MALIBU – The Malibu City Council tonight unanimously adopted a resolution to oppose the Cabrillo Deepwater Port Project planned off the coast of Malibu. Local citizen and activists Natalie Soloway spoke before the council to raise awareness of an upcoming screening of the al Gore film An Inconvenient Truth to be held this Friday September 15 at 7:00 PM.
The screening will be prefaced by a $250 suggested donation fundraiser hosted by local actor and activist Pierce Brosnan and held at the Michael Landon Center. The event is co-hosted by Coastal Advocates-California Coastal Protection Network.
The city has been officially opposing the Cabrillo Port project since May of this year. At that time the Council offered up $50,000 in funds to help oppose the project and have added the item to the list of issues the city’s consultant firm is to pursue.
The BHP facility is the planned deepwater Cabrillo Port. Its mooring, if the facility is approved, would be in 2,900 feet of water 13.83 miles off the Ventura County and Los Angeles County shoreline near Lea Carrillo State Beach and the Malibu city limit. The port would be moored for a minimum forty-years, however the license would have no firm expiration date.
Cabrillo Port is a planned three football fields long and fourteen to sixteen stories high massive structure. The port would berth three large spherical Moss tanks and store 73-milion gallons of LNG. However, the design plans include a second berthing. The three tanks rise more than 160 feet off the water making them visible from Malibu and Oxnard.
The Cabrillo Port is an untried technology project that will use pipes to transport LNG that burns at a higher BTU than natural gas. Pipes have been an issue in the East Coast. Because of the industrial process of liquefying and regasifying LNG, new chemical compositions are created that we do not yet fully understand.
In 2005, Washington Gas, a District of Columbia Utility identified approximately 1,400 leaks in a 100-square mile area in the county.
The DC Utility released that the unusual leak patterns resulted from the deterioration of rubber seals contained in mechanical couplings, which join sections of distribution mains and service lines.
Washington Gas engaged ENVIRON International Corp., Polymer Solutions, Inc., and Akron Rubber Development Laboratory in February to investigate and identify the root cause and possible solutions.
ENVIRON, the lead consultant, investigated a number of plausible factors that could have precipitated the premature deterioration of seals in the affected area. It also isolates three leading contributors: winter ground temperatures, aging seals, and gas composition.
Based on the findings, the DC Utility released that the chemical composition of the gas that supplies the affected areas of Prince George’s County was the key contributing factor that precipitated the deterioration of rubber seals.
Washington Gas estimates the costs of the repairs at $144 million, which will be offset by consumers of the gas.
The affected area of Prince George’s County is supplied with natural gas from the Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in southern Maryland. The terminal is owned and operated by Dominion Resources and has supplied the affected area in Prince George’s County for the past two years. The gate station that delivers gas supply to the affected area serves as the primary transfer point for Cove Point gas in that region.
The Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) comes from a plant in Calvert County. The plant’s is owned by a Virginia-based company called Dominion Resources, one of the nation’s largest producers of energy that includes coal, nuclear, gas, oil and hydro and a $13.97 Billion company. Dominion has applied for an expansion of the Calvert County.
Washington Gas has filed a protest with federal authorities against Dominion’s expansion, blaming the energy giant’s imported LNG for the leaks over the last couple of winters, including an explosion at a District Heights home in 2005.
Baltimore State Senator Norman Stone has sponsored legislation which would not only block the $740 million expansion plan but also force the facility to shut down.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) projects continued demand for LNG in every market sector. By 2020, 14 per cent of U.S. natural gas supply may come from imported LNG, an increase from the 2 per cent that is currently imported.
Trying to fuel your home’s stove, range top, water heater, dryer, furnace, or hearth with these imports could result in some unpleasant risks that are not being addressed, namely elevated carbon monoxide emissions, increased yellow tipping, and firing rates that exceed nameplate rating.
The LNG industry is experimenting to find acceptable levels of BTU for LNG so there would be a compatibility with the U.S. standard rating for BTU’s and appliances. However, with the changing molecular levels of the gas, there is no guarantee the risks will be acceptably alleviated. The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is investigating the need to address LNG interchangeability in the U.S.
In California, legislation SB426 which is currently held at desk, would require the California Energy Commission to evaluate and rank every proposed liquefied natural gas terminal and directs the Governor to disapprove an application for a license to construct and operate an LNG terminal if the project does not meet identified criteria. An LNG terminal would be approved if it were evaluated and ranked by CEC and is one of the two highest ranked sites.
LNG is a natural gas that is cooled to minus 260 degrees, condensed 600 times and is then stored in tanks. Currently there are only four onshore LNG plants based in the Continental United States but none existing and functioning anywhere in the world such as the BHP Billiton off-shore proposal near Malibu and Oxnard.
BHP has been the largest spender in lobbying. The global mining giant has spent $1.8 million at the state level, a figure that does not include the federal level. The company has courted Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sending him on trips to Australia and buddying up to his administration as the decision process continues.
The very idea of such a project off the coast of Malibu has brought record numbers out to town hall style meetings, brought together people who normally would be politically opposed into LNG taskforce type meetings and seen a barrage of letters to the editors of local newspapers who cannot seem to say enough to oppose the project.
LNG licenses fall under the Deepwater Port Act of 1974. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Services Center defines the Deepwater Port Act of 1974 as provision for authority for the Secretary of Transportation to issue licenses for the ownership, construction and operation of deepwater ports (33 U.S.C. 1503).
And, the Deepwater Port Act further defines the parameters for the applicant as follows:
Applicants for a license must meet certain criteria, including the demonstration that the project will be constructed with the best technology to minimize adverse impacts on the marine environment and compliance with the Clean Water Act, Federal Water Pollution Control Act, Coastal Zone Management Act, and Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act.
And even where the authority to decide if a project should have a license or not has come under fire. Schwarzenegger has made it known he feels the decision should fall at the Gubernatorial level. Bush has made it clear the decision should fall under the federal purview. One thing that is clear: LNG will be a debated issue as long as energy crises are the result of corruption, greed and lack of accountability to Utility Commissions that cut off contracts from one provider in favor of other providers.
Originally published in PCH Press © 2006 All rights reserved worldwide.
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