"For much of the state of Maine, the environment is the economy"
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2014 October 31
The general partner of Goldboro LNG LP II, which is developing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal on the Nova Scotia coast near Halifax, is seeking authority to export U.S. gas to feed the project.
Pieridae US filed to export up to 292 Bcf per year (or about 0.8 Bcf/d) from the United States to Canada under multiple long-term contracts. LNG exports would be to countries that have free trade agreements (FTA) with the United States and to those that do not, Pieridae said. Some of the U.S. gas could be used to fuel the liquefaction facility or for other energy purposes, the company told DOE.
Gas would be sourced at or near Baileyville, ME, on the Maritimes & Northeast U.S. (M&N US) Pipeline. No pipeline facilities are planned to be constructed in the United States in support of the project, Pieridae said.
In March the plans for the terminal at Goldboro, NS, received provincial environmental approval (see Daily GPI, March 21).
Reversal of the M&N Pipeline, which currently carries Canadian gas into the United States, to put Marcellus Shale output onto the global LNG market, has also been raised as a possibility by Spanish energy conglomerate Repsol for conversion of its Canaport import terminal next to Irving Oil's New Brunswick refinery at [Saint John] (see Daily GPI, Jan. 2, 2014; Nov. 8, 2013).
Webmaster's comment: Save Passamaquoddy Bay believes US regulations prohibit US natural gas that is exported to Canada from being exported from Canada to a third country.
Critics say the potential benefit isn't worth up to $75 million a year that ratepayers may be billed to subsidize the project.
The state Public Utilities Commission voted 2-1 Thursday to move forward on a possible natural gas pipeline expansion in Maine, which could help control high electricity costs by increasing supplies to gas-fired power plants during the winter.
Commissioners Tom Welch and Mark Vannoy voted to move to the next regulatory phase and review three proposals for new pipelines. Commissioner David Littell opposed the decision, saying the agency needs to examine more alternatives before going ahead with such a costly proposal – the $75 million annual subsidy could run for 20 years.
The timing of the next phase is unclear, but the PUC may complete its review and be ready to recommend an option early next year. The governor needs to approve any plan.
An expanded pipeline network could meet that demand, but there’s a risk for ratepayers. The subsidy, which pipeline backers say is needed to make the project financially viable, would involve the state buying some of the pipeline’s capacity. If demand is weak and state officials can’t find a private user who needs the capacity, the state would still have to pay for its share of the expanded capacity. And that cost could fall onto ratepayers’ shoulders.
“It’s a use of ratepayer money that’s inappropriate,” said Greg Cunningham, a senior lawyer with the [Conservation Law Foundation].
The foundation also objects because expansion means increasing the state’s reliance on natural gas, and that runs counter to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he said.
…[W]hoever is elected governor will be able to appoint two of the three commissioners who will rule on the next phases of the gas pipeline proposal. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: This would create more dependence on hydrocarbon fuels instead of building renewable energy infrastructure.
Dominion Cove Point LNG LP has started construction on the Cove Point LNG export project on Chesapeake Bay near Lusby, Md., a month after the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [FERC] authorized building the facility (OGJ Online, Sept. 30, 2014).
Ninety-eight municipal election candidates from Squamish, West Vancouver, Bowen Island, Gibsons, Lions Bay and Whistler were emailed and phoned regarding their thoughts on the controversial Woodfibre LNG plant proposed for Howe Sound.
The plant plans to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal approximately seven kilometres southwest of Squamish.
Only 31 candidates (of the known 88 still in the election race) filled out the two-question survey by non-profit organization Propeller Strategy Society. Ninety-four per cent (29 out of 31) said they did not support the Woodfibre LNG plant moving forward. The two in favour were from Squamish.
“Woodfibre LNG is one of the biggest election issues in the region, yet it seems some candidates aren’t eager to provide a straight-up yes or no answer about whether they support it or not,” said Proboszcz in a press release.
The fight against fracking, fracked gas pipelines and LNG terminals is heating up in BC and on Vancouver Island.
On Tuesday Nov. 4t the Comox Valley Council of Canadians will be hosting a town hall meeting for an informative discussion on the ramifications of fracking and LNG development. The LNG town hall will take place at 7 p.m. at Mark Isfeld Secondary School in Courtenay.
With over 14 massive LNG terminals proposed and many more super tankers slated for the B.C. coast, communities are mobilizing to take a stand against a fractured future and oppose Premier Clark’s LNG agenda.
A recent study published in Nature confirms that natural gas alone is not a bridge to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The study finds that, “in the absence of new climate policies, increased supplies of natural gas may have little effect on CO2 emissions and could actually delay decarbonization of the global energy system.” An abundant supply of low cost natural gas competes with and replaces not only dirtier fuels, like coal and oil, but also cleaner resources such as wind, solar and efficiency.
Abundant gas entrenches us more deeply in a high-emissions, climate-compromised future, unless accompanied by robust, additional policies ensuring greater efficiency and a swift transition to low-carbon energy. CLF’s groundbreaking 2014 settlement with Footprint Power, a proposed natural gas-fired power plant sited on the grounds of a closed coal-fired plant in Salem, MA, included binding annual emissions limits and a fixed retirement date of no later than 2050. These conditions tamp down our reliance on natural gas and align plant operation with the timely decarbonization of our energy system. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
According to many commentators, cheap natural gas is producing a renaissance in U.S. manufacturing and putting European competitors at a disadvantage.
But empirical studies show the impact has been small and concentrated in a handful of energy-intensive industries that account for only a small share of manufacturing value-added.
Melick’s findings are consistent with similar studies performed by the International Monetary Fund and others which find the whole-economy impact of cheaper gas is “positive but modest”.
…If cheap energy is going to fuel a broad manufacturing renaissance in future, there is scant evidence for it so far. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
The American Public Gas Association (APGA) explains that the 2014 EIA study examined the impact of US energy markets of exporting 12, 16, and 20 billion ft3/d of natural gas from the lower 48 states under various scenarios. These include high oil and gas resource cases, low resource cases, high export scenarios, and a reference case to capture the potential impacts using standard assumptions about federal policy and the domestic market’s response. The study concluded that exports generate higher economic output, which outweighs any price impacts caused by exports. However, as APGA has continually argued, the study shows that ‘increased LNG exports lead to increased natural gas prices’, and that the study also found that the domestic price of natural gas in the reference case, ‘more than doubles between 2013 and 2040’.
Summary of results
- Increased LNG exports lead to increased natural gas prices.
- Natural gas markets in the United States balance in response to increased LNG exports mainly through increased natural gas production.
- Supply from higher domestic production is augmented by reductions in natural gas use by domestic end-users, who respond to higher domestic natural gas prices.
- Increased LNG exports result in higher total primary energy use and energy-related CO2 emissions in the United States.
- Consumer expenditures for natural gas and electricity increase modestly with added LNG exports.
- Added U.S. LNG exports result in higher levels of economic output, as measured by real gross domestic product as (GDP).
- Added U.S. LNG exports result in higher levels of domestic consumption expenditures for goods and services in most cases.
- Results for export scenarios using baselines representing higher domestic demand for natural gas than in the Reference case both economy-wide (HEG case) and specifically for electric power generation (ACNR case) differ only slightly from those using the Reference case baseline.
- Results for export scenarios using the HOGR and LOGR baselines that respectively make more optimistic and more pessimistic assumptions regarding natural gas resources and technology than the Reference case show some differences from those using the other baselines.
- A slower, more realistic, ramp-up in LNG export capability results in slightly lower price impacts in the early years of the projection and delays increases in domestic natural gas production that support higher LNG exports.
- AEO2014, which includes the cases used as baselines in this study, best reflects EIA's view on LNG exports and U.S. natural gas markets more generally.
