By Ben Wolfgang-The Washington Times Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Global demand for American natural gas and coal is booming, but recent clashes on both U.S. coasts underscore that getting American supplies to eager foreign buyers will be anything but easy.
Last week, the Sierra Club announced that it would use a unique 1970s environmental agreement to halt the construction of a natural gas liquefaction and export plant at Cove Point in Maryland. Energy giant Dominion, which hopes to build the first such plant on the East Coast, plans to move forward and could end up fighting environmentalists in court.
The coal industry also has proposed massive export facilities in the Pacific Northwest, where millions of tons of American coal would be prepped for shipment to burgeoning markets in Asia.
But those projects have generated an intense backlash from environmentalists and their political allies, most notably Oregon Gov. John A. Kitzhaber, a Democrat who last week urged the federal government to quash the proposals in his state and in neighboring Washington.
His rationale, outlined in a letter to the Defense Department, the Interior Department and the Army Corps of Engineers, highlights an argument against the development and export of fossil fuels.
The U.S., he said, should take global responsibility for carbon emissions, and any study of environmental effects should examine the worldwide ramifications of using coal and natural gas.
“Developing, transporting and using [coal] for energy production in Asia will have significant implications for the trajectory of the world’s transition to cleaner sources of energy,” Mr. Kitzhaber said.