Boaters fly burgees to protest Broadwater

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Save the Sound initiates campaign protesting a proposed LNG facility in Long Island Sound

Save the Sound initiates campaign protesting a proposed LNG facility in Long Island Sound

Save the Sound, a program of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, in September launched “Boaters Against Broadwater,” a monthlong campaign to get Connecticut and New York boaters to speak out against Broadwater Energy’s proposal to construct a liquefied natural gas storage and re-gasification facility in Long Island Sound. On Sept. 1, the group held its first meeting at the Norwalk (Conn.) Cove Marina.

“Long Island Sound is a playground that belongs to the people of Connecticut and New York, not to one private group,” Adrian Little, vice commodore of the Minuteman Yacht Club of Westport, Conn., said as he raised a Boaters Against Broadwater “Our Water, Not Broadwater” burgee on his 39-foot Baltic sloop, Thula, at the meeting. Little says the proposed LNG plant would pose security and environmental risks, and would limit people’s access to the Sound.

“We’re hoping to encourage boaters to fly this burgee to help get awareness in everyone’s minds about the negative impact this project will have on the boating community,” he said.

Boaters Against Broadwater members also met Sept. 5 at the New Haven (Conn.) Yacht Club to raise the burgees and blow their horns in protest. Members attended four Coast Guard meetings in September (two in New York, two in Connecticut), which were held to receive public input regarding safety and exclusion zones for the proposed facility.

Broadwater Energy of New York (a partnership between TransCanada and Shell Oil) has proposed a floating LNG terminal in the broadest part of Long Island Sound, about nine miles from Long Island and 11 miles from Connecticut. The 1,200-foot-long, 70-foot-high terminal would accept LNG from tankers, convert it back to a gaseous state, and pump it into a pipeline for consumer use.

Opponents of the proposal argue that the facility would be a safety risk and negatively affect boating and fishing because of increased barge traffic. Many are also against using the Sound for industrial purposes.

“We received so many phone calls from boaters wanting more information about the proposal that we decided to make available our information and to open up a discussion,” says Leah Lopez, director of legislative and legal affairs for Save the Sound. “The boaters wanted to show people why they think the Broadwater proposal is a bad idea so we came up with this campaign and developed the burgees. It’s important to realize that if we don’t do something about this now, it will be more difficult further down the line to stop other industrial projects in the Sound.”

Proponents of the project say the LNG facility would help the region meet its demand for gas, enhance energy reliability, improve air quality and contribute to local economies.

“I think it’s unfortunate that people are coming out against a proposal that’s still in the design stage,” says Amy Kelley, an environmental advisor for Broadwater Energy. “We’re asking boaters to get all the facts, give us their input and work with us to make sure this facility can work in the Sound, and that they can continue to use the waters as they have been.”

Kelley also says that Broadwater is willing to schedule LNG deliveries around certain boating events in the area.

Joel Rinebold, another environmental advisor for Broadwater, says he also hopes boaters will collect the facts and make their voices heard about the proposal. “While I do have great respect for environmental groups, I think Save the Sound is jumping the gun with this campaign,” says Rinebold, who’s been sailing the Sound for more than 30 years. “It’s premature. I encourage boaters to engage in the process, but the facts are not all out there yet. ”

As of early September a total of 22 towns had taken formal stands against the proposed Broadwater Energy facility, says Save the Sound’s Lopez. She hopes the Boaters Against Broadwater campaign helped increase people’s awareness about the project.

“As more facts about this proposal come out, we hope to get more people, more groups, more boaters and more boating clubs to become involved in this effort,” she says.

Broadwater Energy: www.broadwaterenergy.com

Connecticut Fund for the Environment: www.cfenv.org

Save the Sound: www.savethesound.org