2014 October 29
The recently announced formation of the Coalition to Lower Energy Costs (CLEC) represents the latest tactic employed by Kinder Morgan and its Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) subsidiary in their effort to build a gas pipeline on the backs of electric customers.…
A quick read of CLEC’s website exposes its self-serving intentions as it unabashedly proposes that the solution to anticipated high energy costs is the development of a new 2 bcf/day pipeline to be paid for by consumers that would just happen to follow the same route from New York to Dracut, MA that TGP has proposed. CLEC cites to “studies” that support this approach, but neglects to mention that they were written by experts hired by TGP and that their “flood the market with gas” approach was widely discredited by a variety of experts in a recent proceeding before the Maine Public Utilities Commission, as being bad for consumers and likely to undermine the energy markets. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Mainers do not have to choose between electricity and national security. There is a third choice that will enable us to maximize both. The residents of the Boothbay region have already done this, in a pilot project which we could replicate all over the state.
…[W]ith a grant from Efficiency Maine and with technical advice from Grid Solar and others, Boothbay businesses and residents reduced their demand by 10 percent over three years, and now they are reducing it even further. They don’t need those new transmission lines.
How did Boothbay reduce demand? By installing “non-transmission alternatives” – solar PV panels, more efficient light bulbs and appliances, battery banks that store excess electricity, blocks of ice called “Ice Bears” that boost air conditioners, and a computer system that turns on existing standby generators in hospitals and government offices during peak demand.
Boothbay has demonstrated that Mainers do not need to pay for an additional natural gas pipeline to generate enough electricity. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
GNL Quebec Inc is applying for a liquefied natural gas export license from the National Energy Board, requesting permission to export as much as 11 million tonnes of LNG per year. The gas would come from a proposed liquefaction plant in Saguenay, Quebec, about 210 kilometers (130 miles) north of Quebec City, according to regulatory documents.
The Energie Saguenay project is the first proposed for Quebec and is backed by GNL Quebec, owned by Freestone Capital LLC and Breyer Capital LLC. GNL Quebec is planning to build a 650-kilometer long pipeline connecting with TransCanada Corp's main natural-gas conduit to supply the facility with gas from Western Canada. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ New York regulators have revised their proposed liquefied natural gas storage rules to include size restrictions in response to public comments.
The regulations would allow LNG fueling and storage facilities in New York for the first time since 1973, when the state imposed a moratorium following a Staten Island explosion that killed 40 workers. The regulations would make New York the only state to require a permit for LNG storage.
The revision released Tuesday would limit the size of facilities to 70,000 gallons. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
The move follows a report by ICN and the Center for Public Integrity that documented how and why toxic oil and gas waste is virtually unregulated.
Rep. Matthew Cartwright, a first-term Democrat from eastern Pennsylvania, wants to know more about how the contaminated leftovers from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are regulated.
Cartwright also has introduced legislation to repeal the exemption that allows oil and gas waste to escape regulation as hazardous material.
The congressional inquiry is expected to expand to other states before the end of the year, mirroring a growing concern over the disposal of massive amounts of waste generated by fracking. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
A ground-breaking ceremony has taken place for the new $10 billion (€7.8 billion) liquefaction export facilities at Cameron LNG in Hackberry, Louisiana.
The liquefaction project will be comprised of three-train natural gas liquefaction facilities with an export capability of 12 million tonnes per annum of liquefied natural gas (LNG), or approximately 1.7 billion cubic feet per day. All three trains are expected to commence operations during 2018, with the first full year of operations in 2019.
British energy firm BG Group is hitting the pause button on its proposed liquefied natural gas project near Prince Rupert, B.C., as it takes stock of shifting market conditions.
Estimated LNG volumes from the United States are looking to be higher than previously expected at 90 million tonnes a year, versus 60 million tonnes, Gould said.
"So, as a result of this, coupled with weakness in gas pricing generally, there is a risk that the market will be very well supplied post 2020," he said. "We're pausing on Prince Rupert to see how the market evolves, particularly in function of total supply that will come out of the U.S."
Webmaster's comment: Downeast LNG stays several years behind the LNG market curve, ensuring that potential profitability is a pipe dream.
A report from the Pembina Institute pokes holes in the British Columbia government’s claim that exporting liquefied natural gas is the greatest single step the province can take to fight climate change.
“Our research indicates that, contrary to the government’s claim, natural gas will not reduce coal use and will not help solve climate change in a world with weak climate policies in place, which unfortunately is the world we live in,” said Horne.
“The reality is that it’s actually climate policy, not the production of natural gas, or the availability of natural gas, that will determine our trajectory toward dangerous climate change and the mix of fuels that will avoid this outcome,” she told reporters on a webinar after the report was released. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
A looming gas glut worldwide is prompting Japanese and Indian firms to resell to European traders and utilities big chunks of U.S. liquefied natural gas they had committed to buy several years ago, signaling tempered enthusiasm for U.S. energy.
The chance to ship LNG from the United States, where natural gas output is booming, was touted as the solution to Asia's soaring energy needs and mounting fuel import bill -- and firms rushed in to grab a slice of the affordable action.
But after splashing out billions of dollars to build numerous plants to liquefy and export the gas by ship, at least three buyers spooked by the scale of their commitments and risks of heavy financial losses want out, in part.
More critical, they sense that overexposure to U.S. gas markets could prove costly after a recent run-up in prices showed how the fuel's global competitiveness could be eroded. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: Downeast LNG's business model has turned to dust.
2014 October 20
Natural Resoures Council of Maine gives Bob Godrey its People's Choice award
EASTPORT — Tenacity and dedication. Those were the qualities cited in recommending environmental activist and Eastport resident Bob Godfrey for recognition by the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM).
Godfrey was given NRCM's People’s Choice Award in October for his work as researcher, news aggregator and webmaster for the Save Passamaquoddy Bay 3 Nation Alliance. The organization formed to protect the region from proposals to develop liquefied natural gas importation facilities.
Kathy Berry and Sarah Strickland of Robbinston nominated Godfrey.
"For ten years, Bob has showed tenacity and dedication to do thorough research and keep us informed," they wrote.
Webmaster's comment: The article originally contained a factual error. Downeast LNG has not received a FERC permit to import LNG. The error was corrected online on October 21.
Environment Canada accuses company of violating laws that protect sensitive and threatened species
Canaport LNG faces three charges after an estimated 7,500 songbirds flew in to a gas flare at the Saint John plant last September, CBC News has learned.
The charges include two alleged violations of the Migratory Birds Convention Act and one from the Species at Risk Act. Each violation carries a maximum fine of $1,000,000 for an indictable offence.
The gas flare, which killed the birds, was shut down Sept. 30, 2013, after a $45-million upgrade at Canaport LNG.
According to Environment Canada, a first court appearance in this matter is set for Jan. 21. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
The Bangor Daily News reported that sewer lines in Augusta, Gardiner, Yarmouth and Cumberland were damaged by Summit when it was installing natural gas pipeline using it trenchless, horizontal drilling technology. The damage was discovered between early August and late September by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
The PUC said the most serious damage was done in Gardiner, where a plumber was trying to diagnose a home's sewer blockage and unknowingly chipped away some of an inactive natural gas pipeline with a mechanical snake.
"Had the gas main been active and there had been more aggressive attempts to clear the sewer lateral, the results may have been disastrous," the report said. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) is proposed by Downeast LNG for sections of its pipeline. While HDD produces fewer environmental consequences, this article demonstrates how things could go horribly wrong.
All the New England states have incentive programs of one type or another to encourage the growth of renewable energy. As a result there has been phenomenal growth of renewable energy in New England for several years. ISO has itself worked hard to forecast the anticipated growth of renewable DG over the next decade, and CLF has been an active member of ISO’s DG Forecast Working Group.
