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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

Passamaquoddy Bay

New Brunswick & Nova Scotia

New England

Gulf of Mexico

Caribbean

British Columbia

Oregon

Canada

United States


2015 August 20

Passamaquoddy Bay

Bruce Poliquin talks with Katahdin region workers over beers (Aug 19) — Bangor Daily News, Bangor, ME

Poliquin said he and fellow House Republicans are working to lower electrical costs, cut bureaucracy that inhibits investment and work on increasing natural-gas access to local businesses. Poliquin supports Downeast LNG’s plans to build a $2 billion facility that could both import and export liquefied natural gas through a 30-mile pipeline from Robbinston to Baring, where it would connect to the Maritimes & Northeast pipeline that connects Canada with southern New England. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]

Webmaster's comment: Poliquin's irresponsible support for Downeast LNG's ill-sited unnecessary terminal is no surprise.

New Brunswick & Nova Scotia

Natural gas supplier seeks assurances on pipeline access over LNG plants (Aug 4) — Globalnews.ca

HALIFAX – The senior manager of Nova Scotia’s natural gas distributor says his company wants to ensure that it has adequate access to the sole pipeline into Atlantic Canada if liquefied natural gas export terminals are approved in the region.

The subsidiary of AltaGas (TSX:ALA) says if the proposed East Coast projects by Pieridae Energy Ltd., Bear Head LNG and the Saint John LNG Development Co. Ltd. are approved it would like assurances there is enough space in the pipeline. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]

Two National Energy Board-approved LNG projects hinge on U.S. permits (Aug 17) — The Globe and Mail, Toronto, ON

Two proposed liquefied natural gas projects have received approval from the National Energy Board to export LNG, but they are counting on the United States to build pipeline capacity into New England in order for them to obtain the supply needed to underpin their ambitious plans.

Pieridae Energy Ltd. and Bear Head LNG Corp. each received approval of their gas export licence late last week.

The federal regulator has now approved more than 20 billion cubic feet a day of exports – nearly 50 per cent higher than Canadian production in 2014 – but it noted it is unlikely that all the LNG export projects will proceed.

Maritime provinces are eyeing four projects, although questions continue about where the East Coast LNG facilities will get their gas supply.

Repsol SA is pursuing plans to add export capacity to its Canaport LNG import facility near Saint John, while India’s Hiranandani Group has plans for an export terminal north of Halifax.“The big questions are: Where is the gas going to come from, and how are you going to get it to an LNG facility,” Fred Bergman, senior policy analyst with the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, said in an interview.

Bear Head has all the permits it needs to begin construction and is now concentrating on lining up customers, Mr. Godbolt said. But the non-FTA permit [from the US Department of Energy] is critical for signing contracts with European and other customers. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]

New England

Energy efficiency Instead of a new natural gas pipeline for New England? (Aug 18) — Energy Efficiency Markets

In energy circles, it’s been a given for years that New England lacks adequate natural gas pipeline. Calls to build more pipeline heightened after natural gas prices soared in the bitter cold winters of 2012/13 and 2013/14.

But a new report sponsored by GDF Suez Energy North America challenges the need for the pipeline, in part because of New England’s aggressive campaign to improve energy efficiency and increase demand response and renewable energy.

The report cites several reasons why the pipeline is not needed – and why electric ratepayers should not be required to subsidize it.

“A new natural gas pipeline is not required now or for at least the next decade under current policies that promote renewables, energy efficiency and demand response given existing and planned energy infrastructure,” said the report.

Forecasts do show an uptick in natural gas consumption in 2017 due to replacement of a retiring coal-fired plant. But after that, natural gas use will steadily decline, the report said.

The report further noted that, “the electricity system has maintained required reserve margins during some of the most extreme conditions over the past three winters, despite numerous temporary system problems. The issue is not lack of infrastructure, but lack of commercial contracts to access existing energy infrastructure.” [Colored & bold emphasis added.]

