The Green Argument Against LNG

Jonathan Poisner

By Jonathan Poisner, Executive Director of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters and Brent Foster, Executive Director of Columbia Riverkeeper

Last week, Blue Oregon ran a post entitled the “Green Argument For LNG.”

The case almost entirely rests on the false premise that importing natural gas in a liquefied state would somehow displace dirtier coal. Yet, there was no evidence in the post and none out there that this would be the case. To the contrary, LNG almost certainly would have the biggest dampening effect on solar and wind power investments.

Here are some reasons why so many who’ve looked hard at LNG say it’s a bad deal for Oregon families and the wrong legacy with which to saddle our children.

The National Security and Safety case against LNG

1. LNG import terminals would increase America’s dependence on Middle East fossil fuel. As plainly recognized by the Oregon Dept. of Energy, much of the LNG that would come into Oregon would be from the Middle East. See Oregon DOE 2008 report on LNG, p. 18. Building an LNG infrastructure today lays the foundation for tomorrow’s next round of fossil fuel wars.

2. LNG terminals and related pipelines are high-risk facilities. As explained plainly by Peter Levene, the chairman of Lloyds of London, which insures LNG facilities, “Gas carriers [], whether at sea or in ports, make obvious targets.” The Sandia National Labs has said an LNG tanker fire could extend over 1.55 miles from the tanker. Astoria is less than 500 feet from the shipping channel the tankers would pass through. The U.S. Government Accountability Office recently reported that the U.S. Coast Guard lacked adequate resources to protect LNG tankers from terrorist attacks.

The Financial Case Against LNG

3. The U.S. has more than enough domestic natural gas. As reported in the Oregonian and most major papers this July, new natural gas discoveries have doubled estimates of U.S. natural gas reserves to 118 years of supply leading the Wall Street Journal to write about the “natural gas glut.” “Study Raises Estimates of U.S. Natural Gas,” USA Today, 7/31/08; WSJ, Aug. 11, 2008. Google those stories or check out this gas reserve study.

4. The northwest has more than enough natural gas. Even one of these plants would import twice as much gas as Oregon currently uses. Yet, even the LNG speculators suggest natural gas demand is increasing by just 2% a year. Even assuming the 2% figure per year is true, new renewable energy supplies could more than offset this demand. Additionally, if the gas is truly necessary, any one of three major pipelines proposed from the Rockies to Oregon could more than meet this claimed need.

Yet, the assumption of ever-increasing natural gas usage is also false. America has only begun to scratch the surface of investments we can make that would pay off financially through increased energy efficiency and conservation. Look for real leadership on energy efficiency in the 2009 Oregon Legislature.

5. LNG is more expensive than domestic alternatives. Currently, LNG costs twice much as domestic natural gas. Domestic gas prices last week were $7.82 per mmBTU but recent LNG contracts exceeded $20 per mmBTU.

The Environmental Case Against LNG.

6. LNG has a carbon impact on the order of 30% greater than domestic natural gas. If they were somehow all built, the three proposed LNG terminals in Oregon would add the carbon dioxide impact of 14 million new cars to the state. Oregon DOE reports, “Liquefied natural gas supplied to Oregon would have significantly more life cycle CO2 costs than North American natural gas, because of the large transportation distances involved in shipping LNG to Oregon and because of the processes used to liquefy and to re-gasify the natural gas.” See also http://www.edcnet.org/ProgramsPages/LNGrptplusMay06.pdf and the Carnegie Mellon study at http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/abstract.cgi/esthag/2007/41/i17/abs/es063031o.html.

7. While it’s nice to posit a future where we use more natural gas and less coal, none of the businesses involved is talking about taking a coal plant off-line and replacing it with natural gas. Nor are we (or California, where most of the gas would be sent) set to build any new coal facilities.

