Virginia-based Dominion Resources Inc. is seeking federal approval to allow exports of liquefied natural gas from the Marcellus Shale and other areas of the booming Appalachian drilling industry, according to a report by PennLive.com
Dominion has applied to the U.S. Department of Energy to allow 1 billion cubic feet of gas per day to be exported through a terminal it owns in Maryland, according to the PennLive report. Gas would be exported from the Dominion Cove Point terminal on the Chesapeake Bay, in Lusby, Md.
Ben Ketchum, an activist with the anti-drilling group GasTruth, said the move is a sign of the industry reneging on statements it made about how Marcellus gas will benefit Pennsylvania and the United States, according to PennLive.
"It's becoming more and more obvious that this is not an industry that is trying to provide a real service to the communities they're invading," Ketchum said. "In all actuality, this will be like any other commodity; it's going to be sold to the highest bidder."
Natural gas is extracted from shale formations using a controversial drilling technique known as hydrofracturing or "fracking," which involves injecting millions of gallons of chemical-laced water into bedrock formations at pressure that exceeds the rock strength and opens or expands fractures in the rock.
Residents in areas where gas producers use fracking have been outspoken in their complaints about methane contamination in water wells and other environmental problems. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2010 launched a two-year study of the potential adverse effects. "There are concerns that hydraulic fracturing may impact ground water and surface water quality in ways that threaten human health and the environment," the EPA stated. The study is expected to be complete in 2012.
In addition to owning power plants, Dominion is a major operator of natural gas pipelines and storage facilities. It would not own or directly export the liquefied natural gas, or LNG. Its customers would be responsible for supplying the gas to the terminal and then shipping and selling it, Dominion said.
To read the PennLive article, click here.