It is not often that South Jersey can record three victories for the environment in a week. But it just happened.
First, the two last coal-powered electricity generation plants in New Jersey, one each in Logan Township (and Carneys Point) will be shut down by May 31. Governor. Phil Murphy declared last week that a world free of coal is safer and cleaner.
They may not believe it in West Virginia, but the Garden State can live without coal. The state Board of Public Utilities approved a petition by Atlantic City Electric Co. to end power-purchase agreements with the two facilities. Exelon is the parent company of ACEs. It states that ratepayers can save $30 millions.
Another recent news, which should have garnered more attention, isn’t an immediate lift to local environmental quality. But it is significant: A Gloucester County liquefied natural gaz export terminal, which was planned for Greenwich Township (Gibbstown), will not be built.Very soon.
The reason is that Wyalusing, Pennsylvania’s plant to liquefy natural gases derived from fracking won’t be built under its current air-quality permit. The permit expires July 31, and plant backers acknowledge that it cannot be constructed in the time allowed. A court settlement was reached.The company must apply for a permit renewal If it decides to revive the project.
Gibbstown is affected by this because Wyalusing had planned to transport the controversial pressurized gas to the Delaware River site in a convoluted manner. By rail, using tank cars that were never used in the United States for LNG transport.Fracking opponents clearly see a victory. People who live near Gibbstown or along the proposed rail route are more concerned about fireballs, derailments and other consequences of a LNG transit mishap.
Although a dock was approved for overseas-bound vessels and federal regulators backed the rail transportation plan, the terminal doesn’t have an available source of LNG. NJ Spotlight News reports that New Fortress Energy and Delaware River Partners are the terminal’s developers. They told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that they hope to locate third-party liquefaction plants to replace Wyalusing’s output. However, they have not identified any.
New Jersey will no longer produce electricity from coal. This is a sign of progressive energy policy as the state pushes to renewables. Salem and Gloucester counties will host a large portion of the infrastructure necessary for Atlantic Ocean offshore Wind Energy Projects. This will offset potential job losses at the abandoned LNG site and at coal plants.
For LNG exports, however, the world may have changed in 35 days. Russia invaded Ukraine and European allies have joined in sanctioning Vladimir Putin. They pledged to end their dependency on Russian natural gas. Germany’s surprise decision to resign is the crowning achievement. Stop Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea Gas Pipeline Project Russia, which was supposed reduce supply and price pressures in Western Europe.
If the sanctions are not lifted, Germany and its neighbours will need to increase their gas supply. This could increase the economic viability of terminals like the one planned to Gibbstown or liquefaction plants like the one planned to Wyalusing. The argument will be that the United States already has the goods Europe requires; all we have to do is get it out of the ground, and ship it there.
Six weeks ago, few Americans would consider sending natural gas across the oceans to support the Ukrainian resistance as patriotic. Fracking has its risks, but it was about energy independence.
The picture is suddenly more cloudy. Export facilities could be re-established. We may need to change our natural resistance to sharing limited resources with the rest the world. But, we should not lose our skepticism about the safety or suitability of any project that is built in our South Jersey backyard.
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