Does Anyone Take Energy Security Seriously?

By April 14, 2008Energy

From Oregon:

Opponents of a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal upriver from Astoria are taking their fight to overturn Clatsop County’s zoning approvals for the project to a ballot measure and the state land-use appeals board.

From Connecticut and New York:

Connecticut and New York opponents of the Broadwater LNG received a generous helping of good news yesterday afternoon when Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced that N.Y. Gov. David A. Paterson rejected the proposal.
“We did it,” said Rell in a press release. Foes of Broadwater’s project feared the liquid natural gas (LNG) proposal could radically alter Long Island Sound.

The answer to the rhetorical question is, yes, at least in Oregon, the Clatsop County Commissioners took the issue of energy security (and public safety, and the environment, and the local economy) seriously. And there are many, many other proponents of LNG projects. But NIMBY groups and the anti-prosperity crowd on the environmental left keep throwing up obstacles.

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  • Gordo says:

    It is exactly for national security reasons I opposed the Broadwater project. See below. I live nowhere near where the facility would be so no NIMBY is involved. Is what I say “imaginative”? Well, I hope so as the official Keane-Hamilton 9/11 report said one of he largest failings of that event was a a failure of imagination:

    Gas Terminal Could Leave Us Vulnerable
    The Hartford Courant
    January 15, 2006

    The events of Sept. 11, 2001, were supposed to change the way we think about national security. If the discussion surrounding the proposed Broadwater liquefied natural gas facility planned for Long Island Sound is any indication, our thinking hasn’t changed.

    Proponents have emphasized our need for this energy at lower cost without balancing the inherent danger of increasing our dependence upon it. The risk, as indicated by the involvement of members of Congress from shoreline districts and the decision to hold hearings only in shoreline towns, is viewed as local.

    What discussion there has been of terrorism and Broadwater centers only on the destruction of the facility itself, maybe with the loss of a few dozen lives. While this of course would be tragic, the timing of a terrorist act could create a much greater catastrophe. Consider:

    There will be a large amount of LNG at this facility and at the one in Everett, Mass., which is being expanded. In just five years, we could become heavily dependent on the fuel at these facilities. If terrorists were to destroy the two facilities simultaneously on a frigid day like one we experienced in, say, December 1989, we might see catastrophic human suffering as a result. At the time, temperatures were in the 10 degree-below-zero range for days on end.

    It would be especially disastrous if terrorists were smart enough (and they are) to wait for an ice storm as in 1973 when the state was a virtual skating rink, which would hamper use of emergency vehicles to move people to shelters or to even refuel emergency generators. In 1989, we used almost no gas for electric generation – not the situation today or tomorrow. A successful attack would mean limited gas for heating and the electricity to run most furnaces and boilers. Neither our cities, buildings or transportation system are built under sustainability guidelines nor provide the resilience that might mitigate the catastrophic effects of such an attack.

    If this scenario sounds preposterous, remember the caution from the 9/11 Commission that the major problem on 9/11 was a “failing of imagination.” We must do far better to imagine other scenarios and the consequences in lives and economic losses that could accompany increased dependence on LNG.

    Then consider that the second-largest source of foreign LNG is Algeria ( the island nation of Trinidad and Tabago is currently No.1) and that the glossy Broadwater publication about the Long Island Sound project indicates that Algeria may be a primary source for this facility.

    In 1991, Algeria was about to have free elections but it was about to become what author Fareed Zakaria has called a “one man, one vote, once” situation, as fundamentalists were poised to win the election. That would have been the last election after sharia, or Islamic holy law, was put in place. The military sprang a coup instead, but left another politically fragile situation.

    Finally, and quite surprisingly, the aforementioned No.1 supplier of LNG, Trinidad and Tobago, has its own small but homegrown jihadist group, Jamaat-al Muslimeen, which already attempted a coup in 1990.

    In light of this, it is almost unconceivable that we purposely want to further expose ourselves to even greater dependency on the politics of jihadist Islam by increasing importation of LNG. While the availability of that source might continue (and it might not) it would probably be at a higher cost then we would like. That might destroy the economics of the Broadwater project, leaving us with a derelict structure in the Sound that might have to be dismantled at taxpayer expense.

    For these reasons, and numerous others, this new facility has not yet passed the sniff test and requires far more scrutiny than it has gotten. Last February, after letting my security concerns be known, I was asked to meet with representatives of the Broadwater project. Armed with 21/2 pages of questions, I managed to ask about a quarter of them. I found their answers insufficient to allay my fears and their attitude dismissive.

    Gov. M. Jodi Rell has appointed a task force to study the implications of building the Broadwater facility. One hopes the task force members go beyond the obvious in their investigations. They should examine the many environmental objections, and expand their inquiry into energy and national security considerations.

    They must ask the tough questions, and not suffer the same failures of imagination that brought us Pearl Harbor and Sept. 11.

    Joel Gordes , a former Air Force officer and former state legislator, is an consultant on energy issues including those involving energy security. His office is in West Hartford.

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