News Roundups

Gas is the new coal, infrastructure $ could help plug wells, and more

Weekly news headlines about the stimulus and recovery from April 30, 2021

Why These C.E.O.s Got Paid So Much in the Pandemic

Companies battered by the pandemic are handing out enormous pay packages to their C.E.O.s, highlighting the sharp divides in a nation on the precipice of an economic boom, but still wracked by steep income inequality.

Executive compensation has, of course, been soaring for decades now. Chief executives of big companies in the U.S. now make, on average, 320 times as much as the typical worker. In 1989, that ratio was 61 to 1.

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Greta to Congress: ‘End Fossil Fuel Subsidies Now’

Between releasing new climate commitments under the Paris Agreement and organizing an international Earth Day summit, it’s clear that President Joe Biden wants to reposition the U.S. as an international climate leader. At a hearing on Thursday, 17-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg offered him some advice on a way to do so: ending all subsidies to the dirty energy sector.

“I am not even going to explain why fossil fuel subsidies are bad,” she told U.S. lawmakers. “It is the year 2021. The fact we are still having this discussion and, even more, that we are still supporting fossil fuels directly or indirectly using taxpayer money is a disgrace. It is proof that we have not understood the climate emergency at all.”

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Gas Is the New Coal With Risk of $100 Billion in Stranded Assets

Natural gas is falling out of favor with emissions-wary investors and utilities at a quicker pace than coal did, catching some power generators unaware and potentially leaving them stuck with billions of dollars of assets they can’t sell.

Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are among the banks that strengthened their financing restrictions on thermal coal under pressure from shareholders wanting to avoid the fuel, and the expectation is that gas is next. Executives at some western European companies say they’re already struggling to sell gas-fired facilities.

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Shell and BP bounce back into profit even as oil’s glory days fade

The world’s biggest oil companies are preparing to mark an end to the darkest year in the industry’s history with a return to profit that could be the last hurrah for fossil fuels. Royal Dutch Shell and BP are among the companies expected to report quarterly profits from producing oil for the first time since the outbreak of Covid-19.

The tentative reopening of the world’s economies has helped push international crude prices above $65 a barrel. They plunged to 21-year lows of less than $20 a barrel last year as major economies came to a standstill, triggering the sharpest slump in oil demand in the industry’s history.

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Infrastructure money could aid push to plug oil, gas wells

By some accounts, Pennsylvania has the worst accumulation of old, unplugged, ownerless oil and gas wells in the nation. There are an estimated 200,000 of them, and the cost to plug them could exceed $6 billion.

The state’s orphan well plugging program has been underfunded for decades, but it is primed to take advantage of an influx of cash.

Part of President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion proposal to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure would dedicate $16 billion to reclaiming abandoned wells and mines across the U.S.

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Abandoned Oil Pipelines Are a Disaster Waiting to Happen in the Gulf of Mexico

Seems like no one is keeping an eye on what polluters are doing in the Gulf of Mexico. For decades, the federal government has allowed the oil and gas industry to abandon almost all ocean pipeline infrastructure it no longer uses without further cleanup—and barely monitors the safety of active pipelines still in use today, a new watchdog report found.

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