A new US government management plan unveiled on 23 August clears the way for coal mining and oil and gas drilling on land that used to be off limits as part of a sprawling national monument in Utah before President Donald Trump downsized the protected area 2 years ago. The plan released by the Bureau of Land Management would also open more lands to cattle grazing and recreation and acknowledges there could be "adverse effects" on land and resources in the monument. But while allowing more activities, the plan would also add a few safeguards for the cliffs, canyons, waterfalls, and arches still inside Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument that weren't in a proposed plan issued last year. Among them are opening fewer acres to all-terrain vehicles and cancelling a plan that would have allowed people to collect some nondinosaur fossils in certain areas. The BLM says no land will be sold from the 1,345 square miles that were cut from what had been the 3,000 square miles of the monument.
One of the most important environmental issues associated with contemporary openpit mining is the closure of mine pit lakes and the perpetual legacy these lakes can potentially generate. The water quality within the pit lake, plus surface water and ground water discharging from the pit lake, meets premining or other acceptable water quality conditions of the receiving environment. The achievement of these goals is known as walk away pit lake closure. Peer-reviewed publications of successful walk away pit lake closure provide mining companies with the ability to address public concerns regarding the safety of pit lakes that commonly occur during the permitting, operations, and closure phases of mining. To date, most published work on walk away pit lake closure work has occurred in the coal mining sector in Germany and Australia (McCullough et al., 2009; Jones and McCullough, 2011; Kumar et al., 2013; Schultz et al., 2013). In North America, examples of walk away pit lake closure are not widely discussed in the literature despite there being excellent examples from the coal mining sector in Alberta, Canada (e.g. Portsmouth Lake, see MNDNR, 2018). Although seldom included in discussions of pit lakes from the metal and coal mining sectors, the aggregate and fabricated-stone mining sectors also produce pit lakes, and there are numerous examples throughout North America where these pit lakes have been successfully closed and transformed into post-mining resources (Vandenberg, 2018; Crossman, 2019).
BP Ventures has invested $5 million in Finite Resources, the parent company of Finite Carbon, a US-based company working to manage forest carbon. The investment will enable Finite Carbon to grow a new line of business to incentivize sustainable forest management, financed by businesses seeking to offset carbon emissions. Finite Carbon, founded in 2009, is the largest developer of forest carbon offsets in North America, with more than 40 forest projects covering nearly 3 million acres. The company offers landowners a single-source solution for inventorying, managing, and monetizing forest carbon assets. BP has been an advocate for the establishment of carbon pricing systems and already supports and enables projects that reduce emissions and generate environmental credits, both for voluntary use and compliance purposes.
Plains All American Pipeline said it will add a fee for users of a new oil pipeline to pay for the cost of the Trump administration's tariffs on imported steel, making it the first US energy pipeline operator to do so, Reuters reported. According to a filing with the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Plains will begin charging shippers $0.05/bbl on its 670,000-BOPD Cactus II pipeline starting next April to offset higher construction costs from governmental regulation and tariffs. The company estimated that the 25% steel tariff would add $40 million to its costs for the $1.1-billion pipeline, which runs 550 miles from the Permian Basin to Corpus Christi, Texas, on the US Gulf Coast. Last year, US President Donald Trump announced the imposition of tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, one of several tariffs imposed during his presidency. The US Commerce Department denied Plains's request for a waiver on imported steel imported from Greece for Cactus II in May, saying the request was not a "complete submission."
As industries and governments struggle on a global scale to stop carbon emissions and accelerate progress toward the 2 C path set out in the Paris Agreement, efforts are also growing to tackle emissions and climate change on a grassroots level. In Alberta, for example, a $35-million challenge to turn CO₂ emissions from a waste stream into valuable products for the Canadian province has led to the commercialization of two new technologies that could deliver greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions of almost 2 million metric tons per year by 2030--that's equal to GHG emissions from 424,628 passenger vehicles driven for one year or carbon sequestered more than 33 million tree seedlings grown for 10 years. As co-winners of Emission Reductions Alberta's (ERA) Grand Challenge: Innovative Carbon Uses, Mangrove Water Technologies and CarbonCure Technologies each received $5 million to help commercialize their technologies to capture and use CO2 to deliver environmental and economic benefits in Alberta and around the world. The two companies were the final winners of ERA's 5-year, $35-million challenge, which was designed to accelerate unique, promising, and impactful technologies to convert CO₂ emissions into new carbon-based products and markets. Mangrove Water Technologies combines fuel-cell and electrodialysis-based technologies to convert salts into valuable chemicals and desalinated water for onsite use in oil sands, mining, and other industrial process facilities that require waste brine disposal or that have brines that need to be converted to chemicals such as hydroxide, acids, and others.
Kay Priestly was appointed to the board of directors at FMC Technologies. Priestly served as the CEO of Turquoise Hill Resources from 2012 to 2014. She worked for 6 years at Rio Tinto as chief financial officer of the company's copper product group and its Kennecott Utah copper operations. Priestly spent more than 24 years at Arthur Andersen, providing tax and consulting services to global companies in the energy and mining sectors. She holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from Louisiana State University.
Richard Boakye Yiadom, EIT from Ghana, West Africa, is currently a MS in petroleum engineering candidate at the University of Utah. He received his BS in mining engineering from the University of Utah and was a recipient of the prestigious McIntosh Engineering Scholarship by the SME Foundation. Before joining the program, he worked as a mine engineer for Peabody Energy at their Twentymile Mine in Colorado and Rawhide Mine in Wyoming. At Peabody Energy, Yiadom put together and supervised several high capital projects and carried out mine planning projects. Among his achievements, he generated a water model for the mine and recommended a booster pump location.
In March, the United States announced a plan to enforce a 25% tariff on various raw and finished steel products in a move designed to boost domestic production, increase manufacturing jobs, and gain concessions from some of the country's trading partners. A survey of leading economists conducted by the Initiative on Global Markets at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business showed a mostly negative reaction as to whether the tariffs would improve American welfare, even though the shares of US steel and aluminum producers saw an immediate boost in the wake of the announcement. But beyond that, the tariffs may have a noticeable impact on the oil and gas industry, which uses significant amounts of steel for drilling and the construction of production facilities, LNG terminals, pipelines, gas processing facilities, and vessels. The American Petroleum Institute (API) and 10 other energy trade organizations have urged US President Donald Trump to exclude steel supplied to oil and gas from the tariff plan. The Association of Oil Pipe Lines (AOPL) has also expressed disappointment with the tariff, saying the plan could result in jobs lost by US pipeline construction workers.
The decision may alleviate some of the pressures oil and gas producers faced in the wake of their imposition last year. Canada and Mexico made up a combined 20% of US imports of oil country tubular goods in 2017. Operators are increasing capital budgets in the wake of tariffs and quotas initiated by the US government on steel imports, and the product exclusion process has revealed a host of other issues. If the tariffs are here to stay, what does industry hope to see moving forward? How will a US steel tariff affect the oil and gas supply chain?
BHP announced a 5-year, $400-million Climate Investment Program to develop technologies to reduce emissions from its operations as well as those generated from the use of its resources. By refusing development consent of a coal mine on the basis of likely contribution to climate change and adverse social impacts, the New South Wales Land and Environment Court has drawn attention to the increasing importance of human rights considerations in assessing the impact of major projects. There is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than there has been for 800,000 years—since before our species evolved. Royal Dutch Shell is changing its tune on carbon, saying it will tie executive pay to shorter-term reductions in emissions. A dire government report on the far-reaching impact of climate change could increase pressure on the energy industry to curb greenhouse gas emissions and political leaders to act more decisively to reduce the use of fossil fuels, analysts said.