All posts by Roger Straw

Editor, owner, publisher of The Benicia Independent

Tar-Sands oil industry in trouble in Canada as Koch Brothers disinvest

Repost from The Energy Mix

Koch Brothers Abandon Alberta Tar Sands/Oil Sands

By Geoffrey Morgan, August 16, 2019, Full story: Financial Post
jasonwoodhead23/flickr

Wichita, Kansas-based conglomerate Koch Industries has sold off its substantial position in the Canadian tar sands/oil sands, selling thousands of hectares of land to Cavalier Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Calgary-based Paramount Resources Ltd., the Financial Post revealed Wednesday.

“Koch, one of the world’s largest private companies owned by American billionaires and Republican donors Charles and David Koch, has also abandoned the licences it did not sell in the transaction with Paramount and has been allowing its leases in the play to expire,” the Post reports.

The news lands just days after tar sands/oil sands analysts bemoaned the poor response the industry is receiving from investors, despite its continuing efforts to cut costs.

“The majority of Koch Oil Sands licences have been transferred to Paramount Resources Ltd.,” Alberta Energy Regulator spokesperson Shawn Roth said in an email. “All of the remaining licences for well sites have been abandoned, which means they have been permanently sealed and taken out of service.”

A Koch subsidiary, Flint Hills Resources, still owns oil storage tanks in Hardisty, Alberta and runs U.S. refineries that process diluted bitumen from Alberta. “However, the company confirmed it had sold down its upstream oilsands holdings and surrendered expired leases in the play,” the Post states.

“Those leases, which were held by Koch Oil Sands Holdings, have varied over the years,” wrote spokesperson Rob Carlton. “These recent transactions are merely a reflection of the opportunities that are currently available in the marketplace and our desire to prioritize other initiatives.”

The Post lists a half-dozen international fossils that have abandoned the tar sands/oil sands since 2017, leaving Canadian firms like Suncor Energy Inc., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Cenovus Energy Inc., and Athabasca Oil Corporation to solidify their holdings. While the Post blames the departures on a lack of export pipeline capacity and price pressure from fracking fields in the U.S. Permian Basin, the analysis earlier this week pointed to intense competition from efficient, affordable renewable energy and electric vehicles that is rapidly eroding future demand for oil as a transportation fuel. “Koch is not the only company allowing leases in the oilsands to expire as the pace of development in the play has slowed in recent years,” the Post reports. “In a move to cut costs, MEG Energy President and CEO Derek Evans said on his company’s recent earnings call that his company would allow leases on its longer-term holdings to expire, rather than pay escalating rents on the land.”

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    Rich background on Statue of Liberty poet Emma Lazarus

    Biographer: Statue of Liberty poem embraces migrants from ‘all places’

    By Nomaan Merchant, Vallejo Times-Herald, August 15, 2019
    The Associated Press
    This undated image shows American poet Emma Lazarus, who wrote the poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. Lazarus wrote “The New Colossus” in 1883, one year after Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned laborers from China.  (AP Photo/File)

    Long before a Trump administration official suggested the poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty welcomed only people from Europe, the words captured America’s promise to newcomers at a time when the nation was also seeking to exclude many immigrants from landing on its shores.

    A biographer of poet Emma Lazarus on Wednesday challenged the comment by the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, explaining that Lazarus’ words were her way of urging Americans “to embrace the poor and destitute of all places and origins.”

    Lazarus wrote “The New Colossus” in 1883, one year after Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned laborers from China. The poem is best known for its line about welcoming “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Beginning in the 1930s, supporters of immigration began using the poem to bolster their cause. Biographer Esther Schor said Lazarus was “deeply involved” in refugee causes.

    Ken Cuccinelli suggested Tuesday in an interview with NPR that the line should be changed to “give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”

    He spoke a day after the administration announced it would move to deny green cards to many migrants who use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or other forms of public assistance, under existing rules that require people trying to gain legal status to prove they would not be a “public charge,” or burden to the government. Those rules would exempt active duty military members, refugees or asylum seekers.

    Cuccinelli, who has said his family is of Irish and Italian origin, told CNN that the poem referred “to people coming from Europe where they had class-based societies.”

    Immigrants from around the world rejected that assertion.

