"For much of the state of Maine, the environment is the economy"
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2016 June 30
[See also: NATURAL GAS: DOE is greens' new target in export battle, under the United States heading, below.]
On June 28, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected two related challenges to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s environmental review of the Sabine Pass LNG and Freeport LNG applications to site, construct, and operate liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) export facilities under Section 3 of the Natural Gas Act.
The first decision, Sierra Club v. FERC, No. 14-1249 (the “Sabine Pass Decision”) addressed a challenge to FERC’s 2014 order amending the maximum production capacity of Sabine Pass LNG’s existing LNG export facilities, which were initially approved in a separate 2012 proceeding. The second decision, Sierra Club and Galveston Baykeeper v. FERC, No. 14-1275 (the “Freeport LNG Decision”), involved FERC’s order approving Freeport LNG’s application to add export and liquefaction facilities to its existing import terminals.
In each decision, the D. C. Circuit rejected the argument that FERC’s review under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) failed adequately to consider: (1) the indirect environmental effects of increased natural gas exports (e.g., induced domestic natural gas production and increased use of coal-fired electric generation); and (2) the cumulative impacts of the total number of approved and pending LNG applications before FERC. The Court held that the petitioners in each case had standing, but decided on the merits that FERC’s orders were not arbitrary or capricious.
Without robust future demand, it’s unlikely the three Brownsville projects [Annova LNG, Rio Grande LNG, and Texas LNG ] — and many other proposed LNG plants in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere around the world — will see the light of day. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), managers of the national electricity grid expects Golar LNG to ship liquefied natural gas to Jamaica, despite its heavy losses.
Golar is contracted to New Fortress Energy (NFE), the latter being JPS's selected partner to develop and supply natural gas to the Jamaican utility. New Fortress is five months behind schedule with deliveries.
Golar reported net losses of US$80 million for its first quarter ending March. The loss was mainly because of its US$61.5 million in operating expenses, towering over its US$18.6 million in revenues for the period. Over 12 months, Golar posted a US$197.6-million net loss for financial year 2015 and US$43 million in net losses for 2014.
State government is considering the possibility of taking a bigger stake in a gasline mega-project that would connect North Slope reserves to market.
However, few details of the exact changes that might be on the horizon for the Alaska LNG Project have been made available so far.
A House-Senate resources panel is scheduled to receive an update from recently appointed Alaska Gasline Development Corporation executive director Keith Meyer. AGDC is currently an equal partner in the project, which is expected to cost the state, BP, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil $45 billion to $65 billion.
Gov. Bill Walker on Tuesday discussed the shifting plans for the Alaska LNG Project in an interview with KTUU.
The B.C. government has significantly accelerated the rate and scale of industrial development in the Blueberry River First Nations’ traditional territory over the past four years despite knowledge of alarming impacts, says a major science report released today.
“Our very life, our way of existence, is being wiped out,” Blueberry River Chief Marvin Yahey told a Vancouver press conference. “It’s devastating. It’s really impacted my people, culturally but socially also. It puts a lot of stress on a community.”
Several proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) lines could also extend into Blueberry River First Nations traditional territory, including Spectra Westcoast Connector, Coastal GasLink, North Montney Mainline and Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project, the report said.
Since 2012, the B.C. government has authorized the construction of more than 2,600 oil and gas wells, 1,884 kilometres of petroleum access and permanent roads, 740 kilometres of petroleum development roads, 1,500 kilometres of new pipelines and 9,400 kilometres of seismic lines, according to the report. Approximately 290 forestry cutblocks were also harvested in Blueberry River traditional territory over the same time period.
While 60 per cent of B.C. is classified as intact forest landscape, less than 14 per cent remains in Blueberry territory. And almost one-half of the total area in B.C. reserved for pipelines through tenures falls in the Blueberry River traditional territory. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Premier Christy Clark said her “determined” personality keeps her resolute that liquefied natural gas will one day thrive in B.C. — despite the fact that there’s not yet a single project built here or a final investment agreement.
“The market is terrible right now,” she said, “but we hope that we will get to a final investment decision — that one of them will — before the next election.
Asked if she felt disheartened by the global slump in oil and gas prices — causing massive layoffs in Alberta’s oil sector and sparking several recent economists’ reports questioning whether B.C. can make a go of LNG this decade — Clark admitted fulfilling her election promise poses a “challenge.”
