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Cove Point LNG Exports Challenged by Shale Development Opposition

Two opponents of the FERC-approved Dominion Cove Point LNG LP export project have asked the Commission to stay work on the project while it considers their rehearing request, saying that by delaying action on rehearing they are blocking a court appeal.

The Allegheny Defense Project and Wild Virginia petitioned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue a stay to stop the ongoing construction work on the plant in Calvert County, MD, and supporting compressor station work in Virginia until it issues a final order on rehearing. FERC approved construction of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project on Sept. 29.

It granted the two parties’ request for rehearing on Nov. 13, authorizing rehearing for further consideration, a standard Commission response that does not call for any further filings or arguments, nor does it stay action on its original decision. It does not prevent opposition parties from filing for court review; however, the court is not likely to entertain the case until the FERC process is completed and a final order has been issued.

Allegheny Defense and Wild Virginia’s rehearing request centered on the Commission’s refusal to consider whether, where and how the LNG terminal might increase drilling for natural gas and/or hydraulic fracturing. These are arguments that have been advanced multiple times in the past against the “indirect effects” of LNG terminals by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Sierra Club, among others.

FERC’s response has been that it is impossible to predict where the gas for the LNG will come from and what the impact might be. At one point the Commission said that “while it may be the case that additional shale gas development will result from the liquefaction project, the amount, timing and location of such development activity is simply unknowable at this time."

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