FERC approves COVE POINT
Sept. 29, 2014
Here is coverage and reaction from
Baltimore Sun: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-cove-point-approval-20140929,0,3119406.story
The approval of the Cove Point LNG export facility will mean more fracking, pipelines, compressor stations, health hazards and community disruption throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. It will also be a climate disaster. Here's a great fact sheet on liquefied fracked gas. FERC issued a frighteningly inadequate review granting approval of Dominion's plan to liquefy and export fracked gas, in Lusby, Our communities deserve more than FERC's rubber stamp of Dominion's plans. A new Department of Energy report also makes clear how bad liquefying and exporting fracked gas would be for the climate.We have lots to do to stop fracking and LNG exports. As Tracey Eno from Lusby says, this is phrased as a David and Goliath battle. We all know how that turned out: "All we need is one stone," Eno said.
NEXT UP: Actions are planned at FERC and other places during the first week of November. Sign up here: https://sites.google.com/site/beyondextremeenergy/
May 31, 2014: FERC held its one hearing in Lusby about the Cove Point Project. Here's our ClimateHoward blog post about the event (please follow our blog). Here's CCAN's press release about the hearing. Submit comments to FERC here by June 16.
Several people from HoCo Climate Change testified a the hearing, including Ruth White, Sarah Blaik and Dan Helfrich. Elisabeth Hoffman testified for our group:
My name is Elisabeth Hoffman. I am a member of the advocacy committee of HoCo Climate Change in Howard County.
In December, I spoke briefly on the phone with a Dominion spokesman. Near the end of our conversation, I mentioned my concerns about fracking. “Oh, we won’t be doing any fracking at Cove Point,” he rushed to assure me.
I know that no fracking will take place at Dominion’s Cove Point facility.
That remark, however, illustrates Dominion’s duplicity throughout this approval process. Its stance has been that the Cove Point liquefaction and export facility has nothing to do with fracking. And yet, this project has everything to do with fracking. That is the only source of the gas. To approve the project is to require the fracking.
Your agency, though, failed us in its review of Dominion’s plans. You accept Dominion’s mantra that this facility has nothing to do with fracking, in Maryland or elsewhere. Or at least nothing measurable. Because Dominion can’t be sure where and how many wells would be drilled, you conclude that all this fretting about fracking is mere conjecture. This statement is from page 25 of your report: “[D]etails, including the timing, location, and number of additional production wells that may or may not be drilled, are speculative. As such, impacts associated with the production of natural gas … are not reasonably foreseeable or quantifiable.”
And with that shrug of your regulatory shoulders, you have dismissed all harm from this project of fracking, pipelines and compressor stations next to our homes and schools, parks and rivers. In addition, your review also says that methane, which leaks at every stage of gas exploitation and transmission, is 25 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2. That ratio is over 100 years, an arbitrary and useless time frame. We don’t have 100 years. Over 20 years, according to the International Panel on Climate Change, methane is 84 times more powerful than CO2. Please redo the math.
If you would conduct your highest level of review and bother to calculate the damage to our health, economy, environment and climate from fracking millions of metric tons of gas a year to ship to Asia, you could not approve this project.
Once upon a time, your approval of every energy project imaginable raised few questions. That template no longer works. Because of the twin threats from our poisoned planet and climate change, we can no longer afford to have FERC be the handmaiden to the fossil fuel industry.
Please get this right. Do an Environmental Impact Statement.
The day before the FERC hearing, the state Public Service Commission said the facility would not provide a net benefit for Marylanders -- but nevertheless approved the permit for the power plant. For causing higher utility bills, the PSC ordered Dominion to pay $400,000 a year for 20 years to help compensate low-income families. For contributing to climate change, Dominion would have to pay another $40 million over five years into a fund for renewable energy. But the PSC approved the permit for the on-site power plant. Here's the ruling.
Thursday, May 22, 2014: Teams of activists visited local statewide offices of Senators Cardin and Mikulski to demand the most thorough review, the Environmental Impact Statement, for Cove Point. We went to Senator Cardin's office in Bowie and asked him to keep up the pressure on FERC for a thorough review of the safety, environmental and climate threats from Cove Point. Please write Sen. Cardin and Mikulski today and ask them to keep fighting for your right to be heard over the Cove Point threat. Senator Cardin says climate is the #1 crisis facing humanity, but liquefying and exporting fracked gas makes us too hot.
March 1, 2014
Our testimony to Public Service Commission about Cove Point
My name is Ruth White and I am speaking for the more than 800 members of Howard County Climate Change.
We urge you to reject Dominion Resource’s application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to construct a 130 MW power plant and liquefied gas export terminal in Lusby, Maryland. Until and unless an Environmental Impact Statement is completed for the proposal, we can’t possibly determine whether this facility is, on balance, an overall benefit for Marylanders’ economy, health and environment. We strongly suspect that it is not. If built, this facility would:
· Increase demand for compressor stations, such as the one being fought by Frederick County residents in Myersville.
· Call for additional and wider pathways for gas pipelines cutting through our communities and forests.
· Accelerate fracking near homes, schools, farms and businesses throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed and beyond — despite mounting evidence about its dangers. Although medical gag orders and nondisclosure agreements have hindered research, studies and information are emerging. We need more time to assess the dangers of this process.
