Written by Warren Mass
The standoff between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) deescalated on April 12, when the bureau announced that it will stop its operation to confiscate Bundy’s cattle.
But another aspect to this ongoing story is jumping: The blogosphere is alive with allegations that Senator Harry Reid (pictured), and his son, Rory, have motivations of their own for wanting Bundy’s cattle off the disputed lands.
Though the major media announced that a “deal” had been reached between Bundy and the BLM, Bundy explained what transpired differently in an interview with KLAS TV in Las Vegas: “There is no deal here. The citizens of America and Clark County went and took their cattle. There was no negotiations. They took these cattle. They are in possession of these cattle and I expect them to come home soon.”
The BLM stated in its statement released on April 12: “Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public.”
The BLM’s language made apparent that the bureau still regarded its actions “to remove illegal cattle from federal land consistent with court orders” as being legally justified:
This is a matter of fairness and equity, and we remain disappointed that Cliven Bundy continues to not comply with the same laws that 16,000 public lands ranchers do every year. After 20 years and multiple court orders to remove the trespass cattle, Mr. Bundy owes the American taxpayers in excess of $1 million. The BLM will continue to work to resolve the matter administratively and judicially.
As William F. Jasper noted in his April 11 article about the standoff, however, there was more to the federal action to remove Bundy’s cattle from “public lands” (where they are, allegedly, damaging the “fragile” habitat of the protected desert tortoise) than has been widely reported:
According to Bundy, whose family has been ranching in the area since the 1800s, the BLM’s armed invasion and occupation of Nevada has nothing to do with protecting the tortoise and everything to do with running him off the land, as it has already done to all of the other ranchers in Clark County.
As for the BLM’s assertion that its actions “to remove illegal cattle” are legally justified, among the many points that Joe Wolverton II made in his April 12 article charging that the seizure of Bundy’s cattle was unconstitutional was this citation from Section 1 of the Nevada constitution, titled “Inalienable Rights”:
All men are by Nature free and equal and have certain inalienable rights among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; Acquiring, Possessing and Protecting property and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.
Wolverton observed: “Despite the Nevada constitution’s capitulation to supreme federal authority (authority, remember, that does not exist in the Constitution) … it could be argued [that the above-quoted language from Section 1] supersedes the other article’s cession of state and popular sovereignty.”
That which is unconstitutional, therefore, cannot properly be called legal.
As the tension between Bundy and the BLM ratchets down, a number of conservative bloggers and pundits have raised questions about another angle in this case: Does the BLM want Bundy’s cattle off the land his family has worked for over 140 years in order to free up the land for the construction of solar panel power stations?
That question was prompted, in part, by since-deleted information previously posted on the BLM website, information retrieved from Google’s cache.
The text of a BLM document retrieved from Google’s cache and posted by Liberty News Online contains the following chronology of events:
• “In 1993, some of the terms of Mr. Bundy’s grazing permit for the Bunkerville allotment were modified to protect the desert tortoise.”
• “In 1998, the United States filed a civil complaint against Mr. Bundy for his continued trespass grazing in the Bunkerville Allotment.”
• “In 1999, the Las Vegas Field Office Resource Management Plan designated the Bunkerville allotment as ‘Closed to Grazing’ to protect desert tortoise habitat.”
• “In March 2011, BLM counted 903 cattle from a helicopter spread out over approximately 90 miles in northeast Clark County within the Gold Butte area … 41 percent had either brands or earmarks registered to Cliven Bundy.”
• “In May 2012, the United States filed a Complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief for Cliven Bundy’s trespass grazing within the Gold Butte area outside the Bunkerville Allotment.”
A PDF of the BLM’s document, “Regional Mitigation strategy for the Dry Lake Solar energy Zone: Technical Note 444,” produced by the BLM in March, can be found online.
Technical Note 444 states that the “’Regional Mitigation Strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone’ recommends a strategy for compensating for certain unavoidable impacts that are expected from the development of the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone (SEZ) in southern Nevada.”
Technical Note 444 states: “The resource values found in the Gold Butte ACEC are threatened by: unauthorized activities, including off-road vehicle use, illegal dumping, and trespass livestock grazing ; wildfire; and weed infestation.” (Emphasis added.)
The above-referenced BLM “Technical Note 444” specifically mentions the Gold Butte Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) 76 times. While the document expresses many environmental concerns, including “trespass livestock grazing,” it is important to keep in mind that the title of the document reveals the BLM’s ultimate objective, which is to create a “solar energy zone.”
One of the references listed in Technical Note 444 is “Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States. FES 12- 24, DOE/EIS-0403,” published jointly by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The PEIS, notes TN 444, “assessed the impact of utility-scale solar energy development on public lands in the six southwestern states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.”
The BLM and the DOE’s joint venture is — stated concerns about tortoises aside — about the generation of solar energy.
An article published by The New American in September 20012 noted that Rory Reid, the eldest son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), is the chief representative for ENN Energy Group, a Chinese firm planning to build a $5-billion solar plant on public land in Laughlin, Nevada.