So LNG backers posit the notion that “LNG is a transitional fuel--we can't replace coal with totally green tech like wind, wave, and solar for literally decades. In that time, we'll be burning fossil fuels; either dirty ones like coal, or cleaner natural gas.” (Jeff Allworth’s post on Blue Oregon from last week).

This is just a false choice. If we invest money in energy conservation, we would burn less of both coal and natural gas. And there is room to replace coal with truly renewable energy. We can transition the country to wind, solar, geothermal, and wave energy on a far quicker pace than the fossil fuel industry and its apologists admit. Our infrastructure investments should go into those energy sources, not natural gas. Details here.

8. The NorthernStar project threatens Columbia River salmon. Every fishery agency that has reviewed this project has blasted both the lack of adequate impact analysis on salmon and the claim by LNG backers that the impact to salmon would be minimal. We are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to restore Columbia River salmon upstream. It’s ridiculous to now threaten those investments with an LNG terminal on the Columbia downstream.

9. NW Natural’s 220-mile long Palomar pipeline from NorthernStar’s LNG terminal would damage Oregon’s landscape and people for the sake of sending LNG-imported gas to California. NW Natural’s Palomar pipeline would leave a 40-mile long clearcut across Mt. Hood, significantly interfere with the livelihood of hundreds of farmers, and damage over 300 river and streams in its path.

Concluding Thoughts

The Governor has blasted the FEC’s recent approval of the Bradwood Landing LNG application. Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and State Treasurer Randall Edwards both oppose these LNG terminals as bad deals for Oregon both financially and environmentally.

The nation is on the cusp of taking real action to transition to a renewable energy economy. The LNG facilities proposed for Oregon aren’t a bridge to the future, they’re a bridge to the past – a hugely expensive one that will saddle our children with more global warming and more insecurity. This is the wrong legacy to leave our kids.

Check out www.columbiariverkeeper.org for some more specific fact sheets about the LNG projects on the Columbia or www.citizensagainstlng.com for info about the Coos Bay LNG terminal.


Comments

  • Greg D. (unverified)
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    As the proud owner of a gas furnace, I really don't care where the gas comes from, as long as I stay warm. If you are LNG opponents, can I assume you will support the construction of gas lines coming into Oregon from the North and East so that we can connect to the Sarah Palin Pipeline?

    I still don't understand why we would not want LNG as an option, so that if pricing and supply changes - and it almost certainly will over the next twenty years - we will have options? A billion wind turbines in Eastern Oregon (which my Audibon Society friends hate) won't keep my gas furnace running.

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    I was really surprised to see Alworth shill for the petroleum industry, but not surprised that their tactic would be to green-wash their product.

    Why he failed to see that Oregon is about to be used as the point of import and impact for California's natural gas market (hat tip to the NIMBYs in SoCal) is a classic myopia that can only be caused by a failure or a refusal to see the demand behind the supply.

    As for the theory that LNG is better than nuclear or coal, I might also point out as a friendly amendment that it is also better than a peat-fired hearth. So what.

    Spending more and more on non-renewable and expensive if not impossible to clean fossil fuel production is a digression from energy independence and a delay of production of the efficient and clean solutions that we need to develop now.

    The only GREEN behind the argument for LNG, are the greenbacks that will be made by the petroleum industry.

    If you're looking for green solutions, look to the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters who oppose LNG development in Oregon and support conservation and renewable clean emerging technologies like wind and solar.

    Alworth: Do your homework next time, or we're relegating you to the microbrew beat exclusively.

  • Bradley (unverified)
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    Jeff did the bidding of the pr firm representing Bradwood Landing, as he himself acknowledged in response to someone's question in the comments. Timing the greenwashing of LNG to coincide with the rubber stamping by FERC was a bit on the obvious side, if you ask me.