“The cost of solar and wind have dropped so significantly over the last five to six years, since the LNG conversation started in B.C.,” [Clean Energy Canada executive director Merran Smith ] said. “They’re now cost-competitive with natural gas." [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet is expected to decide soon on whether to approve the $36-billion Pacific Northwest liquefied natural gas project near Prince Rupert. Trudeau is under massive pressure from all sides as the crucial decision looms.
On the one hand, Trudeau just won an election promising tougher environmental reviews of energy megaprojects. He said he would give more input to First Nations when it came to projects in their traditional territories.
On the other hand, Trudeau promised during the election to listen to the people when making big decisions: “Ultimately, governments grant permits, but only communities grant permission.”
Now several B.C. communities are calling on Trudeau to say yes to the project. There were pro-LNG rallies Wednesday in Terrace, Fort Nelson and Fort St. John.
Two B.C. First Nations leaders fighting a proposal to export liquefied natural gas from Lelu Island say Ottawa needs to recognize the hereditary rights of the Allied Tsimshian Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams.
Donnie Wesley and Ken Lawson say Pacific NorthWest LNG’s plan to build an $11.4-billion terminal on Lelu Island poses a threat to juvenile salmon habitat. The two men are hereditary leaders of the Gitwilgyoots, one of nine allied tribes of the Lax Kw’alaams in northwestern British Columbia.
They lead a group of indigenous people who have occupied Lelu Island in rotating shifts since last August.
“We intend to pursue all available options to protect our aboriginal rights and titles in our territories, including the Prince Rupert harbour area, and adjacent waters,” says the letter sent to Mr. Trudeau and five federal cabinet ministers. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
There are a lot of ways to scuttle natural resource development and other major projects. A clear “no” is the simplest and probably most principled. But another approach, that may come with less political cost, is simply to delay and defer. To play review processes out until an investment- or market-related window closes and proponents are left with no choice but to pursue opportunities elsewhere.
Environmentalists trying to torpedo planned exports of natural gas have shifted their sights from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to the Department of Energy.
After challenging FERC's approval of export terminals in Texas and Louisiana, the Sierra Club was told by a federal appeals court yesterday the group had targeted the wrong agency (Greenwire, June 28).
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said DOE was the Sierra Club's proper foe. While FERC spearheads environmental reviews of export terminals for liquefied natural gas, DOE determines whether exports are in the public interest.
Sierra Club attorney Sanjay Narayan said the group is focused on DOE's approval of exports from a facility in Freeport, Texas. In a pending lawsuit, the club has accused DOE of violating the National Environmental Policy Act by approving exports from Freeport in 2014 without exploring the impact on gas production, coal consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
"They've allowed FERC to pass the buck to the Department of Energy," Narayan said. "That's essentially the next shoe to drop here."
At issue is DOE's approval of more than a dozen applications to export LNG to countries that lack free-trade agreements with the United States, as well as an additional 28 applications under review. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: The SPB webmaster's opinion is that the US Court of Appeals for DC Circuit is in error, and a further appeal is in order. Congress empowers FERC to make public interest determinations for LNG terminal projects:
15 U.S. Code § 717b
(a) MANDATORY AUTHORIZATION ORDER
After six months from June 21, 1938, no person shall export any natural gas from the United States to a foreign country or import any natural gas from a foreign country without first having secured an order of the Commission* authorizing it to do so. The Commission shall issue such order upon application, unless, after opportunity for hearing, it finds that the proposed exportation or importation will not be consistent with the public interest. The Commission may by its order grant such application, in whole or in part, with such modification and upon such terms and conditions as the Commission may find necessary or appropriate, and may from time to time, after opportunity for hearing, and for good cause shown, make such supplemental order in the premises as it may find necessary or appropriate. [Emphasis added.]
* "Commission" = Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The U.S. Gulf coast is positioning itself to soon have a hub of LNG export capability that will rival any country except for Qatar and Australia.
After usurping coal as the prime U.S. electricity source in January 2016, U.S. domestic supply is becoming saturated as companies compete for decreasing margins. The natural reaction to internal abundance is to look for exports.
Trends like these can be worrisome for huge billion-dollar LNG export terminal construction projects in the U.S. and Canada. BNP Paribas has been eyeing a $36 billion dollar export terminal project in Canada for quite some time. Delays due to environmental concerns and assessments have put the project in question. Ultimately, jurisdictions with friendlier views towards LNG terminals have been winning the export rush.