Gulf of Mexico

Nature Report: LNG threats Part 1 (Aug 18) — ValleyCentral.com

Three massive liquefied natural gas, or LNG, export terminals are being proposed for construction on Port of Brownsville property, and that has officials with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service concerned.

“That site is very important for ocelots. There is an ocelot corridor that has been established," said Boyd Blihovde, the manager of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. "There is a wildlife crossing that is under Highway 48, and ocelots have been documented going across the ship channel and over to the other side the south side of the ship channel right at that site the Annova site and that is a loma.”

Nature Report: LNG Threats Part 2 (Aug 19) — ValleyCentral.com

The 21,000-acre Bahia Grande tract, part of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, is located just north of Highway 48 and the Port of Brownsville.

The 10,000 acres of wetlands, that for decades were a dust bowl, have recently been restored and are becoming a productive nursery, but in order to be fully restored the pilot channel that links the wetland to the ship channel needs to be considerably widened for a greater interchange of water.

USFWS officials are worried that any runoff, accidental spill or leakage that occurs at the Next Decade Rio Grande LNG near the vital channel could impair Bahia Grande.

Wildlife refuge officials concerned about LNG companies coming to RGV (Aug 6) — KRGV-TV

Officials concerned about impact on threatened, endangered species

Federal Fish and Wildlife officials are concerned about the impact the project will have on the Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge. The organization met on Thursday with officials from Rio Grande LNG.

Refuge managers said proposed LNG projects could impact 16 threatened or endangered species, including the Aplomada Falcon.

Wildlife officials said they are not only worried about possible threats to endangered species. They said placing a highly flammable LNG plant across the road could make it impossible to fight wildfires in the area.

“As land managers we conduct prescribed burns on the Bahia Grande property,” Billhoyde said. “Those prescribed burns are conducted for the Aplomada Falcon and other species to keep their habitat maintained. Our firefighters have to go out there and actually ignite those fires and control them,” he said.” Anytime that happens we're obviously concerned about their safety.”

Caribbean

Gas supply shortfall hits 5th year* — Daily Express, Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies

FOR a country with a previously impeccable record of monetising its gas reserves and religiously delivering the quantities the downstream industries needed, the gas supply shortfall now in its fifth year, has put a dent in Trinidad and Tobago's hard-won reputation.

This is not to be taken lightly, because it means that the industries that use gas to create products like methanol and ammonia, as well as the liquefied natural gas (LNG) trains at Atlantic down at Point Fortin in the south west, can not meet their own annual production goals and their cash flow and profit are consequently undermined.

British Columbia

BC environmental assessment process flawed, says expert — The Squamish Chief, Squamish, BC

Squamish Nation leading the way with its own process, according to research centre director

“The EAO does a very good job with the tools it has, but the tool box has become a little bit sparse in recent years,” said Kevin Hanna, director at the UBC Centre for Environmental Assessment Research.

“I will be frank. Short of getting rid of it, I don’t know what she [Premier Christy Clark] could do to make it more predictable and more streamlined, because it is not a particularly onerous process in this province and the outcome is pretty certain,” he said. “It is almost always going to be ‘yes’ with some caveats, some conditions attached.”

Given what he calls the flawed environmental assessment process in B.C., more First Nations are going to start developing their own environmental assessment processes, as the Squamish Nation has done with its independent assessment of the Woodfibre LNG proposal slated for Squamish, Hanna said. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]

Woodfibre LNG agrees to Squamish Nation terms — Coast Reporter, Sechelt, BC

The Environmental Assess-ment Office (EAO) review period is back on for Woodfibre LNG after the company agreed to all Squamish Nation conditions.

“Woodfibre LNG Limited has formally notified Squamish Nation that it has accepted all of the conditions of its environmental review and is committed to reaching a formal agreement,” said Byng Giraud, vice-president of corporate affairs for Woodfibre LNG.

[Byng Giraud, vice-president of corporate affairs for Woodfibre LNG,] said there are still some details around conditions that are being worked out, but he declined to elaborate further.

