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"For much of the state of Maine, the environment is the economy"
                                           — US Senator Susan Collins, 2012 Jun 21



 

Latest News

NOTICE — Beginning in 2013 March:
Due to the pending FERC calendar re Downeast LNG permitting, in order to focus our time and resources, news articles cited on this website will include mostly just those articles of interest to the Passamaquoddy Bay area.


2013 April 23

New England

Connecticut, federal officials discuss need for more natural gas — West Hartford News, West Hartford, CT

[Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy] has cast Connecticut’s lot with those who believe a large-scale expansion of the natural gas transmission network is in order. At end of last year, he joined with the five other governors in the region to call for expanding the natural gas infrastructure.

US energy officials to review New England policy (Apr 21) — WCSH, Portland, ME

Ernest Moniz, U.S. secretary of energy, is meeting Monday with state officials in Providence, R.I., and Hartford.

The federal review was ordered by President Barack Obama to develop a strategy for public works needed to transport, store and deliver energy to consumers. The meetings are open to the public.

Federal and state energy officials say they'll examine constraints in New England and regional approaches to solving the problems.

Northeast

The next Keystone? Natural gas project draws environmentalist ire — Fox News

"Everybody in the U.S. economy will suffer from gas exports according to the U.S. Department of Energy, except for one industry -- and that's the gas industry, which will make lots and lots of money," Chesapeake Climate Action Network's Mike Tidwell told Fox News in an interview.

Further, environmentalists raise concerns that Cove Point would be used to ship out gas extracted through a controversial process known as fracking. The Chesapeake group and others recently wrote to President Obama blasting the Cove Point project.

Errant methane plumes detected over Marcellus wells (Apr 21) — Cronell Chronicle, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Using an airplane to detect greenhouse gas emissions from freshly drilled shale gas wells in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus basin, Cornell and Purdue scientists have found that leaked methane is a tougher problem – between a hundred- and a thousandfold – than previously thought, according to a study published April 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

At some wells in preproduction, the scientists detected 2 to 14 grams of leaking methane per second, per square kilometer. And much to their surprise, they found 34 grams of methane leaking per second, per square kilometer, at seven well pads in the drilling phase. That’s two to three orders of magnitude more leaked methane than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates for these wells.

The study, “Toward a Better Understanding and Quantification of Methane Emissions from Shale Gas Development,” was co-authored with Cornell’s Bob Howarth, the David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology; Anthony Ingraffea, the Dwight C. Baum Professorship in Engineering; and Renee Santoro, of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, Ithaca. Purdue’s Dana R. Coulton and Paul Shepson were the lead authors. [Red & bold emphasis added.]

Concerned about climate change? Take action to stop Cove Point — The Nation, New York, NY

You've heard of Keystone XL but have you heard of Cove Point? While it hasn't garnered the same amount of attention as the infamous pipeline, the proposed $3.8 billion liquid natural gas (LNG) export facility would do serious damage to the local environment and could put the United States on the path to massively increasing our greenhouse gas emissions.

The proposed Cove Point export facility in southern Maryland just fifty miles from the White House would turn natural gas into a liquid to be sent overseas. Much of that natural gas would be obtained through fracking, giving companies a huge incentive to expand the dangerous practice. Furthermore, while natural gas has been sold as a clean alternative to coal, the facility at Cove Point would trigger more planet-heating pollution than all seven of Maryland's coal plants combined. Finally, while its proponents no doubt want to paint Cove Point as a potential boon for the economy, only the gas industry stands to profit; a recent study commissioned by the Department of Energy found that exporting US gas would raise the price here at home by as much as 27 percent.

Gulf of Mexico

The State of Texas: April 22, 2014 (Apr 22) — Texas Monthly, Austin, TX

The New Company Town — If a town is simply one big natural gas facility, is it still a town? The Houston Chronicle takes an in-depth look (subscription required) at Quintana, an island community an hour south of Houston whose few dozen citizens have been fighting the Freeport LNG and its conspicuous natural gas facility for more than a decade. "As Freeport LNG planned its expansion last year, it made the unusual [$225,000] offer to every homeowner," reports Ryan Holeywell. … There are hold-outs against the company's generous offers and 56 of the town's 66 registered voters have signed a petition urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to deny construction permits.… [Red & bold emphasis added.]

Alaska

Alaska to invest in LNG project — Oilprice.com

The Alaskan State Legislature passed legislation on April 20 that will see the state join a partnership with oil producers on the North Slope to build a pipeline and liquefied natural gas export terminal.

Plans involve the construction of an 800-mile pipeline that will connect gas fields to an LNG export facility. A 42-inch pipeline will be used that will allow enough gas to both meet the state’s needs and allow for some to be exported.

Construction will not begin immediately on the pipeline, which comes with a steep price tag estimated at between $45 and $65 billion. More studies are planned to refine costs and finalize engineering details.

The project is not expected to come online until 2024 at the earliest, at which point it is expected to be able to produce 16 million to 18 million tonnes of LNG per year.

British Columbia

Defiant northern Chief galvanizes BC First Nations against Premier's LNG plans (Apr 22) — Vancouver Observer, Vancouver, BC

The “Fort Nelson incident” has united First Nations against speedy approvals of a $78 billion industry – potentially “destabilizing” the Premier's entire strategy.

