The usual “progressive” green suspects, including the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and 350.org, have sent a letter to Pres. Obama urging him to require a petty, partisan Keystone-XL-style environmental review, with similar needless delays, for the proposed Cove Point, Maryland liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal. The typical hyperbolic eco-rhetoric is calculated to fund raise and rev up the eco-groups’ obstructive activist bases without any patriotic consideration for greater American prosperity or energy independence.
Recent geopolitical adventures and energy competition have leaders across the political spectrum focused on LNG exports as a strategy for countering Russian leverage over its European energy buyers in the aftermath of President Putin’s seizure of Crimea. Moderate commentary identifies the Keystone XL pipeline as the wrong battle for environmentalists; and that eco-groups objecting to LNG exports now is an even more perverse and subversive green obstruction.
In reference to unproven ”emerging and credible analysis,” the eco- groups’ letter to Obama invokes the widely discredited argument that fracked shale gas is as bad or worse for the environment than coal-fired electric power plants. In a similar eco-group letter sent to Obama one year ago, some of the same groups cited a 2007 paper in Environmental Science & Technology that finds even when converted into LNG, the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of natural gas in electricity generation are significantly lower (50%) than those of coal.
The latest green plea also implies that emissions from fracked shale gas are higher than those for conventional natural gas -- a notion dispelled by a 2013 University of Texas study sponsored by the green elites at the Environmental Defense Fund. It’s also paradoxical that the letter’s authors would choose to cite the International Energy Agency’s 2011 report on a potential “Golden Age of Gas” in support of their claims, because the IEA’s analysis found that shale gas replacements of coal to produce electricity would reduce global GHG emissions by 160 million CO2-equivalent tons annually by 2035.
The letter takes another left turn in suggesting that Pres. Obama increase support for “renewable” wind and solar power instead of supporting natural gas. The contribution of such “renewables” to the U.S. energy mix has grown rapidly, but it remains very small. Despite record U.S. wind turbine and solar power government subsidies, fracked shale gas and shale oil added more than 20 times as much energy output on an equivalent basis in 2012. (Energy Trends Insider, March 20, 2014)
The U.S. can achieve energy security and independence, and become a major energy exporter in spite of disingenuous green subversives. During the oil shortage crisis with Pres. Carter in 1970s, the Democratic congress placed export restrictions (embargoes) on U.S.-produced oil. Pres. Obama should remove the 40 year-old embargoes, as well as his own drilling restrictions on federal lands in light of Asian and European demands for America’s bounty of oil and natural gas. Moreover, Pres. Obama should ignore and scold these subversive eco-groups, and fast-track American port expansions to handle liquefied natural gas (LNG) for export.
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