energy
Natural Gas

Greenwashing with ‘renewable natural gas’

Burgess COMMENTARY

Peter Burgess
Original article:
Greenwashing with ‘renewable natural gas’ Brendan Editor@desmogblog.com via cmail19.com 10:01 AM (2 hours ago) to me Message From the Editor More than 40 cities have enacted bans on new gas infrastructure, but in the Pacific Northwest one company is trying a new tactic to head off climate policy. In recent months, Oregon utility Northwest Natural has been promoting its use of “renewable natural gas” — methane captured from places like landfills and repurposed into energy for homes. Its push to promote its green image comes on the heels of a contentious effort by officials to require carbon emissions reductions from the company. Read Nick Cunningham’s story. Meanwhile, a new government report highlights federal failures to oversee offshore drilling. The report found that 97 percent of the time, existing regulations on environmental protection and cleanup are not enforced. More proposed rules to fix the broken regulatory system, however, are a distraction from the real issue of the government failing to hold the oil industry accountable, argues Justin Mikulka. Finally, this week five environmental groups filed a lawsuit in a Montana federal court alleging that the way the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues permits for oil and gas pipelines nationwide violates some of the country’s cornerstone environmental laws. The lawsuit is the most recent round in a nearly decade-long battle, sparked under the Obama administration, over how regulators approach the environmental impacts from oil and gas pipelines and the extent to which the public gets a say in the permitting process. Sharon Kelly reports. Have a story tip or feedback? Get in touch: editor@desmogblog.com. Thanks, Brendan DeMelle Executive Director P.S. Readers like you make it possible for DeSmog to hold accountable powerful people in industry and government. Even a $10 or $20 donation helps support DeSmog’s investigative journalism. Oregon Utility Using Greenwashing and ‘Renewable Natural Gas’ To Push Back on Potential Gas Bans — By Nick Cunningham (10 min. read) — If you live in Oregon, it’s likely you’ve been bombarded with misleading PR from the local utility company, Northwest Natural, about the potential for what the industry is calling renewable natural gas (RNG) — methane captured from places like landfills and repurposed into energy for homes. In recent months, the Pacific Northwest utility rolled out its “Less We Can” campaign to promote the company’s low-carbon future. In a promotional ad, a family harvests some radishes from their backyard garden, and then cooks dinner with natural gas as the narrator talks about lowering emissions. New Government Report Highlights Federal Failures to Oversee Offshore Drilling — By Justin Mikulka (4 min. read) — A new investigation into federal oversight of the offshore oil and gas industry finds that the agency in charge is not enforcing existing regulations on environmental protection and cleanup in 97 percent of cases. The report puts attention on the growing issue of the oil and gas industry abandoning defunct pipelines and other drilling infrastructure and leaving the public with the cleanup bill. Regulations already in place give the BSEE authority to “allow pipelines to be decommissioned-in-place if certain criteria are met,” the report notes. Although they were not meant to be applied to every situation, the result has been agency approval of nearly all industry requests to leave a pipeline behind. This “indicates that this is not an exception, however, but rather that decommissioning-in-place has been the norm for decades,” the GAO concludes. New Lawsuit Challenges ‘Fast-Track’ Permits Used for Oil and Gas Pipelines Nationwide — By Sharon Kelly (7 min. read) — Five environmental groups have filed a lawsuit in a Montana federal court alleging that the way that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues permits for oil and gas pipelines nationwide violates some of the country’s cornerstone environmental laws. This new lawsuit, filed May 3, is the most recent round in a nearly decade-long battle, sparked under the Obama administration, over how regulators approach the environmental impacts from oil and gas pipelines and the extent to which the public gets a say in the permitting process. READ MORE Over a Half-million Americans Live Near Oil Refineries With High Levels of a Cancer-causing Air Pollutant, Report Finds — By Sharon Kelly (8 min. read) — More than a dozen U.S. oil refineries released the potent carcinogen benzene in 2020 at levels high enough to require action under federal law, the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) reported this week. The report, which draws from government data, raises concerns about the potential health effects on those living near the refineries and the federal enforcement that the high levels of this cancer-causing air pollutant should trigger. About 60 percent of the people living near the 13 refineries are people of color, EIP found, and residents living near refineries are several times more likely to have incomes below the poverty line than the U.S. average. READ MORE Exposing High Seas Crime With Journalism—and Help From Music — By Ian Urbina (4 min. read) — About 100 miles off the coast of Thailand, three dozen Cambodian boys and men worked barefoot all day and into the night on the deck of a purse seiner fishing ship. Fifteen-foot swells climbed the sides of the vessel, clipping the crew below the knees. Ocean spray and fish innards made the floor skating-rink slippery. Seesawing erratically from the rough seas and gale winds, the deck was an obstacle course of jagged tackle, spinning winches and tall stacks of 500-pound nets. Rain or shine, shifts ran 18 to 20 hours. At night, the crew cast their nets when the small silver fish they target — mostly jack mackerel and herring — were more reflective and easier to spot in darker waters. READ MORE Ugandan Farmers Whose Land Will Soon Become a Crude Oil Pipeline Pathway Lose Years of Livelihood — By Maina Waruru (6 min. read) — Three years ago, Alfred Okumu Weki’s land was identified for acquisition by multinational oil companies and the Ugandan government to pave way for new oil infrastructure in the Albertine region of Western Uganda where major oil reserves were discovered over a decade ago. To this day, however, no pipeline has been built. This has left Weki – and others in the community – in a state of constant limbo, unable to plant crops and earn a livelihood from their land due to fear that at any moment construction could begin. In 2019, the project’s backers – the Uganda government in partnership with China National offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Total E&P Uganda – offered Weki 2 million Uganda shillings (US$600) as compensation for losing his land. READ MORE From the Climate Disinformation Database: Energy4US Energy4US describes itself as a “coalition of consumers, businesses and workers united in the belief that energy empowers us, allows us choices and improves our quality of life.” Energy4US appears to have grown out of a campaign titled “Secure Our Fuels” organized by The Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA), an industry PR group closely tied with HBW Resources, a lobbying and public affairs firm with historic ties to Alberta tar sands and proponent of the Keystone KL Pipeline. Known funders of CEA include industry groups the American Petroleum Institute (API), the American Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA), the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), while members include petroleum giants BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, and Chevron, among others. Read the full profile and browse other individuals and organizations in our Climate Disinformation Database and Koch Network Database. 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