Fossil fuel lobbyists continue to use Russia’s war in Ukraine to advance long-term interests

From the mountain The Valley pipeline was announced eight years ago. A proposal to transport natural gas from West Virginia to export terminals in southern Virginia has faced regulatory hurdles and opposition from local governments. Main anxiety is that the project passes through environmentally sensitive waterways and agricultural land, which puts them at risk of spills, and also promotes hydraulic fracturing throughout West Virginia.

Now, after nearly a decade of lobbying, the energy crisis triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine appears to have turned the tide, with federal regulators backing a construction route that could bring the pipeline into operation as early as next year.

The documents show that pipeline supporters were quick to take advantage of the Ukraine crisis to influence politicians. Last month, in federal appeals courts, pipeline project lawyers argued that with the US ban on Russian natural gas imports, “domestic supplies will become even more important to the country’s energy needs.” Completion of the pipeline, lawyers said, “will undoubtedly be an important step towards building the US oil and gas infrastructure, freeing up additional natural gas for domestic consumption and export to Europe.” Other pipeline supporters, including Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., heavily cited war in Ukraine to force administration officials to quickly approve the project in the interests of national security.

Shortly thereafter, on April 8, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unanimously approved plans to build a gas pipeline across 180 bodies of water and wetlands. Analysts see the decision as the latest step in overcoming obstacles that have put the project in jeopardy for years. .

The development of the pipeline project in West Virginia is one of many fossil fuel priorities that are currently being changed due to the devastation caused by the war in Ukraine. In the early days of the war, the American Petroleum Institute, which represents such industrial giants as Exxon Mobil and Chevron, argued that this heightened the need for more active development of oil and gas reserves in the United States and for the accelerated approval of pipelines and other infrastructure.

As crisis looms in Ukraine, U.S. energy leadership is more important than ever – API tweeted at the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Other oil and gas companies soon joined the fray. In early March, the leaders of TC Energy, Enbridge, Williams and Kinder Morgan quoted a war to call for quick gas pipeline approvals that have faced opposition from activists and regulators.

Industry critics immediately opposed that further development of fossil fuels would take too long to provide any short-term relief. Gas and oil are global commodities, and a slight increase in US production will not have an immediate impact on domestic energy prices.

But rising utility and gas prices have alarmed politicians. Last month, under pressure from industry sources, including natural gas exportersBiden administration rollback plans to assess natural gas pipelines for climate and environmental justice. The Home Office also announced the plan on April 15 proceed sale of lease rights for drilling on federal lands for oil and gas.

In recent weeks there has been more and more interest in fossil fuels. Sempra Energy’s lawyers filed a lawsuit this month letter at FERC, pushing for approval of the North Baja pipeline, a project to transport liquefied natural gas to export terminals on Mexico’s west coast. The project had additional urgency “in light of the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine” and “concerns about the energy security of Europe and Central Asia,” lawyers said.

In recent weeks there has been more and more interest in fossil fuels.

TC Energy, formerly known as TransCanada, has filed an amended request for approval for its Alberta XPress project, which will expand the existing gas pipeline system. According to the company, the “beneficial domestic and international end use” of the project has “recently grown exponentially” due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the need to export oil and gas to the global market.

K&L Gates, the law firm representing Rio Grande LNG, a project to build five LNG lines in Texas. interceded FERC is calling for swift approval action given “the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Russia’s stranglehold on Europe’s energy supply.”

Fossil fuel interests are also trying to use the war in Ukraine to shape the Biden administration’s proposed rules on carbon capture and sequestration. Harry McDougald, the attorney who led industry-backed lawsuits to overturn the EPA’s conclusion on the threat of greenhouse gas emissions, filed comments with the White House Environmental Quality Council, arguing that any carbon sequestration rules should not limit the potential for oil production growth. and gas. gas development. “With Russia’s criminal invasion of Ukraine, the national imperative to increase U.S. oil production becomes clear,” McDougald wrote.

Lobbyists for a number of other industries, including power plants, refrigerator manufacturers, software developers and telecommunications providers, have also been wasting their time using the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a talking point to influence decisions on a wide range of policies, from tariffs to environmental regulations. The comments range from urgent calls to action on vital economic issues to unreliable arguments that strain the imagination to fit the Ukrainian crisis into the domestic context of the United States.

Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank supported by business interests. including google, filed a document with the Federal Trade Commission opposing new guidelines to enforce anti-merger measures that pose monopoly risks. The think tank argued that it was important to consider a transparent process for such a potentially costly new enforcement regime, especially given the “geopolitical uncertainty surrounding Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.”

The American Catering Association, a lobbying group representing electric utilities across the country, including a large number of coal-fired power plants, submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency in March against new restrictions on sewage pollution, in part pointing to “enormous pressure on fuel and energy prices” caused by the “recent war in Ukraine”.

Microsoft and the US Telecommunications Association have filed letters with the Department of Commerce calling for more government investment in semiconductor development, pointing to supply chain problems exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. “The shortage has been further exacerbated by Russia’s war with Ukraine, which has increased pressure on the supply chain for critical minerals and other raw materials and exposed additional vulnerabilities in the semiconductor supply chain,” wrote Sarah O’Neill, Microsoft lawyer.

Ukraine provides about half of the world’s supply of semiconductor neon, a colorless, odorless gas used to drive lasers in the production of specialized computer chips. Shortages due to the war, when factories in eastern Ukraine came under occupation, have alarmed car manufacturers. The Engine and Equipment Manufacturers Association, an auto parts trade group, has drawn attention to a potential global shortage of letter urging the Biden administration to take urgent action to support domestic semiconductor supply.

And the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute and the North American Food Machinery Manufacturers Association are among the lobbying groups advocating for lower US steel tariffs, citing the crisis in Ukraine.

Other petitioners calling for less US government interference in the market are less convincing. Mike Schafer, head of the fish processing plant, petitioned the Biden administration to “change laws to bring fish products to humanitarian use and K through 12 school lunch programs.” Schafer asked for government support for the fishing industry, including grants for international marketing, to feed “all refugees from Ukraine” who “could really use fish protein.”