  • Olivia (unverified)
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    The Eminent Domain Argument: With over 500 miles of proposed pipeline infrastructure intended to deliver LNG sourced Natural Gas to the market (mostly in California)there are thousands of landowners facing condemnation on their lands for the sake of providing profit to the fossil fuel industry. In October of 2007 the Oregon Dept. of Agriculture expressed it's concern to FERC that the Oregon LNG Pipeline "would cross high-value agricultural land in four Oregon counties: Washington, Yamhill, Marion and Clackamas… Together, these counties accounted for nearly $1,577,994,000 in farm sales in 2006. This represents 35% of the total value of all Oregon’s gross farm and ranch sales." The Dept. of Agriculture's concern touches on the potential impact to Oregon's economy due to the 50 ft zone of crop restrictions that would accompany these proposed pipelines. This could spell economic ruin for nurserymen, vintners, foresters and orchardists all over Oregon and Southern Washington. In addition to prohibiting deep rooted crops over a 50 ft permanent right-of-way anywhere the pipeline were laid, the landowner would be responsible to continue to pay taxes on that right-of-way and would only be reimbursed at 15-25% of the market value of that easement (a value that is based on undeveloped land -- not productive, developed land as most of it actually is).

  • (Show?)

    I was really surprised to see Alworth shill for the petroleum industry, but not surprised that their tactic would be to green-wash their product.

    Jeff did the bidding of the pr firm representing Bradwood Landing, as he himself acknowledged in response to someone's question in the comments.

    No, no, no. Jeff acknowledged asking questions of a PR firm, not "doing their bidding".

    I think reasonable people of good will can disagree on this issue. The point of Jeff's post was to explore the argument and open the discussion, not "shill for the petroleum industry". So, make the argument on the merits, don't question his motives.

    If you're going to accuse someone of shady ethics, at least have the decency to use your full name.

  • Dan (unverified)
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    The Renewable Energy Argument:

    We really need to focus on Oregon's energy future. By continuing to dump money into foreign fossil fuel energy, we severely undermine Oregon and the Pacific NW's ability to move towards renewable energy. There are many more jobs to be gained from building out as much renewable energy as possible, as opposed to throwing $ towards the NorthernStar-backed foreign fossil fuel scheme.

    Solar Energy representatives were present at Ron Wyden's Forum for Energy Independence two months ago, and they strongly urged Wyden and the rest of our delegation to commit to long-term incentives for the solar industry. Several of them also commented to Wyden and to FERC that the solar industry will suffer if LNG is approved. LNG will raise energy prices, in all likelihood, and this glut of high-priced fuel will dampen the region's push towards renewable energy.

    There is no time to waste. Canadian LNG producers are now considering a move to send gas to Asian markets as LNG. That's right - LNG is going to be EXPORTED from N America, meaning we'll be competing with high-priced Asian markets for gas very soon. Solar power will be highly competitive with high-priced gas-fired electricity, particularly if we are going to be seeing gas prices like those that are being paid in Korea and Japan for LNG.

    By the way - the people of Clatsop County agree. They voted 67-33 to oppose the Bradwood project and its pipeline. That vote began as a referendum on the pipeline, but it quickly became a referendum on the Bradwood project when Bradwood started doing push-polling, radio ads, and sued twice to keep the referendum from going on the ballot. All told, they spent well over the $60,000 they reported to the Secretary of State.

    At the FERC Commission, Bradwood got 4 votes. In Clatsop County, LNG opponents got 8,000 or so - over 67 percent of the vote.

    There is grassroots support for renewable energy NOW, and we need to get past this LNG debacle in order to make it happen.

    Scoreboard: 67-33.

  • brent foster (unverified)
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    In response to Greg D- "As the proud owner of a gas furnace, I really don't care where the gas comes from, as long as I stay warm."

    Well you may not care about where we get our energy from, but after spending close to a half trillion dollars in Iraq, over 4,000 dead U.S. troops, and tens of thousands of Iraqis including many kids I think the U.S. should care. For the last 50 years we've tried the "we don't care where it comes from" energy strategy and I think our current situation highlights the need to start thinking about local renewables, conservaation and increasing efficiency. Impossible? Just try the math on how many solar power systems you could install with the $700 billion bailout for the chief architects of our laissez-faire.

