VICTORY - Blanco vetoes McMoRan's proposed LNG project
The Associated Press
5/5/2006, 9:21 p.m. CT
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. Kathleen Blanco late Friday vetoed a proposed offshore natural gas port over concerns that fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico could be harmed.
Blanco had until Sunday to file any objections to a proposed federal license for the Main Pass Energy Hub, a liquefied natural gas terminal being sought by Freeport McMoRan Energy LLC, a subsidiary of New Orleans-based McMoRan Exploration Co.
"Until studies demonstrate that the operation of the open rack vaporizer will not have an unacceptable impact on the surrounding ecosystem, I will only support LNG terminals using a closed loop system having negligible impacts to marine life," Blanco said in a letter sent Friday to Julie A. Nelson, acting deputy maritime administrator and chief counsel for the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Bill Collier, vice president of communications for Freeport McMoRan, said they were disappointed by the governor's decision.
"The Coast Guard and Maritime Administration after a two-year study projected only minor impacts from our project," Collier said. "We committed to make design changes that would significantly reduce those minor impacts to a negligible level. The EPA also recommended approval of our project."
Asked what McMoran's next step would be, Collier said, "At this point, we will have to review our options."
Only one LNG port exists in the Gulf but several other ports are proposed off Louisiana's coast.
Blanco acknowledged that several industry sources assurred the state that the use of the proposed technology would minimally impact the environment and fisheries. But she said those assurances were not supported by any "persuasive scientific studies or data."
"On the contrary, a number of government agencies and councils, both state and federal, after reviewing the available scientific data, have uniformly and consistently expressed significant concerns regarding the use of any ORV system as part of the proposed LNG facilities in the Gulf," she said.
The companies behind the projects, including McMoRan, Shell and ConocoPhillips, want to use a technology that uses billions of gallons of Gulf seawater annually to warm the gas, which is shipped by tanker in a supercooled state. So far, the companies have resisted calls to adopt a more expensive technology that uses far less seawater.
"This sends McMoRan back to the drawing board and they can come back with a different proposal or new technology," said Aaron Viles, campaign director of the Gulf Restoration Network. "We think this is an important step and we're proud of the governor's willingness to stand up for Gulf fish populations."
McMoRan said that the project's annual economic impact will be $85.6 million, and that it will produce as many as 900 jobs over a three-year design and construction period. The terminal would be located about 16 miles east of the mouth of the Mississippi River in 210 feet of water.
The facility would unload up to 350 billion cubic feet of imported fuel annually.
Another terminal, Shell's Gulf Landing, received its federal license last year but has not been built yet. Environmental groups have sued to stop construction.
At the time of Gulf Landing's approval, Shell agreed to the state's demand for a three-year monitoring program to gauge its potential environmental effect.
The Coast Guard, which conducted an environmental review of Main Pass, last month, said the marine impacts of the facility would be moderate to minor.
McMoRan officials said they would tailor their operations to reduce any impact, including adding mesh screens to keep marine life out of the seawater intake pipes and placing the intakes at depths where few eggs or larvae exist.
Also, they pledged to shut down the Main Pass terminal if there is no way to avoid or mitigate the deaths of redfish, shrimp, tuna or other species.
"Our concern is not with the company but rather with the technology they plan to employ in the proposed LNG terminal," said Coastal Conservation Association Louisiana President Nelson Roth Jr. "The governor's decision does not prevent McMoRan Exploration from moving forward using other reheating technologies that carry less potential to harm the marine environment."
While many Gulf residents are busy rebuilding their homes and lives, energy corporations are working to develop off-shore terminals in the Gulf of Mexico for importing natural gas.
Known as liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, as many as seven could be located off the Central Gulf Coast.
All of the off-shore terminals are currently designed to use technology that will needlessly kill billions of fish eggs, larvae, and zooplankton every day, jeopardizing important fisheries and the economies that rely on them. Fortunately, there are fish-friendly, cost-effective alternatives. Oil companies are using these alternatives elsewhere in the country, but not offshore in the Gulf.
Given the beating the Gulf has taken during this recent overactive hurricane season, the last thing the fishing community needs is another hit to our natural resources!
To learn more about this issue, and send a comment to the Coast Guard and your Governor, demanding that only fish-friendly alternatives are permitted in the Gulf, use this link: http://gumboalliance.org
Help us meet our goal of sending 5,000 faxes to the Coast Guard and Gulf Governors. The comment periods ends on April 17, so visit the link today and ask five of your friends to do the same.
