Economic group looks to liquefied natural gas

The Grand Junction Economic Partnership is planning a study on what exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) could mean to the Western Slope economy.

Officials with the partnership hope to complete a white paper and applied-
research study this year, said Executive Director Kelly Flenniken,

The project has the support of Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., who wrote to the partnership saying such a study is “timely and vital for responsible development” of the natural gas stores of the Piceance Basin.

“We hope this white paper will be a tool for (Udall) as he works to get congressional approval” for more exports of liquefied natural gas, Flenniken said.

The U.S. Department of Energy is considering as many as 20 applications for liquefied natural gas terminals.

Udall said in a Jan. 27 letter that he was working with the department “to fashion a strategy regarding permit approval for LNG export facilities that is beneficial to Colorado, our economy, our environment and our nation.”

A study commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute said liquefied natural gas exports could boost the U.S. gross national product by $15.6 billion to $73.6 billion a year between 2016 and 2035.

The economic partnership’s study will look at a range of possibilities, including transforming the Piceance Basin into more of a manufacturing area in which the region’s gas could be cooled and liquefied, Flenniken said.

It also will look at a range of other possibilities, she said.

“The study will look at all these pieces to determine what is the best possible case for the West Slope and western Colorado,” Flenniken said.

The partnership is seeking grants to conduct the study, she said.

In other efforts to promote the use of liquefied natural gas, legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., calls for liquefied natural gas to be taxed on the basis of energy output, putting it on an equal footing with diesel.

“Using more LNG in our transportation sector can clean up our air and help address climate change, but the current tax system is putting this fuel at a disadvantage,” Bennet said.


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