    Why not just build $2 billion in LNG infrastrucutre for the off chance we can't make do with our 118 years of domestic natural gas? Two local fiscal reasons would be Trojan Nuclear Power plant and the WHOOPS nuclear power projects which cost ratepayers and bond holders billions when these ambitious energy projects failed.

    Not to mention that the idea of trashing the Columbia River, ripping a 40-mile clearcut across Mt. Hood, and damaging countless farms and forestlands to keep a bad option option doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Greg D.,

    Chances are your gas furnace will not last 20 years. Your next heating system may well be a high-efficiency heat pump powered by wind, wave, or solar power. The reasons we would not want the LNG option are laid out well in Poisner's post. Try reading it again.

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    Jonathan, thanks much for the much-needed rebuttal. As a slight meta comment aside, I would point out that "BlueOregon" didn't run a pro-LNG argument, I did. I wanted to start a discussion, and I much appreciate the high level we've managed to bring to the topic.

    I am not totally persuaded by the bulk of your arguments-- on the non-environmental points, I think two is particularly weak, and I still would like to resolve the main question on point 4--whether or not domestic natural gas supplies are robust, are they available to Oregon? A big pipeline just went in that will take natural gas from the Rockies east; even in Colorado, a producer state, this means the rates spiked.

    On the environmental points, your second one (7) is really the crux of the matter (I believe I addressed the others). My whole argument depends on the relationship between bringing coal use down. If adding LNG does nothing to reduce coal use AND stifles green tech, then I will quickly hop into your protest parade against it.

    I do wish we had some direct data on that point, for it is definitive.

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    Oh, and as to the dark accusations of my "shilling." This unnecessarily debases the discussion. If every time we disagree with someone's policy position, the only argument we can offer is that s/he's somehow financially or moral compromised, what's the point in discussing anything at all? The data are the data. This is either a good idea or it's not--but demeaning the motivations of the discussants (which obviously anonymous commenters have no insight into) only takes us down a blind alley.

    BlueOregon should be the place where it's SAFE to bring up all sides of the issue. I'm happy to take one on the intellectual chin if I'm wrong, but Rove-style attacks ultimately stifle the very discussion we should hope to encourage.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Jeff,

    Much of the increase in natural gas reserves is in the east. As that gas comes to market, it will decrease demand there for gas from the west, which will be available to fill Oregon's need.

    Since the greatest economic growth looks to be in India and China for the foreseeable future, it would seen that competition for gas coming from the Middle East will be sharper than competition in North America for domestic gas. An increase in LNG infrastructure may eventually lead to export FROM North America, increasing the price of domestic gas. Ships and pipelines can take gas in either direction.

  • (Show?)

    Jeff, here's the Wall Street Journal article on the natural gas glut.

    Excerpt: Instead of a single big discovery or a weather-related demand slump leading to a temporary rise in supplies, the industry has found a completely new resource -- shale -- that could last decades.

    Shale -- or dense rock formations that are common in many parts of the country and around the world -- has long been known to hold natural gas. But production was impractical because the rock isn't porous enough for the gas to flow.

    In the 1990s, however, companies figured out how to crack the shale using pressurized water, releasing the gas.

    So, with shale-based natural gas supplies growing, and closer to the Eastern markets, the Rockies gas becomes available for the Western markets. There's also an ongoing debate on what's going to happen to the Canadian sources of natural gas. We can address the local need with the domestic gas glut.

    Another excerpt: LNG imports are down two-thirds from last year because higher prices in Asia and Europe have attracted shipments to those markets. If new U.S. production keeps prices comparatively low, LNG imports are unlikely to rise.

    That's especially important. Because if we bid up the price of LNG (by adding to its demand), China and other Asian markets might just use more of the abundant, cheap, polluting coal instead, and I'd bet China's coal emission regulations aren't as strong as ours. Net increase in emissions. Asia's one place where I think LNG might replace coal, or, alternatively, coal could replace LNG.

