|Millennium Pipeline, Catatonk NY|
One of the key selling points that gas industry spokesmen hammer time and again is that shale gas (and other gas) will provide a domestic source of energy for Americans – so we don’t have to import dirty petroleum products from overseas. The gas reservoirs in Marcellus, and now the Utica shales, could last us 20 to 30 years, they say. Maybe even longer.
But over the past half year it’s become clear that economics trumps patriotism. With the price of gas falling – down to around $4/mcf (thousand cubic feet), gas companies are looking beyond our borders to sell their gas. Their reasoning? Too much gas. So they’re asking the US Department of Energy for permission to ship the gas overseas.
Back in May the DOE quietly approved plans for CheniereEnergy to export 2.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from its Sabine Pass, La., port terminal.
Now, Dominion Resources has announced plans to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to “any country with which the US does not prohibit trade”. The company has already filed with the Department of Energy requesting permission to export up to 1 billion cubic feet per day from its Dominion Cove Point facility on the Chesapeake Bay in Lusby, Md.
There will be many advantages, they point out:
- It would provide needed markets to support domestic natural gas industry growth;
- It could improve balance of trade by at least $2.8 billion annually;
- It could increase government revenue by almost $1 billion annually;
- It could add more than 7,000 short-term jobs nationally during peak of construction and approximately 14,600 permanent oil and gas industry jobs once in operation.
I admit, I’m confused. If we’re drilling to stop importing fuel, and we’ve gotta hurry up and get this Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) approved so the rigs can move into NY to extract this much-needed fuel, why exactly are we giving it away? And if we’re sacrificing clean air and water for an energy source that will reduce our dependence on coal, why are we giving it away? And if we really are “drilling a well to bring home a soldier”, why are we giving it away?