Thursday, February 29, 2024

PA Utility Law Project March 15 Webinar On Impacts Of LNG Gas Exports On Energy Costs For Pennsylvania Families; LNG Export Capacity To Double, Even With Permit Pause

On March 15 the
PA Utility Law Project will hold a second webinar on the impacts of LNG natural gas exports on energy costs for Pennsylvania families from Noon to 1:00 p.m.

In 2022, the cost of home energy skyrocketed – squeezing Pennsylvania households and businesses and falling hardest on low income families across our state.  

But why?  

One big contributor: record exports of liquified natural gas (LNG) from the United States to Europe in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the PA Utility Law Project..  

This webinar will explore what every Pennsylvanian needs to know about the pause on federal permits for new LNG gas facilities, what it means for Pennsylvania families, and the steps ahead as the federal government reviews this critically important review process.

Presenters will include--

-- Mark Wolfe, Executive Director, The National Energy Assistance Directors Association

-- Tyson Slocum, Director of Energy Programs, Public Citizen

-- Elizabeth Marx, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Utility Law Project

Click Here to register and for more information.

Energy Insecurity

During the first PA Utility Law Project’s first webinar on this topic February 16, Elizabeth Marx, Executive Director of the Project, said in 2023 Pennsylvania had over 330,000 households facing involuntary termination of their gas, electric and water services.

“Energy costs are accounting for a substantial and increasingly high percentage of household income with low income families paying between 10% and 30% of income compared to about three to 4% of middle income households,” said Marx.

75% Of PA Gas Production Goes Out-Of-State

“Pennsylvania exports a ton of gas and electric,” said Marx. “Over half of our electricity is also generated by gas-fired power plants. So the price of gas in Pennsylvania has a real impact on Pennsylvania families and the price that they're paying [for energy].”

Marx pointed out that 75% of the gas produced in Pennsylvania goes out of state and for export and only 25% is used in-state for our own consumption.

She said national gas prices are highly influenced by LNG exports and events like we saw with the gas price spikes that occurred as a result of the Russian war in Ukraine.

LNG Export Capacity Will Double, Even With Permit Pause

Tyson Slocum, Energy Program Director of Public Citizen, Inc., noted even with the current federal freeze on permits for new LNG gas export facilities, export facilities already approved will double LNG export capacity and are not affected by the pause.

“LNG exports threaten so much energy, access and affordability in this country, and particularly in Pennsylvania,” said Slocum. 

“If Pennsylvania is going to be engaging in the kind of record natural gas production just to ship it in pipelines to LNG export terminals leaving Pennsylvania, that is forcing Pennsylvania to compete with your counterparts in Berlin and Beijing. 

“It's going to expose Pennsylvania to higher prices as a result,” said Slocum.

Federal LNG Permit Analysis Process Out-Of-Date

Slocum said the US Department of Energy’s existing review process for LNG gas export facilities is outdated.

The current federal LNG facility approval process says any volume of LNG gas exports would always be in the public interest because of net economic benefits to American families, said Slocum.

“They found that even if families experienced a price increase in their monthly utility bill as a result of exports, that that increase in their monthly utility bill would be more than offset by income that families earn from stock ownership in LNG export terminals,” said Slocum.

“I don't know anybody who earns more money every month from their stock dividends than they pay in their monthly utility bill,” said Slocum.

“That is a fatal flaw in a very sloppy methodology, and yet that is literally what the Biden Administration had been relying on,” said Slocum.  “And so the Department of Energy thankfully finally was like, ‘You're right. This is a terrible analysis.’ Their methodology is terrible. We need to redo that."

LNG Exports Increase Energy Bills

“It's not just Public Citizen and the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project that are complaining about the impacts of record LNG exports on raising Americans' energy bills,” said Slocum.  “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in its annual winter energy market assessment firmly concludes that continued growth and net exports, including from LNG facilities, will place additional pressure on natural gas prices during winter.”

“Traditionally, domestic fundamentals drive US natural gas prices, so that means what happens within North America is what traditionally affected what natural gas prices were doing,” explained Slocum.  “With the fracking boom, all of that gas was trapped in North America. It kept a lid on natural gas prices.”

“The minute you start exporting it through LNG, you are breaking free of that constraint and immediately exposing American families to increased competition and therefore driving up prices.

“LNG exports are the largest source of increased natural gas demand in the United States, and all of that has an upward pressure on prices. That's exactly what FERC concluded. 

“The US Energy Information Administration released a major report in May of 2023 with the same exact conclusion: higher LNG exports create tighter domestic natural gas markets increasing domestic natural gas prices.”

LNG Exports Will Cost Consumers $2 Billion/Year

“Public Citizen, using EIA data, estimates that in aggregate between now and 2050, LNG exports are going to raise consumers' natural gas bills by $58 billion. That's on average $2 billion a year. 

“This is not an insignificant amount,” said Slocum.

“The huge volatility we saw in 2022 when Russia invaded Ukraine, that is exactly the type of price spike that only occurs because of exports.

“Obviously we want to help our allies in need, but the volume of projected export increase is unsustainable for US domestic markets,” said Slocum. 

“That's why this pause [in new LNG facility permits] is so important because the first lesson that we all learned when we were little is if you find yourself in a hole, you stop digging.

“Right now, the US is in a hole where our production is not going to be able to keep up with the expansion of LNG exports. 

“That is just going to continually expose Pennsylvania families, particularly vulnerable Pennsylvania families, to these severe price volatility moments,” said Slocum.

Who Benefits From Exports?

“Who are the big beneficiaries [of LNG exports]? Obviously, natural gas producers because everybody wants to sell their product for the highest bidder. 

“If you're able to go all over the planet, you're going to find someone that is willing to pay a lot more than American families. 

“That ends up raising prices for everyone. But the specific types of firms that are making the real money are the financial traders and the big oil companies that act as what's known as portfolio players and Chinese national oil and gas companies.

“That's because the minute the gas leaves the United States, even though there are sometimes firm supply contracts between off-takers, those off-takers are allowed to immediately flip that cargo to a third-party trader, who then can mark up that lower LNG price for a much higher price for its final destination. 

“And so these financial traders, just like we see in Pennsylvania's deregulated electricity market, they are making the biggest profits in history. Exxon, Chevron, Shell, BP all announced some of their biggest profits over the last decade. 

“The commodity traders, companies that folks in Pennsylvania have never heard of, like Vitol, which is the largest oil and gas trader in the world, traders like Gunvor, they are making billions and billions of dollars in windfall profits.”

China Is Largest Destination For LNG

“Importantly, China because it is the largest single destination market for LNG, what their state-owned companies do is they buy up all of these contracts. And then these Chinese firms are reselling the gas that China doesn't need,” said Slocum. 

“They are reselling such massive volumes, including from the United States, that Chinese traders are now de facto setting the marginal global price. 

“We are transferring US-produced natural gas to Chinese government-owned firms that are making huge markup profit in the trading markets of US LNG.”

“Europe is already stabilizing its gas demand, and gas demand is projected to continue to decline. The crisis in Europe is over,” said Slocum.  “We are now moving on to where the real growth market is in Asia, and China is by far the largest economy in Asia. And this is what FERC [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] has concluded.”

What Happens Next?

“The [US] Department of Energy is going to be working over the next several months, and I think it might take longer than several months, to put together a comprehensive new review process to determine whether or not future LNG exports are consistent with the public interest,” said Slocum. 

“They're going to be looking at the impact on distributionally on Americans at different income levels. 

“They're going to be looking at impacts on domestic energy markets. 

“They're going to be looking at the impact on climate change. 

“They're going to be looking at the impact on environmental justice communities that are forced to live near these hazardous polluting facilities, and they're going to look at the impact on global energy security.”

“​​Once the [US] Department of Energy is done with that later this year, they are going to notice it for public comment. 

“That is the opportunity for Pennsylvania advocates to formally weigh in about the harm that LNG exports are having on energy access and affordability in Pennsylvania. 

“There is going to be an important public participation process as part of this LNG pause and reconsideration,” said Slocum.

Click Here for presentation slides from the February 16 webinar.