    Have you seen any evidence that LNG will reduce coal use? I haven't really seen it.

  • marv (unverified)
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    How is it that Alworth feels that BlueOregon is not safe? He presented an opinion based on NorthernStar's point of view which he happens to agree with. And he clearly is not persuaded by the overwhelming case made by those who have contributed. This is based on his deep and unalterable fear of burning coal. Not the coal that is being burned in China which has a more direct impact on Oregon than the coal burned in Montana. Fear that there were weapons of mass destruction allowed some to justify a vote to invade Iraq. Reaon did not apply there or here and Mr. Alworth is allowed to be terrified of coal and at the same time ignore all of the evidence that argues that there is nothing green about LNG. Accept for those who are personally invested in it.

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    Have you seen any evidence that LNG will reduce coal use? I haven't really seen it.

    No, I haven't. I think this is the obvious flaw in my argument. One of the reasons I like to have these conversations is because it pushes along my thinking on a subject.

    I've become convinced that the main way to move the market is through a carbon tax. Making it expensive to pollute will force quick change. If we had a carbon tax and LNG emerged as a cost-effective transition energy that replaced coal, it would align with my argument. But...

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    Jeff,

    I want to apologize for assuming that you failed to research your article or that you are shilling the side of the petroleum industry, but your non-denial denial of this is not compelling in the least.

    First of all, for you to argue the ad hominem implying you've been demeaned, without being able to or interested in making an affirmative case for your actions is indeed the Rovian way.

    While it is certainly safe for trolls, ACs, regular posters, and editors to write as they like here around the water cooler, the point of Blue Oregon is to allow our community's progressive voices to be heard, and we are allowed to debate whether we find one another's arguments lacking of progressive values or logic. This is the market place of ideas. These are my $.02 worth.

    Sure, we don't need equal time for comment for every Carla Axtman post on the latest foibles of Sen. Smith, but you wrapped yourself in the flag of environmentalism and I just don't see how that fits your position in the least, so I'd really like to know how you got there.

    Your work as a journalist is being debated. You as a person, as much as you may self-actualize your work-life integration, is not.

    Secondly, while I'm glad you took a minute to rebut the concerns of two of our areas' leading environmental activists, Jonathan Poisner from OLCV and Brent Foster from Columbia Riverkeeper, but this only more so makes me wonder on what basis do you dismiss their concerns and who in this world are you listening to?

    So, I'd love it if you'd answer the following simple and to the point questions:

    1. What or who inspired you to write the post?

    2. Where did you do your research?

    As for your comments to me specifically, allow me to provide short rebuttle here:

    Q: Is the post "The Green Argument for LNG" shilling?

    A: "To act as a spokesperson or promoter."~Merriam Webster

    Q: What is a Rove Style Attack?

    Pointing out that suggesting increased use of petroleum-based fuels is not a position held by environmental groups and that to suggest otherwise is on face-value poorly researched or intentional?

    Or suggesting that the motivations of online journalists cannot be questioned, else the discussion be stifled?

    Jon Stewart gives a great lesson on the Rovian here: http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=184086&title=sarah-palin-gender-card

    Bonus Tidbit:

    Q: Who is promoting LNG in Oregon?

    A: Gard Communications Campaign: LNG Awareness Campaign http://www.gardcommunications.com/whats_new.php?setSection=whats_new

    So Jeff, again, I apologize for the presumption that your post is not fully and fairly researched nor progressive, but what's your argument to the contrary?

    Yours,

    And still a fan of your microbrew columns,

    Mike O'Leary

  • Arthur Jessup (unverified)
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    Mike, I googled BlueOregon's four editors and found this tidbit on one of them, Charlie Burr, from a prior article:

    [Full disclosure: I work as a senior account executive with Edelman, the world's largest independent public relations firm. Although I don't work on the Boeing account, Edelman represents Boeing. My last post about the 787 Dreamliner is here: Better planes, cleaner skies.]