Public meetings on these terminals have been scheduled for this week - Please consider attending one of these important opportunities to show your support for fish-friendly energy in the Gulf. http://healthygulf.org/fisheries/LNG/EIS.htm
Coalition asks court to reject liquefied natural gas terminal opposed by several groups. Read more here »
You may have heard about proposals to use Gulf of Mexico waters to cool several new LNG facilities proposed in the Gulf which could harm fisheries. The Delta Chapter has created this page of information on LNG issues. See the Conservation Issue Fact Sheets section below for a fact sheet on the issue. You can also check out this page produced by our friends in the Mississippi Chapter.
Gumbo Alliance tell Coast Guard, McMoran: NO FISH FOR FUEL
For more information:
Aaron Viles, Gulf Restoration Network
w: 504-525-1528 ext. 207 c: 723-3855
NEW ORLEANS – The unlikely coalition of recreational and commercial fishermen, shrimpers, and environmental groups, the “Gumbo Alliance for Safe LNG,” are continuing to voice their opposition to LNG terminal proposals for the Gulf of Mexico which would use an open-rack vaporizer or “open-loop” system. This time the group has set their sights on Freeport McMoRan’s Main Pass terminal proposed for 16 miles of Louisiana’s Southeast coast. The group gathered prior to the public hearing on the Main Pass draft environmental impact statement.
A. J. Fabre, President of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, pointed out, “Off-shore LNG terminals don’t have to be a bad thing. We would all like more affordable energy. But McMoRan and the other corporations seeking to operate off-shore LNG terminals are all ignoring the practical alternatives of closed-loop or forced-air technology. LNG in the Gulf must not impact our fisheries.”
Mike Lane, Publisher of the sportsman website RodNReel.com, has been active in the campaign from the start. “Freeport McMoRan want to locate their fish-killing machine in the middle of some of the best fishing in the area – an area that fishermen can’t legally catch redfish, and have strict limits for red snapper and other fish. Yet Freeport proposes to kill billions of fish eggs and larva? It defies common-sense. We’ve got a huge list of over 70 groups and individuals that oppose open-loop terminals. It seems like the only people who are willing to gamble with the Gulf’s fish are the oil companies and the federal government. It’s outrageous.”
Charlie Smith, the Director of the Louisiana Charter Boat Association, added, “We’re amazed that McMoRan and the other oil and gas corporations have continued to push their flawed, open-loop proposals – the Governor has made it quite clear that she’s heard the concerns of Louisiana sportsmen and will stop any open-loop terminals that haven’t received permits. They need to go back to the drawing board, because Louisiana ain’t buying what they’re selling!”
The groups have long been concerned about cumulative impacts of multiple terminals operating in tandem. Aaron Viles of the Gulf Restoration Network pointed out that “the Western Gulf of Mexico could see eight of these terminals by the time the dust settles Each would be chilling, chlorinating and in effect sterilizing hundreds of millions of gallons of Gulf seawater, every single day. The fertile fishery crescent could soon become just another dead zone.”
Darryl Malek Wiley of the Sierra Club voiced significant concerns about the permitting process. “These terminals are rocketing through the process – mistakes are being made, and the public hasn’t had sufficient time to analyze the proposals,” Malek-Wiley stated, referring to recent revisions to the fisheries impacts of the Main Pass Terminal. “The public deserves a ‘time-out.’”
Imported natural gas, shipped to the U.S. in a -260°F liquefied form, needs to be warmed to be “re-gasified,” and then delivered to the existing gas pipeline infrastructure. Eight of the 22 facilities proposed for the Western Gulf intend to use an open-rack vaporizer, or open-loop system, running Gulf seawater through radiator-like racks. One terminal alone could use up to 200 million gallons of Gulf water a day to “re-gasify” the natural gas.
The drastic temperature change and physical damage caused by the process will destroy fish eggs and larva by the billions. Because the open-loop LNG facilities are proposed for areas that are considered essential fish habitat for a vast range of Gulf sea life, fisheries managers from the National Marine Fisheries Services, the Gulf States Marine Fish Commission, and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council are unified in their opposition to the use of the open-loop system due to the potentially significant cumulative impacts these facilities could have on critical fisheries such as redfish, shrimp, crabs, and others.
LNG facilities threaten Gulf fisheries
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals pose a developing threat to commercial and recreational fishing in the Gulf. With 22 facilities proposed for the western Gulf, LNG could have a huge impact on our region. Imported natural gas, shipped to the U.S. in a liquefied form, needs to be warmed to be “re-gasified,” and then delivered to our gas pipeline infrastructure.
