Gearing Up for Keystone II in Maryland?
With the business versus environmentalist battle over the Keystone Pipeline ongoing, a potential Keystone II-like battle is shaping up in Maryland as energy company Dominion Resources seeks to invest approximately $3.8 billion to upgrade a Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas facility for export.
Despite being a huge producer of Natural Gas, the United States currently lacks the ability to export it. The move is seen as a potential economic and jobs boom for the area. Democrat Steny Hoyer backs it, but the environmentalist wibng of the Democrat Party is already making noise against it, in part, as it would also involve fracking.
A liquefied natural gas facility in southern Maryland is generating intense criticism from environmental groups, in a fight that echoes the protracted battle over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. If successful, it could become the East Coast's chief LNG export facility, sending billions of cubic feet of natural gas to Japan, India, and elsewhere.
Dominion stresses that the project would have a huge economic impact close to home as well.
The Department of Energy has granted conditional permission to export gas; however, Dominion is currently "awaiting an environmental assessment from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), due May 15. As with the proposed Canada-to-Texas Keystone oil pipeline, organized labor is on board with the LNG project, wanting the roughly 3,000 jobs it is projected to create during construction."
Some experts say that with Maryland being a true blue state, the criticism may be louder than elsewhere.
"I can understand why in a place like Maryland, this is a much more contentious issue, where Cheniere, the facility in Louisiana ... [is]scheduled to come online and start exporting natural gas in 2015, which is good news," said Nick Loris, from the Heritage Foundation. "Any opposition to LNG facilities or coal export facilities, for instance, might be more of a localized, state issue."
The opposition to Cove Point is not yet at the level of Keystone's, which has become a nationalized debate. A decision on Keystone once again was delayed last week.
Some experts predict the projected economic and job benefits from Cove Point will dwarf the environmental concerns, and ultimately the project is likely to go forward.