Aliso Canyon demonstrated that large underground storage facilities for Methane (Natural Gas) can present a major risk. These storage facilities perform a similar function to what electric utilities do to make sure they can cover peak demand with local energy storage or local energy production that can be rapidly accessed. Some such storage for peaking is done at the 1-house level nowdays with the Tesla/SolarCity PowerWall – a large lithium storage battery that can sometimes be enough to cover being off-grid and solar cells are in the dark.
Methane is the #2 planet warming gas, in spite of the fact that once released to the atmosphere,it will decay into CO2 and water with an 11-year half-life. We continue to have large amounts of it released from fossil fuel production and from cattle and other biological sources. With climate reaching temperatures that will potentially reach critical tipping points in the next few decades, we cannot afford to make that worse by letting methane get loose and become “fugitive methane.
Oregon has a facility that is similar to the Aliso Canyon facility. It is permitted by the Oregon Department of Geology and by several of the Oregon Energy Agencies. The process of permitting and regulating the installation does not even mention the possibility of leaking the methane held there, or inspecting the facility for leaks.
Natural Gas is used for generation of electricity, but the other big use is producing building heating, and the home use of that is quite large. The seasonal nature of the heating causes a need to accept gas all year around to the center of use, so that one need not increase the pipeline demands so much in the winter.
In a fury of activity, the dying fossil fuel market is trying to find large customers for their natural gas – which is readily produced by the fracking processes available. These fracking processes have large costs to society that are not born by the industry, and that further encourages their monetizing available product.
Near to the Mist facility is Port Westward. on the Columbia River. There exist plans to site a huge producer of Methyl Alcohol at the port. Methyl Alcohol can be produced by cooking steam and methane together under the right conditions. The Methyl Alcohol can be distilled from the cooker and shipped to customers. In this case, the expected customers are in the Far East – such as Japan, Korea, and China. Methyl Alcohol is used their as a fuel for cars (could be burned in old Volkswagen Beetles), and as a precursor to the chemicals in plastics. So, the Mist Storage Facility serves as a way to help provide both metropolitan heating and potential future export.