    I believe Edelman has your LNG project's public relations account in Oregon.

  • Christine Lewis (unverified)
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    Jonathan and Brent,

    Thank you for working together on this post. I was glad to see you included the financial case beside the environmental case. I agree that we need to make investments for our future; wind and solar infrastructure. Otherwise, my generation will be stuck with these same questions of energy independence- how to wean ourselves from dirty energies- even 5 or 6 decades from now.

  • (Show?)

    Folks, let's stick to Jonathan's fine article. The meta stuff is boring and we're chasing our tail. The folks who think I'm a shill will continue to think I'm a shill no matter how much we talk about it. You are entitled to your beliefs. But let's stick to this post.

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    I agree with Jeff that it's counterproductive to turn this into a debate about Jeff's initial post. The topic should stay on whether the proposed LNG import terminals are a good idea or not.

  • Jim (unverified)
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    If we had a carbon tax and LNG emerged as a cost-effective transition energy that replaced coal, it would align with my argument.

    Jeff, you would be interested to know that many of us (CUB, EMO,RNP, NWEC) have successfully argued in front of the OPUC that the upstream carbon impacts of LNG should be accounted for in planning for electricity facilities. The Order (a first in the nation) in docket UM-1302 explicitly orders utilities to use expected CO2 taxes or regulations applied to life-cycle CO2 impacts of LNG. Read the Order from a couple months ago if you want. But it will be quite unlikely that with the transportation costs plus the CO2 costs (which are only about 30% less than coal) that LNG will ever be used to generate electricity in Oregon.

    LNG is NOT a substitute for coal. If you have ANY evidence to the contrary, please present it.

  • Feed In (unverified)
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    Greg D. wrote: As the proud owner of a gas furnace, I really don't care where the gas comes from, as long as I stay warm.

    Hey Greg, I too own a gas furnace, and since NW Natural has seen fit to use my money to force LNG down my throat I've been moving as deliberately as I can to find a new heating system. It looks like I'm going to go with a electric heat pump which may, in the short term, be less efficient, but once I put my solar panels up and lay out some district geoheating, I'll be just as warm as you, and my conscience will be much clearer.

    While wind will be part of the solution, I would much rather see a million PV panels bloom. In addition to empowering (pardon the pun) the individual household, by distributing power generation throughout the country, we decrease the ability of "bad guys" to knock out our power supply (as they can with centralized power production).

  • (Show?)

    One aspect of this debate that I don't think has been addressed enough is the fact that "natural gas" is methane, primarily, a greenhouse gas that is reckoned to be 22x more "effective" if its greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide. A methane molecule is made up of four carbon atoms and one hydrogen, compared to one carbon for two oxygen in CO(2).

    This has a bearing on two arguments, one for and one against LNG. For LNG, it is argued that the dangers of huge explosion or fire are minimal because the temperature window at which warming LNG would be combustible is so narrow, and that a much more likely result of accidental or intentional breeching of stored LNG would be off-gassing. However, that argument does not address the greenhouse effects of such off-gassing. (This also does not address the "normal" release of natural gas/methane as part of the gasification and transmission process).

    A related and probably more systematic question arise in my mind regarding the extraction of natural gas from shale that Evan Manvel raises. To what extent do the industrial processes of "cracking" the shale end up releasing methane directly into the atmosphere? To what extent is this approach predicated on carbon sequestration claims for processes similar to those that ecologists question when asserted for so-called clean coal?

    <hr/>

    There is a linguistic sleight of hand around the word "clean." It was originally applied to natural gas as compared to coal in relation to air pollutant products of combustion. It does not translate "cleanly" over to greenhouse effects.

