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Policy on Coastal Liquefied Natural Gas Facilities

Approved by the Surfrider Foundation Board of Directors on February 6, 2010 

Whereas, the Surfrider Foundation advocates for the conservation of coastal and ocean resources and the use of renewable energy sources over fossil fuels;

Whereas, energy interests are currently proposing and applying for licenses to build more than thirty new liquefied natural gas (LNG) port terminals in U.S. coastal waters;

Whereas, these proposals are being pressed through the licensing process in spite of scant U.S. demand for LNG, and the questionable economic viability of existing U.S. LNG ports;

Whereas the U.S. already has nine operating LNG ports that are drastically underutilized and operating at less than 10% of their capacity;

Whereas both government and industry sources suggest that total U.S. LNG imports will not exceed 20% of the nation’s current capacity even in 2030, the projected peak year for LNG demand;

Whereas, recent reports suggest that domestic supplies of natural gas are growing and there is nearly a century’s worth of production at current rates;

Whereas, coastal LNG terminal development will require infrastructure development that creates adverse upland environmental impacts. Upland impacts can adversely effect coastal resources, including shoreline alteration and coastal erosion, and water quality impairment.

Whereas processing and shipment of LNG results in a fuel that produces green house gas (GHG) emissions that are much greater than domestic natural gas and roughly equivalent to or greater than the GHG emissions from domestic coal;

Whereas, the Surfrider Foundation, through its Policy on Global Warming, has recognized climate change is a scientific reality that will include changes in the characteristics of the ocean including warmer waters, more acidic oceans, increased sea level rise and storm severity that threaten coastal communities and the health of beaches, and coastal and ocean ecosystems;

Whereas, Surfrider Foundation has resolved to support efforts to reduce carbon and other greenhouse gas-causing emissions;

Whereas, the known and anticipated environmental impacts of liquefied natural gas facility development and operation include marine life mortality associated with continuous water uptake; discharge of both cold and chlorinated water to marine environment; air quality degradation, including carbon dioxide emissions; high energy consumption rate; introduction of invasive species, including those discharged in ballast water; benthic habitat disturbed in mooring and transmission pipeline installations; light pollution;

Whereas, the unknown environmental impacts of coastal liquefied natural gas facility development and operation present significant risks to the marine environment that are difficult, if not impossible, to adequately address through adaptive management protocols under existing regulatory authorities;

This policy is general in nature; the Surfrider Foundation recognizes that every specific case must be evaluated in the context of the local setting.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Surfrider Foundation Board of Directors finds:

Coastal community members, the general public, local businesses, and recreational ocean users, including beach goers and surfers, are affected by the development of liquefied natural gas facilities and associated infrastructure and are key stakeholders in local, regional and national project proposals.

LNG facilities, due to their consumption of finite natural resources, net increase in green-house gases, and other harmful effects on the environment, are not a viable means of providing safe and sustainable energy.

Given the availability of alternative renewable energy resources, LNG facilities are not consistent with successful overall strategies for addressing climate change.

The development of coastal LNG facilities has the potential to create reasonably foreseeable adverse effects, including:

Loss of access to fishing, boating, ocean and coastal recreation, including losses associated with the creation of safety and security zones;

Impacts to scenic and aesthetic enjoyment by detracting from the character of the region and community and by increasing light pollution;

Entrainment and impingement of aquatic organisms related to ballast or cooling water;

Impacts to recreational resources caused by LNG vessels or terminals displacing commercial shipping;

Impacts on endangered and threatened species and habitats, for instance, manipulation of benthic habitat by pipelines and moorings;

Degraded water quality resulting from discharge of ballast, chlorinated or cooler water; and the potential for increased gas spills that could result in fires and other hazards;

Impacts from invasive species, including the introduction of invasive species discharged in ballast water;

Air quality degradation through increased emissions at the terminal and from increased vessel traffic;

Impacts to public safety dependent on design standards and existence/viability of emergency response plans; and

Loss of beach and coastal access and diminished open space. Surfrider recognizes that the siting of LNG facilities and related infrastructure is an applicant-driven process. In responding to an application, entities with regulatory authority should consider and address the foregoing reasonably foreseeable adverse coastal effects and provide the meaningful opportunity for recreational ocean users to participate in siting decisions.

Given the impacts to coastal and ocean ecosystems, air quality, including increased green house gases, and coastal access, the Surfrider Foundation finds that siting LNG facilities in the coastal zone is not consistent with successful protection, conservation and access to coastal resources.