While the Squamish Nation continues to discuss its conditions with Woodfibre LNG, the Nation has not yet come to a decision on the proposed project.

Steelhead LNG and Malahat First Nation reach deal over floating LNG facility — CBC News

The Malahat First Nation and Steelhead LNG have reached a deal to develop an liquefied natural gas facility in Bamberton, about 40 kilometres north of Victoria, B.C.

Malahat First Nation to announce Island liquefied natural gas project (Aug 19) — Times Colonist, Victoria, BC

The Malahat First Nation and Steelhead LNG have called a news conference for today to announce a proposed new liquefied natural gas project for Vancouver Island.

Steelhead spokesman Greg Descantes offered no details, but confirmed the project is separate from the company’s plan to build a $30-billion facility near Port Alberni in partnership with the Huu-ay-aht First Nations.

The location for the proposed Malahat plant was not released, but last month the First Nation purchased the Bamberton development site from Bamberton Properties LLP for an undisclosed price.

There are 20 LNG proposals at various stages of development in the province, each facing a long list of regulatory hurdles. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]

Impact of B.C.’s first major LNG terminal on salmon superhighway underestimated, scientists and First Nations warn (Aug 7) — DeSmog Canada

The B.C. government’s decision to build the Pacific Northwest liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in the Skeen River estuary could have dramatic impacts on the second-largest salmon population in Canada, potential affecting the constitutionally-protected rights of at least 10 First Nations, a letter recently published in the prestigious journal Science

The letter, co-authored by several scientists and fisheries experts from six First Nations in the affected region, says decision-makers considering the project, backed by Malaysian-owned gas giant Petronas, were uninformed of the ecological value of the estuary as a salmon nursery and its role in supporting salmon runs as far as 350 kilometres inland.

“We discovered that salmon from over 40 populations that are harvested in at least 10 First Nations territories rely on the Skeena’s estuary habitat that would be altered by the fossil fuel terminal,” Jonathan Moore, lead author of the letter and associate professor and Liber Ero Chair of Coastal Science and Management at Simon Fraser University, said.

B.C.’s First Nations live on unceded traditional territory and have a constitutional right to maintain traditional ways of life, including hunting, trapping and fishing.

“This research offers an opportunity for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to use science to get the scale right so that they consider the true vast risks to environment and culture as well as economy,” he said. “The unintended consequences of locating this terminal in the Flora Banks region could have watershedwide impacts.”

Oregon

Army Corps prevails over Oregon LNG on easement (Aug 3) — The Daily Astorian, Astoria, OR

Oregon LNG claimed the Army Corps, which has held an easement to deposit dredging spoils since 1957, has no right to land beneath the water that the energy company intends to use for a $6 billion export terminal and pipeline project. The company also wanted the U.S. District Court in Portland to declare that the company has the right to access the property across tidelands.

But Magistrate Judge John V. Acosta concluded Tuesday that the federal lawsuit should be dismissed because the 12-year statute of limitations to bring such a claim under federal law had expired.

[Clean water attorney for Columbia Riverkeeper Miles Johnson] said the ruling “could spell the end to Oregon LNG’s 10-year effort to site one of the most destructive, dangerous projects we’ve ever seen proposed on the Columbia River.” [Colored & bold emphasis added.]

Feds say Oregon LNG's environmental impacts are manageable (Aug 5) — The Oregonian, Portland, OR

Federal regulators [FERC] say most of the adverse environmental impact of a proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal near the mouth of the Columbia River can be reduced to less than significant levels.

Opponents of the project said FERC's analysis ignored and downplayed environmental red flags raised by biologists and other scientists.

Opponents also hope FERC's conclusions are an empty victory, as the project faces ongoing permitting challenges.

Clatsop County has denied zoning approval for a large portion of its 87-mile supply pipeline, a decision that feeds into the state's determination of whether the project is consistent with the Coastal Zone Management Act.