Click Here for an on demand video of the February 16 webinar.

NewsClips - LNG:

-- Reuters: European Union Receives Bids For Nearly 3 Times The Volume Of Gas They Need 

-- PA Independent Oil & Gas Association: An Increase In LNG Gas Exports Is Expected To Increase Seasonal Price Volatility In The Future  

-- Financial Times: Household Energy Costs Factor Into Biden’s Pause On New LNG Natural Gas Export Facilities  [Industrial Energy Consumers: “More Exports Equal More Reliability And Price Risk”]

-- Reuters: Chesapeake Energy Says Gas Market Oversupplied, Plans To Cut Output, Spending 

-- S&P Global: US Gas Producers Tout LNG Growth Outlook Despite Regulatory Uncertainty; [EQT - ‘There’s Really No Impact [from new facility permit pause] through at least the end of 2026’]

-- Reuters: European Union Says Biden’s Pause On Approvals Of New LNG Natural Gas Export Facilities Will Have No Effect On US LNG Supplies To Europe Over Next 2 or 3 Years  [LNG Exports Are Expected To Double By 2030 On Already-Approved Projects] 

-- Post-Gazette - Anya Litvak: A Political Battle Brews Over Natural Gas Exports Over Impacts To Gas Prices, Climate, Demand For Gas

-- Natural Gas Intelligence: 76% Increase In LNG Natural Gas Export Capacity Already Under Construction; US Group Fears Buildout Will Hurt American Businesses Urge ‘US Consumers First’ Policy  [PaEN]

-- Bloomberg TV: Canada’s Energy Minister: Period Of Using Natural Gas As Transition Fuel Should Be Short; Gas Should Not Replace Renewables; Canada Has Adopted Controls On LNG Exports The US Has Not  [PaEN]

-- Bloomberg: European Natural Gas Prices At Pre-Crisis Levels Seen Spurring Asian Demand

-- Reuters: Slumping US Natural Gas Prices Cause Hedge Funds To Despair 

Related Articles - LNG In PA:

-- 150+ Residents Of Chester Opposed To An LNG Natural Gas Export Facility Proposed In Their Community Let Their Feelings Be Known To The House Philadelphia LNG Export Task Force  [PaEN]

-- Philadelphia LNG Export Task Force Issues Report On The Best Ways To Increase Exports Of PA's Natural Gas; Minority Report Rebuts Need For LNG Facility, Outlines Impacts   [PaEN]

-- NRDC: U.S. Dept. Of Transportation Denies Special Permit For Shipping LNG Natural Gas By Rail From A Proposed Bradford County LNG Plant; Shipping By Truck Still Allowed   [PaEN]

-- Marcellus Drilling News: New Fortress Energy Reapplying For Wyalusing LNG Natural Gas Plant Permits In Bradford County

-- Scranton Times Editorial: Local Leaders, DOT Must Stop Plant In Wyalusing, Bradford County From Shipping LNG Natural Gas By Rail Or Truck Or Both To Philadelphia  [PaEN]

-- WHYY: Environmentalists Decry DRBC Permit Extension Approval For LNG Natural Gas Terminal In South Jersey To Export PA Natural Gas   [PaEN]

Related Articles This Week - Gas:

-- DEP: Oil & Gas Regulatory Program Will Be In The Red By Fall; All Sectors Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program No Go; Update On Permitting Reform  [PaEN]

-- 40 Individuals File Appeals, Most Handwritten, Of DEP’s Permit For Catalyst Energy Oil & Gas Wastewater Injection Well In McKean County  [PaEN]

-- EPA Appeals Board Allows Protect PT, Three Rivers Waterkeeper Appeal Of Penneco Oil & Gas Wastewater Injection Well Permit In Allegheny County To Move Forward  [PaEN]

-- Incomplete Application For CNX Midstream Slickville Fracking Wastewater, Natural Gas Pipelines Project In Westmoreland County Withdrawn By DEP  [PaEN] 

-- PA Environmental Groups: New PUC Rules, DEP Guidance Victory For Increased Safety In Pipeline Construction And Operation  [PaEN]