Seven of the 22 facilities intend to use an open rack vaporizer, or open loop system, running Gulf seawater through radiator-like racks. One terminal alone could use up to 200 million gallons of Gulf water a day to “re-gasify” the natural gas. The drastic temperature change and physical damage caused by the process will destroy fish eggs and larva by the billions. Closed-loop systems, though more expensive to the gas companies, would be significantly less destructive to our fisheries.
Open-loop LNG terminals are currently proposed in essential habitat for shrimp, redfish (red drum), Spanish and king mackerel, red snapper, cobia, dolphin, and blue fin tuna among others.
While the energy industry is important to the Gulf, our commercial and recreational fishing industries are critical as well, generating $800 million in commercial landings and $5.6 billion in recreational expenditures annually.
We must not jeopardize our fisheries in a rush to develop LNG terminals
While the process to approve Liquefied Natural Gas LNG facilities has been fast-tracked by the Bush administration, state Governors have veto power over facilities in or near their states. It is important to let the Coast Guard and these LNG companies know that open loop systems cannot come to the Gulf.
Write to Governor Blanco and ask her to veto all future terminals using the open loop system. She should also request that the Coast Guard and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (the agencies charged with granting permits for LNG facilities) complete a cumulative environmental impact analysis of all proposed LNG facilities using the open loop system.
Send your letter to:
Office of the Governor
Attn: Constituent Services
P.O. Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004
Fax your letter to: (225) 342-7099
Sample Letter -
Dear Governor Blanco -
I am writing to ask you to veto all future LNG facilities off the coast of Louisiana that are using the open loop system, also known as open rack vaporizers (ORV). It is important to let the Coast Guard and these LNG companies know that open loop systems cannot come to the Gulf. I am also asking you to request the Coast Guard and FERC complete a cumulative analysis of all environmental impacts from the numerous LNG facilities proposed in the Gulf.
Seven of the 22 LNG facilities proposed in the Gulf of Mexico intend to use an open loop system. One terminal alone could use up to 200 million gallons of Gulf water a day to “re-gasify” the natural gas. The drastic temperature change and physical damage caused by the process will destroy fish eggs and larva by the billions. For example, Shell’s Gulf Landing facility could impact red drum in the Gulf by as much as the equivalent of 3.8% of Louisiana’s annual landings according to the latest analysis.
The potential negative impact of open loop flow-through systems must be prevented. The devastating impacts to our marine resources are easily avoided by requiring LNG facilities to use closed loop systems. We need your support to protect the important marine resources in the Gulf of Mexico.
Existing and proposed LNG facilities in the Gulf of Mexico
D. Lake Charles, LA: Southern Union—Trunkline LNG
1. Lake Charles, LA: Southern Union—Trunkline LNG
2. Hackberry, LA: Sempra Energy
5. Freeport, TX: Cheniere/Freeport LNG
6. Sabine, LA: Cheniere LNG
8. Port Pelican, off shore: ChevronTexaco
9. Energy Bridge, off shore: El Paso
24. Gulf Landing, off shore: Shell
50. Altamira, MX: Shell & El Paso
12. Corpus Christi, TX: Cheniere LNG
13. Corpus Christi, TX: ExxonMobil - switched to non-open loop
14. Sabine, TX: ExxonMobil - switched to non-open loop
17. Corpus Christi, TX: Ingleside Energy/Occidental Energy
19. Port Arthur, TX: Sempra
22. Pascagoula, MS: Gulf LNG Energy
26. Main Pass, off shore: McMoRan
27. Compass Port, off shore: ConocoPhillips
28. Pearl Crossing, off shore: ExxonMobil
29. Beacon Port, off shore: ConocoPhillips
36. Galveston, TX: BP—switched to non-open loop
37. Port Lavaca, TX: Calhoun LNG
39. Pascagoula, MS: ChevronTexaco
40. Cameron, LA: Cheniere LNG
42. Freeport, TX: Cheniere/Freeport LNG
Open loop systems in bold
Victory: BP Provides LNG Leadership!
As reported in the January 25 edition of the Galveston County Daily News, BP has decided against the use of an open loop “regasification” process at its proposed Pelican Island terminal outside Galveston, Texas.
“A vital factor was the conclusion that use of open rack and seawater are not a good fit for the particular environmental conditions of Galveston Bay,” said Bob Boyce, director of BP Bay Crossing, the proposed LNG terminal on 185 acres of Pelican Island.
“We listened very carefully to the issues and concerns that were raised by the citizens of Galveston and factored these views directly into our decision-making process,” Boyce said.
