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Energy department grants export approval to plant

 

A decision to grant conditional approval to Dominion Cove Point to export domestically produced liquefied natural gas (LNG) to non-Free Trade Agreement (FTA) countries is drawing a mixed reaction. The opponents of the expansion of the Cove Point LNG Plant in Lusby are fretting about the potential adverse impacts to the environment while proponents are touting the anticipated economic windfall.

 

The conditional approval was granted by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Wednesday, Sept. 11.

In a DOE press release, federal officials stated the approval was contingent upon an environmental review and final regulatory approval, the facility is conditionally authorized to export at a rate of up to 0.77 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day for a period of 20 years. Dominion Cove Point had received approval to export natural gas to FTA nations in October of 2011.

Federal officials cited the expanded plant’s potential for creating more jobs as a key reason for granting the approval.

“We agree with the Department of Energy’s decision that exports are expected to bring economic benefits to the country, said Dominion President and CEO Thomas F. Farrell II. “It’s good news on many fronts, including the thousands of new jobs that will be created, the boost in government revenues that will result and the support it provides to allied nations. Dominion Cove Point is an ideal location for a cost-effective and environmentally compatible export facility.”

The plan to expand the Cove Point facility within its boundaries is estimated to cost between $3.4 billion and $3.8 billion. An application for project approval was filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in March.

Dominion has already signed terminal service agreements with U.S. companies tethered to larger entities in Japan and India.

“It’s going to contribute to the county greatly with the added employment,” said Calvert County Commissioners’ President Pat Nutter [R].

The DOE’s action is being denounced by several environmental groups, including a familiar Dominion nemesis, the Sierra Club. Environmentalists’ primary concern appears to be the likely ramping up of the controversial hydraulic technique known as “fracking.”

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