Nevertheless, when ISO calculated the ICR (amount of electricity capacity to buy) in the upcoming Forward Capacity Auction, ISO completely ignored its own forecast of how much renewable DG was getting built. As a direct result of this failure, NEPOOL voted overwhelmingly to reject ISO’s forecast.
Environmentalists promote renewable energy, in part, by citing the cost savings that can accrue from having renewables on the electricity grid. Everyone knows that renewable energy costs money, but there can also be cost savings to ratepayers from having renewable energy on the electricity grid. However, ratepayers reap those saving if – and only if! – ISO accounts for that renewable energy in calculating its ICR.
By not accounting for the renewable DG that is actually on the electricity grid, ISO is forcing ratepayers to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for electricity that they don’t actually need.
…[I]t is only a matter of time until one or more NEPOOL participants brings a legal challenge before FERC of the ISO’s big mistake. The Federal Power Act – that governs the ISO, FERC, and all U.S. electricity markets – requires that all electricity rates be “just and reasonable.” Overcharging ratepayers by hundreds of millions of dollars by ignoring the benefits of renewable energy is not just and reasonable. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Environmental groups have filed a motion with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to stop the current construction of Dominion’s liquefied natural gas export facility in Cove Point, MD. The groups also want FERC to reverse their recent decision approving the plant.
“In neglecting to prepare a thorough review of the environmental impacts of Dominion’s controversial project, FERC is prioritizing the desires of a powerful company over the health and safety of the people of Calvert County, Marylanders, and communities throughout the Marcellus shale region,” wrote [Earthjustice attorney Jocelyn D’Ambrosio] in a release.
D’Ambrosio says the group will file a challenge in federal court if their motions are denied.
Dominion began construction on the plant this week.
The clocks inside St. Vitus School on Glass Avenue read 2:40 p.m. The deadliest explosion in Cleveland history, which eventually claimed 130 lives, had just rocked one of Cleveland’s oldest and proudest neighborhoods.
And that fireball, caused by the explosion of a gigantic East Ohio Gas. Co. tank less than three blocks to the north, was barreling south down East 61st Street, seemingly right for Willie Pevec’s seventh-grade classroom.
It was Oct. 20, 1944. For those who were there that day, what happened 70 years ago Monday might as well have happened yesterday.
The explosion was triggered by a leak in a tank containing 90 million cubic feet of liquid natural gas (a second tank blew 20 minutes later). The flames engulfed more than one square mile of the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood.
In all, the fire raced across 20 city blocks, inexplicably missing many homes and stores in its deadly path.
Webmaster's comment: The LNG storage tanks were made of, what became clear, insufficient quality.The metal cracked and the tanks failed. Tanks are now made of proper material. Additionally, there were no proper accommodations for containing released LNG. That is not the case, now. Even so, the tragic incident points out that black swan events happen. FERC and USDOT are setting up such a black swan potential in the use of vapor fences along the proposed Downeast LNG pier trestle, since an event on the trestle that would release LNG could also render the vapor fences ineffective — returning Downeast LNG terminal conditions to those in their first attempt at modeling an LNG release THAT FAILED USDOT EXCLUSION ZONE REGULATIONS.
Port Dolphin Energy LLC (PDE) filed a request with FERC to extend to December 31, 2018 the deadline by which PDE must complete construction and place into service the onshore portion of a pipeline to interconnect with PDE’s proposed Deepwater Port (DWP) terminal offshore of Tampa, Fla. PDE states that although its DWP was initially planned to receive LNG imports, its project is still commercially viable and it is undertaking business arrangements for the DWP to receive U.S.-produced LNG for regasification and subsequent delivery into the Florida market.
Venture Global LNG has secured an approval from the U.S. DOE to export about 244 Bcf/year of LNG over a 25-year period to nations having an FTA with the United States.
The project will be located on an approximately 109-acre site at the entrance of the Calcasieu Ship Channel in Cameron Parish, Louisiana. It is also located near various major interstate and intrastate natural gas pipelines which would allow Venture Global customers to be sourced from multiple sources, according to the company.
PRINCE RUPERT, British Columbia — A Canadian Coast Guard vessel continued to slowly tow a disabled Russian container ship carrying hundreds of tons of fuel away from British Columbia’s pristine northern coast on Saturday. The move significantly lessened the threat of the ship running aground, hitting the rocks and causing a spill.
The Canadian Forces’ joint rescue coordination center said the Russian carrier Simushir lost power off Haida Gwaii, also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, as it made its way from Everett in Washington state to Russia.
The president of the Council of the Haida Nation had warned Friday that a storm coming into the area was expected to push the ship onto the rocky shore, but later President Pete Lantin said their worst fears have subsided.
The vessel is not a tanker but rather a container ship. In comparison, the tanker Exxon Valdez, spilled out 35,000 metric tons of oil.
The Haida Nation said it had set up an emergency command center in Old Massett, located on the northern tip of Haida Gwaii, in case the vessel runs aground. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: This is not an oil tanker or LNG tanker, but presents an environmental hazard, nonetheless.
After being towed about 20 miles from shore, the Russian cargo ship foundering off British Columbia, Canada, was again set adrift over the weekend after tow lines parted, but latest reports say the vessel is under tow now and the heavy seas have subsided.
The Canadian Forces' joint rescue co-ordination centre in Victoria, British Columbia, says the ocean-going tug Barbara Foss now has a secure line attached to the ship. The vessel's owners are having it towed to Prince Rupert.
The Simushir left the Port of Everett last Saturday with a cargo of mining equipment and is carrying around 400 tons of bunker and 50 tons of diesel. The cargo includes chemicals that could pose an environmental concern if a spill occurred.
According to marine casualty expert, Ken Potter, managing director of Veritas Marine, the ship’s position raises an interesting question about its voyage plan. “Such a route would not normally take it close to Haida Gwai where it was in danger of running aground. While there are few details available, I suspect that it ran into trouble further offshore and drifted while the crew attempted repairs. It is not uncommon for vessels to break down at sea, and I suspect, and I emphasize suspect, that they did not report their situation until they had actually drifted closer to land.
Allowing United States oil producers to export crude would not only sway markets at home and abroad, it would also worsen global warming and present other environmental risks, the Government Accountability Office said in a new survey of experts.
The increased drilling, meanwhile, comes with its own greenhouse gas penalty, from the flaring of natural gas in the oilfields and other leakage of pollutants. And shunting domestically produced light oil off to refineries abroad discourages U.S. refineries from switching to refining cleaner, lighter homegrown crude, from importing Canadian tar sands and other dirtier foreign crude. That, again, worsens the carbon footprint of the U.S. refinery sector.
And the GAO did not discuss another implication of lifting the export ban. While different studies vary widely over how much extra oil would be produced—NERA says there would be an additional 3.3 million barrels a day for the next 20 years—there seems to be no question that production would go up, without any limit. So even if the United States made astonishing strides in cutting its consumption of petroleum, the oil industry could go on producing and exporting crude and refined oil to its heart's content. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
2014 October 14
FALMOUTH, Maine — Electricity prices for medium-sized customers such as small businesses and schools will spike sharply this winter, which state officials say has left some to consider energy efficiency investments, scaling back operations or shifting production to off-peak times to weather the increase.
State officials are warning customers about the prices they face this winter as they also determine whether the region’s electricity market will correct the problem itself or if the state needs to step in to help expand natural gas capacity in the region.
The state’s public advocate cautioned Thursday that planned pipeline expansions in New England are still years away, leaving regulators and power customers with complicated short-term challenges.
Increases are likely ahead for residential customers getting the standard offer price as well. At the end of 2013, that was about 73 percent of residential customers.
The competitive electricity market is one indicator of that, where prices for residential customers signing six-month or yearlong power agreements are between 10 cents to 12.5 cents per kilowatt hour. The standard offer price for Emera Maine and Central Maine Power customers is about $7.6 cents per kilowatt hour.