The plan generated a great deal of controversy because Clark County officials voted to sell ENN the public land for $4.5 million, a figure far below its $38.6-million appraised value.
It is important to recognize that the land on which Bundy grazes his cattle is not the same land that ENN sought near Laughlin, which is over 200 miles away. However, the Bundy grazing land is within the BLM’s Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone, an area the BLM and DOW also want to use for “utility-scale solar energy development,” whether constructed by ENN or someone else. As blogger and candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from California’s 8th District Rodney Lee Conover recently wrote:
As part of the plan for the Dry Lake solar zone, any solar developers are expected to pay into a fund to “mitigate” the Gold Butte area. However, the “mitigation” activities can’t take place with cattle grazing in the area. If the mitigation doesn’t take place, no money for the BLM.
Conover’s assertions are supported by the BLM’s document entitled “Cattle Trespass Impacts,” which states that grazing by Bundy’s cattle “impacts” solar development, more specifically the construction of “utility-scale solar power generation facilities” on “public lands.”
“Non-Governmental Organizations have expressed concern that the regional mitigation strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone utilizes Gold Butte as the location for offsite mitigation for impacts from solar development, and that those restoration activities are not durable with the presence of trespass cattle,” an article by Kit Daniels posted by Infowars quoted the document.
Motivations are not always easy to prove, but in this case, Senator Reid’s hand has shown up more than once. The BLM’s principal deputy director, Neil Kornze, previously served as Senator Reid’s senior policy advisor. And we have noted Rory Reid’s role as the chief representative for China’s ENN Energy Group, which has sought to develop solar energy in Nevada. Whether these suspicions are proof of wrongful or illegal acts remains to be seen.
However, one thing is evident from what has transpired in Nevada: The federal government has reneged on a long-standing arrangement made by a rancher in good faith by which he and his family have earned a living for generations. In so doing, they have run roughshod over the rights of a U.S. citizen and have employed constitutionally dubious means to do so. If justice prevails, some judge with respect for the Constitution may follow the example of Chief Judge Robert C. Jones of the Federal District Court of Nevada. Last year — in the case of U.S. v. Hage — Jones issued an impassioned preliminary bench ruling in which he charged federal officials of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with an ongoing series of illegal actions against Nevada rancher E. Wayne Hage. Jones described the bureaucrats’ actions as “abhorrent” and a literal, criminal conspiracy.
Which is a pretty apt description of the BLM’s recent actions against Cliven Bundy.
Liquefied Natural Gas Limited said that the Office of Fossil Energy of the Department of Energy (DOE), United States, has granted authorisation for Magnolia LNG to export up to 4 mpta of LNG, from its proposed LNG project site at the Port of Lake Charles, Louisiana.
The DOE authorisation is valid for LNG sales to commence within 10 years and is then for a period of 25 years from first LNG sales; which sales are permitted to all existing, and any future, countries that have, or enter into, a Free Trade Agreement with the Government of the United States.
The Magnolia LNG Project comprises the proposed development of an 8 mtpa LNG project on a 90 acres site, in an established LNG shipping channel in the La ke Charles District. The project is based on two 4 mtpa development phases, each phase comprising 2 x 2 mtpa LNG production trains, and will use the Company’s wholly owned OSMR ® LNG process technology.
The DOE authorisation, follows the Company’s recent si gning of a Site Option to Lease Term Sheet, with the Lake Charles Harbour & Terminal District (Port Authority. The Company is now:
- Negotiating a definitive and binding Real Estate Le ase Option Agreement with the Port Authority, together with the agreed form of Lease to be executed on Magnolia LNG, LLC exercising the site Lease Option;
- In discussion with a number of parties who have expr essed interest to enter in to a Tolling Agreement, under which the Tolling Party will be responsible for arranging gas suppl y to the Magnolia LNG Project and the LNG buyers and ships. The Magnolia LNG Project will treat and liquefy the gas, store the produced LNG and load the LNG onto the LNG buyer’s ships, in consideration of a Capacity Fee and Processing Fee; and
- Progressing work on the Magnolia LNG Project’s Pre File Application, which is required to be submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Co mmittee and represents the commencement of the project’s required permits and approvals process.
Managing Director Maurice Brand said “We are very pleased that the DOE authorisation had been received in accordance with the Company’s developmen t schedule. Our ability to meet key milestones will be a critical factor in discussions with potential Tolling Parties.”
Golden Pass Products said it has received authorization from the United States Department of Energy to export domestically produced natural gas as liquefied natural gas from the Golden Pass LNG terminal in Sabine Pass, Texas, to nations that have existing Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with the U.S.
The proposed project involves construction of natural gas liquefaction and export capabilities at the existing Golden Pass LNG facility. If developed, the project would represent approximately $10 billion of investment on the U.S. Gulf Coast, generating billions of dollars of economic growth at local, state and national levels and millions of dollars in taxes to local, state and federal governments. The project would generate approximately 9,000 construction jobs over five years with peak construction employment reaching about 3,000 jobs.
