LNG tanker at sea (Photo courtesy of FERC)
The Obama Administration is blocking a comprehensive environmental study on the impact of exporting massive quantities of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, on the grounds that new gas drilling induced by the exports is not “reasonably foreseeable.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Energy is resisting calls by Dow Chemical and other manufacturers for a more clearly defined and transparent DOE process for determining whether proposed LNG export projects serve the “public interest.”
Both the DOE and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission face mounting pressure to evaluate the economic and environmental consequences of licensing LNG export facilities. Since the agencies licensed an LNG export terminal in Sabine Pass, La., in 2011, 19 other applicants have lined up with licensing requests. Continue reading Obama Administration Says No to Full Environmental Study of LNG Exports
Mountain Laurel Complex in W.V. image from Google Earth
A standing-room only crowd packed a federal appeals courtroom in D.C. Thursday morning to hear arguments over whether the Environmental Protection Agency may rescind a dumping permit after it has been granted by the Army Corps of Engineers.
The high-profile case is being closely monitored by industry and the environmental community. The Chamber of Commerce, 34 industry trade groups and seven environmental organizations have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the case. Mingo Logan Coal Co., a subsidiary of Arch Coal, the nation’s second largest producer of the fossil fuel, is represented by four lawyers from Hunton & Williams, a powerful law and lobby firm.
At issue is the proposed Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County, West Va., which would be one of the largest mountaintop mining sites in the country. The EPA says in its brief to the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia that the project would disturb 3.5 square miles of earth and spew nearly 3 billion cubic feet of dirt and rubble into seven miles of mountain streams. Continue reading EPA Fights to Stop Large Mountaintop Coal Mine
Ernes Moniz, Obama’s top candidate for Energy Secretary
Oil and gas companies are funding research at major universities to counter environmental objections to shale gas drilling. President Obama is considering appointing a key beneficially of industry monies at MIT as his new energy secretary.
The oil and gas industry has campaigned hard and paid handsomely for academic support for its media talking points.
Those efforts to justify and promote aggressive drilling for natural gas in shale formations recently erupted in scandal at three highly-regarded universities: Penn State University, the University of Texas at Austin and the State University of New York at Buffalo. Each time, critics of industry-friendly research ferreted out the university’s failure to fully disclose industry ties and ran to the media, which reliably produced ‘gotcha’ stories and nicknamed the practice “Frackademia.”
But those stories ignored or barely mentioned the energy industry’s pervasive influence at an even more prestigious school: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. MIT’s brand as a reliable source of peerless science remains intact. Continue reading “Frackademia” – MIT’s Ernest Moniz, Obama’s Top Candidate for Energy Secretary, Oversees Pro-Industry-Funded Research
Shale Gas, North Carolina
Two of 15 members of a panel set up to write the regulations for hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina have potential conflicts of interest, according to disclosure forms and land records. Both members were assigned to seats that were supposed to go to environmentalists. And the chairman of the state Mining and Energy Commission says he intends to move swiftly to draft regulations and likens the risks of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, to the chances of getting hit in the head with a meteorite.
All of this has environmentalists wondering how impartial the panel will be.
“We were well aware that most of these appointees…were folks that were pro-fracking,” Hope Taylor, executive director of Clean Water for North Carolina says. “Many of them have been overtly, outspokenly pro-drilling.” Continue reading Pro-Industry Interests Dominate N.C. Commission Writing Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations