FERC Commissioner pushes LNG exports to House Subcommitee

Commissioner Tony Clark’s LNG export comments are the pullquote in the U.S. House Committee’s own writeup. His testimony says a surplus of fracked gas in the U.S. is driving both LNG exports and new pipelines. Not customer demand in Florida: producer demand for new markets. Do we want a pipeline through our lands to profit fat cats in Houston?

Given Clark’s background as a public service commissioner in fracking North Dakota, he seems likely to be a fracking, LNG export, and gas pipeline advocate. New FERC Acting Chair Cheryl A. LaFleur’s testimony set the stage for Clark’s remarks:

Increased availability of domestic natural gas and its growing use in power generation also has implications for natural gas infrastructure, which Commissioner Clark will touch on in his testimony.

FERC Commissioner Phillip D. Moeller’s testimony included this Orwellian remark:
Over the last 22 months, the Commission has undertaken significant efforts to address the growing convergence of the natural gas and electric industries through seven technical conferences and regular updates. In November the Commission issued its final rule relating to communications regarding sensitive system information in an effort to open communication channels between interstate natural gas pipelines and operators of wholesale electric markets.

So we should pave the way for natural gas plowing through our property by making communications about it federally sensitive?

Written Testimony of Commissioner Tony Clark
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Before the Committee on Energy and Commerce
Subcommittee on Energy and Power
United States House of Representatives
Hearing on
Evaluating the Role of FERC in a Changing Energy Landscape
December 5, 2013

The large amount of natural gas in the U.S. is also creating an impetus for something that was nearly unimaginable ten or fifteen year ago, LNG export, as opposed to import terminals. This is an area of significant workload increase for the Commission.

Presently, the FERC has thirteen proposed LNG export terminals and three LNG import terminals in some phase of the permitting process. As you would expect, the reviews that entail safely siting large multi-billion dollar energy projects such as these are extensive.

Note he doesn’t say anything about deciding whether to site LNG export terminals, just doing it “safely”. So this FERC Commissioner seems in favor of what another House subcommittee is also pushing: LNG exports.

But what about pipelines? Those are also driven by fossil fuel company fracked shale gas gluts, not by customer demand:

As you might expect, the shale revolution in both liquids and natural gas production is having a tremendous impact on the work of the FERC. We see this in a number of our different jurisdictional areas, which I will now highlight.

One of the areas where the FERC is seeing an impact on our operations as a result of these activities is with regard to pipelines.

As a former state regulator in an energy producing state, I saw first-hand the importance of pipelines in serving new and expanding production areas. Pipelines are not fool-proof, no method of transportation is, but pipelines are still the safest, most efficient way to get a vitally important product to market.

Solar panels don’t blow up, or corrode and leak, or spill PCBs. And he didn’t actually say there was market demand; just that producers want to get it to markets.

For those producing regions of the country, pipelines help decrease over-the-road traffic; a very real problem in certain areas.

Solar doesn’t require any over-the-road traffic after it’s installed, and it also doesn’t drill under roads, rivers, and into aquifers.

Producers, mineral rights owners and all levels of government benefit by being able to receive greater value for the product when there is access to available takeaway capacity.

Translation: fat cats want to get richer by plowing a pipeline through your property.

For consumers, pipelines mean better access to affordable supplies of energy.

Really? So why did the Florida PSC approve a rate hike for the Sabal Trail pipeline? Why did Georgia Power rase rates to pay for natural gas?

For businesses, this means a lower cost of production and greater global competitiveness.

And there’s the real reason: profit for fossil fuel companies. With “greater global competitiveness” meaning LNG exports.

For all of us, and our environment included, pipeline access, along with new associated processing facilities mean reduced flaring and conservation of an important natural resource.

Solar power does not flare, and conserves real natural resources such as our rivers and aquifer, while even preserving the “natural resource” of “natural” fracked gas by keeping it in the ground.

As the Committee is aware, the FERC has broad oversight of both economic and siting regulation of the natural gas pipeline industry. In recent years, the Commission has seen a shift in this type of work as industry responds to the burgeoning shale plays.

Shale gas basins have seen significant pipeline investment. Shale basin pipeline projects that are either in-service or in some stage of FERC permitting total 3,427 miles of pipe, delivering 31,412 MMcf/d of capacity, with a total investment of over $18 billion.

There you have it again: new pipelines are not being driven by customer demand. They are being driven by fracking producing a surplus of gas that its fat-cat producers in Houston want to market. Somewhere, Florida, India, China, anywhere, and none of the FERC Commissioners mentioned any concern about gashing through your property to do that. You could suggest to them they should be concerned.

Here is video of the whole hearing:


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