Is this one of those capitalism issues? America should be striving with all of our might to achieve energy independence. We need to be transforming rapidly to a renewable energy economy. Using natural gas that is a cleaner burning fossil fuel should be part of the transformation strategy. Yet, there is a story today in the Washington Post about producers wanting to ship liquid natural gas offshore. Does that make sense?
It may make sense to capitalists who may be able to earn a higher price in other markets, even though there are hurdles. But, that begs the question. What is our national energy strategy? What is Congress doing to guide the private sector toward supporting it? What is President Obama doing in concert with Congress to accelerate our transformation to a sustainable economy under a renewable energy paradigm? That should be one of the most urgent topics in politics today.
Steven Mufson writes about potential methane leaks from the production process that can be as harmful to the environment as letting the Chinese just burn coal. He says the Energy Department knows the problem and the risk. Well, why aren’t they addressing the problem?
“Exporting U.S. natural gas isn’t as “clean” as you think
BY STEVEN MUFSON
June 9 at 10:46 am
One of the rallying cries in favor of liquefying and exporting U.S. natural gas has been to help reduce greenhouse gases in other countries, by crowding out coal in Asia and Europe. Yet tucked into an Energy Department report on LNG exports is a different view: That U.S. exports of LNG to China could end up being worse from a greenhouse gas perspective than if China simply built a new power plant and burned its own coal supplies. The report also says that the climate benefits of exporting LNG to other countries are modest.
The report is titled “Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Perspective on Exporting Liquefied Natural Gas from the United States.”
It says the benefits of cleaner, more efficient combustion of natural gas are largely offset by methane leakage in U.S. production and pipelines and by methane leaks and energy used in the process of liquefying and transporting the LNG. In the case of shipping LNG from the U.S. gulf coast to Shanghai, the greenhouse gas benefits could in some cases be completely offset by those factors when measured over a 20-year period, the report says.
The Energy Department report was released May 30 when the department announced that it would no longer issue preliminary approvals for LNG export permits that are needed for shipments to countries without free trade agreements with the United States.
Critics of LNG exports say that the report buttresses their arguments. Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action, which is trying to block a Dominion Resources-owned LNG export terminal in Cove Point, Md., said that the report would cast LNG exports in an even worse light if it used what he called more realistic leakage estimates for U.S. production and pipeline transportation.
“If their analysis is overlaid with more realistic foreign and domestic leakage assumptions, it becomes clear that the immediate climate impacts of LNG would be much worse for the climate than coal if exports began today,” he said.”