April 15, 2008

CARDIN, MIKULSKI FIGHT TO STRIP FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF AUTHORITY TO DETERMINE LIQUIFIED NATURAL GAS SITES

WASHINGTON, DC - Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD) today joined the Senate effort, led by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), to rescind the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) authority to permit liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals.  Senators Cardin and Mikulski have been outspoken critics of the proposed LNG facility at Sparrows Point in Baltimore.  

If the Sparrows Point application is approved, LNG tankers would have to travel through the narrowest portions of the Chesapeake Bay, under the Bay Bridge, through heavily used commercial fishing and recreational boating areas, to the mouth of the Port of Baltimore.  This is a densely populated area that is less than two miles away from residential communities that are home to more than 65,000 residents.

"I continue to oppose building a LNG facility at Sparrows Point," said Senator Cardin.  "These terminals have the potential for tremendous impacts on communities and state and local authorities and the public should be part of the decision-making process on where these plants are located.  The decision should not rest solely with federal agencies."

"I have always opposed a new LNG facility in Sparrows Point, but today there is even more evidence that a new site is unsafe and unwise.  Yet, federal agencies are all too quick to rubberstamp these facilities," said Senator Mikulski.  "I am deeply concerned for the safety of communities surrounding LNG sites and the potential environmental impact of these facilities.  We need to put the decision-making back in the hands of the state and local governments who have a better understanding of the resources available to adequately protect potential LNG tankers and new facilities."

Citing the controversy that has surrounded FERC's treatment of critical procedural, economic, safety and environmental issues in its approval of LNG terminals throughout the country, the bill (S. 2822) would repeal Sec. 311 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which for the first time gave FERC authority to permit LNG terminals. 

This bill is similar to legislation introduced by Senators Cardin and Mikulski last April, to give state and local governments the right to veto the location of LNG terminals.  The bill is pending consideration by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.