Webmaster's comment: Downeast LNG's proposed terminal is possibly 3–5 more years in permitting, with a 3-year construction period if permits are obtained. That's 6–8 years from today. Pipelines would be half that time, or less, although alternative energy would be a far better choice.
Strong, savvy opponents turned back a pipeline. Now they turn to help their neighbors do the same.
People in Michigan's Oakland County were ready this time. When a Texas-based company announced plans for a natural gas pipeline that would bisect the county, township boards in Oakland County passed resolutions against it. Rallies stirred locals to action. Federal regulators were bombarded with letters against the project.
With resistance gaining momentum, ET Rover Pipeline Company LLC, a subsidiary of Houston-based Energy Transfer Partners, quietly reversed its plans. Now people in neighboring Genesee and Lapeer counties—the new path of the pipeline—are reeling, and asking the winners for help.
Almost as soon as ET Rover filed a notice with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in June of its intent to construct the pipeline, Oakland County opponents swung into action. In August, with no explanation for the pipeline's new path, the company quietly revised the route it had filed with FERC.
"It becomes a tactical question: What is the most effective and efficient way to get the pipeline done," said Woolpert, who teaches environmental politics, government and public policy. "They have to weigh the pros and cons of pushing back versus considering an alternative route that’s not going to find the same level of opposition." [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Sierra Club and Gulf Restoration Network have filed a petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit challenging FERC’s orders approving the Cameron LNG export terminal project in Hackberry, Cameron Parish, La.
FERC issued an order approving Venture Global Calcasieu Pass’s request to begin the pre-filing environmental review process for the proposed Calcasieu Pass LNG export terminal project in Cameron Parish, La., near the mouth of the Calcasieu Ship Channel.
Oil and gas giant Chevron has filed an application with the U.S. Department of Energy to export previously imported LNG from the Sabine Pass terminal in Cameron Parish, Louisiana.
The application was filed on August 27 requesting blanket authorization to export LNG previously imported into the U.S. from foreign sources in an amount up to the equivalent of 72 Bcf of natural gas on a short-term or spot market basis for a two-year period commencing on December 8, 2014.
Through [an investment by York in NextDecade and the formation of a strategic partnership for the joint development of a portfolio of LNG export projects], NextDecade will initially focus on developing low-cost, mid-scale LNG export projects in Brownsville and Galveston, Texas.
An increasingly complex obstacle course to market for proponents will eliminate all but one or two proposals, energy analysts say
Odds are getting longer on picking a winner in B.C.’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) sweepstakes; according to analysts, those same odds apply to getting the province’s LNG sector out of the starting gate at all.
As it stands now, there are a trio of front-runners. The rest of the field: long shots at best.
…[F]or B.C. LNG projects to pay off, “you really have to believe that gas is going to be cheap forever,” said Hughes, president of Global Sustainability Research Inc. and a former geologist with the Geological Survey of Canada.
OTTAWA—When the federal environment commissioner reported that Canada would not meet its 2020 international commitment on greenhouse gas (GHG) emission cuts, no one was surprised.
…[E]ight years after [Prime Minister Harper trumpeted] to the world Canada’s “emerging energy super power” aspirations, the phrase appears to have fallen out of fashion with the Harper government.
"The danger is that the United States will try to leverage energy for political ends and trigger unintended consequences."
The American energy “revolution” is about a decade old, although it only went mainstream around 2010. Much has been written about its causes and even more about its consequences—yet there is so much hype about how the “revolution” will reshape global geopolitics, that one is hard pressed to get a cool, honest breakdown of what has happened and what it means. The change has indeed been remarkable, but the implications for politics and economics are far less obvious at this time—and they will depend largely on whether America can resist the temptation to use energy for political ends.
A first of a kind study from West Virginia will help Americans inside the fracking boom understand the dangers of exposure to VOCs.
When Mary Rahall discovered that oil and gas waste was being stored in open-air ponds less than a mile from a daycare center outside Fayetteville, W. Va., she started digging for information about the facility's air emissions and protections for a nearby stream.
She wasn't satisfied with the answers she got from state regulators and politicians, so the mother of two set out to find a scientist who could help. Eventually her questions found their way to William Orem, a chemist at the U.S. Geological Survey office in Reston, Va., and he began collecting air and water data at the site last fall.
Orem's small study could have implications far beyond Fayetteville, because it's among the first scientific efforts directed at how air emissions from oil and gas waste could be affecting human health. He suspects waste disposal might turn out to be "the weakest link of all" in the oil and gas extraction and production cycle.
The industry's waste isn't subject to regular air monitoring, because in 1980s the energy industry lobbied Congress and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to exempt most of it from hazardous waste laws, even though it can contain benzene and other chemicals known to affect human health. In a recent story about waste pit emissions in Texas, InsideClimate News discovered that, nationally, there's little data or regulatory oversight regarding air quality at oil and gas waste disposal sites. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Steady supply and weak demand during summer months had seen spot prices drop nearly 50 percent from more than $20 per mmBtu earlier this year.
The current decline in prices could spell trouble for some market players who had stored LNG onboard vessels during the recent downturn, hoping to sell them at a profit for winter consumption.
Currently, six to eight cargoes are held in floating storage by various market players, traders said. Spot market hedging options are unavailable in the global LNG market, where prices are not backed by a liquid futures market as seen in natural gas hubs in the United States and Europe. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: This could impact plans for all those LNG export gold-rush crazies.
Just two weeks after the largest climate march in history, over 250 groups from nearly 40 countries urged United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to reject fracking as a part of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative in a letter sent to him today. This came on the eve of the Global Frackdown, a Food & Water Watch initiated international day of action to ban fracking on October 11th that will feature hundreds of actions on six continents, demonstrating broad support for a ban on fracking.
The letter can be read at: http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/BanKiMoon_letter_10_14_final_sigs.pdf [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
2014 October 10
The Bear Head project was first given the go-ahead a decade ago. Construction of the LNG facility began in 2005 but would cease within a year when Anadarko Petroleum Corp. of Texas failed to secure a natural gas supply to import to the terminal.
In August, Liquefied Natural Gas Ltd. of Australia signed an $11-million contract with Anadarko Petroleum to purchase the Bear Head project.
The West Perth company has since said the Marcellus shale formation — crossing at least three American states — holds promise for bringing the necessary [natural gas] into their proposed exportation hub.
Webmaster's comment: And then, there's that sticky problem of the US forbidding any natural gas exported to Canada from being exported out of Canada.
Governor LePage and some members of the Maine PUC are advocating new pipelines across Massachusetts as a solution to Maine energy problems instead of increasing energy sourced locally in Maine and the Maritimes from abundant and renewable sources (i.e. solar, wind, or hydro). The PUC staff came out with a report on October 2 advising the Commission not to tilt the playing field in favor of faster pipeline expansion than the market can actually support, using taxpayer money.
Attached is a letter requesting that the Maine PUC also consider the issue of potential LNG exports in its upcoming Phase 2 proceedings. ECRC proposals may increase the likelihood of exports through terminals in the Canadian Maritimes or from the border between Maine and New Brunswick. A large volume of exports would impact reserves (seasonal and long-term). I believe that testimony on the cost impact of new exports -- from prospective bidders, as well as from independent experts -- would enhance the quality of the Commission's study.
As a Massachusetts gas and electricity consumer, and a resident of Dracut, MA, I am writing to express my concern that the Energy Cost Reduction Contact proposals outlined by Kinder Morgan and Spectra Energy may actually increase costs to Maine and Massachusetts consumers. Can the commission model the price impact of new LNG exports that would result from all proposed ECRC plans? This issue was not addressed in the hearing examiner’s report.
The statements filed yesterday [Oct 1] by TGP attorney Anthony Buxton contain an unsupported assertion that pipeline capacity in the Northeast is the sole factor in the projected increase in winter electricity rates. In fact, the maintenance of sufficient winter reserves is of equal if not greater importance. Disinterested observers do not come to the conclusion that gas pipelines in Massachusetts are the sole driver of winter prices.
The problem is that storage levels are already almost 500 BCF below normal levels (as of September 19). Additional demand from an export market would worsen this problem. Maine consumers deserve to know the effect that spring, summer and fall exports of natural gas will have on our ability to accumulate sufficient winter reserves.
None of this gas storage is in New England, so the problem cannot be fixed with additional pipeline capacity into New England. Plus, eastern reserves on which we now depend (both seasonal and long terlm) will be further drained by the addition of terminals in Cove Point, MD and Sabine Pass, TX, now approved for approximately 1 BCF per day of new LNG exports. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
One long-term strategy is in play at the PUC.
The agency is deciding a landmark case on whether electricity customers should be charged up to $75 million a year to help subsidize the cost of expanding natural gas pipelines in New England. The expansion could help ease a bottleneck in the supply system on cold days, bringing more fuel to gas-fired power plants, which generate half the region’s electricity.
Supporters of this strategy have been pressing the PUC to vote on the matter this fall and choose among the three pipeline expansion proposals filed in the case. Time matters, because it can take two or three years to win permit approvals and start construction.
…Last week, the PUC’s staff offered its opinion that while the overall benefits of the subsidy are unlikely to outweigh the financial risk for consumers, the three commissioners should approve the concept. The staff and an expert consultant then would study each plan to see if the benefits could make the investment worthwhile.
Major gas pipeline expansions are opposed by environmental groups, which want to reduce the contribution of fossil fuels to climate change. They argue that New England would be better off in the long run by maximizing efficiency and by diversifying its energy resources with wind, solar and other renewables. It doesn’t make sense to spend billions of dollars to fix a problem that only exists on cold winter days, they say. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Maine electricity customers shouldn’t be charged up to $75 million a year to help pay for natural gas pipeline expansion in New England, the staff of the Maine Public Utilities Commission said Wednesday, because cost would exceed the potential benefits.
“It will simply cost the state and the parties resources with zero likelihood of a viable (energy contract),” said Greg Cunningham, a senior attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation. “The staff’s conclusions that Maine is not likely to benefit from a (contract) are dead on accurate. For this reason, the PUC should conclude this case now.”
Frank Katulak, president and chief executive of GDF Suez Gas North America, said during an interview yesterday that New England policymakers and other market participants have been too focused on building new, costly pipelines to ship cheap Marcellus Shale gas into the energy-starved Northeast and have not directed enough attention to existing LNG import infrastructure.
But Katulak said the focus should be on Suez's Everett Marine Terminal in the Boston area, the oldest operating import terminal in the country, which supplies about 20 percent of the region's annual natural gas demand. Suez also has storage to accommodate 3.5 billion cubic feet of gas. Katulak said there is extensive LNG storage in New England and nearby offshore, including offshore LNG facilities that have been sitting idle for years.
The Everett terminal is a remnant of an era when the United States was poised to import large amounts of natural gas -- a push that never materialized and has even flip-flopped as the country is now poised to push for large-scale LNG export.
Rob Minter, senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs for Suez, said LNG is more expensive than Marcellus gas, noting the liquefied gas must compete with terminals in Europe and South America. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Environmental watchdogs worried about the criminalization of dissent
Anti-fracking activists protesting a natural-gas conference in Philadelphia last fall were being monitored by a private security company that sent a photo of a demonstrator to the Pennsylvania State Police, according to an email obtained by Earth Island Journal.
[Monitoring and intimidating house-visits] are part of a little-known intelligence-sharing network that brings together law enforcement, including the FBI, state Homeland Security agencies, the oil and gas industry and private security firms. Established in late 2011 or early 2012, the Marcellus Shale Operators' Crime Committee (MSOCC) is a group of "professionals with a law-enforcement background who are interested in developing working relationships and networking on intelligence issues," according to an email sent to group members by James Hansel, regional security manager for Anadarko Petroleum.
The MSOCC has taken a keen interest in environmental activists and anti-fracking groups, according to documents obtained through a state Right to Know request. The collaboration raises questions about the increasingly close ties between law enforcement and the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania, and whether law enforcement has violated the civil liberties of protesters and environmental groups in its effort to protect the state's most controversial industry.
Today, the group sends intelligence updates to more than 150 recipients, including all of the major drilling companies in the Marcellus Shale, representatives of the FBI, state Homeland Security agencies and state and local law enforcement. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Just a few hundred feet from the gates of Dominion Cove Point in Lusby, protestors rallied Friday on the front lawn of Rachel Heinhorst’s home on Cove Point Road to react to the final order of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which was released last week, allowing the facility to export natural gas.
Also on Friday, Cove Point received approval to actually begin construction of Offsite Area B in Solomons, which will consist of a pier to receive ships of equipment to build the liquefaction train and the related facilities. Karl Neddenien, Dominion spokesman, said construction was to begin Tuesday, just over a week after FERC’s final order on the project.
Jocelyn D’Ambrosio, associate attorney for Earthjustice, said during the Sept. 30 conference call held by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network that groups are poised to take FERC to court. But first, Earthjustice will petition FERC for a rehearing on the order within 30 days of its being issued, D’Ambrosio said during a phone interview Oct. 6.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced Tuesday it is seeking a record $4.53 million fine through the Environmental Hearing Board for what the state describes as a major pollution incident at a [natural gas fracking] well pad operated by EQT. The environmental hearing board is an administrative court that hears DEP cases as well as appeals of the department’s decisions.
The DEP had harsh words for EQT, accusing the energy company of not cooperating during the investigation in 2012.
“EQT demonstrated a lack of cooperation by adding more flowback water to the impoundment even after becoming aware of the elevated chlorides in the nearby monitoring wells,” the DEP said.
One small “hot spot” in the U.S. Southwest is responsible for producing the largest concentration of the greenhouse gas methane seen over the United States – more than triple the standard ground-based estimate -- according to a new study of satellite data by scientists at NASA and the University of Michigan.
Methane is very efficient at trapping heat in the atmosphere and, like carbon dioxide, it contributes to global warming. The hot spot, near the Four Corners intersection of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, covers only about 2,500 square miles (6,500 square kilometers), or half the size of Connecticut.
The study's lead author, Eric Kort of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, noted the study period predates the widespread use of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, near the hot spot. This indicates the methane emissions should not be attributed to fracking but instead to leaks in natural gas production and processing equipment in New Mexico's San Juan Basin, which is the most active coalbed methane production area in the country.
"The results are indicative that emissions from established fossil fuel harvesting techniques are greater than inventoried," Kort said. "There's been so much attention on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, but we need to consider the industry as a whole." [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
ALBURQUERQUE, N.M. - Sixty-nine percent of likely voters in several oil and gas-rich states, including New Mexico, support a rule that would require oil companies to significantly reduce the amount of natural gas they release or burn off while extracting oil from public lands.
"There's overwhelming support for a strong rule from the Bureau of Land Management to address the problem of venting and flaring," says Lane. "It's essentially to say, 'Look, this is American energy and we need to use it, not just watch it go, literally, up in flames.'"
Lane says venting and flaring, which is the release and burning of natural gas into the atmosphere, also means a good amount of energy is wasted, costing taxpayers lost royalty payments. He says it could amount to $800 million in lost revenue over the next decade.
Investigation by ICN and the Center for Public Integrity helped spur Karnes County commissioners to think seriously about fracking's toxic air emissions.
Backed by results of a recent air-quality study, mounting pressure from local officials, news reports and the simmering discontent of residents, Texas regulators have decided to install an air monitor in the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) will install the air monitor in Karnes County, the epicenter of one of the fastest-growing drilling regions in the nation. More than 10,000 oil and gas wells have been sunk in the region since 2008, and residents have complained of breathing difficulties and other health problems.
