Recently released natural gas forecasts from federal and California government energy agencies have caused an avowed opponent of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports, Ratepayers for Affordable Clean Energy (RACE), to re-energize their campaign Tuesday with a new promotional blast contending that the West Coast doesn’t need LNG.
RACE cited U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projections for a decline in natural gas imports overall during the next 22 years, dropping from 16% of the gas burned in the lower 48 states currently to 3% by 2030. EIA’s assumption is the difference will be made up by increased domestic gas production, said the LNG opponents, quoting the 2009 Annual Energy Outlook from the U.S. Department of Energy (see Daily GPI, Dec. 18).
Similarly, RACE highlighted a recent joint California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and California Energy Commission (CEC) report predicting gas demand in the state will stay essentially flat through 2030.
Economic declines, renewable energy and efficiency growth and ultimately greenhouse gas (GHG) emission controls all were cited in the joint CPUC-CEC staff report as pushing down natural gas demand in the near term in California and further pushing back the need for LNG imports. The report was developed for a joint meeting Dec. 8 of the two state energy agencies to update the state’s Energy Action Plan (see Daily GPI, Dec. 10).
“These projections make clear that the West Coast does not need LNG,” said Rory Cox, RACE’s coordinator and the California program director for Pacific Environment. “LNG was an inappropriate choice to begin with, and it remains so. We’re ready to put this debate behind us and join the new [Obama] administration in building a truly clean and sustainable energy future.”
The state report said that one indicator of the dramatic increase in domestic U.S. gas supplies and dampening of demand is the fact Sempra Energy now has told the CEC it does not expect any meaningful shipments of LNG to its new Costa Azul receiving terminal along the Pacific Coast of North Baja California, Mexico, until late next year. A Sempra spokesperson subsequently clarified that projection for NGI, saying the company expects shipments late in the third quarter of 2009 at the West Coast terminal.
RACE, an LNG opponent since 2004, contends that trends in the domestic natural gas industry, steady decreases in gas consumption in California since 2000 and global climate change laws (AB 32) support its arguments against the need for LNG. It further contends the demand for gas in the Pacific Northwest and in North Baja California, Mexico, is “quite small.”
However, a recent Oregon economic forum indicated to state and industry planners that demand projections for gas in that region did support the need for LNG as an “option” (see Daily GPI, Dec. 22).
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