Despite local opposition, LNG terminal near Baltimore wins conditional OK

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) conditionally approved a new liquefied natural gas import terminal on Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore.
The liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and a connecting interstate pipeline would be built by AES Sparrows Point LNG and Mid-Atlantic Express LLC on Sparrows Point, an industrial site near the entrance to the Port of Baltimore.
The FERC decision on Jan. 15 comes following three years of opposition from elected officials and abutters. Full FERC approval of the project will require that 169 mitigation measure be met. One of the most difficult will involve the disposal of contaminated spoil resulting from dredging needed to provide a channel with adequate depth for the LNG tankers. Disposal of the spoil is a major concern for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Other environmental concerns as voiced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service include protection of two species, the bog turtle, which is on the federal threatened-species list, and the Indiana bat, which is on the federal endangered-species list. With regard to safety and security, the U.S. Coast Guard said it will insist on rigorous security measures.
A delegation of five Maryland lawmakers had urged FERC to postpone the decision on the project. In a letter U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) joined with U.S. Reps. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), and John Sarbanes (D-Md.) in expressing their concerns about the safety and environmental impact of the proposed facility.
Organized labor and maritime industry groups, by contrast, welcomed the project.
Rod Easter, president of the Baltimore Building & Construction Council AFL-CIO, a group that represents the building trades, said the project would mean about 400 jobs for four years, or about 4 million man hours. “But completing the terminal is just the tip of the iceberg," Easter said. “It will mean that larger tugs will have to be built, there will be opportunities for new vendors and support businesses."
Rupert Denney, president of the Maryland Maritime Association, which represents ship agents and owner operators, said that AES’s projection of three ships a week will create increasing activity in the Port of Baltimore.
“The Coast Guard has highlighted the need for escorts and tractor tugs to handle the (LNG) ships and that will mean more new (support) vessels. There will also be an increase in the need for pilots," said Denney.
Bill Van Loo, secretary/treasurer for the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association, said, “For security reasons, at the very least the ships should have American officers on board."
Louis A. Marciello, director of the Calhoon MEBA Engineering School in Easton, Md., said that if the union gets contracts with LNG operators, it will mean more LNG training at Calhoon.
Brian Hope, a member of the Association of Maryand Pilots, said the number of ships calling at the terminal would probably depend on the price of LNG.
“When Japan and Spain were paying a premium price for LNG, most of it went there," he said.

By Professional Mariner Staff