In February, an investigation by InsideClimate News, The Center for Public Integrity and the Weather Channel revealed that the TCEQ knows almost nothing about air quality in the area. The series, "Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale: Big Oil & Bad Air on the Texas Prairie," found that from September 1, 2009, through August 31, 2013, there was a 100-percent increase statewide in unplanned, toxic air releases associated with oil and gas production and that companies were rarely fined, even when inspections revealed they were operating equipment improperly. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Venture Global Calcasieu Pass LLC (VG Calcasieu Pass), an affiliate of Venture Global LNG, LLC, filed a request with FERC to initiate pre-filing environmental review of VG Calcasieu Pass’s proposed Calcasieu Pass LNG export terminal project (Project) in Cameron Parish, La., on the east side of the Calcasieu Ship Channel, near the Gulf of Mexico. The Project will consist of, among other things, ten liquefaction process blocks, each with a nameplate capacity for producing one million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of LNG, LNG storage facilities, and terminal facilities to export approximately 10 MTPA (1.4 Bcf/day) of LNG.
FERC Staff Issues Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Corpus Christi LNG Project (Docket Nos. CP12-507-000 and CP12-508-000)
The FERC staff concludes that approval of the proposed Project, with the mitigation measures recommended in the EIS, would ensure that impacts in the Project area would be avoided or minimized and would not be significant. Construction and operation of the Project would result in mostly temporary and short-term environmental impacts; however, some long-term and permanent environmental impacts would occur.
Webmaster's comment: Surprise, surprise. FERC has never denied an LNG terminal permit for environmental reasons.
Alaska LNG Project applicants filed a Preliminary Draft Resource Report No. 1 (General Project Description) with FERC as part of the pre-filing environmental review of the proposed project. According to the report, the project includes, among other facilities, a marine terminal and a liquefaction facility at Cook Inlet in the Nikiski area of the Kenai Peninsula, including three liquefaction trains with a combined production capacity of 20 million metric tons per annum of LNG. The project also includes an approximately 800-mile, large diameter gas pipeline connecting a new gas treatment plant on the North Slope to the liquefaction facility.
The B.C. government has consistently overstated the potential benefits of LNG. Such polarizing rhetoric is unproductive at best. This single-minded focus on LNG fails to recognize abundant economic opportunities in other sectors and leaves B.C. without a plan B in case the economic windfall predicted from LNG doesn't materialize.
We know developing significant LNG will make it impossible for B.C. to meet its climate targets, but what about meeting our economic goals in an increasingly carbon-constrained world? Before we put all our eggs in the LNG basket, let's think for a minute about what we are really leaving for our children if we build an economy that's not resilient to a changing business climate, not to mention the changing physical one. We need to think about the role for LNG in this future.
While people gathered inside the Pacific NorthWest LNG office for a public information session, those opposed to the terminal protested outside.
“Based on the feedback we heard from the local communities, First Nations and stakeholders, we are proposing to redesign the marine infrastructure associated with our project to eliminate the need for dredging at the marine terminal and significantly minimize the infrastructure immediately next to Flora Bank,” explained senior corporate affairs advisor Spencer Sproule.
Liquefied natural gas, the big, shiny bauble Premier Christy Clark dangled before voters in the 2013 election, doesn’t appear to be so big and so shiny now. In fact, that bauble is looking more like a bubble, with Malaysian energy company Petronas holding a sharp pin.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government is not doing enough to reduce carbon emissions, fight climate change and regulate oil and gas emissions, a series of audits from a federal watchdog have found.
The audits, contained in a report published Tuesday, say Canada has no detailed plan to meet its emissions reduction targets, is on pace to fall well short of missing them and has made no long-term commitment to environmental monitoring in the oil sands region, the fastest-growing source of emissions.
EPA report shows the greenhouse gas dragon is far from tamed
The EPA may be putting lipstick on the methane pig by claiming that methane emissions dropped during the past year, according to watchdog groups who say the numbers put forth by the federal agency are misleading.
According to an EDF analysis, methane emissions actually increased between 2011 and 2013 in a variety of other activities associated with unconventional oil and gas production, such as pneumatic pumps and blowdown vents, which operate without being covered by federal air pollution rules.
The EPA has established standards for newly installed devices, but it doesn’t address the significant emissions coming from existing devices.
And in another report focusing on fossil fuel development on public lands, the Center for American Progress claims that methane pollution from venting and flaring of gas during fossil-fuel extraction activities on U.S. public lands and waters has increased about 135 percent since 2008. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
A pair of new studies are part of a growing international effort to assess the costs and benefits of moving on from burning fossil fuels to clean energy.
The latest come from the Climate Policy Initiative, which on Oct. 9 published two reports indicating there will be significant financial benefits if the world adopts "the right policies" as it transitions to a low-carbon economy consistent with the safe 2-degrees Celsius target.
One report finds that ridding our electricity and transportation systems of carbon could free up trillions of dollars for investment in green energy.
One of its main conclusions is that governments and taxpayers, not private investors and corporations, face the biggest risks from stranded assets. After all, in most of the world, it is governments that own the fossil fuel resources and collect royalties on them. This is the case, for example, in the big petro-states. The drop in value of these assets if the world abandons fossil-fuel burning in favor of a low-carbon transition could be $25 trillion— and governments would bear 80 percent of the losses.
But it is coal—dirtier, cheaper and less profitable [than oil]—that holds the largest potential to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. And so, to minimize the hurt of shifting away from fossil fuels, policymakers "could do well to first focus on reducing coal," the study finds. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
October 12 2014 marks an important milestone in the history of the LNG industry.
Since the Methane Princess delivered the world's first commercial LNG cargo to the UK's Canvey Island regasification terminal on 12 October 1964, the sector has grown from this single trade between Algeria and the UK to over 400 trade routes involving 45 countries.
2014 October 6
[This article also appears under the Gulf of Mexico heading, below.]
Two projects awaiting EIS are Louisiana LNG Energy’s proposed Mississipi River LNG export terminal project in Plaquemines Paris, Louisiana and the Downeast LNG import-export terminal in Robbeston, Maine.
Comments on the scope of the environmental review for both projects are due November 3, 2014. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Regarding oil and gas, Nova Scotia is a recipient of modest royalties from offshore gas relative to Newfoundland and Alberta.
In fairness, there are prospects for meaningful discoveries. Some encouragement is offered by prospects for future liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in Goldboro and Point Tupper.
…Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland have all experienced anti-fracking demonstrations. Citizen fears are not groundless. Note the difficulty in disposing of fracking waste water in Hants County.
An important article by Andrew Revkin in the International New York Times on Sept. 8 provides insight into both sides of the issue. The article discussed a new study in the journal Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts, which analyzed a fracking byproduct called "produced water." The study, titled "Organic compounds in produced waters from shale gas wells,” was written by Samuel J. Maguire-Boyle and Andrew R. Barron of Rice University in Houston.
…the Times story quotes from the InsideClimate News post: "The Rice researchers identified 25 inorganic chemicals in the waste. Of those, at least six were found at levels that would make the water unsafe to drink — barium, chromium, copper, mercury, arsenic and antimony. Depending on the chemical, consuming it at high levels can cause high blood pressure, skin damage, liver or kidney damage, stomach issues, or cancer." [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
The three-year construction project, near Port Hawkesbury, is estimated to cost $2 billion to $8 billion.
The West Perth company has since said the Marcellus shale formation — crossing at least three American states — holds promise for bringing the necessary LNG into their proposed exportation hub. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: Hmmm. Maybe $2 billion …or maybe $8 billion. That's a good business plan! Plus, the US prohibits natural gas it exports to Canada from then being exported from Canada — making Bear Head LNG an even greater business plan!