The letter, signed by many major American groups, pushes back against climate denial and calls for policy solutions to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Thirty-one major American scientific organizations sent a letter to Congress on Tuesday emphasizing the overwhelming consensus on climate change science and the urgent need for climate action. The letter served as a scientific counterpoint to recent actions by Congress designed to question that consensus.
Reminding members of Congress that "rigorous scientific research concludes that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver" of global warming, they cited nearly universal support for the scientific consensus as expressed by the U.S. National Academies, the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's ("PHMSA") recent notice of proposed rulemaking would significantly expand the safety requirements that apply to the nation's natural gas pipelines. Comments on the NPRM are due July 7, 2016. This White Paper provides a detailed guide to PHMSA's proposed rule and highlights four "take-aways" from the NPRM for executives and in-house counsel.
PHMSA's proposed rule constitutes the primary federal regulatory response to a natural gas pipeline safety incident that occurred in San Bruno, California, on September 9, 2010. Following the San Bruno incident, PHMSA issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing potential changes to its gas pipeline safety rules, the National Transportation Safety Board ("NTSB") issued a report on the incident, and Congress passed the 2011 Pipeline Safety Act. These responses to the San Bruno incident included a wide range of proposals, recommendations, and mandates intended to improve the safety of natural gas pipelines. In addition, the Department of Justice ("DOJ") filed criminal charges against PG&E, the owner and operator of the gas pipeline in question, alleging violations of PHMSA's pipeline safety rules.
Leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico on Wednesday added new details to their new clean energy effort, a push to generate 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025.
The centerpiece of the plan is a push to deploy more renewable energy, nuclear power, advanced fossil fuel technology and energy efficiency measures to reach their goal by the middle of the next decade.
Mexico will also join the U.S. and Canadian push to reduce methane emissions by at least 40 percent by 2025, with all three countries pledging federal methane regulations to reach the goal. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
The shades and twists of the U.S. energy policy in the time span of the next four years constitute a vital issue for the European Union. Any new accent or twist that U.S. export priorities might acquire make a lot of difference, in particular for the countries of Southeast Europe now being encouraged to place their bets and money on the steady if not necessarily cheap American LNG cargoes.
[Trump] called on the federal government “to get out of the way” of the energy industry. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: Trump doesn't read the energy news; government is already in league with big energy.
2016 June 27
PITTSBURGH — Royal Dutch Shell’s decision to build its ethane cracker near Monaca, Pa. and Dominion Resources’ plans to export liquefied natural gas from from the Cove Point facility in Maryland give industry leaders hope that demand for their products will continue to grow.
As drillers dig deeper and farther to achieve maximum output from wells, the limits of the Marcellus and Utica shale boom continue to stretch.
“We are building crackers,” said Bernadette Johnson, managing director of Ponderosa Advisors, which provides analytical research for the industry, said while speaking during the 2016 DUG East Conference this week. “This is very good for the Marcellus and Utica region.”
Construction of Dominion’s Cove Point LNG export facility is 38 percent complete, according to the company’s May update filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
During May, engineering reached 99.8 percent completion while engineered equipment procurement is at 99 percent.
On June 1, 2016, FERC granted the joint application of Elba Liquefaction Company, L.L.C. (“ELC”) and Southern LNG Company, L.L.C. (“Southern LNG”) requesting authorization to construct and operate new natural gas liquefaction and export facilities at Southern LNG’s existing liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) terminal located on Elba Island, Chatham County, Georgia (the “Elba Liquefaction Project”). FERC also granted Southern LNG’s request to abandon its LNG truck loading facilities at the terminal. In the same order, FERC granted the separate application of Elba Express Company, L.L.C. (“Elba Express”) to add north-to-south transportation capacity to the existing Elba Express pipeline system by constructing and operating additional compressors at the existing Hartwell Compressor Station in Hart County, Georgia, and constructing and operating two new compressor stations in Jefferson and Effingham Counties, Georgia (the “Elba Express Modification Project”). Elba Express proposed this expansion in part to enable Elba Express to transport domestic natural gas on a firm basis to the Elba Liquefaction Project.
