Posts Tagged ‘FERC’

Nov08

Coos Bay LNG Facility: An undemocratic process for a “bridge fuel” that leads us closer to environmental and economic doom

By Bob Ferris
 
The most recent elections sting all of us who care about the environment and the future of the planet like rock Inhofesalt gingerly applied to an open wound.  Part of that sting is the peril we face when anti-scientific types like James Inhofe (at right) and Ted Cruz are considered for important and knowledge-based leadership roles in the Senate.  And part of it comes from the dual democratic insult of voter suppression and the fact that 88 percent of these votes did not come from the folks who will be most impacted longest by the decisions in these two committees far into the future—the youth of America—who did not fully participate in this decision.  I am very bullish on science-driven decision making and also the democratic process so these developments above bother me significantly.
 
These two factors are also at play in the Coos Bay LNG process as well.  For instance on the science end, it has been argued that liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a so-called “bridge fuel” that helps us get from a fuel that is worse to a better, cleaner fuel on our pathway off fossil-fuels all together.  This is a nice concept but it seems in this instance that it is a little like a bartender switching an intoxicated patron from bourbon to beer only to find that the imbiber is using that beer to make boilermakers.  A bridge fuel is only a bridge fuel if there is a concrete plan for this fuel to displace other, more damaging fuels.  There is no such plan, ergo LNG is not a bridge fuel for this and other reasons.  And while LNG produces less in the way of acid rain components than coal it is still a carbon-based fossil fuel that contributes to climate change and ocean acidification.  
 
In terms of the democratic insults of this project there are many starting with the potential condemnation of private lands for the pipelines and reduction of pipeline safety measures in rural areas where the potential loss of “significant life” is lower.  But the one that is currently sticking in my craw is the process that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is using to collect comments.  It is purposely and artificially complicated.  Therefore, it is exclusionary favoring those who would help turn this country into a resource colony (read: Third World Country) for China and other competing/job displacing economies and creating a barrier to country-folk most impacted or put at risk by this project.   
Jordan CoveIf you are like me and have a little left-over election angst that keeps you edgy during the day and awake at night, my suggestion is that you follow this link below and fight your way through this complicated and ridiculous process to send FERC and others who would ignore science and an open democratic process a clear message: We believe that 1) climate change is real and needs to be addressed rather than ignored; 2) the rights of rural people should be considered; 3) the profits of the few—especially foreign interests—should not be more important than the impacts to those US citizens that will be affected by fracking, suffer from climate change, or lose their jobs through giving further competitive advantage to rapacious economies overseas.  
 
And when you are done please recycle.  Share this action with others and give them the opportunity to start the process of personal healing by taking positive and informed action.  Thank you for your help!

Dec06

Report could boost plans for natural gas pipeline in Douglas County

 

December 6, 2012
 
By Don Jenkins NewsReview 
 
In a finding that may bolster the argument for building a pipeline across Douglas County, natural gas exports would boost the U.S. economy, according to a report released Wednesday.
The study, commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy, warned there would be “winners and losers,” but concluded that overall the country would profit as foreign countries bought U.S. natural gas.
 
The DOE took no position on the study, done by NERA Economic Consulting, but said it may influence regulators considering export proposals, including the Jordan Cove Energy Project in Southern Oregon.
 
Two companies propose building a 234-mile pipeline through Douglas, Klamath, Jackson and Coos counties to transmit natural gas to a terminal at the International Port of Coos Bay.
 
Port spokeswoman Elise Hamner said today the port hoped the report will help developers get approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
 
“This is a positive development,” she said. “It’s just an incredibly good economic impact to have a development like that here.”
 
The port previously had commissioned a study that found extensive economic benefits for Southern Oregon, including 120 permanent jobs paying an average of $82,000 a year associated with the terminal.
 
The new study takes a broader look at the economic effects of licensing some or most of the 20 active proposals in the U.S.
 
Two South County landowners opposed to the pipeline said today the new study didn’t take into account many of their concerns and focused too much on the benefits gained by natural gas developers.
 
“Obviously, this report is slanted toward big industries. Multinational corporations will profit, families won’t,” said Days Creek landowner Francis Eatherington, whose property the pipeline would cross.
 
