By Megan Darby for Climate Home News
By Steve Horn and Martha Pskowski
The Costa Azul liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal sits on an isolated stretch of the Pacific Coast north of Ensenada, Baja California, in Mexico. When Sempra and its Mexican affiliate IEnova sought to acquire the land in 2002, the site’s remoteness worked in their favor. It was only frequented by fishermen, a few surfers, and a handful of beach-front property owners.
“That was the last stretch of coastline between Tijuana and Ensenada that was pristine and undeveloped,” Bill Powers, a San Diego-based energy engineer and founder of the Border Power Plant Working Group, told DeSmog. “There was just a little fishing village.”
After breaking ground in 2005, the Costa Azul LNG plant opened in 2008. Despite Sempra’s messaging strategy that the U.S. was running out of gas, the terminal has imported limited amounts of natural gas since. Now, San Diego-based Sempra hopes to build an LNG export facility at the same site.
When Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt resigned his position Thursday, he explained in a letter to President Donald Trump that he was stepping down because “the unrelenting attacks on [him] personally, [and his] family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizeable toll on all of [them].”
What he didn't mention was that he is also subject to more than a dozen federal ethics investigations, due to an “unprecedented” list of scandals that came to light during his nearly 17 months in office. All investigations will continue despite his departure, The New York Times reported Thursday.
No one knows which, if any, of these scandals finally persuaded Pruitt to call it quits, but, as America bids Pruitt goodbye, here is a look back at 10 of his most corrupt actions.
Manchac, Louisiana, is located on a narrow strip of land between two brackish lakes, surrounded by cypress trees and abundant wildlife. About 43 miles northwest of New Orleans, Manchac’s picturesque wetlands — like the rest of Louisiana’s coast — are endangered, with their latest threat, according to some, coming from a resort-style development marketed as “ecotourism” and local economic savior.
What could be wrong with building a hotel and housing development for 2,000 people in environmentally sensitive wetlands, which by their very nature, are located in a flood zone?
At a June 28 meeting, New Orleans regulators put the city’s public utility Entergy in the hot seat over increasing power outages and slow progress on clean energy goals. City councilmembers showed little patience for the embattled company, which currently is under investigation for its role in paying actors to show support for its proposed $210 million natural gas power plant, approved by the council on March 8.
Fueled by fracking in the region, petrochemical and plastics projects in the Ohio River Valley are attracting tens of billions of dollars in investment, but as plans for this build-out hit the drawing boards, signs already are emerging that state regulators are unprepared for this next wave of industrialization. And the implications of their inexperience could mean major threats to the region's health and environment.
One of the projects currently underway, an underground natural gas liquids (NLG) storage site — designed to support the construction of several huge petrochemical complexes — is undergoing review by state regulators who have little experience with NGL storage facilities of its size.
It's hard to keep up with the flood of news these days. Here's your weekly round-up of news not to miss from DeSmog.
Justin Mikulka has been on the oil train beat for years. He's documented how the oil boom and pipeline bottleneck in the Bakken Shale has led to more, longer, and heavier trains shuttling oil across North America and how various factors also have led to another type of boom: the literal “boom” of exploding oil trains. (In fact, train operators have given them the nickname “bomb trains.”)
This week, Mikulka writes about the latest oil train incident, this time involving a BNSF train carrying tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, across northwestern Iowa.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved a controversial rebuild of Line 3 of the Enbridge Energy oil pipeline Thursday, as environmental activists and Native American groups vowed to keep fighting, The Associated Press reported.
Opponents are concerned about the need for new fossil fuel infrastructure and the danger of an oil spill near vulnerable ecosystems in Minnesota, including areas where Native Americans harvest wild rice, which is sacred to the Ojibwe.
At a recent industry conference, Terry Spencer, head of natural gas infrastructure company ONEOK, made clear the direction the fracking industry was headed: “One of these days one of these big ol’ fracs will be operated with nobody there.”
Translation: Computers and robots are going to replace all human jobs at the oil and gas fracking sites of the future.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is the foremost U.S. agency focusing on weather, climate and oceans, reassured reporters Monday that it would not shift its focus away from climate change and conservation after a presentation last week suggested it might do exactly that, USA Today reported.
Last week, acting NOAA head Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet spoke at a Department of Commerce summit and proposed removing “climate” from NOAA's current mission statement and replacing its directive “to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources” with one “To protect lives and property, empower the economy, and support homeland and national security,” the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) reported Sunday.
This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup.
It’s been 15 years since George W. Bush stood under a “Mission Accomplished” banner announcing the end to major combat operations in Iraq and becoming a symbol of an out-of-touch politician eager to end an ongoing issue that continues to cost lives. Apparently, Scott Pruitt wants to take political pointers from this historic gaffe.
Back in March, the EPA ordered a bunch of commemorative challenge coins to celebrate the agency’s response to last year’s hurricanes. EPA brass thought it would be a good idea to do this at a time when the agency was only just beginning to get a handle on the Harvey-flooded Houston Superfund site (that the press office attacked an AP reporter for covering) — and, of course, while places in Puerto Rico continued to suffer without power. Unsurprisingly, and like the news about the tragedy itself, this story has gotten overlooked by all the other Pruitt scandals.