Texas Environmental News

Russia: Implications for fossil fuels
As Russian troops are now inside Ukraine, some experts suggest a full Russian invasion is imminent. Others wonder what gambit Russian President Vladimir Putin will play. The NATO power next door seems to make him nervous, militarily, but other pundits are suggesting he’s hedging. Muscling, in a psychological way, might increase traction in Europe and ensure continued fossil fuel exports which make up 30 percent of the Russian GNP. Biden has threatened to stop the NORD II methane pipeline under construction from Russia to Germany if Russia annexes Ukraine. In the meantime, Biden critics, including pro-fossil fuel Senator Murkowski of Alaska, are suggesting U.S. methane exports to Europe could have shored up the potential European energy shortage if Biden hadn’t made fossil fuel induced climate change a big part of his presidency. The American Petroleum Institute led by Texas big oil, including Exxon and Conoco-Philips, chimed in with Murkowski. Ben Cahill, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, punted to ABC News, saying, “The Biden administration should pursue its climate agenda, including tougher regulations on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, but we’ll need fossil fuel investment for years to come, even as the energy transition picks up speed.” In the meantime, accelerating climate change shows the need for a rapid transition to clean energy. Erin Sikorsky, Center for Climate Security, said, “The administration has to do what it has to do to make sure energy supplies in Europe remain strong in the face of Russian aggression, but it has to do that with an eye toward a more rapid transition to renewable energy.” She further warned not to conflate short term crisis with the long-term strategy.

Unprecedented times
Scientists this week claim the megadrought in the American Southwest is the worst in 1,200 years and climate change is largely responsible. A. Park Williams, a climate scientist at UCLA, led an analysis using tree ring data to gauge the drought and found that 2000-21 was the driest 22-year period since 800 A.D. Julie Cole, a climate scientist at the University of Michigan, said “the study just makes clear how unusual the current conditions are.” Dr. Cole also said the study confirms the role of temperature, more than precipitation, is driving the drought. Rains vary but as human activities continue to pump greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, temperatures are rising. She said, “The air is basically more capable of pulling the water out of the soil, out of vegetation, out of crops, out of forests and it makes for drought conditions to be much more extreme.” The drought began in 2000, which coincides with 15 of the hottest years on record. Samantha Stevenson, another climate scientist, told the New York Times that the climate projections for the Southwest indicate continued dryness and higher temperatures. She said, “We’re sort of shifting into basically unprecedented times relative to anything we’ve seen in the last several hundred years.”

See no evil
Three giant Texas pipeline corporations are denying any knowledge of a monstrous methane cloud discovered by satellite hovering over Louisiana on January 21. The three corporations — Energy Transfer, Kinder Morgan and Boardwalk Pipelines — are on Louisiana’s Department of Natural Resources radar as the plume seems to have been generated near their facilities. The Hill reports that the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said no reports of leakages were made in the area. Rules allow corporations to self-report leaks.

Toxic-value understated
Texas leads the nation in exposing their citizens to the super human carcinogen ethylene oxide, a byproduct of fracked gas and the cracked chemical ethylene. Twenty-six communities adjacent to the 60 petrochemical plants primarily along the Texas coast make and use the product. Ethylene Oxide is not only a carcinogen but is also recognized as a neurotoxin, birth defect toxin, mutagen-DNA altering toxin, reproductive toxin and a chronic toxin. It is a more potent carcinogen than benzene, vinyl chloride, chromium 6 and others. An EPA zoom hearing is set for this week in a proposal to raise the TCEQ’s toxic value of the chemical.