Feeding the Global Addiction

Nathan Sooy of Clean Water Action joins Rachel and Michael Mark, and Steven Todd, all members of PA Interfaith Power & Light: No EIS? No Cove Pt Export!

3 active members of PA IPL stand with Nathan Sooy of Clean Water Action at the Baltimore War Memorial Plaza.  They were there on Feb. 20, 2014, outside of the buildings on where Dominion Energy Solutions was meeting with the Maryland Public Service Commission about permit acquisition for a proposed natural gas liquefaction plant.  Dominion would prefer to have the plant permitted without an   Environmental Impact Statement specific to this expansion (their last EIS was completed in 2006 for a previous expansion).

In 2011 PA IPL drafted a set of ethical considerations to focus and guide discussions of Marcellus Shale drilling. (Marcellus Principles Sept.19.2011PAIPL Marcellus Exec Summary)  While the considerations have not changed, we have much more information about greenhouse gas emissions from fracking and transport leakage.  It is now far clearer that —in carbon pollution— the difference between coal and gas is small at best.  Some estimates now suggest that from extraction through combustion, greenhouse gas pollution from natural gas may be even higher.  Natural gas may offer relief from some of coal’s dangerous air pollutants and “coal ash” sludge, but it is clearly not a solution to our fossil fuel addiction.

Creating an export terminal for gas from the Marcellus Shale will only increase extraction pressures.  Worse still, converting natural gas to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is itself an energy-intensive process.  Exporting Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) has a measurably higher climate impact than using the extracted gas nearby:

LNG exports are even more energy intensive than gas drilled and burned at home. After the gas is transported, liquefied for export and then re-gasified to burn, the lifecycle emissions of exported LNG are 15 percent higher than gas consumed domestically. To power liquefying and cooling operations, Cove Point would require construction of a new gas plant on-site that would be Maryland’s fourth-largest climate polluter. From start to finish of the LNG export process, Cove Point would trigger more planet-heating pollution than Maryland’s entire fleet of seven coal-fired power plants combined.          More here and here.

The proposed LNG plant at Cove Point would become the largest lifecycle carbon polluter in Maryland.  Adding to the problem, the Energy Information Administration estimates that the price pressure created here by exporting LNG would actually slightly increase coal use, which has been on the decline.   Dominion already has export contracts prepared with companies in India and Japan—if the plant is built, export is not theoretical.

The proposed plant and export terminal are outside of Pennsylvania’s borders, but they will have a direct effect on extraction in Pennsylvania.  PA IPL supports the attorney general of the State of Maryland, who has called for a comprehensive EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) prior to further decisions,  and stands behind the Maryland citizens active in the “Crossroads” campaign, including our friends at  DC.MD.NoVA IPL.

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The campaign calls for halting the proposed liquefaction and LNG export plant which would feed worldwide fossil fuel addiction, asking that  Dominion Resources instead commit its resources to doubling Maryland’s wind and solar consumption over the next 10 years.  The Chesapeake Climate Action Network calculates that “if [energy company] Dominion redirected the money it’s investing in Cove Point toward wind power, it could increase the East Coast’s installed wind capacity by 50 percent and create more than 7,500 jobs.”

Climate change increases food prices,  decreases public health, and threatens the ecosystems that help cushion us from the effects of extreme weather events.  Exporting fossil fuels drives us in the wrong direction.  Let’s not go there.