In granting the requested authorizations, the Commission reviewed in detail and rejected various objections raised by environmental groups and others to the environmental assessment (“EA”) prepared by Commission Staff.
Webmaster's comment: FERC's dismissal of environmental objections to the project is par for the course.
PORT OF BROWNSVILLE – “They are not like belching-smoke-kinds-of facilities, so you don’t see anything. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t emissions.”
“It can’t be that black and white,” she says about the environmental effects of LNG. “Otherwise, people wouldn’t spend years arguing. Then, when we get into the research, it isn’t black and white. You have to dig deep and it depends on sensitivities, too.”
The U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory reports the Greenhouse Gas emissions of the LNG process, from natural gas extraction through usage, contributes emissions of mainly carbon dioxide and methane.
About one-tenth of that is directly related to the liquefaction process. Another 5 percent is from the tanker transportation and regasification. About 75 percent of the emissions are from the power plant operations at the end of the process in which the gas goes to homes and is used.
“One difficulty has been, for decades, the industry wasn’t transparent at all,” she said. “They didn’t have to be. These (facilities) were built in Qatar, Nigeria and a lot of places where there was no reason to be transparent and no environmental community to enforce it.”
While the emissions are important, Sakmar said there are two other activities that have what she sees as the most environmentally impactful – ship traffic and the need for dredging. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Michael Hightower, of Sandia Laboratories Energy Systems and Analysis Department, has written reports for the federal government regarding the safety of LNG shipping and he has several conclusions.
[W]hile the risks seem minimal due to the double-hulled nature of the ships, Hightower understands what those in the area want to know regarding the movement of these tankers and the cryogenic liquid inside them.
[I]t’s still best to be as far away from populated areas as possible, like the Cheniere facility in Sabine Pass, Louisiana.
“That, from my standpoint, is good. It is not impacting people,” he said about that remote LNG plant location. “Selecting locations of transits that impact people the least. If you can’t get far enough away, then you can do the management and mitigation to try to reduce the likelihood and severity of the spill. Make sure in case it does happen, the fewest number of people are impacted.” [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: Sandia National Laboratories defined the 2.2-mile-radius LNG ship Hazard Zones.
A global glut of liquefied natural gas is creating questions about when a “second wave” of LNG export projects will move forward after Cheniere Energy’s first shipments out of Louisiana this year.
Five U.S. LNG export projects are under construction, including in Freeport and Corpus Christi, but many are awaiting both regulatory approval and corporate decisions on whether to invest billions of dollars during a market downturn.
Perhaps the most brazen project is The Woodlands-based NextDecade’s Rio Grande LNG project in Texas. NextDecade proposes building what could be the nation’s largest LNG export facility, with the first of three phases scheduled to come online in 2020. The $6 billion project would be constructed on 1,000 acres at the Port of Brownsville near the Mexican border. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Environmentalists won in their recent fight against liquefied natural gas in Oregon, and they believe they can win in Brownsville, too.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency that grants permission for such facilities, denied Jordan Cove’s application to build an LNG export facility at Coos Bay, Oregon, in large measure because the applicants for the permit were unable to demonstrate that the benefits of such a facility outweighed the “potential for adverse impact on landowners and the communities,” FERC said in its denial issued in March.
In a 25-page order, the federal regulators based its denial of a permit because the company seeking the permit “presented little or no evidence of need” for such a facility.
“These companies want to create an infrastructure for fossil fuels and this is a time when we need to turn away from that,” [Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club chairman Jim Chapman] said. “But this would be a commitment for 30 years of fossil fuels.”
“I don’t think you can say LNG is clean burning,” [Susan Sakmar, author of “Energy for the 21st Century: Opportunities and Challenges for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)”] said. “You have to get the gas, liquefy it and ship it.” [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
BROWNSVILLE — Two companies have now officially filed their applications for review to build liquefied natural gas facilities at the Port of Brownsville. A local non-profit agency is now doing its part to help concerned citizens voice their opinions about the companies setting up shop in their communities.
Residents in Cameron County recently received flyers in the mail sent out by the non-profit group Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid.
Attorney Katherine Youker said many of their clients are worried about how a liquefied natural gas company could affect their health and their livelihoods. She said those working in the shrimping and coastal tourism industries are especially worried these LNG companies will have negative effects on their markets.
Two days ago, Rio Grande LNG filed for project review with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Texas LNG filed for official review in March. And Annova LNG is still in its pre-filing stages.
