Floating LNG Terminal OKd for Long Island Sound

WASHINGTON, DC, March 25, 2008 (ENS) – The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, Thursday unanimously approved Broadwater Energy’s proposal to build and operate the first floating terminal for the storage and delivery of liquefied natural gas in the United States.

Broadwater Energy, a joint venture between Shell Oil and TransCanada Corporation, has proposed to permanently moor an LNG terminal to the bottom of Long Island Sound in New York waters. Most of the gas from Broadwater would flow into New York City via Iroquois’ Eastchester lateral from Northport to the terminus at Hunts Point.

The terminal would be located nine miles offshore of Riverhead in Suffolk County, New York and 10.2 miles from the nearest onshore point in Connecticut. FERC estimates that Broadwater would handle 118 liquefied natural gas carriers each year, about two per week.

The U.S. Coast Guard has indicated that a safety zone seven-tenths of a mile wide would be placed around the terminal for security and public safety.

Artist’s rendering of the Broadwater LNG
terminal in Long Island Sound with
a tanker alongside. (Image
courtesy Broadwater)

“This decision is an important step forward in bringing new clean, reliable, affordable natural gas supply to a region where prices are volatile and climbing, air quality is a concern and is located at the end of the pipeline delivery system,” said John Hritcko, senior vice president, Broadwater LLC. “Without new energy supply, energy consumers will continue to face volatile and increasing natural gas prices in New York and Connecticut.”

New York and Connecticut officials have objected to the facility. In Hartford, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Thursday he would fight the approval up to the highest court.

“I will request a rehearing immediately,” Blumenthal said, “and then mount an all-out court appeal if the FERC refuses to reverse, as we expect. I will fight this project at every agency and in every court up to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.”

After three years of intensive review, FERC found that the project is consistent with the public interest.

Commission Chairman Joseph Kelliher said, “Based on all available scientific facts, we approve the Broadwater project today, subject to rigorous conditions, because it can meet the projected energy needs for New York City, Long Island and Connecticut, and can provide the service safely, securely and with limited adverse impact on the environment.”

“I regret that this proceeding has been so controversial,” said FERC’s Kelliher. “I respect public opinion, and we have gone to great lengths to respond to the legitimate concerns raised by the public. Doing so has been made more difficult by the attitude of some public officials in the region, who have chosen to exploit and inflame public fears. These public officials have done a great disservice to the citizens in the region, which is regrettable.”

Nevertheless, the Connecticut attorney general is adamant that the project will not be built. “FERC’s decision to approve this environmental atrocity is ill-conceived, illogical and illegal,” Blumenthal said. “Broadwater is an unneeded abomination that will damage Long Island Sound, endanger human safety, disrupt navigation and degrade the quality of life.”

“New York is a final firewall that can kill this breathtakingly bad project – effectively blocking federal approval – because it violates New York state law and policy. I recently wrote New York Governor David Paterson, urging him to drive a stake through this monster’s heart. We will vigorously pursue the fight against the project there.”

“There have also been charges that FERC environmental and safety review has been inadequate,” said Kelliher. “Those charges are false, belied by the sheer size of the draft and final environmental impact statement [elibrary.ferc.gov] issued by FERC in this proceeding.”

The Commission considered the findings reflected in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, EIS, issued in January 2008 and determined that with the implementation of more than 80 specified mitigation measures, the project will result in limited adverse environmental impacts and fewer environmental impacts than any alternatives considered.

Broadwater says the EIS was developed with the assistance of numerous federal agencies, as well as New York and Connecticut state agencies. “Nearly 30 FERC staff, who have masters and doctoral degrees in their field of study, helped prepare the EIS,” the company said.

Blumenthal says that EIS gives Connecticut legal grounds on which to block the project. “FERC’s fatal legal failing is its refusal to consider alternatives to Broadwater that would provide more natural gas with less danger to public safety and environmental resources,” he said.

“FERC based its approval of Broadwater on a fatally flawed environmental impact study that ignored vital facts and information,” the attorney general said. “It inexplicably ignored better, even bigger alternatives – including Exxon’s Blue Ocean LNG facility off New Jersey – that avoid Broadwater’s fatal pitfalls.”

The nonprofit Citizens Campaign for the Environment, based in New York with an office in Connecticut, also is opposed to the Broadwater project.

“This means that for the first time in the Sound’s history, a section of the open water body will be given over to a private corporation, the environmental group says. “Gunned security vessels would patrol the no access zone 24/7. No fishing, boating, canoeing, swimming or sailing will be allowed.”

To public objections that the Broadwater floating terminal will industrialize Long Island Sound, the company says the Sound is already industrialized. “Petroleum and coal products make up the bulk of marine movements with 47 million tons transported through Long Island Sound annually,” the company says on its website. “Much of this cargo makes its way to the Northville oil terminal situated one mile off the coast of Riverhead, New York, or to a coal-lightering area three miles from the Bridgeport [Connecticut] shoreline, where coal is off-loaded from the ships onto barges for use in the Bridgeport power plant.”

“Our challenge now is to develop new, cleaner, more efficient energy facilities that will reduce pollution that goes into the air and water,” the company says. “One way to do that is by replacing oil and coal with cleaner burning natural gas from Broadwater.”

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