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Friday is the proverbial “take out the trash day” for the release of bad news among public relations practitioners and this Friday was no different.

In that vein, yesterday the Obama Department of Energy (DOE) announced a conditional approval of the second-ever LNG (liquefied natural gas) export terminal.

LNG is the super-chilled final product of gas obtained – predominantly in today’s context – via the controversial hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) process taking place within shale deposits located throughout the U.S. Fracked gas is shipped from the multitude of domestic shale basins in pipelines to various coastal LNG terminals, and then sent on LNG tankers to the global market.

The name of the terminal: Freeport LNG.

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Friday is the proverbial “take out the trash day” for the release of bad news among public relations practitioners and this Friday was no different.

In that vein, yesterday the Obama Department of Energy (DOE) announced a conditional approval of the second-ever LNG (liquefied natural gas) export terminal.

LNG is the super-chilled final product of gas obtained – predominantly in today’s context – via the controversial hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) process taking place within shale deposits located throughout the U.S. Fracked gas is shipped from the multitude of domestic shale basins in pipelines to various coastal LNG terminals, and then sent on LNG tankers to the global market.

The name of the terminal: Freeport LNG.

Freeport LNG is 50-percent owned by ConocoPhillips and located in Freeport, Texas, an hour-long car ride south of Houston. The export facility is the second one approved by the Obama DOE, with the first one – the Sabine Pass terminal, owned by Cheniereand located in Sabine Pass, Louisiana - approved in May 2011.

DOE gave its rubber stamp of approval to Freeport LNG to export up to 1.4 billion cubic feet of LNG per day from its terminal.

Moniz’s DOE is Dept. of LNG Exports

The announcement comes in the aftermath of an April DeSmogBlog investigation revealing that recently confirmed Energy Department Secretary Ernest Moniz - a former member of the Board of Directors of ICF International – has a binder full of conflicts-of-interest in any decision the DOE makes to export the U.S. shale gas bounty.

As we explained in that investigation, a Feb. 2013 “study” published by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and conducted on its behalf by ICF International concluded exporting shale gas was on the economically sound up-and-up.

ICF is a consulting firm that teams up with oil and gas industry corporations and was one of three firms that did the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on behalf of the U.S. State Department for the northern half of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. The SEIS was published in March 2013.

Furthermore, among the members of the Obama Administration’s industry-stacked DOE Fracking Subcommittee formed in May 2011 was Kathleen “Katie” McGinty. McGinty formerly served as Vice President Al Gore’s top climate aide during the Clinton Administration, segueing from that position into one as chair of the Clinton Council on Environmental Quality from 1993-1998. Her husband is Karl Hausker, the Vice President of ICF International.

In Dec. 2012, the DOE – like API/ICF - said exporting LNG was economically sound. The DOE’s LNG exports economics study itself was published by another industry-tied firm, NERA (National Economic Research Associates) Economic Consulting.

Given the myriad ties that bind, it’s tough to fathom any other decision being made by the DOE on Freeport or any other LNG export terminal from here on out. And the ecological consequences of that will be disastrous.

“Exporting LNG will lead to more drilling — and more drilling means more fracking, more air and water pollution, and more climate fueled weather disasters like last year’s record fires, droughts, and superstorms,” Deb Nardone, Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas campaign said in a press release in response to the DOE announcement.

“Once environmental impacts are evaluated, it becomes clear that the additional fracking and gas production exports would induce is unacceptable.”

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Comment Preferences

  •  Steve - what % of US natural gas production (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck, pat bunny

    comes from fracking?

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Sat May 18, 2013 at 08:57:38 AM PDT

    •  A more interesting question is... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tinfoil Hat, antirove

      What % of US natgas production is being exported.

      Strong natural gas exports and lower imports reduced net imports to around 1,949 Bcf, the lowest level since 1992.

       Total imports decreased by 8 percent to 3,456 Bcf in 2011. Pipeline and LNG imports decreased by 6 percent to 3,107 Bcf and by 19 percent to 349 Bcf, respectively.

