Liquified Natural Gas
U.S. Approves First Export Plant, A $10-Billion Louisiana Project
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on April 16 approved plans by units of Cheniere Energy Partners to add up to four modular trains of natural-gas liquefaction and export capability to an existing liquefied-natural-gas terminal in Cameron Parish, La. Cheniere said the FERC approval, the agency's first for an LNG export facility in the U.S., clears the way for the firm to secure the remaining financing for the $10-billion project. In 2011, Cheniere entered into a lump-sum turnkey contract with Bechtel Corp. to engineer, procure and construct the first two trains capable of exporting nine million tons a year of LNG. Commercial operation is set for 2015-16. Cheniere already holds long-term pacts to send 16 million tons per year through the facility.
Seeking Capacity, Maryland Wants $500-Million Plant Built
The Maryland Public Service Commission on April 12 directed four state utilities to sign long-term agreements with a developer to build a 661-MW natural-gas-fired plant in Waldorf. The agency said it ordered the $500-million project because the regional grid operator, PJM Interconnection, could not deliver the 650 MW to 700 MW of new generation needed in the state by 2015, although the total is less than the 1,500 MW originally sought. But the grid operator opposed the state's plan for independent generation, claiming it would suppress prices and result in only subsidized projects being constructed. Regulators, who say no new generation has been built in the state since 2003, are concerned about regional power shortfalls as coal-fired plants are retired.
Court Temporarily Blocks NLRB Required Rule on Union Posters
A federal appellate court has blocked a National Labor Relations Board rule that would require companies to post notices informing workers of their rights under federal law, which include forming or joining a union. Business groups, including the Associated Builders and Contractors, welcomed the April 17 injunction of what was considered a pro-union rule. It is in place pending disposition of an appeal of a Washington, D.C., district court ruling on March 2 that upheld the notice-posting provision but also said NLRB "cannot make a blanket advance determination that a failure to post a [workplace] notice will always constitute an unfair labor practice." The rule was set to take effect on April 30. In another challenge to the same NLRB rule, a federal district court in South Carolina ruled the NLRB exceeded its authority when it issued the regulation.
Study Touts Sediment Diversion To Boost Vulnerable Delta Coast
Building a series of new sediment-diversion structures along the lower Mississippi River delta designed to open during floods and "pulse" large volumes of sediment to Louisiana's low-lying coastal areas would rebuild wetlands and help maintain river navigation, a group of engineers and coastal scientists say in a new report. John Day, a Louisiana State University professor who chairs the Mississippi River Delta Science and Engineering Special Team, says rising energy costs make it more efficient to make maximum use of gravity, water flows and other natural forces and that construction should occur sooner rather than later.
Israel Issues Global Tenders To Expand Key Infrastructure
Israeli government agencies have issued two large international tenders for major infrastructure projects. Israel Natural Gas Lines Co. seeks bids by July 2 to add 350 kilometers of segments to the country's national-gas transmission network. Israel's finance ministry also seeks proposals for two segments totaling 20 km for the northern extension of the Cross Israel Highway, the country's only toll road, with completion by the end of 2016. The highway now is 140 km long.