Blanco Vetoes Offshore LNG Facility
Governor Blanco made a monumental decision to protect Louisiana's precious natural resources from further desecration by large corporations on Friday. Under the Deepwater Port Act Amendment, the Governors of adjacent coastal states have the power to approve or deny deepwater port liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities such as the Main Pass Energy Hub proposed by Freeport McMoran. The Main Pass LNG facility was an offshore port that proposed to use an "open loop" system to regassify liquefied natural gas brought in on specialized tankers. In a nutshell, this system uses warm Gulf of Mexico waters (off the coast of Louisiana) to heat liquefied natural gas and return it to a gaseous state, which can then be moved into existing pipeline networks. During this process, hundreds of millions of gallons of seawater are rapidly cooled and chlorinated, killing all living organisms in the water (including fish eggs and larvae, such as shrimp, red fish and red snapper) and is then discharged back to the Gulf of Mexico. There are alternate technologies, such as burning some of the natural gas brought to the facility to reheat the liquefied natural gas, but these processes do not net as much profit for the oil companies.
The problem with the Deepwater Port Act is our US Congress and President passed an amendement in 2002 that required the pemit application process for LNG facilities to be completed in 330 days. This does not provide an adequate amount of time for real environmental impact studies to be completed on the types of technologies proposed, such as open loop systems. Although this speedy process greatly benefits oil companies by keeping them from having to truly analyze the potential impacts of their proposed facilities, it leaves all US citizens, and especially those in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama where facilities are proposed, as the big losers. The lack of real environmental impact data keeps everyone in the dark as to the real long-term effects to fisheries and our precious coastal resources from these facilities, and also causes the Governors of adjacent coastal states to have to consider vetoing the application of much needed LNG facilities. The only decision to be made is to either allow unknown risks to already depleted coastal resources or allow for demand of natural gas to further outstrip supply causing ever rising natural gas prices.
What needs to happen is for the oil companies to volunteer (or our elected officials to stand up for the citizens they are supposed to represent) to slow down the process and collect real fisheries and water quality data at the proposed location of their facilities and use the best science available to analyze their impacts. With these real studies, the decision-makers, including our Governor, can make informed decisions about the real impacts to our resources. However, until that time, kudos to Blanco for protecting our coastal resources from further exploitation by big out-of-state oil companies.
TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Blanco, Louisiana, LNG