Since hurricanes Katrina and Rita slammed the Gulf Coast nearly five months ago, the region has lost more than 610 billion cubic feet of natural gas production. There is no single solution to offsetting supply disruptions, but economists, industry executives and analysts advocate placing above-ground storage tanks along the nation's coasts where energy companies can store imported liquefied natural gas, also known as LNG. Once stored in these receiving terminals, the natural gas would be shipped via pipelines throughout the United States. Proponents say the tanks are safe, a vital means to energy companies' organic growth and a way to help ease a possible drag on the economy. Critics, however, say these storage tanks - each the size of a baseball field - are potentially dangerous, especially in densely populated regions, and an easy terrorist target. For now, there are four onshore LNG storage terminals
, one each in Massachusetts, Maryland, Georgia and Louisiana that date to the mid-1980s, plus an offshore terminal in the Gulf of Mexico. Most of the proposed sites are along the energy friendly Gulf Coast, fresh off two major hurricanes but also where infrastructure - pipelines, shipping channels and ports - are in place. Proposals along the coasts, however, are being met with steadfast resistance from communities fearing the fallout from an accident or terrorist attack. LNG terminals import
about 3 percent of the nation's natural gas. The U.S. also imports another 12 percent of its natural gas, but not LNG, from Canada. It produces the remaining 85 percent. Industry analysts and executives estimate that percentage of LNG imports could reach 15 percent of U.S. natural gas by 2012.
(Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer)