Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Import Terminals: Siting, Safety and Regulation [Updated January 28, 2004]   [open pdf - 130KB]

"Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a hazardous fuel frequently shipped in large tankers to U.S. ports from overseas. While LNG has historically made up a small part of U.S. natural gas supplies, rising gas prices, current price volatility, and the possibility of domestic shortages are sharply increasing LNG demand. Many of these terminals would be built onshore near populated areas, so local communities fear the terminals would expose them to unacceptable safety and security hazards. Congress is examining the adequacy of safety provisions in federal LNG siting regulation. Although LNG has had a record of relative safety for the last 40 years, and no LNG tanker or land-based facility has been attacked by terrorists, experts have questioned the adequacy of key LNG siting regulations related to safety zones, marine hazards, hazard modeling, and remote siting. Experts have also questioned the validity of LNG hazard studies used by federal regulatory agencies which suggest that LNG terminal risks, while significant, are not as serious as is popularly believed. Congress may not see a compelling need to change current federal LNG siting requirements if it views the current regulations and processes as sufficient. Congress may conclude that some aspects of new LNG terminals do pose excessive public risks, or that there is still too much uncertainty about key risks to make final conclusions about public safety. Congress has several options to further address LNG terminal safety concerns. These options include 1) banning onshore LNG terminals, 2) increasing local LNG siting authority, 3) imposing more stringent federal LNG safety standards, 4) encouraging more LNG research, 5) curbing U.S. natural gas demand, and 6) developing alternatives to natural gas imports."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL32205
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