There’s some good news on the environmental front this week …
Thumbs up to Royal Dutch Shell CEO …
When the CEO of the world’s fourth largest petroleum company and the largest in Europe says that his next car will be an electric car, it speaks volumes. Ben van Beurden, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell said, “The next buy I do is my next car, which will be an electric vehicle”. A Shell spokesman told Bloomberg the CEO will get a plug-in Mercedes-Benz S500e in September, while the Chief Financial Officer “already drives a BMW i3 electric car.”
So, oil demand might peak around 2030. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) pointed out last year that a global glut of just 2 million barrels a day is what triggered the 2014 oil price collapse. They’ve already told investors to expect the big crash in oil as soon as 2023.
We are at the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era.
EPA reverses course
In May, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a decision to halt the rule created under President Obama to reduce methane leaks from new and modified oil and natural gas drilling wells. Oil and gas companies would no longer be required to detect and repair leaks of methane and other air pollution at new operations. The EPA recently found that the problem of escaping methane is even worse than initially feared, and offsets any emissions benefit from transitioning the electricity sector from coal to natural gas-fired power plants.
The ruling was unpopular even with the oil and gas producers, who said they were already subject to state rules on methane emissions and had a financial incentive to capture methane and put it onto the market. But EPA head Scott Pruitt and Trump believed they knew best and proceeded with their agenda to erase all regulation on businesses.
Between May and August, the attorneys general in 15 states and the District of Columbia filed lawsuits against the EPA!
“By illegally blocking these vital clean air protections, Administrator Pruitt is endangering the health and safety of millions — but attorneys general have made clear: we won’t hesitate to fight back to protect our residents and our states,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading the lawsuit, said in a statement. Schneiderman was joined in filing the lawsuit by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia. Each of these states deserves a round of applause in my book.
On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the EPA’s attempt to suspend methane restrictions for the sector, formally vacating the agency’s 90-day stay of key provisions of New Source Performance Standards. On Wednesday, the EPA reversed course in yet another setback for the Trump administration’s regulatory rollback agenda.
Scott Pruitt, in keeping with the Trump-tradition, denied that the reversal of his May ruling was in any way related to the lawsuits and the ruling by the court, saying, “We believe in dialogue with, and being responsive to, our state partners. Today’s action reinforces our commitment to working with the states through the complex designation process.” Yeah, yeah, right Scottie. And donkeys fly, too.
What Keith has said many times appears to be true: we have come too far to turn back on environmental protections and clean energy initiatives. Score one for Mother Earth!