"The last time the federal government wrote regulations for the liquefied natural gas industry, Pac-Man was the hot new video game and Ronald Reagan was on his way to the White House for the first time.
It was 1980, and the idea of chilling natural gas to subzero temperatures and loading it onto ships was a novelty in the United States. Forty-two years later, the LNG industry is growing rapidly — along with local pollution, climate-warming methane emissions, and the risk of fires and explosions to communities.
By the end of this year, the Transportation Department’s pipeline safety regulator may have new guidelines for the industry. But the process is fraught with uncertainty: It has failed once before, in 2016, and the industry is already lining up to argue for a light-handed approach.
In the meantime, near-misses and environmental problems highlight the risk. Most recently, a fireball at a plant near Freeport, Texas, touched off a fire that burned for 40 minutes, led to the temporary closure of the plant and knocked about 20 percent of U.S. export capacity offline for months, disrupting the United States’ plan to replace Russian gas in Europe (Energywire, June 15)."