One vote can make a difference. By a 2-1 vote the State Lands Commission rejects LNG Terminal

By a vote of 2-1 “the State Lands Commission rejected a proposed liquefied natural gas facility off the southern California coast.”

For the record, the two in opposition were Democrats Lt. Gov John Garamendi and State Controller John Chiang. This plan rejection confirms that activism is still alive and well in this state as the Sierra Club celebrates this (temporary) victory.

Background: The Australian firm BHP Billiton LNG was hoping to build a floating “terminal” off the southern CA coast from which the gas would be piped onto the mainland and was prepared to invest $800 million into the project. The US Coast Guard had approved the terminal.

Among other applications, liquid natural gas is used as a fuel source for generating electricity in our power plants.

Let me share some data prepared by the California Electricity Oversight Board from Aug 2004 before asking some questions of you, the Juice readers.

Bear in mind our commitment to avoid power outages and broaden our source of supply to keep everyone competitive.

“LNG is shipped from abroad through double-hulled ships (“tankers”) which sometimes reach lengths of 900 feet or more. These tankers hold the equivalent of 2.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas. These tankers dock at ports where facilities have been constructed to unload, process, store and redeliver the LNG. These unloading facilities are called terminals. Unloading one shipload of LNG generally takes 12 hours. In most instances, the unloaded LNG is stored just long enough for it to be either trucked to customers or regasified and delivered into pipelines owned by the other entities.” Note. That is the current plan for the southern CA locations.

“At present North American natural gas prices are being maintained by the market at the level where new foreign LNG shipments can compete with current gas supplies. As North American production increases in price, introduction of foreign LNG into California’s energy markets can hold the line or lower the cost of the state’s energy. Apart from pricing considerations, LNG offers the opportunity to make up for depleted domestic natural gas supplies and lower export levels from Canada. U.S. Government officials and agencies characterize future foreign LNG shipments into the U.S. as an important part of the nation’s overall strategy to meet our energy needs in the years ahead.”

“To date, no LNG import terminals have been constructed within the state of California or in it’s adjacent coastal waters. However, LNG is still used within the state as an alternative fuel for transit buses (the largest being the City of Santa Monica and the Orange County Transit Authority), trash haulers (Cities of San Diego and Sacramento, Riverside County, GTI Rubbish, Norcal Waste Management, and Waste Management, Inc.), and heavy duty trucks, including semi-trucks used in the fleets of several major grocery chains (Vons, Raleys/Bel Air, and Sysco Food Services).”

There is no question that we would welcome every opportunity to wean ourselves from our dependency on fossil fuels and shift to “cleaner renewable alternatives.”

Do you remember the energy crisis where our electric bills went up like a rocket ship? Included in that increase spike, unless I am mistaken, was the cost of natural gas imported from Texas where costs in Arizona were considerably lower than the same natural gas supply the minute it crossed the CA border.

We need to support every possible private sector offer to meet our long term energy goal as long as it does not introduce a safety issue.

In Feb Dem. State Senator Joe Simitian introduced SB 412 as part of our obligation to “certify sufficient sites and related facilities that are required to provide a supply of electricity to accommodate projected demand for power statewide. This bill would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation regarding the siting and construction of liquefied natural gas facilities on or off the coast of California.”

I have read that the governor “does not have a position on this specific project at this point.”

Juice readers. What are your thoughts on this vote?

As our state population is projected to hit 50 million residents isn’t it appropriate to be proactive and plan ahead? Do we need to endure more blackout’s before calling “Red” Adair?

PS: I am a strong supporter of nuclear energy and commend Assemblyman Chuck DeVore for his efforts in promoting this clean alternative energy source!

About Larry Gilbert