Lusby, MD – As Dominion lays the groundwork for starting a multi-billion dollar project, local and regional citizens determined to stop it rallied Friday, Oct. 3 outside the Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Plant in Lusby.
The venue for the protest, prompted by the decision announced Monday, Sept. 29 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to approve Dominion’s application to construct a liquefaction facility at the Cove Point facility, was the front yard of a family living directly across from the plant’s entrance.
Much of the rhetoric heard by several of the eight speakers was similar to the statements CCHC members have been making for the past several Tuesdays during the Calvert County Commissioners’ meetings’ public comment segment. The groups quasi filibuster at the commissioners’ meetings have persistently called for the elected officials to demand a quantitative risk assessment in light of the fact that a large number of homes—over 2,300—are located in proximity to the gas plant.
One of the rally speakers, Ken Pritchard of Cove Point Beach, stated the plant, with the addition of a potent liquefaction unit, would pose a safety and health threat to area residents. Pritchard criticized Dominion and FERC for not releasing risk information and added state and county government officials have not been forthcoming with safety information.
Dominion officials have also indicated they have made no decision about exploring the possibility of constructing a road in the Lusby area to provide nearby residents with an alternative escape route in the event of an emergency situation at the gas plant. Greenberg said citizens should demand construction of the temporary pier and staging area work be halted until the emergency route is established. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
As recently as Wednesday, during a public hearing in Wilkes-Barre, state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, said, “We were not prepared for the boom in the Marcellus Shale.”
- Years after the drilling technique known as fracking opened up swaths of Pennsylvania to intensive natural gas development, the state still has no registry to track health complaints related to the industry’s potential air and water contamination. (Yudichak and certain cohorts support Senate Bill 790, which proposes state monitoring to be paid for with $3 million annually from an impact fee already charged to drillers.)
- The state Department of Environmental Protection struggles to keep pace with inspections of well sites and enforcement.
- The state doesn’t collect a severance tax from drilling companies on par with what other gas-producing states have established.
Unless there’s a significant shift in public attitudes among more Pennsylvanians and other East Coast residents, the natural gas companies will get what they want, when and where they want it. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
FERC preparing EIS for two LNG facilities — LNG World News
[This article also appears under the Passamaquoddy Bay heading, above.]
Two projects awaiting EIS are Louisiana LNG Energy’s proposed Mississipi River LNG export terminal project in Plaquemines Paris, Louisiana and the Downeast LNG import-export terminal in Robbeston, Maine.
Comments on the scope of the environmental review for both projects are due November 3, 2014. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
The Caribbean Utilities Company on Friday won a four-way bid for new electricity supplies in Grand Cayman for 25 years, starting in mid-2016, charging consumers roughly the same as current prices.
The competition drew multiple bids from three firms: CUC submitted proposals based on diesel fuel, heavy fuel oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG); Cayman’s Dart Realty engineering company DECCO offered two bids based on propane gas; and New Jersey-based architectural and engineering Lewis Berger Group, a major US-government contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan, submitted a tender contingent on propane.
“LNG is cleaner and cheaper” than diesel, Mr. Farrington said, “but it’s more expensive to get here. Solar is only available when the sun shines.”
“Solar is the fuel of the future,” he said, “but it’s not quite there. Photo cells can’t run during the night, but if you could store it, it could be ‘firm.’ The battery technology is coming.”
The B.C. Legislature convenes on Monday for what has become something of a rare event — a fall legislative session — where Premier Christy Clark's liquefied natural gas dreams will be put to the test of public scrutiny.
The problem so far, of course, is that the industry is just that — all potential. At least 17 energy companies have invested large amounts of money to secure a piece of that potential, but there has yet to be a single final investment decision made.
Unfortunately for Clark and the Liberals, the climate for LNG investment is not nearly as rosy as it was a year ago.
Petronas, the Malaysian energy giant, is even threatening to walk away from its proposed $10-billion LNG plant near Prince Rupert, citing concerns that the province's tax and regulatory scheme might not be competitive enough.
And the U.S. energy company, Apache, has also abandoned its partnership with Chevron for an LNG plant in Kitimat.
That's not to say the situation is bleak, but the harsher realities of LNG investment are becoming more evident. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
…The government needs to square its legislated climate-change commitments with its desire to allow LNG proponents to burn natural gas to meet their massive energy needs. This fall, we will see just what Premier Christy Clark’s promise to produce the world’s cleanest LNG really means.
Late last year, an internal government document surfaced showing the Liberals expect a new LNG industry could double the province’s greenhouse-gas emissions. Clean-energy advocates have advanced a solution – e-drive technology that would greatly reduce the significant carbon output generated by most LNG plants by using electricity instead of all gas in the production process….
The province, which has spent many months in secretive negotiations with prospective investors, doesn’t like that solution. Rather than forcing an unwelcome restriction on an industry that can easily walk away and build elsewhere, the government has signalled that it will let each company make its own decision. More than that, the province has declared that natural gas burned to make LNG will be exempt from the Clean Energy Act, treating these emissions as somehow benign.
The legislation this fall will define how B.C.’s industry will create the “cleanest LNG in the world.” The Premier already reduced expectations when she said B.C. won’t count the upstream extraction of natural gas, which forms a hefty part of LNG’s carbon footprint. The government has already said it will only look at the output at the facilities themselves. But if the legislation only changes the definition of how emissions are accounted for, it risks making B.C.’s claims to be a leader in tackling climate change a joke. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: It's one more LNG "emperor's new clothes" scenario.
Key event was in 1988, when the EPA decided to classify most oil and gas waste as 'non hazardous,' even though it contains dangerous chemicals.
Most of the waste from the U.S. drilling boom is exempt from federal laws that protect the public and environment from hazardous waste — even though it contains chemnicals known to cause health problems, including cancer.…
1987 December: The EPA study is released. Focused on water pollution not air emissions, it finds almost 25% of the waste samples it studied are highly toxic. Still, it supports the exemption, saying the cost to treating the waste as hazardous would be so high that production would likely slow.
2013 July: Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Penn.) proposes ending the exemption in a bill called the "Closing Loopholes and Ending Arbitrary and Needless Evasion of Regulations Act of 2013."
2014 August: Cartwright's bill gets its first Texas co-sponsor, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson. So far, all the co-sponsors are Democrats and the bill is stuck in the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
After spending the afternoon travelling to drilling pads and compressor stations for the extraction and processing of unconventional oil and gas in our nearby communities, I travelled to the Niehaus Farm in the beautiful hills of West Virginia to visit with Rich and Felicia Niehaus. As the discussion centered on energy issues, it became evident that there is something crucial missing from the conversation about unconventional oil and gas issues:
Conversations usually cover either fracking or energy conservation, efficiency, and renewables (ECER). It’s the exception for both to be covered in tandem even though they are the two sides of the same coin. So, how did our conversation at the farm end up turning to ECER? Well, it turns out that this particular farm in West Virginia is entirely solar powered (photo above). Energy for the two barns and a beautiful home comes from rooftop panels installed in May of 2011. After finding funding and rebates to help with the upfront installation costs and participating in a renewable credits program, as of last year the Neihaus family spent $0.00 on utility bills. Their farm even generated a surplus of electricity, which they sold to the utility company and as Solar Renewable Energy Credits – or SREC.
Unlike the landman from the oil and gas company who calls or visits your home to talk to you about the benefits of selling your mineral rights for fracking or pipelines, no “sunman / windman / efficiencyman” calls or comes to your home to share the benefits of ECERs.…
Basically, while coal, oil and gas are promoted – and receive generous federal incentives – at every turn or click, the benefits of ECER are truly missing from our conversation, locally and nationally.
