Local and state governments would get full veto power over proposed
liquefied natural gas import terminals under legislation Maryland Democrats
Benjamin Cardin and Barbara Mikulski recently introduced in the US Senate.
The bill, S. 1174, would gut a part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005
that solidified the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's final permit
authority over LNG projects. Under the Cardin/Mikulski bill, FERC could not
act before getting consent from the state agencies charged with assessing
environmental and land-use issues.
The senators said their bill would give states the same veto authority
for onshore LNG proposals that they now enjoy for projects proposed off their
shores under the Deepwater Port Act.
Cardin and Mikulski both are coming under public pressure to stop the AES
Sparrows Point LNG project proposed just outside the city of Baltimore. The
Maryland Legislature and Governor Martin O'Malley also have expressed
opposition to the Sparrows Point project.
"As a highly hazardous and combustible fuel source, LNG poses serious
safety concerns to local communities from potential accidents, as well as
terrorism risks," Cardin said in a statement. "I am determined that state and
local governments have a say in determining the location of future LNG
The bill is the first big challenge to FERC's pre-eminent LNG authority,
revisiting one of the more controversial EPAct provisions and offering a
rancorous debate on the extent of federal versus state power. By most
accounts, coastal states that are considering LNG applications, particularly
California, aggressively have sought to use the power they now have to slow or
stop the projects' progress.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007