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Obama Hints at Increasing LNG Exports as Environmentalists Push Back

Issei Kato / Reuters/Landov

A liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage tank at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Futtsu Thermal Power Station, east of Tokyo. Japan has had to increase its imports of LNG since the Fukushima disaster reduced its supply of nuclear energy.

The Financial Times reports that President Obama may be ready to support more exports of liquefied natural gas, after the President was quoted this weekend saying the U.S. may be a net exporter of natural gas by 2020. The push for exports comes from the natural gas industry, which has experienced a boom in shale gas production that has pushed down prices nationwide while prices overseas remain high.
The Department of Energy is considering new applications for LNG export terminals. One of those proposals would be in Cove Point, Maryland, a facility owned by Dominion Resources along the Chesapeake Bay. It’s the closest proposal to Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale. A coalition of environmental groups has filed public comments against the plan. The Sierra Club, along with a number of local groups have asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement on the project.
“The communities that surround the Chesapeake depend on the Bay and its rivers for our food, livelihood and way of life,” said Robin Broder, Vice President of Potomac Riverkeeper in a release. “It’s unthinkable that federal officials would rubber stamp this project without a careful look at how our Bay and upstream communities and natural resources will be affected by increased fracking for natural gas.”
The groups say their greatest concern is the increase in ship traffic in the Bay, which could release wastewater while carrying the highly explosive LNG.
Another group that opposes new export terminals is the manufacturing industry, which has seen an uptick in domestic production because of low natural gas prices.
In April, Dominion Resources announced deals to export the gas to India and Japan from the Cove Point plant.

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