Rest Day ~ The Land Desk



And a power grid nerd video!

Jonathan P. Thompson
Nov 8
Lubrication, Atomic City, Idaho. Photo illustration/digital painting by Jonathan P. Thompson. 

The big news these days is that Congress finally got its sh*% together and passed an infrastructure bill (though they’ve failed to do anything with the Build Back Better bill which is perhaps more important). There’s a lot of stuff in there—like $1 trillion worth—and I’m still combing through it to get an idea of what it might mean for Western states. More on that in a coming dispatch. 

In the meantime a few headlines, in brief. I wrote last week about how the Biden administration had deferred auctioning off a big portion of parcels nominated for oil and gas leasing in Wyoming. In Colorado they went even further, deferring 95 percent of nominated parcels due to potential impact to wildlife. It seems as if the administration is doing de facto leasing reform, which is better than nothing. 

Down in Arizona the big utility, APS, wanted a rate increase to help it fork out a significant amount to help communities transition economically after the closure of coal mines and power plants. It’s certainly worth debating whether the ratepayers or shareholders should be paying for these things, but certainly someone should be. Arizona regulators, however, don’t seem to think so: They gave APS a revenue cut, rather than hike, meaning the utility is only making a “token payment” to these struggling communities and tribes. 

In more Methane Madness news: California regulators allowed Southern California Gas Co to increase the capacity of Aliso Canyon storage field. Nearby residents and environmentalists wanted the facility closed, altogether, given that it was the site of a massive methane leak in 2015 that sickened people and contributed 100,000 metric tons of potent greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. 

And, the U.S. Forest Service granted a right-of-way for a proposed oil-hauling railroad that would connect Utah’s Uinta Basin with the national rail network, thereby facilitating more drilling. 

Finally, a reader sent us this awesome piece from John Oliver explaining the electrical grid in easy-to-understand, entertaining terms. It seems appropriate here since the grid is one of the beneficiaries of the infrastructure bill! 

~~~ WATCH ~~~

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