Friday, August 03, 2007

$850,000 for what??

LIPA ratepayers (like me) spent $850,000 on a 157-page "compilation" of information (the Levitan report) that Kessel now says LIPA may or may not even use! Kessel asked Levitan in 2005 to do this "assessment" so LIPA could make "a recommendation" to the governor. I'm certainly not anxious for that to happen, because it's pretty obvious where LIPA would come down on Broadwater, at least if Kessel has anything to say about it. But $850,000 of rate payer's money for what amounts to a PR event for Broadwater? That's pretty outrageous, even for LIPA.

Levitan & Associates is an LNG industry consultant. Among other things, it failed to take into account many of the proposed storage facility's costs — both to the environment and to the local economy. The report is a ratepayer-funded $850,000 "justification" for Broadwater prepared by one of the LNG industry's trusted consultants.

Environmentalist Tom Andersen (author of "This Fine Piece of Water: An Environmental History of Long Island Sound") writes in his "Sphere" blog that the 10-year "value" of the Sound, based on data collected by the Long Island Sound Study, is $55 billion. Andersen poses the question: Does it make sense to jeopardize a resource worth $55 billion to the local economy to save $14.8 billion?


Anonymous said...

Denise - there is no reason to think locating an LNG facility would damage the economy around the Long Island Sound. Actually, if history is any guide, property values and tourism are unaffected by LNG. The city of Savannah, GA has shown an increase in tourism every year since the reopening of the Elba Island LNG facility there. The Westin Savannah Harbor Resort was built during the restart of Elba Island. It sits just 5 miles from the Elba Island tanks and is clearly visible from the hotel.

Same with Lake Charles, LA. L'Auberge Du Lac resort, casino, and golf opened a few years ago, just 6 miles from an LNG import terminal. You can see the LNG tanks from this hotel also. L'Auberge Du Lac

One local report brings up LNG in a positive story about rising property values. Brazoria County A popular state park and beach are located across the road from the LNG facility. Surfside Beach vacation homes are less than 1 mile from the LNG tanks.

The idea that an LNG facility will destroy tourism in the Sound is just nonsense.

mikeo said...

Way too modest, anonymous. Your reportage (strangely reminiscent of a certain spokesman we've come to know) shows that offshore LNG doesn't merely leave property values and tourism "unaffected," but rather gives them a definite boost. After all, who can resist a flotilla of LNG tankers with militarized escort, the spectacle of belching smokestacks, the twinkling of factory lights on a clear night, huge off-limit zones for recreational boaters, and, of course, the prospect of a terrorist attack? Hope you'll book a vacation to our parts in the future if the project goes through.

Anonymous said...

mikeo - I merely pointed out that other places hosting LNG terminals haven't experienced any loss of tourism or property values. I showed you two examples where companies put up big money to develop resorts near LNG terminals. It seems they aren't concerned.

If you have any facts or examples to back up your opinion, we would all love to hear it.

Anonymous said...

I would challenge Denise to call the Savannah or Lake Charles tourism bureaus to ask them about the LNG terminals in their communities. Maybe take a little trip to Savannah and ride the paddlewheeler out past Elba Island. Contact the Brazoria County newspaper to ask them about their experience with LNG. Call someone in Port Arthur, Texas. Or call Councilman Mark Scott in Corpus Christi, Texas. He has extensively researched LNG because three LNG terminals permitted in his community. By the way, they have also just come off a record tourist season.

mikeo said...

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics"
- Mark Twain

Comparing the gulf coast (Lake Charles and Brazoria), which is already filled with oil refineries and other industrial plants (and which has some of the worst environmental problems in the country) and Savannah, one of the busiest ports in the U.S., to eastern Long Island Sound is absurd - just another example of
Fraudwater's ongoing campaign of deceit and disinformation. In those places an LNG terminal is barely noticed, a drop in the bucket. By the way, since you brought it up, the Elba Island (Savannah) terminal had a scare last year when one of the LNG tankers broke loose from its moorings while making a delivery, the result of human error. One wonders what would have been the effect on tourism had there been a spill. And rather than Denise contacting a few LNG shills - LNG hush money usually flows freely and helps these projects get completed - I'd suggest she contact local public interest groups.

Anonymous said...

Mikeo - as for pollution, perhaps Long Island has something to learn from the Gulf Coast. Take a look at this map: US Overall Non-attainment

The worst air pollution in the country is in California and the tri-state area. Most of the heating and electric generation on Long Island burns fuel oil, which produces higher amounts of particulates and ozone. Without a secure, and plentiful supply of natural gas, power producers won't switch. Most days the air in Harris County Texas (Houston), is healthier than Nassau County.

Clean burning natural gas is preferable to dirty fuel oil and coal.

Besides, Long Island has its share of industrial and energy infrastructure. There is Northpoint, the Northville oil storage facility, the LNG facility in Holtsville (plus LNG in Brooklyn & Queens), Port Jefferson and other facilities.

Maybe Broadwater isn't the answer, but we can't continue to reject EVERYTHING.

mikeo said...

L.I. fishermen would probably not want to embrace the regulatory regime of the Gulf Coast. The Gulf Coast dead zone has devasted fisheries there and is estimated this summer to be the size of Massachusettes. Maybe there's a connection between such facts (which we know you're so fond of) and the rejection of Broadwater by the vast majority of our local fishermen. And your concern over air pollution is belied by your request for an exemption from air pollution standards over the proposed facility.

