Nov 28, 2012

Will DCP wreck Penobscot Bay for a tax writeoff?

The Searsport Planning Board held its second night of  public hearings on the controversial proposal by Colorado based Liquid Petroleum gas distributor DCP Midstream to set up the east coast's biggest LPG tank in Searport Maine.
 DCP's hired dogs and ponies earned their pay by showing power point presentations of masses of highly questionable data and images, purporting to show what a wonderful harmless, innocuous, patriotic opportunity they were offering to area residents. The pettifoggery instead earned each of them a goodly share of contemptuous laughter from the citizenry arrayed before them.
Dr. Phani Raj
 One of DCP's hired guns, "industry expert" Dr Phani Raj , earned the most hisses and mocking laughter. Self described as a longtime master of every fact about LPG, from  the engineering  specifications for plants to the safety and security systems, Dr Strangelove-like, Doctor Raj wanted the people to love this bomb of a megatank.
 Perfectly safe, he assured the crowd, flipping through powerpoints.  While a BLEVE or other mishap was possible, it would never happen. Even the planning board was taken aback by Dr Raj's optimistic fortunetelling. The good doctor's prophetic sense failed him however, when asked by the lawyer repping the owner of the Baits Motel what would happen if terrorists whacked the tank. Would it withstand it? Or would  area residents and their millions of visitors be subject to sudden incineration syndrome?  LPG super expert Raj shrugged. Not his department. This sudden drop in omniscience resulted in hoots and guffaws among the audience, and stern looks from the Searport planning board officials

Then it was Question Time!
 DCP's smoke and mirrors melted away under questioning from the People and  several attorneys aiding them in the struggle against the corporados.

David Italiaander quizzed DCP officials over the financial irrationality of building this 22.4 million gallon import tank  (5 minute mp3 )at a time when domestic propane supplies are at historic highs.
David Italiaander
"How long," Italiaander asked, "will DCP lose $120 million dollars a year importing propane?"  He observed that most energy industry analysts agree that thanks to the new technology of hydro-fracking, propane stocks are projected to be abundant domestically into the foreseeable future.
David Italiaander, right, quizzes DCP
"Are we really to believe that you're going to invest 100s of millions of dollars in losses, to have a terminal that might in 10 or 15 years - if the market turns around -  make money? That's really what you're asking us to believe?" Italiaander asked. "Is that really your contention?"

Company officials hemmed and hawed. The market is fickle, they said.  Maybe someday it WILL be profitable? Who knows? Their inability to explain the reason for the megatank  project, given the tremendous losses the company would incur operating it, makes one wonder: What is really going on? Is exporting, rather than importing propane the real plan?

For, Italiaander pointed out, while DCP Midstream would lose hundreds of millions  a year importing propane through Searsport, the company would turn a tidy profit by exporting liquified propane out of the US at Searsport.

Many others spoke before Italiaander. Their voices will appear here as they come available.

One can't help but wonder if it is as simple and tawdry as a highranking DCP official  in charge of the project with relatives or friends among the Colorado contractors that would swarm the site, deforesting, bulldozing and blasting the Mack Point woods into oblivion,  erecting a perfectly useless eyesore on the coast of Penobscot Bay, then taking their pay and going home?

Will Penobscot Bay be sacrificed to help DCP's tax accountants with a loss leader?

Or will Searsport become a planetary disgrace, vomiting out LPG by the tankerload to boost carbon consumption around the planet?

Neither prospect is good!

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