      Total exports increased by 34 percent to 1,507 Bcf in 2011. Pipeline exports and LNG re-exports increased by 34 percent to 1,436 Bcf and by 55 percent to 53 Bcf, respectively. LNG exports, which exclude re-export volumes, decreased by 41 percent to 18 Bcf. Growth in pipeline and LNG re-exports significantly exceeded the decline in LNG exports.

      Most of these exports are through pipelines.
      Nice graph at the link.
      So, where is a lot of this stuff going?
      Well, remember these names because they are just as important as KXL. The Capline and Explorer pipelines, and the Cochin Pipeline reversal project. These are the pipes that are sending LNG and light oil up to Western Canada from the US for use as dilbit. The Canadian tar sands needs this diluent to creat sour crude that can move down to the Gulf through KXL. 30% of this sour crude from the tar sands is diluent. Without these pipelines the tar sands crude can't move through the KXL. And the Canadians will pay more for the LNG than we will pay domestically.

      -4.38, -7.64 Voyager 1: proof that what goes up never comes down.

      by pat bunny on Sat May 18, 2013 at 10:39:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm sure these for profit corporations (7+ / 0-)

    Will make safety a priority.

    Unless it cuts into the profits.

  •  Hey, in Rick Perry's Texas, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, weck, DRo, Tinfoil Hat

    what could possibly go wrong?

    Nature created the human race, but humans created racism.

    by GrannyOPhilly on Sat May 18, 2013 at 09:59:15 AM PDT

  •  This is a little more complicated (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093

    even without fracking alot of methane is being vented from oil wells because the price of it in the US is so cheap it isn't worth building gas pipelines to the well heads. On the other hand East Asia, South Asia, and Europe (yes Europe) are building coal fired plants like gangbusters. If we export more natural gas we'll help displace some of the coal being used over seas. There is also a very real danger of a coal power explosion in East Africa because of the recent finds there. Tanzania and Mozambique are becoming major coal exporters.

    This isn't just a case of stopping the LNG terminals will stop fracking, because venting methane is the worse outcome possible.

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Sat May 18, 2013 at 11:34:36 AM PDT

    •  On the other hand (0+ / 0-)

      if we export gas, that raises US gas prices, and we'll end up burning more coal here. There's federal studies with that conclusion. I'd rather see these other countries develop their own gas sources.

      Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

      by 6412093 on Sat May 18, 2013 at 05:17:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  upcoming Cameron LNG approval will (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093

    bring in $6 - $7 Billion of Japanese and French investment dollars towards the $9 -$10 Billion total construction cost, per article on cnbc.com and generate 1,300 engineering and construction jobs for a 4-year period of construction, a huge economic boost, per a google of Liquefaction Project at Cameron LNG.

    •  you are right these are massive construction (0+ / 0-)

      projects, but the LNG developers are virulently anti-union.  The current Sabine Cheniere terminal is under construction with a virtually 100% non-union construction work force.

      Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

      by 6412093 on Sat May 18, 2013 at 05:19:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Of course instead of this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093

    Obama could help them learn to frack for themselves (in the spirit of that parable about teaching a person how to fish instead of just giving them a fish).

    Or better yet, why not do both?

    •  I'd rather see China frack (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roadbed Guy

      for its own gas than import ours, since exporting ours drives up our natural gas prices.

      The current low price of US natural gas is fueling its own massive wave of construction projects, mainly "ethylene crackers" that derive a variety of chemicals from domestic natural gas.

      The low price of US natural gas is spurring, among others,  $10-15 billion cracker construction projects at Dow, Formosa Plastics, Westlake, and Sasol, which are all along the Gulf from south of Houston to Lake Charles, Louisiana.

      Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

      by 6412093 on Sat May 18, 2013 at 05:23:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But if they start fracking and the price of NG (0+ / 0-)

        plummets over there as well, we lose the competitive advantage that is spurring all the investment you mention.

        I've seen figures that up to 750,000 US jobs are supported by the fracking boom and the resulting inexpensive NG.  

        Whether it's worth it based on the environmental impact is difficult to say, for sure.

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