The attorneys for Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid said they’ve prepared responses for several residents in Cameron County and have submitted those to be considered during this review period. They said the time to voice concerns is now.
Cheniere Energy recently filed a letter with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission withdrawing its application to build truck loading facilities at its Sabine Pass LNG terminal in Cameron Parish, Louisiana.
According to the company’s filing with FERC, the application is being withdrawn as “its customers are focused primarily on the completion of construction and placement in service of the liquefaction trains at the Sabine Pass liquefaction project at present.”
The state House and Senate Resources committees are due to meet June 29 for a scheduled update from industry and state officials on the big pipeline and liquefied natural gas project.
Alaska is a partner in Alaska LNG with the three major North Slope producers, BP, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil.
The hot topic will be Gov. Bill Walker’s desire for the state to move into the lead role on the giant project, which became public this week in remarks to the press by Keith Meyer, newly-appointed president of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., the state gas corporation that is the entity representing Alaska’s interest.
Sen. Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River, was also at the Commonwealth North meeting, and said, “We’ve been asking about this for quite a while,” and have not been getting answers.
“We’ve been asking why we need to be spending $1 million a month on attorneys, including some brought in from London, and we were told that all of this was on work that was ‘inside the lanes,’ to support the present partnership structure,” and not on a new go-it-alone strategy, MacKinnon told Commonwealth North.
The gas project is now forecast to cost between $45 billion and $65 billion, but a revised cost estimate is being doing as part of preliminary engineering work now underway.
Self-proclaimed “gas guy,” and, as of June 15, Alaska Gasline Development Corp. President and CEO, Keith Meyer views one of the largest and most complex projects the country has ever seen more simply, as the “logistics infrastructure of moving gas from the supply point to a market point,” he said in an June 21 interview with the Journal.
A 35-year veteran of the energy industry, he oversaw the development of the Sabine Pass LNG terminal on the Texas-Louisiana line as president of Cheniere LNG. Sabine Pass was once the largest LNG import terminal in the country and has become an export facility after the shale gas revolution.
With producers as upstream customers of the project contracting for space in the pipe and capacity in the liquefaction plant, the end buyers of LNG are then customers of the producers, or the state, with its share of gas, and not direct customers of the Alaska LNG Project.
…Alaska is a direct sail to all the potential Asian markets; while Lower 48 competitor selling LNG have to go through a third country, Panama, to reach Pacific customers.
Squamish First Nations chiefs and councilors have approved a new pipeline and compressor station that will provide natural gas to the Woodfibre LNG plant in Squamish.
The Squamish Nation last year approved the Woodfibre liquefied natural gas plant itself, which also received federal approval in March.
“Squamish Nation has approval authority over aspects of the project that are much stronger than allowing the provincial government to monitor and enforce its conditions and plans.”
The environmental review of a Petronas-led liquefied natural gas project in western Canada has resumed, starting the clock on a final three-month extension granted by the federal government, Canada's environmental regulator said on Monday.
The ruling Liberals have committed to announcing a final decision on the Pacific NorthWest LNG project by the end of September.
Over the past two years, oil prices have dropped precipitously, bringing natural gas prices down with them. Twenty LNG export projects were once proposed for the B.C. coast—now, some analysts say it's possible none will move forward. Northeast B.C. has consistently had the province's highest unemployment rate this year. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
The clock is ticking on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first big test on climate action.
The federal cabinet is set to make its final decision on Petronas’ controversial Pacific NorthWest LNG (liquefied natural gas) project by the end of September. If Trudeau allows the project to proceed, it will be impossible for Canada to meet its international climate commitments.
The Pacific NorthWest LNG project, which would export liquefied fracked gas from B.C.’s north coast at the mouth of the Skeena River, could result in the collapse of Canada’s second-largest salmon run. It faces opposition from many First Nations in the Skeena region.
Trudeau has promised to take a leadership role in fighting climate change and transitioning Canada to a cleaner economy. With the recent signing of the Paris Agreement to fight climate change, the Trudeau government committed Canada to a 30-per-cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
If built, the project would completely undermine Canada’s international climate change commitments. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has found the emissions of the proposed Pacific Northwest LNG terminal and associated upstream fracked gas development would be “high in magnitude, continuous, irreversible and global in extent.”
