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Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) is NOT "clean energy": Oz Labor contrary claims mean Voters must Put Labor Last

by Open-Publishing - Monday 5 April 2010

Energy Australia

Combustion of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) yields the Humanity- and Biosphere-threatening greenhouse gas (GHG) carbon dioxide (CO2) and accordingly LNG is not “clean energy” as incorrectly asserted by corporations and politicians promoting the use of this dirty, CO2-polluting fossil fuel.

Rational risk management (that, for example, has made passenger aviation extremely safe) successively involves (a) accurate data, (b) scientific analysis (this involving critical testing of potentially falsifiable hypotheses) and (c) systemic change to minimize harm from adverse events.

Unfortunately this crucial process is typically subverted by (a) false statements, censorship and intimidation, (b) anti-science spin involving the selective use of asserted facts to support a partisan position, and (c) blame and shame rather than sensible systemic change (with the further negative outcome of inhibition of vital honest reportage).

Accordingly, incorrect assertions that “LNG is clean energy” fundamentally violates rational risk management in general and in particular in relation to the acute threat to Humanity and the Biosphere from man-made global warming due to profligate greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution.

Thus the US Center for Liquefied Natural Gas (CLNG) “is a trade association of LNG producers, shippers, terminal operators and developers, energy trade associations and natural gas consumers. CLNG is a clearinghouse of educational and technical information. It also facilitates rational issue discussion and the development of public policies that support LNG’s increasing contribution toward meeting the nation’s energy needs and supporting economic growth.” [1].

The CLNG states: “Liquefied Natural Gas: Securing America’s Clean Energy Future. As we continue to seek solutions to combat global climate change, one energy source deserves a second look — Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). LNG is clean energy and will play an increasingly important role in helping our nation improve air quality and ensuring a secure and diverse energy supply in the coming years. LNG is simply natural gas in liquid form. LNG is non-toxic, odorless, and burns cleanly. It would not result in a slick if spilled on water or land, and it is easily integrated into our nation’s current energy infrastructure”. [1].

Unfortunately, this is simply NOT true - basic chemistry familiar to high school students says that LNG is NOT “clean energy”

LNG (mostly methane, CH4) is NOT "clean energy” – indeed on a weight basis LNG is twice (2 times) as dirty as brown coal in terms of production of the greenhouse gas (GHG) carbon dioxide CO2.

The danger to the planet of the pollutant CO2 is so great that many leading climate scientists and biological scientists support the need for an atmospheric CO2 concentration in the range 300-350 ppm i.e. after “rounding down” and applying the “precautionary principle” of the lower safe limit, an atmospheric CO2 concentration of about 300 ppm (the upper limit for the last 600,000 years except for the last half century or so). [2].

Complete combustion of both LNG (CH4) and coal (C) yields carbon dioxide (CO2) thus:
CH4 + 2 O2 -> CO2 + 2 H2O and C + O2 -> CO2.

Now the atomic weight of carbon (C) is 12, and the molecular weights of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) are 16 and 44, respectively (the atomic weights of C, O and H being about 12, 16 and 1, respectively).

Accordingly, burning 16 tonnes of CH4 yields 44 tonnes CO2 (i.e. burning 1 tonne of LNG yields 2.8 tonnes CO2) and burning 12 tonnes of C yields 44 tonnes of CO2 (i.e. burning 1 tonne of coal – assuming it to be 100% carbon – yields 3.7 tonnes of CO2).

Brown coal (that is burned to produce most of the electricity in Victoria, Australia) has a water (H2O) content of about 65% and thus burning 1 tonne of brown coal would yield 0.35 x 3.7 = 1.3 tonnes of CO2, or about 46% of that produced by burning 1 tonne of LNG (2.8 tonnes of CO2).

Australia is a world leader in annual per capita greenhouse gas pollution as seen from the following statistics. “annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution” in units of “tonnes CO2-equivalent per person per year” (2005-2008 data) is 0.9 (Bangladesh), 0.9 (Pakistan), 2.2 (India), less than 3 (many African and Island countries), 3.2 (the Developing World), 5.5 (China), 6.7 (the World), 11 (Europe), 16 (the Developed World), 27 (the US) and 30 (Australia; or 54 if Australia’s huge Exported CO2 pollution is included). However Australia, already the world’s biggest coal exporter is rapidly expanding its huge LNG exports from the NW Shelf of Australia and from Queensland coal mines. [3].

The pro-war, pro-Zionist, pro-coal, pro-LNG Australian Labor Federal Government is incorrectly claiming that LNG is clean energy as seen from the following quotes from Australia’s Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP.

1. Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP welcoming the announcement from the Inpex Corporation that the contract for Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Darwin has been awarded (16 January 2009) “In addition, I am pleased that feasibility work on the coal seam methane-based LNG projects in Queensland is also continuing full steam ahead. In the present economic climate, the value of such projects and the importance of such investment to the Australian economy cannot be overstated. With Woodside’s Pluto project now in advanced construction, it is vital that further Australian LNG investment is ready to follow on. We have to keep an eye on the long term and the reality is that notwithstanding the current economic conditions, robust economic growth will return and demand will grow for clean energy sources such as LNG in our region. Australia has to be prepared to meet those future LNG markets." [4].

2. According to Australian Energy and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson, PetroChina Co. (PTR), the listed unit of China National Petroleum Corp., Tuesday signed a liquefied natural gas import deal with ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM) worth an estimated A$50 billion over the next 20 years and that Exxon will supply 2.25 million metric tons of LNG a year to PetroChina from Gorgon under the long-term deal (August 2009): “This unprecedented export deal confirms Australia’s importance as a global energy superpower supplying vital clean energy resources and technologies to China and our other Asia-Pacific trading partners. PetroChina is an increasingly important partner in the Australian LNG industry, and I hope the relationship will be long and successful." [5].

3. Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson replying to a question from Chris Trevor MP about LNG, Hansrad p7963, Monday 17 August 2009: “I thank the honorable member for Flynn for his question, In doing so, I indicate that he, like I, understands the importance of the LNG sector to Australia not just from an export point of view but also from a clean energy point of view .. The project also represents a major step forward on clean energy”. [6].

4. Hailing Gorgon’s 41 billion US supply contract with PetroChina this month, the largest trade deal in Australian history, Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson “This unprecedented export deal confirms Australia’s importance as a global energy superpower supplying vital clean energy resources and technologies to China and our other Asia-Pacific trading partners.” [7].

5. Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson interviewed by the ABC about the world’s first export deal of liquefied natural gas mined from a coal seam, worth more than $60 billion, and with the first shipment of gas due to leave the Queensland port of Gladstone in 2014 (March 2010): “The development of the energy industry out of Gladstone potentially opens up domestic gas opportunities. But it’s just not about domestic gas opportunities and energy security. The coal seam methane industry potentially means about $50 billion in investment over time to Australia, tens of billions in exports and tens of thousands of jobs.
This means, in a very strong way yet again, as was the case for the Gorgon project, that Australia is a safe place for investment, there is no sovereign risk and we are a major energy player internationally when it comes to clean energy, namely LNG.” [8].

And of course other members of the pro-coal, pro-LNG, climate criminal Australian Government are also making the same erroneous claim that “LNG is clean energy” as set out in a recent analysis entitled “Correcting the Australian Government - natural gas is NOT “clean energy””. [9].

Incorrect Australian Government claims that “LNG is clean energy” must be condemned because they are (1) simply false, (2) threaten Australia’s security by violating rational risk management, and (3) subvert the proper scientific education of the public and of children in particular. This continuing incorrect assertion demands unequivocal electoral rebuke.

Australia has a compulsory and preferential voting system for Federal Elections in which the voter must list ALL candidates in order of preference. This continuing false assertion by the Australian Labor Government that “LNG is clean energy” indicates that responsible Australians concerned about the acute threat to the planet from man-made global warming should vote #1 for the pro-environment Australian Greens and Put Labor Last.

[1]. “Center for Liquefied Natural Gas (CLNG)”, The Hill, 4 April 2010: http://thehill.com/resources/white-... .

[2]. “300.org - return atmosphere CO2 to 300 ppm”, 300.org: http://sites.google.com/site/300org... ).

[3]. “Australia’s Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution has increased under Labor”, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group: http://sites.google.com/site/yarrav... .

[4]. Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson, “Minister welcomes further steps towards new Australian LNG investment””, Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson website, 16 January 2009: http://minister.ret.gov.au/TheHonMa... .

[5]. Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson quoted in “PetroChina Inks A$50 Billion Australia LNG Import Deal With Exxon”, Nasdaq, August 2009: http://www.nasdaq.com/aspx/company-... .

[6]. Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson replying to a question from Chris Trevor MP about LNG, Hansard p7963, Monday 17 August 2009: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo....

[7]. Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson, quoted in Neil Sands, 30 August 2009, “LNG boom to make Australia “Middle east of gas””, The Age, 30 August 2009: http://news.theage.com.au/breaking-... .

[8]. Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson quoted in “Australia’s biggest resources contract: LNG to China”, ABC Radio Nation, PM Program, 24 March 2010: http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/20... .

[9]. Gideon Polya, “Correcting the Australian Government - natural gas is NOT “clean energy””, Open Forum, 7 February 2010: http://www.openforum.com.au/natural... .