WASHINGTON -- April 13 -- The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted last night to include a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) provisions in the energy bill being marked up this week.
"This bill is even worse than last year's bill," says U.S. PIRG's Public Lands Advocate Emily Kaplan. "If passed, the energy bill will increase our dependence on oil, weaken important drinking water and surface water protections and squander billions in taxpayer handouts. With today's amendment, it will also prevent states and local communities from making important decisions regarding dangerous LNG facilities."
Cities and towns on both coasts of the United States have fought to keep LNG terminals out of their communities. LNG storage and transportation is a business with a history of accidents. According to Sandia National Laboratories, a terrorist attack on an LNG terminal could kill thousands of people, and burn people well over a mile away.
Under the provision added today to the energy bill, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would have the sole authority to make decisions regarding the construction, expansion and operation of LNG facilities. While the bill requires FERC to consult with state and local governments, they would have no role in the final decision, and FERC would not be required to consider their concerns. The California Coastal Commission has voiced its opposition to this provision, stating that it would expand FERC's authority to preempt state regulations and condemn property for siting of natural gas pipelines. Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts proposed an amendment to strip this provision from the bill but the Committee rejected this amendment 18 to 35.
"We applaud Congressman Markey for standing up for public safety and states' rights," said Emily Kaplan. "Unfortunately, the majority of the committee chose to side with Big Energy. We hope that Mr. Markey introduces this amendment again before the full House votes on the bill."