There are many Asian countries where LNG consumption would be added to coal consumption, instead of replacing it. Greenhouse gas emissions from fracking, transportation, liquefaction and re-gasification also significantly reduce LNG’s benefits over coal when the whole cycle is taken into account.
The B.C. government may be tempting Ottawa with the prospect of finally providing provincial blessing on the Kinder Morgan tarsands pipeline in return for federal approval of Petronas’ LNG project. Trading one destructive project for another, ending up with two climate fiascos instead of none, is not climate leadership.
Trudeau promised to make decisions based on evidence. In this case, the evidence is clear. It’s time to reject the Pacific NorthWest LNG project. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
On the 19th of June the Pipeline Safety Act came into force, making important changes to the National Energy Board Act, and to some extent the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act.
The most significant changes to the Act relate to absolute liability and financial resource requirements, abandonment, pipeline releases, damage prevention, as well as audit and enforcement powers.
The study by Stanford scientists assessed the amount of groundwater that could be used for irrigation and drinking supplies in five counties of California's agricultural Central Valley, as well as the three coastal counties encompassing Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura. The study estimated that water-scarce California could have almost three times as much fresh groundwater as previously thought.
But the authors also found that oil and gas activity occurred in underground freshwater formations in seven of the eight counties. Most of the activity was light, but in the Central Valley's Kern County, the hub of the state's oil industry, 15 to 19 percent of oil and gas activity occurs in freshwater zones, the authors estimated.
The study arrives as California grapples with the possible impact of past oil and gas activity on its groundwater resources and the push to develop new fossil fuel reservoirs through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. In 2014, state officials admitted that for years they had allowed oil and gas companies to pump billions of gallons of wastewater into more than 2,000 disposal wells located in federally protected aquifers. In 2015, Kern County officials found hundreds of unlined, unregulated wastewater pits, often near farm fields. Oil and gas wastewater is highly saline and laced with toxic substances, such as the carcinogen benzene.
Fracking into USDWs [Underground Sources of Drinking Water] is legal, but the oil and gas industry has long insisted that fracking occurs far deeper than where aquifers are located. Kang and Jackson found that oil and gas activity could be found in one in three USDWs within the eight counties they studied.
A March 2016 study Jackson co-authored showed that oil and gas companies fracked into relatively shallow groundwater in Pavillion, Wyoming, and the water contained chemicals related to substances that companies reported using in local fracking operations. These included diesel-related and volatile organic compounds, such as benzene and the neurotoxin toluene. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
BLM [Bureau of Land Management] approval of the right of way did not violate the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, even assuming that the project would result in migratory bird fatalities, where BLM was acting in a “purely regulatory capacity” and nothing BLM did would be a proximate cause of any “take” of migratory birds. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
According to the data, Sabine Pass Liquefaction LLC exported a total of 21 508 223 million ft3 of LNG since the first shipment to Brazil onboard the Asia Vision tanker in February 2016. Following that shipment, a further six cargoes of LNG departed the terminal up until 25 April 2016, delivering to India, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Argentina and Portugal. The price at export point ranged from US$3.35/million Btu to US$4.10/million Btu.
The data also shows that American LNG Marketing LLC exported a total of 7432 million ft3 of LNG in ISO containers from Miami, Florida, US to Barbados in the first four months of 2016.
The US also imported 34.8 billion ft3 of LNG from Trinidad in the first four months of 2016, according to the data. This figure stedily declined from 12 billion ft3 of LNG in January 2016 to just 4.7 billion ft3 of LNG in April 2016.
The Panama canal Authority on Sunday will inaugurate a third set of locks after a US$5.2 billion expansion project that will accelerate transit while allowing larger vessels to pass through.
Vessels transporting liquefied natural gas will start passing through in August, the Authority added. LNG facilities are expected to be built as a second phase of the canal expansion.
LONDON -- McKinsey Energy Insights (MEI), a data and analytics specialist, predicts in its latest research that LNG oversupply could last until 2024. As a result, this could mean that few LNG projects will reach final investment decision (FID) in the next 12 to 18 months.
MEI’s research shows that the current global LNG supply glut is exacerbated by the 100 mtpa of new export terminal capacity currently under construction in the U.S. and Australia. Furthermore, by 2019 oversupply will peak at 60 mtpa. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
2016 June 24
Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc makes clear tankers cannot use Head Harbour Passage
Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc has affirmed the federal government will stick to the former government's policy to deny LNG tankers permission to navigate through Head Harbour Passage.