Your contention that people opposed to Broadwater reject everything is a self-serving canard, par for the Broadwater course. Please refrain from making opponents out to be elitists when it is in fact Broadwater/Shell that looks to privatize a big chunk of the sound. You cloak yourself in anonymity precisely because you don't want to be identified with the pampered energy interests that are coming off a record year for profits. It is energy companies that have access to the real elites, Shell et. al. who spread lots of money around in order to control siting decisions in the 2005 energy bill. It is you, not us, who are in league with elitists and actual elites...don't rob working stiffs (like me) of a public resource.

Besides, Broadwater opponents locally have endorsed an array of alternatives: Islander East, Millennium, repowering old, dirty plants, wind, solar. Alternatives are starved for money, incidentally, because of the tax breaks companies like yours receive. Yes, there is already dirty infrastructure on the Sound, but just because it has a cough doesn't mean it might as well have pneumonia. That's the effect the scale of your project and the precedent it will set will have.

Anonymous said...

Mikeo - the Gulf dead zone has nothing to do with energy or regulations. Excess nitrogen from agricultural runoff causes the dead zone. Blame midwestern farmers.

Since I don't work for Broadwater I can't comment on their air permit. I just don't know.

Islander East and Millenium won't help. It is cheaper to transport LNG as gas from the Gulf Coast than it is to bring it into Canada then south on existing pipelines. During the winter, when Long Island needs the gas the most, the pipelines are chock full. Adding more lines might increase flexibility, but won't do anything to bring in badly needed supplies.

We need LNG near the market areas where it is used. That will attract new sources of supply. No repowering without ample, secure, and competitively supplied natural gas - just the thing LNG imports will supply.

Alternatives would be nice. Lucky for us Shell is a major investor in solar. Except that won't help keep Suffolk county residents warm in the winter. For that we need natural gas.

mikeo said...

Most researchers agree that industrial discharges contribute to hypoxia in the Gulf. And failure to regulate pollution, whether from farmers, big energy or other sources, has everything to do with the sorry state of the Gulf. It's hard to believe anyone would think otherwise...yours is an argument only an energy executive (oh, sorry, forgot) could love. Regulation is anathema to companies like Shell, which is why it loves operating in places that have little or none. They can go about their business freely, without government oversight and intrusion, and this they do, as the environmental devastation in Russia (Sakhalin II) and the Niger Delta, among other places, attests. But the Gulf isn't in bad shape only because of discharges. Energy exploration/dredging in shallow waters has done a number on spawning grounds there.

The cases of the Gulf (your example) and places further afield have everything to do with Broadwater. Even the best-case scenario admits of major disruption to the Sound's fragile ecology - this after years and lots of money trying to bring it back. Environmentalists and fishermen don't always see eye-to-eye, but even they (fishermen) don't want to touch this project. Tells you something. Add to this some ominous signs, such as Broadwater's desire to be exempted from air regulations (but you wouldn't know anything about that) and the challenges (ahem) the company has had so far with the truth, and you start to get a queasy feeling.

Thanks for acknowledging the alternatives/renewables your opponents have put forward. Must have been tough; guess we don't reject "everything" after all. The problem of solar storage might be solved one day, by the way, if we could pry some of your money away from the federal government and use it for research and development. And your fear mongering, your doomsday scenario of an energy-starved LI freezing in the winter is refuted by even your favorite report of the moment. The Levitan Report says that Broadwater is not needed at the present, and that future demand can be met by expansion of existing infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

Mikeo - I am going to agree with you. Broadwater is just the wrong idea. Too big, too conventional, it takes up too much space and it doesn't provide much in benefits to those impacted.

We need more gas supplies. If it has to be LNG, then it should be smaller, integrated into an existing power plant or industrial facility, onshore to provide direct tax benefits, and there needs to be something more in it for residents in the immediate area. Something like preferred gas and electric rates, maybe reserving some of the gas or electric for attracting new business. The facility should be no or low polluting. Maybe they should repower Port Jefferson or the peaker at Shoreham. Perhaps they could use recycled municipal waste water.

Hypoxia results from excess nitrogen and phosphorous in the water. The source is agricultural runoff and untreated municipal waste water.

I'm not going to stick up for Shell, I don't have anything to do with them, other than sometimes filling up at one of their stations. Shell operates throughout the world including places like Norway, where you don't hear complaints about them.

The majority owner of the Shell joint venture in Nigeria is the government. Shell receives a processing fee for developing the oil. Here you go: Shell Nigeria Nigeria is one of the most corrupt countries on earth. Yes there are problems there and sometimes Shell and other companies get caught up in them. What you don't hear is that the locals frequently sabotage the oil lines to steal oil or to demand reparations for the damage they themselves cause. The foreign oil companies also operate offshore. You never hear about enviromental problems in the offshore blocks.

You talked about damage in the Gulf. Overfishing has done more harm than oil and gas production. Yes, it was common practice to cut canals into shallow marshes to allow access for oil and gas production. But it hasn't been allowed for 30 years.

Modern drilling and production practices capture and retain virtually all the solid and liquid wastes. They are even required to catch and hold rain water in case there is any contamination from drilling fluids or oil. Spilling even a few barrels of oil is a big deal and must be reported. The rigs do create some air pollution, so I guess they aren't perfect.