And last week, a magistrate judge determined that the Army Corps of Engineers had a valid easement to dump dredge spoils at the terminal site. The Army Corps is the agency responsible for issuing Oregon LNG's own dredging permit. Unless the agency is willing to foreit its own easement on the site, Oregon LNG can't build. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]

A big, long protest of a big, long pipeline — Public News Service

MALIN, Ore. - A 230-mile gas pipeline means a 230-mile protest for those who oppose the Pacific Connector liquefied natural gas export line that could be built through southern Oregon.

The protest starts Saturday. The route for the pipeline between Malin and Coos Bay hasn't quite been finalized, so planning the one-month "Hike the Pipe" trek has been challenging. Coordinator Alex Harris says the group started with the 5,000-page environmental impact statement full of maps of small sections of the route.

Hike the Pipe events are planned in communities along the way, and the hikers will update their progress on social media.

Hike the pipe to protest LNG — EugeneWeekly.com, Eugene, OR

The proposed Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Coos Bay would produce 2.1 million metric tons of CO2 a year, according to its federal environmental analysis. And the project isn’t just an LNG terminal. It’s a gas liquefaction, storage and shipping facility with a 400-megawatt natural-gas-fired plant powering four super chillers. It will all be fed by a 36-inch-wide 232-mile natural gas pipeline extending halfway across Oregon.

Hike the Pipe is a trek from the pipeline’s start in Malin, near the California border, all the way to Coos Bay. The hikers seek to call attention not only to the climate-changing impacts of the greenhouse-gas emitting LNG plant, but also the impacts the pipeline project will have on forests, homes and waterways.

Grace Warner of Hike the Pipe says hikers will trek the entire pipeline over several weeks at a rate of about 7 miles a day. Other hikers, including Warner, will join the core group for portions of the hike, and the public is invited to hike or come to one of four community events along the way.

Warner says Hike the Pipe hopes Gov. Kate Brown will file a petition for rehearing if the FERC decision goes through. Several environmental groups, including Coos Waterkeeper and Greenpeace, are awaiting a decision on a petition for judicial review from the Oregon Court of Appeals in regard to a DSL permit for part of the project.

Canada

BREAKING: Harper gov’t appoints Kinder Morgan consultant to NEB (Aug 1) — National Observer

'Incredible conflict of interest'

The Harper government chose the Friday afternoon of a long weekend, just before the Sunday launch of a federal election, to appoint a paid Kinder Morgan consultant to the National Energy Board (NEB) in a timed press release that critics say was an attempt to bury the news.

Conservative Minister of Natural Resources Greg Rickford issued a Friday 12:30pm EST news release announcing that Calgary-based petroleum executive Steven Kelly will become a full-time board member of the federal agency that helps cabinet decide if oil and gas pipelines go forward.

Mr. Kelly's consulting firm was hired by Kinder Morgan two years ago to prepare an economic analysis justifying the $5.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Mr. Kelly himself, in his capacity of vice president of IHS Global Canada, authored and submitted the 203-page Kinder Morgan report to the National Energy Board.

Mr. Kelly will soon sit in a position of power at the NEB —close to those who will rule on whether that very same Kinder Morgan oil pipeline is in Canada’s economic and environmental interest. A decision is expected in January 2016.

“It’s utterly incredible the Government of Canada would appoint such an industry consultant to a regulatory agency that presumably is interested in the public interest, and not in the interest of multinational oil corporations,” reacted former CEO of BC Hydro, Marc Eliesen on Saturday from Squamish, B.C.

More than half of the NEB board members are now petroleum industry professionals. The agency is not only tasked with reviewing the economics of pipelines —but also their environmental impacts. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]

Webmaster's comment: The NEB in Canada is as conflicted as is FERC in the US.