The actions of a young, tough-talking First Nations leader in northeast B.C. last week, that sparked the embarrassing reversal of a cabinet decision to fast-track natural gas plants, appears to be rallying province-wide Aboriginal opposition to Liquified Natural Gas plans.

The video-captured incident, uploaded to YouTube, is now being seized by First Nations leaders across B.C. to tell Premier Christy Clark to slow down her LNG plans and respect Aboriginal land and environmental concerns, or risk seeing her entire LNG economic strategy – worth $78 billion – go up in smoke.

Canada pushes whales aside to green light oil pipeline (Apr 21) — Seattle PI, Seattle, WA

[This article also appears under the Canada heading, below.]

A quiet announcement in the Canadian Gazette has removed a large, water-breaching marine obstacle from the path of a pipeline and oil super port that Canada’s government wants to build on the north coast of British Columbia.

The government has stripped the North Pacific humpback whale of its “threatened” status under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA).

“The decision removed a major legal hurdle that the environmental group Ecojustice said stood in the way of the $7.9 billion Northern Gateway Pipeline project that would bring 550,000 barrels of diluted bitumen crude from Alberta to Kitimat.” [Red & bold emphasis added.]

Key native group in Northern B.C. threatens to stop talks on pipelines (Apr 21) — The Globe and Mail, Toronto, ON

Another crack has appeared in the government’s energy strategy, with a key native group in northern B.C. threatening “to stop discussions [regarding] any and all proposed pipeline development” in their territory.

The Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs, whose traditional lands near Hazelton lie in the path of several proposed oil and gas pipelines, say they will block those projects unless the government withdraws controversial treaty deals offered to two neighbouring bands.

The declaration comes just days after government officials were kicked out of an aboriginal LNG conference in Fort Nelson. The ejection, made to protest regulatory changes that would have exempted gas plants from environmental assessment, shocked the government, which promptly rescinded the changes. The event raised doubts about the province’s ability to win aboriginal support for an energy corridor across northern B.C.

“The Crown is still running roughshod over our rights. And you can see that all across the North with respect to the energy corridor,” she said.

LNG feedback highlights air quality concerns (Apr 21) — The Chief, Squamish, BC

Late last month, the proponents of the Woodfibre LNG project unveiled their community consultation summary report outlining feedback from a series of meetings in February. Four-hundred and forty-nine people attended either the open houses, group sessions or emailed the company. A total of 142 comment submissions were received in the first round of consultation.

What topped the feedback was comments stating they didn’t want the LNG plant to be built at all. Out of the 142 submissions, 129 voiced their opposition to the project. [Red & bold emphasis added.]

First Nations’ LNG fight takes wing on an eagle’s feather (Apr 20) — The Globe and Mail, Toronto, ON

Sharleen Gale, the young Fort Nelson chief who shook the government last week when she kicked its officials out of an energy conference, knew a showdown was coming and she’d have to be strong.

That’s why she held the sacred eagle feather in her hands when she took the podium at the BC First Nations LNG Summit and – with representatives from about 60 bands and major industry players looking on – told government delegates to get out.

As the stunned officials from Victoria walked out, drums and native chants ringing in their ears, Chief Gale stood at the podium with the eagle feather held defiantly over her head.

The crisis was triggered by a decision the government made weeks earlier – but which people didn’t learn about until Tuesday, while the conference was under way.

Chief Gale became incensed when she learned the government, without any public consultation, had amended the Reviewable Projects Regulation to exempt sweet natural gas processing plants from environmental assessment. The change meant gas plants could be built without any regard for First Nations’ concerns about the environment. [Red & bold emphasis added.]

Canada

Canada pushes whales aside to green light oil pipeline (Apr 21) — Seattle PI, Seattle, WA

[This article also appears under the British Columbia heading, above.]

A quiet announcement in the Canadian Gazette has removed a large, water-breaching marine obstacle from the path of a pipeline and oil super port that Canada’s government wants to build on the north coast of British Columbia.

The government has stripped the North Pacific humpback whale of its “threatened” status under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA).

“The decision removed a major legal hurdle that the environmental group Ecojustice said stood in the way of the $7.9 billion Northern Gateway Pipeline project that would bring 550,000 barrels of diluted bitumen crude from Alberta to Kitimat.” [Red & bold emphasis added.]

North America

‘Jobs vs. the Environment’: How to counter this divisive big lie — The Nation, New York, NY

One starting point for that story is to recognize the common interest both in human survival and in sustainable livelihoods. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, if God had intended some people to fight just for the environment and others to fight just for the economy, he would have made some people who could live without money and others who could live without water and air. There are not two groups of people, environmentalists and workers. We all need a livelihood and we all need a livable planet to live on. If we don’t address both, we’ll starve together while we’re waiting to fry together.

Within such a common frame it becomes easier to build alliances around specific issues in the real world. For example, through the Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, Connecticut unions joined with environmental, religious and community groups to fight for renewable energy standards that create local jobs and reduce pollution by shifting from fossil fuels to renewables, energy efficiency and conservation. Elsewhere, workers in the transportation industry have joined with environmentalists to advocate shifting from private to public transportation—something that would create large numbers of skilled jobs, greatly reduce greenhouse gasses and local pollution, and save money for consumers.

[E]nvironmental protection would produce millions of new jobs and expansion of jobs would protect the environment. Such a program provides common ground on which both labor and environmentalists can stand. [Red & bold emphasis added.]

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