California Closes Its Eyes to Energy Needs

By April 17, 2007Energy, Global Warming

Below we noted the rampant NIMBYism that threatens to cripple U.S. energy supplies — and the manufacturing economy– by rejecting Liquified Natural Gas projects. California is particularly shortsighted, as witness the State Lands Commission and California Coastal Commission’s recent votes against an Australian company’s $800 million liquefied natural gas terminal proposed off the coast near Oxnard.

Thankfully, at least some Californians realize you can’t keep saying no to energy supplies and expect basic things, like jobs. Monday’s Sacramento Bee has an editorial well worth reading in its entirety, but the final paragraph makes the essential point:

Let’s review reality: California is on borrowed time. It is importing roughly a quarter of its electricity from states such as Arizona and Washington that will need more power for their growing populations. California will either have to produce a lot more electricity or reduce demand, likely both. If the concern is air pollution, the worst thing for the air would be to say No to LNG plants here, and let Mexico and Oregon build them. (That would just increase transportation and pollution problems.) The environment doesn’t win by exporting the problem to a neighbor. Saying Yes to LNG — as a necessary part of an overall energy strategy that maintains California as a leader against climate change — would be a saner course than saying No and somehow feeling good about it.

Oregon? Really? As a former Oregonian, we have our doubts that the political will exists there either to buck the environmental fear-mongering and utopian wishing. Mexico, on the other hand

“I think California is a very viable market,” Federal Industry and Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane told reporters at the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference in Adelaide yesterday.

“The opportunities are there still to export gas.” But he said it might be more realistic to build terminals offshore from Mexico and pipe the gas north to California. US company Sempra LNG is already building such a project.

The law of unintended consequences surfaces again. Environmentalists so intent of preventing any change, eliminating any risk, are effectively pushing projects to a country with less regulatory and environment oversight.

UPDATE (9:45 a.m.) Hope springs.

By learning from other energy companies’ mistakes, Esperanza [Esperanza Energy of San Antonio] is hoping to avoid the security and environmental pitfalls that ultimately doomed other sites.

The Port Esperanza project, as it’s called, attempts to bypass three primary concerns people seem to have with LNG terminals – air pollution, security and aesthetics.

More than two years in development, the proposed Esperanza site would sit near existing oil platforms about 15 miles from Long Beach. The terminal would be no larger than half the size of the petroleum platforms.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • John McNary says:

    LNG may prove to be necessary, and may not. The California Public Utlities Commission has NEVER held hearings on the matter, and so far all we have heard is boosters and naysayers.

    Regardless, those of us on the Ventura/Malibu coast are glad to see two state commissions confirm what we have been saying for years:

    Cabrillo Port was an unsafe, poorly-designed polluter. Whether LNG is needed or nor, BHP Billiton gave us what the Ventura County Star today called “four years of drunken recklessness” and a terribly-designed project.

    Port Esperanza may be green, but we’ve been burned twice: in Oxnard and Long Beach, we remember BHPB and SES both telling us they had designed the cleanest-possible plants possible – a big lie that was parroted by others who blindly endorse industrial initiatives, no matter how ill-conceived.

    Woodside may have a clean plan too, but now it turns out they plan to flatten a coral atoll to process and load the California-bound gas.

    California cannot allow a “solution” that increases greenhouse gas enormously – on either side of the globe. How much net GHG will be added by these big energy schemes?

    BHP Billiton’s Big Bertha project alone would have added greenhouse gas by an amount equal to 40 percent of the daily output of New York City.

    Rebuilding the state’s aged natural gas generators would reduce demand for gas by an amount equal to what would have come in thru Cabrillo Port. And significant emission reductions would accompany that.

    Unlike those who have never seen an energy project they didn’t embrace, thank goodness California has a few leaders with the strength to say no to bad ideas. Now, let’s see what Governor Gruen will REALLY do.

    Thank you NAM for focusing more attention on this vital issue. The disinfecttant of sunlight works wonders.