United States

U.S. gas exports: the pipe dream (Aug 2) — Journal of Energy Security

The Obama Administration is often accused of being sluggish in granting permits for projects to ship liquefied natural gas (LNG) to countries that do not have a free trade agreement with the U.S. Critics claim it has thus denied the U.S. a historical opportunity to become a leading natural gas exporter on par with Russia and Qatar. Whether ten approvals out of forty applications in four years is sluggish or not is a matter of perspective. But the debate on the pace of approvals has masked a much more important fact: American gas is no longer desired abroad, no matter how many permits are granted, and certainly not in Asia – the fastest growing market for gas.

[I]ronically the same fracking miracle that flooded the North American market with surplus natural gas also led to a spike in oil production and contributed to the fall in global oil prices. Since oil and gas prices are linked the collapse in oil prices led to an even sharper decline in LNG prices. LNG spot prices in Asia have recently fallen below $7/mmbtu, a level nearly one third of last year’s peak. While at the well head U.S. gas price –below $3/mmbtu – is among the cheapest in the world, when slapped with liquefaction and tolling costs the price could reach $9/mmbtu, no longer competitive in many markets including Asia. The slowdown in China’s growth, the European recession, the restarts of Japanese nuclear power plants, the rise in Australian LNG exports, the new gas pipelines China and Russia are planning to build in Siberia and the specter of Iranian gas entering the market once the sanctions are lifted all mean that in the foreseeable future America’s gas may not be attractive for most buyers.

The answer to the North American gas glut isn't building multi-billion dollar LNG terminals along U.S. coasts with the hope of exporting gas to distant markets where it is no longer wanted. Promoting innovative approaches to exporting gas to our neighbors in configurations other than LNG and advancing fiscally conservative solutions to opening the transportation sector to natural gas-derived fuels are the only ways for U.S. natural gas producers to ensure that if they continue to drill for more gas there will be takers. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]

Webmaster's comment: Downeast LNG continues to chase Sasquatch.

U.S. EPA to propose rules to curb methane emissions from oil and gas sector -source (Aug 17) — Reuters

Aug 17 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will propose regulations on Tuesday aimed at cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45 percent over the next decade from 2012 levels, a source familiar with the issue said on Monday.

The targets in Tuesday's proposal are in line with a January announcement by the Obama administration that it wanted to reduce oil and gas industry methane emissions by up to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025, the source said.

Environmentalists use 21 children to sue [Federal Government] over global warming (Aug 19) — The Daily Caller

Environmentalists and a former NASA climate scientist are using 21 children to sue the federal government for allowing the burning of fossil fuels and “knowingly” harming future generations by causing global warming.

The intent of the lawsuit: to force the U.S. with a court order to phase out fossil fuel use and reduce atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million by the end of the century. [Colored & bold emphasis added.]

Landmark paper underestimated methane leaks from gas production, study says (Aug 4) — InsideClimate News

Since 2003, a commonly used methane detector has been underestimating leak rates that feed into the national greenhouse gas registry.

In a new report, Touché Howard, a methane gas expert and air quality consultant, says the flaws he found in a commonly used methane detector caused an acclaimed 2013 study to underestimate the amount of methane emitted by natural gas production. Howard's paper was published today in the peer-reviewed journal Energy Science & Engineering.

In the study published today, Howard said the Bacharach device can fail to correctly identify the amount of natural gas leaking into the air. When the flaw occurs, it always results in an underestimate, he said, and it's nearly impossible to detect the problem while it's occurring. "It wasn't their fault" that this happened, Howard said of Allen's research team.

If correct, the new report raises questions about the validity of countless other measurements taken by the same instrument since 2003. Natural gas companies often use the Bacharach to report their methane emissions to the Environmental Protection Agency. The calculations feed into a national greenhouse gas inventory.

Under certain conditions—especially with low-methane natural gas—the second sensor failed to kick in, so the instrument only registered a small leak even if the actual leak rate was much higher. At one point, two separate Bacharach samplers tested by Howard and Ferrara recorded natural gas concentrations in the air of 1 to 6 percent, when the actual concentrations were between 7 and 73 percent.

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