Tenmile property owner Frank Adams said questions remain about environmental costs, the loss of his and others’ private property and the long-term effects of not retaining natural gas for domestic use.
 
“Why should we sell our children’s heritage?” he asked. “Why shouldn’t we utilize that in our own country?”
 
DOE asked for the report because of the explosion in proposals, a reflection of changing market conditions. Until early this year, the companies behind Jordan Cove, Williams Northwest Pipeline and Veresen Power proposed importing natural gas to meet U.S. demand.
 
Efforts to reach a Jordan Cove spokesman today were unsuccessful.
 
According to the study, the country would profit overall as wealth was transferred to the United States from other countries, increasing gross domestic product by as much as $47 billion in 2020. The study concludes that the more gas is exported, the greater the benefits.
 
Winners would include owners of natural gas resources, their shareholders and workers employed in producing and exporting natural gas.
 
The study, however, also confirmed earlier findings that exports would increase natural gas prices in the U.S. — by 25 percent over five years if exports increase significantly. The increase in natural gas prices would increase coal consumption, the report found.
 
The report warned that job losses would occur in energy-intensive industries and that exporting natural gas would not increase, or decrease, the total number of U.S. jobs.
 
“Impacts will not be positive for all groups in the economy,” according to the report. “Households with income solely from wages and government transfers, in particular, might not participate in these benefits.”
 
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who has been critical of proposals to export natural gas, focused on the potential for rising energy costs in the U.S.
 
“Broadly speaking, the study appears to confirm that exports of LNG will raise the domestic price of natural gas,” according to a statement released by his office.
 
Eatherington said the study appears to have given short shrift to the effects of higher energy costs on families. Eatherington, the conservation director for Cascadia Wildlands, also criticized the report for not addressing the environmental costs of climate change or hydraulic fracking, which involves blasting shale rock with water, sand and chemicals to release gas and oil.
 
The process has increased natural gas supplies, but critics say the process pollutes groundwater and may even trigger earthquakes.
 
“Clean drinking water is an economic issue that should have been considered,” Eatherington said.
 
The report, Eatherington and Adams noted, also doesn’t address the financial impacts on landowners who would be being forced to grant right-of-way to pipelines for a small payment.
 
The DOE will take initial public comments on the study until Jan. 23. A period to reply to comments will be accepted from Jan. 25 to Feb. 25.
 
Comments may be filed by email, LNGStudy@hq.doe.gov, or mailed to U.S. Department of Energy (FE-34), Office of Natural Gas Regulatory Activities, Office of Fossil Energy, P.O. Box 44375, Washington, D.C., 20026-4375.
 
The entire report can be read here DOE study 
 
 

Aug17

Thanks too to Senator Wyden for his Message to FERC–Longer Comment Period For Pacific Connector Pipeline and Listen More to other Federal Agencies

Thank you Senator Wyden.  

Click here for copy of letter

Aug15

Coos Bay Gas Pipeline Puts Much at Risk–Get Engaged

Gabe Scott in Alaska

by Gabe Scott
 
Last week’s massive refinery fire in Richmond, California should serve as a wake-up call. Not that we needed another to remind us of a basic fact: oil and gas infrastructure is dangerous. When things go wrong, they go very wrong, very quickly.
 
Add this to the list of reasons why the Pacific Connector Pipeline and LNG export terminal at Coos Bay is a bad idea: it’s not safe. 
 
I’ve been participating lately in a nationwide citizen committee on pipeline safety, put together by the Pipeline Safety Trust (http://www.pstrust.org/initiatives_programs/New-Voices-Project/). The opportunity to share information and learn from activists, landowners, industry and regulators has been astounding, and has opened my eyes to the downsides of natural gas infrastructure that, as an environmentalist, I admit I hadn’t given enough thought to. 
 
Here’s the thing about gas pipelines and LNG plants — they blow up.  They blow up a lot. They blow up big. And the people who you might expect would put safety first, don’t. 
 
Liquefied Natural Gas, like natural gas, is highly flammable. When spilled, it can easily go “boom.” As a matter of fact, because of its physical properties, spilled LNG also goes “boom” when it comes in contact with water, a phenomenon called “rapid phase transition” (see below video). In 2004, an explosion at an Algerian LNG liquefaction facility killed 27.
 