The phone number listed for Downeast LNG's Maine office is no longer connected.
George Petrides, the chair of the company's board of directors, declined comment when reached by CBC News on Wednesday.
Bob Godfrey, an activist with Save Passamaquoddy Bay in Eastport, Me., said the Canadian government's position is an "insurmountable problem" for any potential buyer.
"It's obvious that the government of Canada is holding it's ground," said Godfrey.
"It doesn't look like they have much prospect whatsoever and it's really puzzling how this project has kept alive so long." [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Nova Scotia’s greenhouse gas emission target has been set at 10 percent below the 1990 levels by 2020, and the province is in the process of developing regulations for liquefied natural gas facilities in advance of plants being built, according to a statement issued by the government.
In the next few year, the province of Nova Scotia could see the development of LNG facilities in Goldboro, in Guysborough County and Bear Head, Richmond County. The two projects are being developed by Pieridae Energy and LNG Limited, respectively.
The consultations that opened on Wednesday, June 16, include certain compliance options, namely, to reduce the emissions through facility design, and to contribute to a fund at CA$25 per ton for carbon dioxide equivalent emissions that exceed the performance standard.
The licences authorize the company to import up to 14.2 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year
A proposed liquefied natural gas export facility in Cape Breton has received federal approval for a licence to export liquefied natural gas.
Bear Head LNG Corporation, a subsidiary of the Australia-based Liquefied Natural Gas Ltd., says the government also approved a licence to import natural gas from the United States.
The licences authorize the company to import up to 14.2 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year and are both good for 25 years.
After three years of contentious public debate, the three members of the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) — all Gov. LePage appointees — will likely vote in July on whether to accept a controversial plan to charge electricity customers up to $75 million a year to subsidize the construction of natural gas pipelines into the state. Under a 2013 law, the PUC is authorized to approve so-called Energy Cost Reduction Contracts (ECRCs) that would divert subsidies to selected pipeline projects, provided that the commission determines that they will bring down electric costs for all ratepayers. But while the LePage administration and PUC Chairman Mark Vannoy have expressed strong support for the concept, the proposal was dealt a blow recently when the PUC’s own staff recommended against moving forward.
In a report released on June 8, the PUC staff wrote that ECRC proposals “are not in the public interest,” are not likely to be cost-beneficial, and “do not meet the requirements of the law.”
“Hot on the heels of the recent downfall of Kinder Morgan’s massive pet pipeline project, this is an important victory on the path to stopping the patchwork effort across New England to build a polluting pipeline on the backs of consumers,” wrote Maine Conservation Law staff attorney Ben Tettlebaum. “Enough time, resources, and money have been wasted on this two-year flirtation with the fossil fuel industry. For the health and well-being of communities across New England, it’s time to break off this relationship with our dirty past. CLF strongly urges the PUC to become a true leader in the region and adopt the wise and reasoned recommendation of its own staff. Then, we can turn our attention to proven, low-risk investments, such as energy efficiency and renewables, that will truly move Maine and the region forward on the path to a clean energy future.” [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: See "ISO New England: Wholesale power prices, consumer demand at record lows", below.
New England benefited in 2015 from some of its least expensive wholesale electricity on record. It's a change from the "polar vortex" winter of 2013-2014 when electricity prices in New England soared.
[Existing] LNG import terminals in New England and Canada, as well as LNG storage facilities, can feed the pipeline system, skirting constraints between the Northeast and the rest of the country. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Sierra Club has filed a court appeal of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) orders authorizing long-term exports of LNG to nations without a Free Trade Agreement with the United States from the Dominion Cove Point LNG export terminal under construction at Lusby, Md. The appeal was filed June 15, 2016 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. In the case before DOE, DOE rejected Sierra Club’s arguments that, among other things, approval of the LNG exports would increase production of natural gas by hydraulic fracturing and that DOE did not adequately analyze the environmental impacts of such increased production.…
Sabine Pass Liquefaction, LLC (Sabine Pass) has filed a letter with FERC withdrawing its application for authorization to construct and operate LNG truck loading facilities at the Sabine Pass LNG terminal in Cameron Parish, La. The letter request withdrawal of the application because “Sabine Pass and its customers are focused primarily on the completion of construction and placement in service of the Liquefaction Trains at the Sabine Pass Liquefaction Project at present.”