    “European immigrants are so offended that we would be in a more privileged position or looked upon more favorably because of that,” said Fiona McEntee, a native of Ireland who settled in the U.S. in 2005 and is now an immigration lawyer based in Chicago. “I just think of the Irish immigrants that came over back in the 1800s, early 1900s. That’s really similar to a lot of the immigrants today.”

    As tourists sailed and walked around the statue on Wednesday, Primoz Bedenk, an entrepreneur from Slovenia said Lazarus’ poem was “not meant to exclude or select certain people.”

    “From the first day, they were words that welcomed everyone, not just those who suit today’s establishment,” Bedenk said.

    The administration, which has enacted several measures to restrict immigration, has challenged the poem before. Two years ago, senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller, in defending a proposal to favor English speaking immigrants, argued that the poem is “not actually part of the original statue” because it was not inscribed in the base until 1903, 17 years after the monument was unveiled.

    Decades after ships stopped arriving at Ellis Island within sight of the statue, immigrants say it is still a powerful symbol in their countries of origin.

    “It tells everyone around the world to come to the United States with the possibility of building a better life,” said Seydi Sarr, a 44-year-old naturalized immigrant from Senegal. “That’s the dream the United States is selling. I didn’t have a dream of being here, but when the opportunity came I said, ‘Yes, that allows me to move up.’”

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      Kentucky Senator “Moscow Mitch” backs Russia, stops bipartisan votes, enters into financial arrangement with Russian oligarch

      By Roger Straw, August 15, 2019

      Taking down Mitch McConnell probably as important as taking down Trump

      If you missed it, you really should set aside the next 25 minutes to watch Rachel Maddow (below) as she lays out in exquisite detail how Mitch McConnell has allowed Russia to gain an economic foothold in the US so that they can influence US politics from within.

      If you don’t have 25 minutes, read “Jaws Drop – Rachel Maddow Lays Out Mitch McConnell’s Economic Treason” on PoliticusUSA.

      Here’s Rachel’s exposé:

      And … if you only have 7 minutes, check out this excerpt of Rachel’s show, posted in a tweet by Sarah Reese Jones:

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        Benicia Rep. Grayson: How will he thank corporate oil for large campaign donations?

        By Roger Straw, August 14, 2019

        Tim Grayson, 14th California Assembly District

        Tim Grayson is Benicia’s Representative in the California State Assembly.  First elected in 2016 and re-elected in 2018, he has begun campaigning for a final term in 2020.  The primary election is set for March 3, and Tim is well on his way to a huge advantage, having raised over $285,000 in the first half of 2019.

        An August 14 report in the Vallejo Times-Herald detailed Grayson’s 2019 campaign contributors , including that he “received donations from several petroleum and energy resources businesses, including Valero Services, Inc. ($2,000)….”

        Valero wasn’t alone.  The following Big Oil & Energy companies were generous to Tim this year:

        OIL OR GAS COMPANY AMOUNT
        Chevron Corporation and its Subsidiaries/Affiliates $4,700
        Valero Services, Inc. $2,000
        Tesoro Companies, Inc. $1,000
        Signal Hill Petroleum, Inc. $1,000
        Seneca Resources Company, LLC $1,000
        Phillips 66 Company, LLC $1,000
        PBF Holding Company, LLC $1,500
        Macpherson Oil Company $1,500
        E & B Natural Resources Management Corporation $2,000
        California Independent Petroleum Association PAC
        (Note: Vallejo Times-Herald reported only $2,500, but there were 2 additional non-monetary donations, totaling $4,650)
        ($4,650)
        TOTAL FROM OIL & ENERGY $20,350

        I created a downloadable excel spreadsheet listing of all of Grayson’s 2019 contributions (source: California Secretary of State).

        Bill Dodd, 3rd California Senate District

        It is interesting to compare Grayson’s war chest with that of Benicia’s State Senator, Bill Dodd.  According to the California Secretary of State, Dodd has taken ZERO DOLLARS from the oil & energy industry in 2019.  Here’s Dodd’s downloadable excel spreadsheet.

        Both of Benicia’s representatives have already taken in huge amounts for their re-election in 2020: Grayson over $285,000 and Dodd over $330,000.  Both have received contributions from a wide variety of corporate and organizational interest groups, including many political action committees (PACs).

        It is a fair question to ask, how will our representatives in Sacramento thank their big donors?

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