 
The Pipeline phase of the project would transmit natural gas through a 36” diameter transmission pipeline. Gas pipeline explosions can be massively destructive. In 1994, a 36-inch gas distribution line in Edison, New Jersey broke, threw rocks and debris more than 800 feet, and exploded in a blaze over 400 feet high— hot enough to ignite and burn several nearby apartment buildings. Last year, five were killed in Allentown, PA when a gas explosion flattened a rowhouse neighborhood, sending flames hundreds of feet into the air. It took workers another five hours to figure out how to shut off the gas flow. 
 

One of our concerns with the Pacific Connector pipeline is that the safety regulations are even weaker in rural areas than in populated neighborhoods, so families living along the Pacific Connector pipeline are at even greater risk. Getting blown up isn’t usually on our safety list when hiking and camping in wild lands, but the pipeline would make that risk real. In 2000, 12 campers were killed by a gas pipeline explosion near Carlsbad, NM.
 
These aren’t isolated examples. Leaks and explosions on this sort of pipeline are disturbingly common. In an average year, looking only at gas transmission pipelines (which is what Williams proposes), there are 113 reported incidents causing 2 fatalities, eleven injuries, and over $132 million in property damage. (Source: PHMSA http://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/reports/safety/AllPSI.html?nocache=1948#_ngtrans)
 
Oil and gas companies are fond of touting a “safety first” mentality. This is not just propaganda spin. Give credit where it’s due: they really do devote immense energy to safety, and their engineering know-how is breathtaking.

 

 

 
The trouble is there are so many things that can go wrong. Pipes corrode. Valves leak and get stuck. Unknowing construction workers dig into unmarked pipelines. People make mistakes. Equipment fails. Earthquakes and floods happen. There are a thousand and one things that can go wrong, any one of which can kill you. 
 
While one should give the industry credit for taking the engineering aspects of safety very seriously, their record on risk management and public process is dastardly. They are secretive, competitive, and selfish. They make the same “mistakes,” over and over again. 
 
After the 2005 explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery, which killed fifteen, a blue-ribbon panel was formed to investigate, headed by former Secretary of State James Baker. The panel’s recommendations centered on what they termed a “safety culture” and “process safety.” Details quickly get complicated, but the underlying notion is simple: when trying to make complex industrial systems safe, you need to analyze and address the whole ball of wax, not just this and that component. 
 
After the 2010 explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon, another blue-ribbon panel was formed. Their conclusions were damning. Process safety and safety culture were still not being implemented. And, the Commission found, these problems were not unique to BP, but endemic in the oil & gas industry. 
 
As we look at the Pacific Connector Pipeline and LNG terminal, familiar warning signs are everywhere. I’ll leave you with just one example. As Cascadia’s staff digs into the details, we have hit a roadblock. The company won’t share its maps, even with landowners along the proposed route. Their excuse is the preposterous claim that exact locations of the proposed line must be kept secret, to keep it out of the hands of would-be terrorists. 
 
That’s hogwash. Fundamental to pipeline safety and planning is everyone needs to know where, exactly, the line is. This information is needed whenever anyone digs a hole, whenever there is a leak that needs to be investigated, whenever a wildfire fighting crew is planning their attack on a blaze. You need to plan to avoid flooding streams, landslide areas, and places planned for other kinds of construction. You need to site the line to allow regular access for maintenance and surveillance. 
 
Terrorism IS a real fear. But hiding maps from landowners does nothing to prevent it. Far from requiring gas pipeline locations be kept secret (as if that were even possible), federal regulations require gas pipelines be clearly marked with bright yellow signs. 
 
The supposed security rationale is so absurd, so wrong-headed, that it calls into question the company’s basic trustworthiness. It suggests that Williams views this as their project, none of anyone’s business. That’s a pretty arrogant line to take when you’re forcibly appropriating other people’s private land through eminent domain. 
 
Far from putting safety first, indications are Williams is putting it’s own pocketbook first, last, and in the middle. That’s not just selfish. It’s also very, very dangerous. 
 
Please join Cascadia Wildlands in sending the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a message on the Pacific Connector Pipeline.  Click here to comment and do not be concerned when you get a message from FERC that your comment may not be considered.  We will make sure that your support of our concerns and any additional comments you provide will go to the appropriate place and be heard.  They will get our collective message.

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