Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
These diaries are much appreciated, Jerome.

A couple of thoughts from the non-technical viewpoint:

Unconventional oil was supposed to be The Next Big Thing in the '70s but ran into market realities. I don't see that changing unless or until oil gets over $100/bbl.

LNG is also supposed to be wonderful, and indeed it is a good fuel, clean and efficient. It suffers from being Geographically Undesirable. It's tricky to transport, and dangerous.

Where I live, on the coast of Maine, there's been a concerted effort for a while now to get the OK to build an LNG terminal. Promises of jobs, jobs, the golden grail. Such talk carefully omits the information that only low-level local jobs will be created, and the few professional ones will be filled by imported talent.

So far, it's been rejected by at least three cities/towns that I recall (start at the southern coast of the state and work your way north and east on the map). Now, it's under intense discussion in Eastport, where the Passamoquoddy tribe has been enticed with promises of economic benefits.

However. If this terminal is built anywhere along this coast, which relies for income on various forms of deep-sea fishing and summer boating, certain things will happen: Under rules from the unfortunately named Department of Homeland Security, each time an LNG tanker comes in, all marine traffic in the area will cease. The harbor is closed. Period. And remains that way until the tanker unloads, reloads (if it does), and has cleared port again to open sea. 48 hours minimum.

Plus, the slightest accident could cause an explosion that would demolish a huge section of heavily populated coastline. Water pollution? How about flushing the bilges? And the list goes on.

Not surprisingly, there's a huge NIMBY (not in my backyard) reaction. Particularly since the LNG is intended for other markets than local.

The restrictions apply to any potential LNG port. Increased LNG shipments into a more populous area (Baltimore, say, or Boston, even Jacksonville) would cause huge disruptions.

So the question becomes one of how to get the stuff here. It's probably going to be an urgent question fairly soon, because a huge number of very large houses being built in the southern U.S. are being heated and cooled with natural gas.

Sorry for the length of this, but it's an issue that's been brewing for a while with very little public recognition.

by Mnemosyne on Fri Jun 24th, 2005 at 10:17:23 AM EST

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