Organizations and individuals opposed to open-loop LNG terminals in the Gulf of Mexico (as of July 20, 2005):
- Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
- (Former) Governor Mike Foster
- Senator Walter Boasso
- CCA-North Carolina
- CCA-New Hampshire
- CCA-South Carolina
- CCA-New York
- Louisiana Charter Boat Association
- Gulf Restoration Network
- Sierra Club-Delta Chapter
- Louisiana Shrimp Association
- Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
- The Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council
- The Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission
- The Louisiana Environmental Action Network
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Sport Fishing Magazine
- Louisiana Seafood Advisory Board
- The Times-Picayune (New Orleans)
- The Advocate (Baton Rouge)
- Louisiana Sportsman Magazine
- Senator Mary Landrieu
- Gulf Fisheries Alliance
- Great Days Outdoors Magazine
- RESTORE (Restore Explicit Symmetry To Our Ravaged Earth)
- Marsh & Bayou Magazine
- Alliance for Affordable Energy
- Association of FAmily Fishermen
- Atchafalaya Basinkeeper
- Louisiana Bayoukeeper
- NOAA Fisheries
- Terrebonne Fisherman's Organization
- United Commercial Fisherman's Association
- Louisiana Legislature (via SCR 117)
- Sierra Club - Galveston Regional Group
- Sierra Club - Mississippi Chapter
- Sierra Club - Lone Star Chapter
- Calhoun County Resource Watch
- Sierra Club - Coastal Bend Regional Group
- Galveston Bay Foundation
- Sierra Club - Golden Triangle Regional Group
- Houston Audubon Society
- Sierra Club - Houston Regional Group
- Houston Underwater Club
- Scenic Galveston
- Mobile Bay Watch, Inc./Mobile Baykeeper
- Informed Choices
- Advocates for Environmental Human Rights
- Galveston Bay Conservation & Preservation Association (GBCPA)
- Mississippi Commision on Marine Resources
- Mississippi Department of Marine Resources
- East Ascension Sportsman's League, Inc.
- Texas Shrimp Association
- Lyda Ann Thomas, Mayor of Galveston
- Dr. Craig Gauthier
- Senator (elect) Julie Quinn, Louisiana
- Governor Haley Barbour, Mississippi
- Governor Bob Riley, Alabama
- PISCES (Professional Involvement in Seafood Concerned Enterprises)
- Calhoun County Resource Watch (Seadrift, Texas)
- Jack Chadwick
- The Sun Herald (Biloxi/Gulfport/South Mississippi)
LNG fact sheet:
- LNG fact sheet in a PDF format (609 Kb)
Contact us for more information on LNG:
Delta Chapter LNG email contact: LNG@louisiana.sierraclub.org
Links to more information on LNG:
A very informative LNG page from Public Citizen: http://www.citizen.org/cmep/energy_enviro_nuclear/electricity/Oil_and_Gas/lng/
An editorial from the Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper about Governor Blanco's decision to oppose open loop LNG terminals in the Gulf of Mexico.
Rodnreel.com Web site contains info on LNG from the fisherman's perspective: http://www.rodnreel.com/lng/index.asp
A couple of articles from the above site about LNG: http://www.rodnreel.com/articles/articles.asp?cmd=view&StoryID=782 http://www.rodnreel.com/articles/articles.asp?cmd=view&StoryID=781
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, agency charged with on or near shore permitting: http://www.ferc.gov/industries/gas/indus-act/lng-what.asp
The United States Coast Guard, agency charged with offshore permitting: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/mso/mso5.htm
Minerals Management Services, helpful maps: http://www.gomr.mms.gov/homepg/offshore/LNG/lng_index.html
U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy, report on LNG safety produced by Sandia National Laboratories: http://www.fossil.energy.gov/news/techlines/2004/tl_sandia_lng.html
NOAA Fisheries workshop on LNG. Links to memos and presentations from federal fisheries scientists highlighting concerns about LNG impacts: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/dhc/lng/lng_ws.htm
New Orleans Times Picayune article about LNG facilities:
New Orleans Times Picayune Sports section article about LNG impact to fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico: http://www.nola.com/outdoors/t-p/index.ssf?/base/sports-0/1108883308180510.xml
Biz New Orleans article on veto request of LNG terminal by Louisiana's Governor: http://bizneworleans.com/109+M5bdfbcb1cd7.html
Mobile Register article on LNG safety: http://www.al.com/news/mobileregister/index.ssf?/base/news/109757270533150.xml
Mobile Register - LNG: Analyzing risk: http://www.al.com/specialreport/mobileregister/?lng/archive.html
Anti-Broadwater Coalition (ABC): http://calvertoncivic.org/ABC_LNG_position.htm
LNG Danger To Our Communities: http://www.timrileylaw.com/LNG.htm
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