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Big Oil’s Hydrogen Hustle Exposed

By staff - Sunflower Alliance, March 27, 2024

The federal government is providing big bucks to projects that produce hydrogen as a “climate solution.” Most hydrogen produced today is fueled by fossil gas (methane) — so not really a solution at all.

Climate advocates have been advocating for “guardrails” on the program to make sure the hydrogen projects that receive federal money are really produced by new renewable energy.

But this report from Friends of the Earth reveals ways that Big Oil and other polluters are scheming to make the federal rules as lax as possible. They’re campaigning to add loopholes to the guardrails.

Under pressure from environmental groups, the Biden administration drafted guidelines for the federal subsidies that said qualifying hydrogen projects had to meet the requirements of the three guardrails. They had to be:

  • powered by renewable capacity built within three years of the hydrogen facility (additionality/incrementality)
  • connected to the same regional grid as the hydrogen production
    (regionality/deliverability)
  • able to match renewable energy usage on an hourly basis with hydrogen production, albeit starting in 2028 (time-matching).

Fossil interests are calling for the three guardrails to be removed, weakened to the point of irrelevance, or failing that, waived for ‘first mover’ projects. They’re hoping to grab federal money intended for green energy,

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

Winning Fossil Fuel Workers Over to a Just Transition

By Norman Rogers - Jacobin, March 18, 2024

This article is adapted from Power Lines: Building a Labor-Climate Justice Movement, edited by Jeff Ordower and Lindsay Zafir (The New Press, 2024).

I have a dream. I have a nightmare.

The dream is that working people find careers with good pay, good benefits, and a platform for addressing grievances with their employers. In other words, I dream that everyone gets what I got over twenty-plus years as a unionized worker in the oil industry.

The nightmare is that people who had jobs with good pay and power in the workplace watch those gains erode as the oil industry follows the lead of steel, auto, and coal mining to close plants and lay off workers. It is a nightmare rooted in witnessing the cruelties suffered by our siblings in these industries — all of whom had good-paying jobs with benefits and the apparatus to process grievances when their jobs went away.

Workers, their families, and their communities were destroyed when the manufacturing plants and coal mines shut down, with effects that linger to this day. Without worker input, I fear that communities dependent on the fossil fuel industry face a similar fate.

This nightmare is becoming a reality as refineries in Wyoming, Texas, Louisiana, California, and New Mexico have closed or have announced pending closures. Some facilities are doing the environmentally conscious thing and moving to renewable fuels. Laudable as that transition is, a much smaller workforce is needed for these processes. For many oil workers, the choice is to keep working, emissions be damned, or to save the planet and starve.

United Steelworkers (USW) Local 675 — a four-thousand-member local in Southern California, of which I am the second vice president — is helping to chart a different course, one in which our rank-and-file membership embraces a just transition and in which we take the urgent steps needed to protect both workers and the planet. Along with other California USW locals, we are fighting to ensure that the dream — not the nightmare — is the future for fossil fuel workers as we transition to renewable energy.

California’s Oil Country Hopes Carbon Management Will Provide Jobs. It May Be Disappointed

By Emma Foehringer Merchant and Joshua Yeager - Inside Climate News, February 21, 2024

On a recent Tuesday evening, several oil workers in Kern County, California, spoke out in support of a project that they hope will create much-needed jobs.

“What I’m hoping to get out of this is hope for my grandson’s generation,” said Allen Miller, a third-generation oilman who came to work in the petroleum-rich region in 1984. “That they can provide for their family the way my grandpa did and the way I did.”

The audience applauded Miller’s comments during a crowded public meeting in Taft, a city of about 8,500, in the heart of the state’s oil country. 

The proposed project, known as Carbon TerraVault 1, would store millions of tons of planet-warming carbon a mile beneath the nearby Elk Hills Oil Field. Oil production in that field and others nearby has sustained the county’s economy for over a century. 

“This is our oil field,” said Manny Campos, a longtime Taft resident and businessman. “I’m glad to see we are being intentional about keeping it that way and keeping the benefits local.”

Some environmental advocates are skeptical of the carbon removal industry — and its ability to create a significant number of jobs — but California policymakers view carbon removal and storage as a necessary tool to manage greenhouse gas emissions. 

The fledgling technology is a key part of the state’s plan to fight climate change, which also includes phasing out oil drilling by 2045. The county and California Resources Corporation (CRC), the oil company hoping to build the TerraVault, see carbon management as a vital new revenue stream. Kern County stands to lose thousands of jobs and millions in tax dollars as drilling declines 

But carbon storage facilities themselves are not currently projected to generate large numbers of jobs, according to a report prepared for the county. Kern’s own analysis shows the initial phase of the TerraVault project will only produce five permanent positions.

Big Oil's Dark Money Ad Campaign Exposed

By Staff - Center for Biological Diversity, January 8, 2024

This is an ongoing pillar of the fossil fuel industry’s playbook in California: front groups organized and funded by the oil companies masquerade as “broad coalitions” of concerned citizens and business representatives but are functionally opaque entities with a single mission: furthering the oil and gas industry’s agenda in the state.

Usually organized as 501(c)(4) nonprofits (“social welfare organizations”), such groups are referred to as “dark money” because they’re able to spend money on certain types of campaigns without revealing their donors. Under California law, these types of groups are legally permitted to spend funds on “issue advocacy” campaigns without revealing their donors.

Because these “issue advocacy” campaigns don’t explicitly advocate for or against ballot measures or referenda, millions of dollars can be spent to subtly influence voters without disclosing the true funders behind the messaging campaign. Because of the lack of donor disclosure, we refer to these groups as “dark money groups.”