    <hr/>

    Dave Porter made a point on Jeff's thread about China that I'm not sure I understood, but I would like to make this one, which may be rewording his in another way: LNG shipped to the U.S. in many instances may be derived from orginal NG produced in Asia that might be transported directly to China and India without going through the liquefication processes that make LNG so much more stronger in greenhouse effect than NG that is simply piped directly.

    And in China and India, coal-based power generation is expanding rapidly, that might be partially replaced by natural gas if the infrastructures were built. So in addition to asking what LNG shipped to Oregon would mean to coal-based power generation here, we need to ask what our demand to import this gas from Asia does to power generation in Asia. Because whether it's us burning coal or the Chinese and Indians, it all goes into the global atmosphere -- and you'll get much more band for the buck replacing / pre-emptively displacing less regulated coal burning in Asia with NG that hasn't been liquefied than you would by adding the liquefaction increment of LNG to the carbon burden & then shipping it here, even if it did actually do something to reduce or prevent increase in coal-burning here.

    (As someone alluded to above, Chinese coal also has a huge toxic pollutant effect in Oregon. Last year one branch of the state government proposed a comparatively lax standard, in terms of timeline especially, for reducing mercury emissions from PGE's coal-fired plant in Boardman. The reasoning given at the public comment hearing, which I attended, was that the contribution of Boardman to Oregon's overall mercury deposition burden was small, I think on the order of 5% though I wouldn't swear to it, but if that's wrong, it's probably too high.

    At the hearing, the plan was sharply criticized because it didn't deal with the issue of geographical distribution of the Boardman mercury deposition, which is not evenly spread in the state but relatively concentrated near the plant, and because the agency in question hadn't dealt either with public health agencies or DEQ, which had other river & fish related issues, before making its recommendation. Eventually the proposed rule was withdrawn.

    The point here is that the overwhelming proportion of mercury deposition in Oregon as a whole comes from coal burning in China. So again, natural gas production that reduces or pre-empts expansion of Chinese coal-burning may do more for Oregon's ecology and public health than shipping it here to be burned, even if much of it stayed in Oregon, which I doubt.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    Thanks to Chris Lowe for a very nice synopsis of the issues regarding coal vs. natural gas as contributors to greenhouse-gas emissions and environmental toxins!!!!

    I'm seriously put off by the nonsensical, pseudonymous attacks on Jeff Alworth as a "shill". It is certainly possible to argue with his points without attacking him personally.

  • brent foster (unverified)
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    I actually want to give Jeff credit for keeping an open mind on the LNG issue. Many a fine progressive - from Robert Kennedy Jr. to Carl Pope- have at one point thought LNG was an attractive alternative to coal. It's only once you get into some of the nitty gritty that LNG looses its gloss. My guess is had our first discussion about LNG been over beers instead of on-line during a high pressure time in the LNG debate we would probably have quickly found our areas of agreement overshadow our disagreements.

    Jeff- on the question of domestic gas supplies, the Navigant study which is linked to in paragraph # 3 of our original post, is really the most current and comprehensive document that looks at where the U.S. has gas supplies. Since this study was realeased in July natural gas prices have almost dropped in half on news of such large supplies.

    Supplies locally. NorthernStar and NW Natural have argued we need LNG because our gas supplies from the Rockies are being sent east and Canadian supplies are dropping. The new Rockies Express pipeline will be sending some Rockies gas east, but the claim this would drain Oregon of gas is completely undermined by the fact major gas pipeline companies are still proposing 3 new pipelines to Oregon each of which would import about the same amount of gas as would an LNG terminal and significantly more than Oregon currently uses.

    Similarly, the claim that there's not enough Canadian gas to go around is undermined by the fact Canada's only west coast approved LNG import terminal just applied last week to become an LNG export terminal. Two U.S. LNG import terminals (Freeport and Cheniere) also just applied to export LNG since the price is so high they can't find buyers for LNG they already brought in.