The proposed project would have the capacity to send out approximately 15.6 million tons of LNG per year. New infrastructure required to export will be located on the existing property, which contains two berths for LNG tankers, five storage tanks and access to the Golden Pass pipeline. The expanded facility would then have the capability and flexibility to both import and export natural gas.
As noted in the FTA application, Golden Pass also plans to submit an application to export LNG to non-FTA nations. A final investment decision will be made following government and regulatory approvals and will be based on a range of factors.
Golden Pass Products, a partnership of Qatar Petroleum International and ExxonMobil affiliates, has submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Golden Pass LNG receiving terminal at Sabine Pass, Texas.
The proposed project involves construction of natural gas liquefaction and export capabilities at the existing Golden Pass LNG facility. A final investment decision will be made following government and regulatory approvals.
If developed, the project would represent approximately $10 billion of investment on the Gulf Coast, generating billions of dollars of economic growth at local, state and national levels and millions of dollars in taxes to local, state and federal governments. The project would generate approximately 9,000 construction jobs over five years with peak construction employment reaching about 3,000 jobs.
The proposed project would have the capacity to send out approximately 15.6 million tons of LNG per year. New infrastructure required to export will be located on the existing property, which currently contains two berths for LNG tankers, five storage tanks and access to the Golden Pass pipeline. The expanded facility would then have the capability and flexibility to both import and export natural gas.
The proposed expansion of Golden Pass is an opportunity to capitalize on America’s abundant natural gas resources. The Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2012 shows that the United States has substantial gas supplies that can support gas exports, including LNG exports, over the longer term.
The application filed with the DOE is to export natural gas to nations that have existing free trade agreements (FTA) with the United States. A similar application is planned for non-FTA countries.
- U.S. Expected to Approve Expanded LNG Exports to Japan (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Pro-LNG Export Group Urges Chu to “Think A Little Differently” (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Houston, TX: OGS Wins FEED Work for Lavaca Bay LNG Project (USA) (mb50.wordpress.com)
A report published by Baker & McKenzie has said that last year the US government approved exports from a second terminal, and decisions on eight other applications for export approval are expected later this year.
Implications for Japanese LNG buyers and investors
The report stressed that expanded U.S. LNG exports represents an opportunity not only for Japanese LNG buyers to diversify their supply sources with shale gas but also at more competitive pricing linked to Henry Hub prices rather than oil prices. Japanese companies also could establish value chains in the U.S. by investing in projects to build export facilities and by acquiring interests in shale gas fields.
Since 1967 the Kenai LNG Plant in Alaska, which produced all eight of the LNG cargoes shipped from the U.S. to Japan in 2011, had been the only LNG plant with export approval. This changed last year when the Sabine Pass facility in Louisiana obtained export approval. Eight other applications for export approval are now pending.
Export approval process and outlook
Under the Natural Gas Act gas exports require permission from the federal government. Such permission is only granted if the Department of Energy (DOE) determines that the proposed exports are consistent with the public interest. Exports to 17 countries which have free trade agreements (FTAs) with the U.S. are deemed consistent with the public interest and the DOE must approve exports to these countries “without modification or delay”. In contrast, approvals for exports to non-FTA countries, including Japan, are subject to a lengthy public interest finding process which allows for comments, protests, and motions to intervene from interested parties.
The applicable legislation does not require the DOE to take action on applications within a certain timeframe. After Sabine Pass received approval for exports to non-FTA countries in May last year, the DOE suspended consideration of all applications pending the results of a study on the impact of exports on the domestic energy market. This followed complaints from some U.S. lawmakers who were concerned that exports might increase domestic prices. The domestic market impact study was initially scheduled to be completed by the first quarter of this year, but it is still pending and is now expected to be completed later this summer. Accordingly, none of the pending applications are likely to be approved until the fourth quarter of this year at the earliest.
There are, however, some reasons to believe there is political support for expanding LNG exports to non-FTA countries such as Japan. For example, on July 2, 2012, a bipartisan group of 21 members of Congress from states with shale gas deposits sent a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu urging the DOE to expedite the pending LNG export applications. In February, Secretary Chu said he supports LNG exports, and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda also said he discussed expanding LNG exports when he met with President Barack Obama on April 30, 2012.
Actions to consider
• Conduct preliminary due diligence on LNG projects with pending non-FTA export approval applications, as these projects are likely to be now seeking LNG buyers and equity investors.
• Monitor the DOE’s non-FTA export approval process.
• Investigate the compatibility of LNG produced from U.S. shale gas with regasification facilities and pipeline networks in Japan
Given the currently wide differential between the Henry Hub spot price used for trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and JCC pricing, expanded LNG exports produced from U.S. shale gas fields is a potential game changer for the gas market in Northeast Asia, and Japan in particular. From the Japanese buyer’s perspective, it is clear that approvals for further export terminals is an important development to monitor in order to position themselves as potential buyers and equity investors. For more information, please contact Colin Cook or Hiromitsu Kato.
Source: Baker & McKenzie via: Source
- Japan LNG Demand on the Rise, Looks to Secure US Export Contracts (gcaptain.com)
- It’s a Ridiculously Good Year to Own an LNG Ship [REPORT] (gcaptain.com)