LNG Export Terminal Coming to Philadelphia? Yes, We Can!
Garland L. Thompson, Esq.
Journalist and Author, Philadelphia
[Editor’s Note: Garland Thompson offers a wonderful summary of a recent Senate Committee hearing on “LNG in Energy Security on the World Stage.” This is the prelude but read all about the LNG export opportunity here for all the extremely valuable details. Indeed, Garland has laid out the flight path for making Philadelphia the next Houston, as only he can do it.]
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to sign House Bill 2458, establishing a Task Force to study issues and potential obstacles to development of a Liquified Natural Gas Export Terminal at Philadelphia, prompts this Report, and the concurrent signing of a Bill to provide Tax Incentives to support increased use of Commonwealth-produced Natural Gas makes this analysis more urgent.
Local media outlets have provided scant coverage of the economic growth – indeed, rebirth in communities ravaged by joblessness after the 1970s shift of industries to the Sunbelt and to lower-wage Asian work centers — experienced in the 37 Pennsylvania counties hosting “Unconventional” shale-gas drilling in the Appalachian Basin, and almost no coverage of the petroleum-and-gas-spurred growth U.S. Gulf Coast states have gained.
Texas just gained a Congressional seat while Pennsylvania lost one, but the region’s media outlets missed the connection that has seen Houston become the nation’s hottest housing market because of the jobs boom propelled by all those billion-dollar investments in chemical plants processing natural gas liquids flowing south through the ATEX (Appalachia to Texas) pipeline and all those new or re-purposed liquefied natural gas export terminals loading methane molecules from the Appalachian Basin onto tankers headed to world markets.
Readers of The Houston Chronicle know that Texans just raised $1 billion to deepen and enlarge the 52-mile-long Houston Ship Channel, to enhance its capacity to provide passage for the large increase in deep-draft vessels transiting the Channel. The Panama Canal’s now-completed Expansion Project has boosted the number of bigger-capacity container ships reaching the Port of Houston from the Pacific, just as it did for the Port of Philadelphia. And today, the American shale energy revolution has dramatically boosted shipments of shale-produced petroleum resources from the Permian Basin, the Eagle Ford and Haynesville shales and the Bakken, all the way south from North Dakota, driving still more ship traffic.
What’s not available for Philadelphia-area consumers’ perusal is reportage on how much Appalachian Basin – that is, Pennsylvania — natural gas now also reaches Texas through pipelines like the Williams Company’s mighty TRANSCO line, to be liquefied and shipped to world markets from Texas’ LNG terminals at Corpus Christi and Quintana Island, site of the temporarily idled Freeport Terminal.
Instead, local Delaware Valley news reports focus endlessly on the widely publicized fears of environmental activists working to block development of transport infrastructure that could open the way for more of Pennsylvania’s gas to reach consumer markets closer to home in the Northeast, or to be sold for lucrative profits to those overseas markets from LNG terminals constructed in the Ports of Philadelphia.
Ditto for the Senate Environment & Energy Committee Hearing, held at the Steamfitters Union Local 42 Headquarters October 27th. No local news reportage about that, either.
The hearing, held by Senate Committee Chair Gene Yaw (R, Williamsport) and Minority Chair Carolyn Commita (D-Harrisburg), provided critical on why H.B. 2458 is such a necessary initiative at this time. But no soap: No local news stories even told local residents such a public hearing was to be held.
Thus, it probably will come as a surprise for many Delaware Valley residents who do get to hear of the progress of two projects to develop export terminals to liquefy methane from the Marcellus and Utica shale regions of Pennsylvania, the West Virginia Panhandle, and Southeast Ohio, now collectively agreeing to compete as the “Shale Crescent,” America’s No. 1 gas-producing region, against those Gulf Coast states.
Garland L. Thompson, Esq. is a Contributing Editor at US Black Engineer & Information Technology.
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