· Push up prices for gas in Maryland by as much as 27 percent (according to the U.S. Department of Energy). This price increase would harm Marylanders and businesses while simultaneously make fracking in all of Maryland’s shale basins that much more likely. The U.S. Geological Survey has documented five shale gas basins scattered across Maryland, from the western mountains to the Eastern Shore and under all but four of our state’s 23 counties. Oil and gas companies have said these basins are not economical to drill, but they said the same about the Marcellus not many years ago. Already a Texas-based company has announced plans to drill in the Virginia portions of the Taylorsville basin, which extends north into Prince George’s, Calvert, Charles and Anne Arundel counties as far as Annapolis.
Our organization maintains that fracked gas is not a bridge fuel to renewable energy. It is instead a dangerous detour that threatens our air, land, water, climate and all generations to come. On top of that, liquefying and exporting fracked gas is an energy-intensive and bewildering waste of resources. When burned for heating or cooking, methane produces less carbon dioxide than coal, but we have to consider the lifecycle emissions of this industrial process. At every phase —drilling, piping, compressing and liquefying — methane leaks into our already overheated atmosphere. Methane is 86 times more powerful over 20 years than CO2 as a greenhouse gas, and yet research shows leakage rates are much higher than previously estimated. In addition, a gas-fired economy would raise global temperatures an unacceptable and catastrophic 6.3 degrees F (3.5 degrees Celsius), according to the International Energy Agency.
We urge you to reject Dominion’s permits.
Letter from coalition urging most stringent review for Cove Point
Dear Sen. Mikulski and Sen. Cardin:
Thirty-six national, regional, and state organizations, including those representing thousands of your constituents, respectfully ask you to request that the U.S. Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission produce a programmatic Environmental Impact Statement of natural gas exportation for the proposed Cove Point LNG terminal. The far less rigorous Environmental Assessment being planned is insufficient and inappropriate.
Exporting LNG from Calvert County is expected to spur a huge increase in hydraulic fracturing, a technology linked to methane contamination of rural water and creation of greenhouse gases. Cove Point will also lead to scores of new pipeline projects and compressor stations across the East Coast — like the one opposed by your constituents in Frederick County, Md. — for delivering the gas to Cove Point.
Common sense and simple economics suggest that as this industry — which originally claimed to be pursuing energy independence and abundance for Americans — works feverishly to create an export program, gas prices will rise to world levels. Western Maryland will then come under renewed pressure for development. Once again, Senators, we clearly are One Maryland: the fate of your western counties could not be more linked to this environmentally radical proposal for Chesapeake Bay.
Unconventional gas production, tied to Cove Point, comes with significant costs for Maryland, the region, our nation — and, indeed, for our planet.
Yet, our country has a law — the National Environmental Policy Act — designed to thoroughly consider those impacts and costs. Cove Point's owner claims in federal applications that its proposal is part of a national LNG export program, from multiple U.S. seaports. And so, an environmental impact statement, as provided for and indeed required under NEPA, would allow DOE, FERC, and your constituents to fairly weigh the proposed costs and benefits. It is the nation's process for joining policy-makers and industry to the peoples' representatives at the federal, state, and local levels, and for addressing potential problems with proposals that pose widespread risk of environmental pollution and degradation.
As you undoubtedly know, the country's chief pollution regulator — the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — has requested a cumulative analysis of LNG export proposals and their myriad impacts. Additionally, Senator Cardin is a member of a national climate study initiative — the President's Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change — that recommends a "thorough analysis" of LNG exports. To Senator Cardin specifically, we respectfully ask, what is the meaning of "thorough analysis," if it is not a programmatic EIS?
Doing a programmatic EIS now, at Cove Point, could reduce DOE’s NEPA responsibility to examine programmatic issues at subsequent proposed terminals. However, we believe the programmatic evaluation must occur now, before Cove Point can be approved, and we believe it must occur despite any international trade agreements that may be confirmed.
Representatives from the described coalition will follow up with your offices. We request a reply to this letter at your earliest convenience.
Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, Inc.
Other Maryland Organizations
Alliance for Nurses for Healthy Environments
Katie Huffling, RN, MS, CNM
Director of Programs
Mount Rainier, Md.
Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility
HoCo Climate Change
Transition Howard County
Ellicott City, Md.
Maryland Environmental Health Network
Mountain Lake Park, Md.
Myersville Citizens for a Rural Community
Franz Gerner, Ph.D.
Chair, Maryland Chapter
College Park, Md.
Savage River Watershed Association
Trout Unlimited Mid-Atlantic Council
National and Regional Organizations
Food & Water Watch
Community Watersheds Clean Water Coalition, Inc.
Maya K van Rossum
Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition
Environmental Conservation Committee
James R. Dean
Trustee and Chair
Village of Cooperstown, N.Y.
Gas Drilling Awareness for Cortland County
Sheila G. Cohen, Ed. D.
Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition
Otsego 2000, Inc.
Nicole A. Dillingham
Julie Huntsman, DVM
Town of Ostego, N.Y.
Protect Our Children
Protect Our Parks
Physicians, Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy
Seth B. Shonkoff, Ph.D., MPH
Responsible Drilling Alliance
Shale Property Rights
Shalefield Stories — Friends of the Harmed
SUNY Cortland Environmental Justice Committee
Sheila G. Cohen, Ed. D.
Upper Unadilla Valley Association
West Winfield, N.Y.