Senator adds voice to anti-LNG campaign

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Members of the advocacy group the Connecticut Fund for the Environment recently organized two informational public discussions about the controversial proposal to construct a floating liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound.

Members of the advocacy group the Connecticut Fund for the Environment recently organized two informational public discussions about the controversial proposal to construct a floating liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound. United States Sen. Joe Lieberman and state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal participated in the discussions.

Lieberman was the featured speaker at a public discussion held in Hartford Feb. 21. At the event Lieberman announced that he “simply cannot” support the LNG proposal, calling it an “unnatural intrusion into the natural order of Long Island Sound.”

Blumenthal, a longtime opponent of Broadwater’s proposal, spoke at an event held Feb. 18 in New London. He told the audience of about 75 that “the Sound is a public trust. It belongs to the people of Connecticut and New York. That’s a legal principle.

Peter Boynton, who commands the Coast Guard’s Long Island Sound division, also attended the Feb. 18 discussion. He explained that the Coast Guard is conducting a safety assessment. According to reports, Coast Guard officials are expected to release their security analysis of the proposal sometime in April.

Broadwater Energy of New York wants to construct a floating liquefied natural gas terminal in the broadest part of Long Island Sound, about nine miles from New York and 11 miles from Connecticut. On Jan. 30 Broadwater submitted its final application for approval to the Federal Energy Regulation Commission, an independent agency that regulates the interstate transport of natural gas and oil.

If the review process goes smoothly Broadwater Energy, a partnership between TransCanada and Shell Oil, hopes the terminal will begin operating by 2010. The company says the terminal will supply enough gas to meet the needs of 4 million customers.

With the filing of Broadwater’s final application, FERC members, who have been considering the proposal for more than a year, will begin reviewing it all over again. It could be 18 months before a decision is made.

“The Broadwater project provides a safe and efficient way to deliver a major new supply of natural gas directly into this growing market,” Broadwater’s senior vice president, John Hritcko Jr., says in a statement.

But not everyone is convinced. In one of a number of statements he’s issued about Broadwater’s proposal, Blumenthal criticizes its final application. “Our state’s pressing energy needs cannot be met by this misguided and monstrous project — which presents a clear and present danger to our security and environment,” he says. “It is the wrong project in the wrong place and will endanger the shared precious marine resources of the Long Island Sound, as well as our vital economic and navigation interests.”

LNG is natural gas that’s been cooled to a liquid state and stored at negative 260 degrees F. As a liquid, it takes up one-600th the volume it does in its gaseous state, making it easier to transport. The proposed 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.

The Coast Guard will be required to enforce an “exclusion zone” around the tankers as they navigate the Sound.

Proponents of the project say the LNG facility would help the region meet its demand for gas, enhance energy relia-bility, improve air quality and contribute to local economies. Opponents of the proposal argue that the facility poses environmental hazards, would be a safety risk, and negatively affect boating and fishing because of increased barge traffic. Many also are against using the Sound for industrial purposes.

In January FERC issued a statement affirming its July 2005 decisions to approve the construction of a LNG terminal proposed by Weaver’s Cove LNG in Fall River, Mass., and to reject KeySpan LNG’s proposal to convert an existing LNG storage facility into an import terminal, citing safety reasons.

For more information, go to www.ferc.gov , www.broadwaterenergy.com and www.cfenv.org .