Demand for Natural Gas Brings Big Import Plans, and Objections
President Bush, trying to maneuver past the objectors, has endorsed legislation, which is currently being debated in the Senate, that would allow the federal government to overrule the states.
"Congress should make it clear to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission its authority to choose sites for new terminals, so we can expand our use of liquefied natural gas," Mr. Bush said in April.
So much for states rights. Let's build them terminals! YeeHaw!
Energy companies want to construct more than 40 such terminals at a cost of $500 million to $1 billion each. The emerging conflict is taking place as some scientists and environmentalists say that the nation is once again placing too little emphasis on improving energy efficiency and making investments in other methods for producing power and heat, including wind, biomass and nuclear energy.
Well, we're gonna need those alternatives, and meanwhile, we have a huge, hungry infrastructure which relies specifically on the burning of natural gas. Our energy situation is a zero sum game until we build an infrastructure not reliant on fossil fuels. What will we build this hypothetical new infrastructure with? Fossil fuels. Horns, meet dilemna.
But skepticism persists. "If you jump-start an industry this way and bring in an abundance of natural gas, you're creating an addiction to something that wasn't there," said Susan Jordan, director of the California Coastal Protection Network, an environmental group in Santa Barbara campaigning against L.N.G. terminals.
Unfortunately, the energy addiction is already there, as is peaking North American natural gas. If the terminals aren't built, the patient will go into withdrawals.
A recent report by Sandia National Laboratories concluded that terrorists blowing a hole in an L.N.G. tanker could produce a spill of liquefied natural gas that could reheat and set off a fire that would cause second-degree burns on people nearly a mile away.
Mr. New York Times reporter, not to tell you your job, but a "fire" is an odd way to describe a cinematic mushroom shaped fiery explosion burning the skin off of mammals in a mile radius. We had a pipeline explosion in Washington State a few years back. Luckily, it occurred in an out of the way stretch; it could have been worse, that particular pipeline goes right up the gut of the State, through the suburbs. Nonetheless, two children died, one fishin' in a creek.
Others view the growing reliance on imported natural gas in the United States more ominously.
"We accept having L.N.G. as part of the energy solution, but we're very concerned about making the same mistakes we made with imported oil," said David Schryver, vice president for Congressional affairs at the American Public Gas Association, which represents municipal gas utilities that would consume much of the imported L.N.G. "Facing the prospect of another OPEC for natural gas is alarming."
Amen. Guess what though -- you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.