A two for one deal. Big time.
The US has never been a big exporter of oil and gas. Exportation implies that a county is a net producer of hydrocarbons – both oil and gas, which is not the case with the US, we’re a net consumer.
Traditionally, the Texas Railroad Commission would limit supply (pumping) of oil to conserve the resource. The notion that it would be over-produced and to be exported overseas, except to our allies in time of war, was never a consideration – because that simply squanders the resource and increases the price domestically. It has always been national policy to conserve domestic supplies – hence the naval oil stockpile in California, which was privatized.
Now the Feds can’t wait to ship gas overseas. Not a good plan for the near term, since that simply drives up the cost of gas domestically, depletes the reserves and adds to pollution. And ruinous for the long term – both from a domestic energy policy perspective and from an environmental perspective.
An all-round bad idea, brought to you by Obama & Hillary at the behest of the gas lobby on K Street.
As noted by Rich Cowan below, this impact on domestic supply will be most acute on the east coast, where gas that would have been stored for winter use ends up on an LNG tanker bound for South America:
The exports from Cove Point would take place in summer months. Traditionally those summer months are used to replenish natural gas reserves.
If the gas does not go to replenish the storage caverns in the midwest, and instead goes to Brazil (Guanabara Bay LNG terminal), not the Ukraine, we will end up with a situation where gas in storage in the “East Region” is depleted. http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/nw_epg0_sao_r88_bcfw.htm
It is irresponsible for the FERC to approve export when we are already running almost 300 million cubic feet (just for eastern US) below where we were at this time last year. The lack of gas in storage won’t affect the warm parts of the US much but it will be devastating to the midwest and the northeast, leading to gas prices that could be 50 to 100% higher for the 5 coldest months of the year than they would be otherwise.
Cove Point will be the Number 4 CO 2 emitter in Maryland, but it will emit more vented methane to make it the Number 1 Climate Changer on the East Cost.
Feds Approve Top Climate Changer on the East Cost
Despite ongoing opposition from area residents, the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) has approved the conversion of the Dominion Cove Point liquified natural gas (LNG) facility in southern Maryland from an import to an export facility. The decision also authorizes the installation of additional compression at Dominion’s Pleasant Valley Compressor Station and related facilities in Northern Virginia.
Cove Point will be the Number 4 CO 2 emitter in Maryland, it will emit more vented methane to make it the Number 1 Climate Changer on the East Cost.
This decision now allows the facility pipe fracked gas from across the region to the area, liquify it and to ship the LNG overseas to China and India. Opponents say this would encourage the spread of fracking and fueling climate change.
“FERC’s decision to allow LNG exports from Cove Point is fundamentally flawed because the agency failed to consider the simple fact that exporting LNG will mean more drilling and fracking, and that means more climate pollution, more risk of contaminated groundwater, and more threats to the health of people who live near gas wells,” said Deb Nardone, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas campaign. “FERC should be standing up for the public good, not the interests of dirty polluters.”
Local opponents are also concerned about the facility’s proximity to homes, schools and businesses in Calvert County, saying it threatens the safety of thousands of people with the potential for fires and explosions such as the one that killed 47 people in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec last year. It would be the first such facility built so close to so many homes.
“In the rush to export our natural gas, public officials and agencies are failing to protect the health and safety of the residents of Calvert County and people throughout the Chesapeake region,” said Waterkeepers Chesapeake executive director Betsy Nicholas. “Upstream impacts of fracking, and new and expanded pipelines and compressor stations are being ignored. Economic impacts to local and regional economies are being ignored. Pollution impacts to the Bay, the Patuxent River and upstream rivers, streams and drinking water sources are being ignored. It’s difficult not to conclude that our public officials just don’t care.”
Opponents said that FERC’s Environmental Assessment was inadequate and that it failed to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement, brushing aside the wider impacts on the community of the project and community opposition to it. Two weeks ago, a group of citizens, including members of Calvert County for a Healthy Community, went to the monthly FERC meeting in D.C. to make their voices heard after 250,000 comments in opposition were filed, 1,000 people marched to FERC headquarters in D.C. in July for a sit-in that resulted in 25 arrests, and the commissioners failed to show up at a hearing in their area.
“You are in danger of turning my neighborhood into a sacrifice zone for the gas industry—if you approve the Dominion Cove Point LNG export facility without fully studying the hazards of the project,” said group leader Tracey Eno at that meeting. “For more than a year, we have been pleading with you to provide the information on the full effects from this proposal in the form of a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement. Yet, at every turn you have lowered the bar of scrutiny for Dominion, even as the evidence of threats to our communities has continued to rise.”
“Even the EPA said that FERC should weigh gas production stimulus effect of the Cove Point export facility,” said Robin Broder of Waterkeepeers Chesapeake. “But somehow FERC concluded it was ‘not feasible to more specifically evaluate localized environmental impacts’ even though Dominion knows where it will source the fracked gas and knows that new compressor and pipeline capacity will be built. Our public agencies and elected officials are not serving the public’s interest and are sacrificing our waterways.”
Waterkeepers Chesapeake, one of the groups that has been leading the opposition to the Cove Point project, is now exploring legal options for blocking the project. It plans to join with those groups in increasing pressure on elected officials, both state and federal, to listen to the voices of citizens, including Governor Martin O’Malley, who has been widely mentioned as a 2016 presidential hopeful, Congressman Steny Hoyer, and U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, all Democrats.
“We are carefully reviewing FERC’s decision to approve the Cove Point export facility with our clients and planning our next steps,” said Earthjustice associate attorney Jocelyn D’Ambrosio. “If FERC has refused to revisit its inadequate environmental review, we will have no choice but to petition FERC to reconsider its decision, and ultimately we may have to take the case to court.”
“FERC’s decision to approve Cove Point is the result of a biased review process rigged in favor of approving gas industry projects no matter how great the environmental and safety concerns,” said Mike Tidwell, director od the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “FERC refused to even require an environmental impact statement for this $3.8 billion facility right on the Bay. We intend to challenge this ruling all the way to court if necessary. For the safety of Marylanders and for people across our region facing new fracking wells and pipelines, we will continue to fight this project until it is stopped.”