Lawyers for Rio Grande LNG LLC and affiliates (RG) adopted an "enough is enough" posture in a Wednesday FERC filing on behalf of their client, asking the Commission to reject dozens of motions to intervene that were filed by "...entities that show absolutely no regard for the Commission's rules..."
"Specifically, the vast majority of the current submissions purporting to be motions to intervene demonstrate an utter lack of a good faith effort to meet any of the Commission's regulations setting forth the requirements for petitions to intervene." Among other things, the lawyers said, filers are required to state whether a formal hearing is being sought, and present a statement of facts of law and specify relief requested.
"A motion to intervene must also state the movant's interest in sufficient factual detail to demonstrate that (i) the movant has a right to participate which is expressly conferred by statute or by Commission rule, order, or other action..." Would-be intervenors must also submit typewritten filings and distribute them to all parties on the docket service list, the lawyers said.
"Despite these clear instructions [provided by FERC], all but a handful of the motions to intervene filed failed to comply with any of the Commission requirements for motions to intervene, not even the mailing/service requirement set out directly in the notice," the filing said. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]
Webmaster's comment: There are some interesting observations from this article: 1) It is clear that participation by the public who oppose this project are getting under the skin of the applicant; 2) Perhaps the applicant should complain to FERC that FERC violates the law re Environmental Justice, Freedom of Information, and Equal Protection; and 3) It points to FERC's deficiency on informing the public on exactly how the process works and what the correct procedures are. Save Passamaquoddy Bay has been involved as an intervenor in FERC's LNG permitting process for over 10 years, and can unequivocally state that information provided by FERC on its website is obscure, to say the least, making the process and its rules non-apparent. Although many improvements in FERC's website have occurred in the past decade, FERC obscures details on intervening, and obligations taken on when intervening; plus, many details about the permitting process are difficult for the public to find online.
For instance, FERC does not provide sufficient information about what other federal agencies are involved in permitting, those roles in the permitting process, and what other federal permits are required. FERC makes it difficult for the public to know the exact regulations that apply to an application. In some cases, regulations are by reference; that is, regulations cite some other, non-governmental entity's rules or best practices — some of which cannot be obtained without purchase from that non-governmental entity. FERC remains silent to public and intervenor questions posted to the docket — that is, until virtually the last minute in the permitting process, when FERC publishes its responses to the public's questions (if FERC actually decides to answer) in the Environmental Impact Statement, which can be years after the questions were posed.
FERC obscures and omits pertinent facts that are detrimental to the applicant, while subjectively dismissing valid public concerns. FERC even uses "Barbaric" insults, accusing legitimate public safety concerns as "NIMBY." And, FERC personnel witness, without consequence, applicants' lies and misrepresentations to the public in "Open Houses" FERC requires applicants to hold.
If there are "Barbarians" involved in the FERC permitting process, FERC is the largest one in the crowd.
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jun 24, CMC – Barbados has defended its decision to import Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) from the United States rather than from its Caribbean Community (CARICOM) neighbour, Trinidad and Tobago.
[Darcy Boyce, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Energy] said that Bridgetown did not bypass Port of Spain, but simply needed “very, very small quantities” to top up the reserves, which Trinidad was “not able to supply us” at the time.
The primary argument in support of natural gas is the fact that it is cleaner than coal and can be conveniently and cost-effectively substituted for it in power generation. Although on its face true, the claim should be considered in a real-world context.
[It] is a little like saying that smoking Marlboro Lights won’t kill you as fast as smoking Marlboro reds. Arguably, you will not expire as quickly; although just as arguably, you will be suffering all through the additional time, given the known side effects.
Adopting natural gas as a go-to transitional energy source is fraught with danger; a danger in the nature of “too big to fail” or, as in this case, “too big to be replaced” by clean renewable energy sources. A danger naturally brought about when too much money is invested in one place or on one technology or resource class.
The seeds of resistance to tomorrow’s need for an energy economy principally powered by clean renewable energy technologies and sustainable practices are being planted today. Policies too encouraging of natural gas, e.g. natural gas exporting, continued subsidization or reducing support for renewables, will inevitably lead to an industry that is “too big to be easily replaced!” [Colored & bold emphasis added.]