-- Chemstream Chemical Maker Agrees To Disclose Information About Its Proprietary Chemicals Used In Natural Gas Drilling  [PaEN]

-- IFO Reports 2023 PA Natural Gas Production Up 1.0% Over 2022, Thanks To Strong Q4 Production; Fewest New Wells Drilled In Last Decade  [PaEN]

NewsClips:

-- Spotlight PA: Federal Money Supercharged PA’s Plugging Of Dangerous Conventional Oil & Gas Wells, But Critics Want More Oversight

-- TribLive: Murrysville Officials OK Olympus Energy Project For 2 Fracking Water Pipelines, 2 Natural Gas Pipelines In Westmoreland 

-- PUC Reminder Of Opportunities To Comment On Proposed 18.7% Peoples Natural Gas Rate Increase 

-- Pittsburgh Business Times: Panel: Washington County State Of The Economy Explores Impacts Of ARCH2 Hydrogen Projects

-- Reuters: European Union Receives Bids For Nearly 3 Times The Volume Of Gas They Need 

-- Bloomberg: Qatar Has Eyes On More Long-Term Deals As It Bets Big On LNG Gas

-- Financial Times: Oil And Gas Industry Profits Triple Under Biden, Even As Industry Decries Him

[Posted: February 29, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

Penn State Extension: March 22 Webinar - Forest Management & Climate Change - A Women's Perspective

 Penn State Extension will host a March 22 webinar on Forest Management and Climate Change - A Women's Perspective from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m.

Approximately 58% of forest ownerships in the US are owned by married couples, but even when ownership is shared between the spouses, women are often not the primary decision-makers. 

Women do often end up inheriting the land because they live longer than men on average and are typically younger than their spouses. 

This situation is now changing as more women are becoming forest owners as primary decision-makers. 

Women, as the primary owners or co-owners of forest land, have the potential to contribute to climate change solutions through forest management. However, most are still unprepared for engaging in land, farm, and forest management. 

During this webinar learn about what women value about forests, how women take care of forests in the face of climate change, and what the challenges women face in this space from Kripa Neupane, a PSU graduate student. 

What Will You Learn?

-- How women see their forests

-- How women take care of forest in the face of climate change

-- The challenges women face in forest management and climate change

-- The obstacles that female forestland owners face

-- How to overcome obstacles to forest management

Participants will also have a chance to ask Kripa questions about her research.

Who Should Attend?

-- Women forest landowners

-- Women in forestry

-- Natural resource professionals

-- Landowners

-- Foresters

-- Forest policymakers Wildlife biologist

Click Here to register and for more information.

Visit the Penn State Extension website to learn more about a wide variety of education opportunities.

Related Article:

-- Penn State March 22 Virtual Water Cooler Talk: Algae And Microplastics Stick Together  [PaEN] 

[Posted: February 29, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

Penn State March 22 Virtual Water Cooler Talk: Algae And Microplastics Stick Together

 Penn State Extension
will host another in its series of virtual Water Cooler Talks on Algae and Microplastics Stick Together March 22 Noon to 1:00 p.m.

Many aquatic ecosystems are under threat from microplastic pollution, the smallest of which can enter the food web through consumption by fauna. 

Very small microplastics (< 100 microns) can be similar in size to suspended algae cells, which readily aggregate into large clumps through cohesion due to their sticky biological exudates. 

Aggregation greatly changes the transport properties of these particles, altering their settling speed and making them more attractive as potential food particles. 

This webinar  describes ongoing research to quantify small microplastics in Lake Erie and determine their potential to aggregate with suspended algae populations. 

Findings from this work will increase our knowledge of how the smallest microplastics are transported through our aquatic ecosystems.

What Will You Learn?

-- Hear about current work happening in the water resource field

-- Be able to ask questions about microplastics in aquatic ecosystems

-- Share ideas with professionals across Pennsylvania

            Who Should Attend?

-- Anyone interested in water resources

-- Those who work in the water field

-- Those who have a general interest in water

Click Here to register and for more information.

Visit the Penn State Extension website to learn more about a wide variety of education opportunities.

[Posted: February 29, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

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