Often you will hear that fracking and fossilized energy are “cheap and affordable.” According to a report by Environment America, the reality is that externalized costs of fossilized energy, were they included on the balance sheet, would make gas, oil and coal costly and unaffordable. Alternatively, 53 Fortune 100 Companies report savings of $1.1 billion annually through energy efficiency and renewable energy. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
2014 October 2
The preliminary conclusions are in on Maine’s proposed gambit to invest ratepayer money on natural gas pipeline expansion—it’s not worth the risk. Those were the findings of the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) staff in its recommendations to the Commission issued last night. The staff report finds that the cost of using ratepayer money to subsidize investment in natural gas pipeline capacity is likely to outweigh any benefits from such unprecedented public funding. The principal reasons for this risk imbalance are the uncertainty associated with the effects of changing gas and electric markets as well as the impacts of a number of natural gas pipeline proposals that are pending and could affect the outcome of any investment by Maine. The PUC staff’s conclusions are correct and reflect the positions taken by CLF in the proceedings that led up to the report, that exposing ratepayers to the risks inherent in energy markets is the wrong approach.
For example, Spectra Energy, parent company of Algonquin Gas Transmission (AGT) which owns existing pipeline in southern New England and Maritimes & Northeast, a Maine pipeline owner, on Monday filed a proposal with the Maine PUC that discloses its intention for a 200,000-300,000 Dth/day expansion of its Algonquin line in 2017 (without the need for any New England state to purchase capacity) and another expansion of that line in 2018 of between 200,000-1,000,000 Dth/day depending upon market interest. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: These are the pipelines that Downeast LNG previously claimed would be nigh impossible to permit — and that negate any perceived need for Downeast LNG's import proposal.
The report comes as three pipeline companies have delivered proposals for projects they said would address New England’s shortage of natural gas.
The companies are competing, to some extent, for the limited resources of Maine’s Public Utilities Commission, which can commit to buy up to 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, spending up to $75 million per year to do so. State regulators could divide their commitment to that capacity among various companies.
While PUC staff questioned whether Maine ratepayers would see a benefit from expanding natural gas capacity in general, the report leaves open the possibility that any of the projects could have a worthwhile impact on reducing the cost of natural gas or electricity prices. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
2014 October 1
There is no doubt that Maine needs to continue to diversify its energy mix and that natural gas will play a large role in that effort. However, fast-tracking approval of pipelines, which could make it easier for gas companies to take private property, is a risky way to do this. Adding to the risk, the Maine Public Utilities Commission is currently considering charging all the state’s electricity users a surcharge to build more natural gas infrastructure, much of it out of state.
Gov. Paul LePage is correct that Maine’s energy prices are higher than the national average, but the state’s electricity rates are the lowest in New England, especially among industrial users, which make up the largest segment of energy consumers. Nearly half of Maine’s electricity generation comes from burning natural gas, with the rest coming from hydroelectric facilities and renewable sources, mainly biomass. The region has high energy prices because it doesn’t have low-cost coal or huge government-funded hydroelectric projects that feed electricity-generating plants in other parts of the country and in Canada.
The governor highlights winter price spikes as a major reason to build additional pipeline capacity. But last winter, there was a major spike in prices for natural gas to generate electricity even in Pennsylvania, home to the Marcellus shale gas that Maine and New England wants more of. So, factors other than the proximity to gas are clearly affecting prices.
Thorough reviews are necessary not just to protect human health and the environment but because FERC pipeline permits grant eminent domain authority to the companies that hold them. That authority should only come after thorough review and ample time for public comment. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
BALTIMORE - Reaction has been strong to federal approval of plans to build a liquefied natural gas export facility on Chesapeake Bay in Calvert County.
"We're just appalled that our government officials and agencies are showing such blatant disregard for us, for our health and for our lives," she said, "that they would even consider putting this project in a highly-populated residential area."
"FERC's order just continues to fail to take a hard look at the safety implications about building an export terminal in a residential community," she said. "FERC's also failed to take into account that this $3.8 billion facility is going to be a major emitter of climate pollution."
Environmental and community groups on Tuesday assailed federal approval of the Cove Point liquefied natural gas export project, arguing that regulators glossed over the climate change consequences. They vowed to challenge the decision through a regulatory appeal or in the courts.
Nathan Matthews, staff attorney in the Sierra Club Environmental Law Program, added that FERC acknowledged that it approved the project despite not having all the information it required from Dominion on its mitigation plans. Since the public has not had a chance to review or comment on that missing information, Matthews said, FERC's action "circumvents the public review process that is inherent in the National Environmental Policy Act," a 1970 law that governs environmental assessments of major federal decisions.
Regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency also have pushed for FERC to measure the cumulative environmental effects of all the LNG export facilities it's already approved, and to take account of indirect effects such as increased natural gas production and higher natural gas prices. FERC, however, is not obligated to address the EPA recommendations. Dominion Cove Point is the fourth LNG export facility to be approved by the government.
In the coming weeks, opponents plan to file a request for a rehearing of the matter at FERC, and a separate request that the project be halted until the challenges are completed. If that approach fails, the groups said they will take the matter to court.
The LNG plant needs 400 to 600 acres, which encompasses all aspects of the facility including storage tanks, trains, utilities and offices. Officials are trying to secure a larger area as a buffer, Butt said.
“We know to be a good neighbor, you want to have some space,” Butt said. “We want to be a good neighbor. We want durable and fair terms with all of the landowners we’ve talked with, so we’re looking to get more land than we need.”
Referencing a recently published Wall Street Journal article which reported Australia’s domestic gas prices have nearly tripled due to an increase in exported gas while production levels have been fairly flat, Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, asked if the Alaska LNG Project was considering that phenomenon. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: Downeast LNG has just 80 acres, with 50 of those acres in the intertidal zone, leaving just 30 dry acres. Downeast LNG has insufficient land, and would construct over one-half mile of 30-feet-high sheet metal vapor barrier along the US-1 property line. Downeast LNG's proposed project would sit atop a significant Passamaquoddy cultural and religious site. And, Downeast LNG would project its marine trestle and pier about 4,000 feet across the mouth of scenic Mill Cove. Downeast LNG would not be a good neighbor.
Speaking at a packed university forum last week, long-time energy journalist Andrew Nikiforuk warned British Columbians to be wary of the “extreme energy” of LNG – a fossil fuel that is environmentally reckless, of dubious benefit to B.C., and financially risky to pursue, he argued.
“This whole issue of LNG and fracking… they remind me, as an Albertan, of the missed conversations and debates that we should’ve had in Alberta about the pace and scale of Tar Sands development.”
Especially worrying, he said, are efforts by the province to cover up the environmental impacts of existing fracks in the northeast – let alone from the massive expansion of the drill sites to feed several proposed coastal export terminals.…
In Pennsylvania, where fracking has impacted rivers and streams all over the state, he said it took years of freedom of information requests to finally get the government to reveal the full extent of ground water contamination.
[September 22], the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on its review of U.S. oil and gas transportation infrastructure issues. Specifically, the report examines the overall challenges that increased domestic oil and gas production may pose for transportation infrastructure, as well as specific pipeline and rail safety risks and the steps the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is taking to address those risks.
While the GAO report credits DOT for its work to identify and address risks, it cites rural gathering pipelines that are not subject to safety regulations in concluding that “[DOT] regulation has not kept pace with the changing oil and gas transportation environment.” The report recommends that “the Secretary of Transportation, in conjunction with the Administrator of PHMSA, move forward with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to address gathering pipeline safety that addresses the risks of larger-diameter, higher-pressure gathering pipelines, including subjecting such pipelines to emergency response planning requirements that currently do not apply.” Because of DOT’s ongoing crude-by-rail rulemakings, the GAO report does not make any recommendations related to rail. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) have sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman urging him to resist efforts by the European Union in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations to include language requiring the United States to grant automatic and expeditious approval of licenses to export crude oil and natural gas to EU nations. The letter states that inclusion of such language in an agreement may be counter to U.S. law, could drive up prices for U.S. consumers, and could cause environmental harm. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]