    The high price of LNG and current low price of domestic gas actually has some of us concerned that the proposed LNG terminals in Oregon are more likely to become LNG export terminals than import terminals. If Rockies producers can get $20 plus per mmbtu in Japan, why not take that $7.80 mmbtu rockies gas and send it to Japan as LNG? If this actually happened it could cause a serious price spike in the west coast gas prices as we would effectively be forced to compete on the global LNG market for our own domestic gas. This is a real IF, but with the newest U.S. LNG terminal on the verge of bankruptcy and price projections for LNG seriously exceeding domestic gas into the future you have to wonder why are the LNG investors in Oregon still in the game?

  • andy (unverified)
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    This thread, like the last thread, is really lacking in the facts department. First off, do we need more energy? If so, what is the most economical way to supply that energy? If people don't like the most economical way to supply the energy are they willing to pay more for "cleaner" energy?

    Instead of working thru the facts people are just calling each other names and throwing political talking points around.

    I'm going to assume that there is an actual need for a LNG facility since people who have money are spending it to proceed forward with the project. They wouldn't be making the investment if there wasn't some projected return. If someone has a better idea on how that potential investment should be made they should prepare a business plan and get it in front of the money team.

  • brent foster (unverified)
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    No facts? Geez you could spend a good week reading the key reports we linked to in our original post. For starters have you read through Oregon DOE's report that we cite to in paragraph # 1 that concludes that while there is a need there is not a need for LNG because its more expensive and comes with a higher global warming impact than available domestic gas?

    Have you already read through the Navigant study linked to in paragraph # 3 which says we have over 100 years of domestic gas supply?

    Have you read through the project specific LNG fact sheets on CRK's website about what the LNG projects would do in terms of local impacts?

    There's plenty of facts to show that LNG doesn't make sense for Oregon, but few that support it does.

    I think local history should teach us that just because there is an entity that thinks they can make money from a given energy project doesn't mean we should embrace or even allow it to go forward. Lessons like Trojan, WHOOPS nuke plants that cost bond holders over $5 billion and of course Enron make clear that just because they think they can built it doesn't mean we should let them.

  • Greg D. (unverified)
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    I consider myself a progressive leftie, but on the LNG issue I remain very skeptical. What if ARCO decided to build a gasoline refinery at Bradford - similar to the Cherry Point facility in WA. Can I assume that the LNG opponents would NOT oppose a gasoline refinery, because regardless of the debate about need vs. no-need re LNG, we definitely need more West Coast gasoline refining capacity. I think not.

    I suspect that the same folks who oppose LNG would suddenly become opponents of a gasoline refinery. Maybe I am wrong, but I strongly suspect that the anti-LNG folks are just another form of NIMBY's.

  • Nick (unverified)
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    Refreshing to hear some good sense about this issue from Brent Foster and Jonathan Poisner. Talk of LNG as a "bridge fuel" is nonsense, and the ability of people to confuse LNG with ordinary domestic natural gas never ceases to amaze me.

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    the ability of people to confuse LNG with ordinary domestic natural gas never ceases to amaze me.

    OK, I'll bite. Doesn't LNG just get depressurized and then pumped into the same natural gas delivery system that makes my BBQ and water heater run?

    I understand that there are concerns with the financial and environmental cost of transporting it, and that there are concerns with the safety of storing it, but when it finally burns, isn't it just the same as any other sort of natural gas?

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    Kari -- so, yes, it's very different.

    The two should not be conflated, although to the end user (post-regasification) they're similar (correct me if I'm wrong).

    To reiterate, the fact that LNG contributes 25-30% MORE global warming pollution than domestic gas, when we're trying to dramatically reduce our global warming pollution, means that we should be pretty skeptical. And we shouldn't allow the LNG proponents to conflate the two, though they try very hard to do so in their materials (see all the slick stuff at OregonLNG.com).

    Dirty LNG has very different impacts than domestic natural gas.

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    Thanks, Evan. So the product itself isn't different, it's the transport of the product that's at issue.

    <h2>That helps.</h2>

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