This report profiles three such groups that have been actively pushing an oil industry ad campaign to promote anti-SB1137 talking points (higher gas prices, losing good jobs, foreign oil); all three track back to the California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA) and to the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the top lobbyist for the oil industry in the western United States.

Download a copy of this publication here (link).

The Climate Contradictions of Gary Smith

By Paul Atkin - Greener Jobs Alliance, September 21, 2023

In agreeing to be interviewed by the Spectator under the title the folly of Net Zero GMB General Secretary Gary Smith lets his members down; not least because remarks like these from a leading trade unionist help give Rishi Sunak encouragement to accelerate his retreat from the government’s already inadequate climate targets.

The phrase “the folly of Net Zero” makes as much sense as “the folly of getting into the lifeboats when the ship is sinking”

Difficulties in making a transition to sustainability does not mean that making it isn’t essential, and the faster we move the less damage is done. We can see that damage all around us even now. 

Gary doesn’t seem to get this, any more than Rishi Sunak does, and he latches on to some of the same lines as the PM does, albeit with a more pungent turn of phrase. To go through these point by point, quotes are either directly from Gary Smith or the Spectator.

The Industry Agenda: Hydrogen

By Hannah Story Brown and Emma Marsano - The Revolving Door Project, September 6, 2023

This Hydrogen Industry Agenda Report examines the influence agenda of the rapidly growing “clean” hydrogen industry, which is poised to receive tens of billions of dollars of funding and tax credits from the federal government over the next several years. The report outlines the executive branch departments, personnel, and policy fights that hydrogen industry stakeholders are most determined to influence, and points out the climate consequences of the lax standards that many industry players are lobbying for.

While hydrogen is widely touted by industry as a “clean energy source for the future,” it is neither an energy source (see “What is Hydrogen?”) nor necessarily clean. As this report explains, hydrogen’s reputation as a renewable energy “source” is misleading: hydrogen is only as emissions-free as the way in which it is produced, and the process in which it is put to use. Today, most hydrogen production and utilization results in significant quantities of greenhouse gas pollution.

The significant overlap between the hydrogen industry and the fossil fuel industry—involving not only many of the same corporations, but also shared lobbying groups and greenwashing tactics—is particularly troubling given how much money the Biden administration is pouring into hydrogen as a cornerstone of its climate strategy. As long as a role for fossil fuels is preserved in the hydrogen economy, hydrogen will not be “clean,” and its narrow potential role in true system-wide decarbonization will be overshadowed by the profit-seeking excesses of major industry players seeking federal funds without federal safeguards

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

10th Annual Anti-Chevron Day

What a World Beyond Fossil Fuels Will Mean for Workers, Families, and Communities

‘Sustainable’ pension funds accused of greenwashing over billions held in oil and gas firms

By James Tapper - The Guardian, May 14, 2023

People investing their pensions in funds that claim green credentials are being warned they may actually be backing the world’s largest oil and gas companies.

Carbon Tracker Initiative said that asset managers have invested $376bn (£295bn) in oil and gas companies, despite publicly pledging to back efforts to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C. The environmental thinktank based in London and New York found that more than 160 funds with a green label held $4.6bn in 15 companies including ExxonMobil, Chevron and TotalEnergies.

It also found that 25 members of the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative had invested in those companies and some had increased their holdings in 2022. NZAM said its international initiative started two years ago and investors needed time to change their strategies.

The warning comes as the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority prepares to publish anti-greenwashing rules that are intended to clean up how investment funds are labelled.

Destruction is at the heart of everything we do: Chevron’s junk climate action agenda and how it intensifies global harm

By Rachel Rose Jackson and Adrien Tofighi-Niaki - Corporate Accountability, May 2023

This exposé brings into question Chevron’s proclaimed climate action and ‘green’ image. Analysis of the activities associated with Chevron’s ‘net zero’ climate action plan raises significant concerns about whether its ‘climate action’ is displacing the needed emissions reductions to avoid climate catastrophe, spurring harm to communities and ecosystems, and further hindering the likelihood of meaningful climate action globally.

Key findings this research yielded:

  • More than 90% of the carbon offsets Chevron has retired through the voluntary carbon market to ‘cancel out’ its emissions seem to be worthless— presumed ‘junk’ until proven otherwise.
  • The technological ‘low carbon’ schemes appear to be failing to capture the emissions promised, in some cases missing targets by as much as 50%.
  • A major proportion of the schemes it’s investing in as part of its ‘net zero’ plan are linked to claims of local community abuse, environmental degradation, and/or may even be fueling further emissions. Almost all of the harm claimed to have been inflicted is on communities in the Global South.
  • Chevron’s ‘net zero’ pledge—even if fully implemented to the greatest effect without causing harm—overlooks 90% of the total emissions associated with its business practices.
  • Chevron is ignoring the scientifically founded need for a fossil fuel phase out, projecting emissions for 2022-2025 equivalent to that of 10 European countries during a similar period.
  • It invests millions annually to manipulate the political will for climate action, seeking to shape climate policy to its will.

It’s imperative that shareholders, policymakers, and the public see Chevron’s green claims for what they are—greenwashed destruction. As this exposé illustrates, Chevron appears to be continuing its legacy of preventing, not promoting, the legally binding regulations, the rapid deployment of real solutions and the fast track to Real Zero emissions that needs to happen to avert climate catastrophe.

Download a copy of this publication here (link).

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