From Times/Review Newspapers www.timesreview.com
By Denise Civiletti
Broadwater’s plan to build and operate a liquefied natural gas terminal in L.I. Sound cleared a major hurdle today.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement on Broadwater’s controversial plan, concluding that, with recommended mitigation measures in place, the project “would result in limited adverse environmental impacts.”
FERC staff determined that the proposed location in central L.I. Sound, approximately nine miles north of Wading River, would be the “least environmentally damaging alternative that would still meet the purpose and need of the project.”
Now the five-member commission will determine whether to grant Broadwater Energy’s permit application as a project that is “consistent with the public interest,” according to the FEIS.
“We welcome the issuance of the FEIS,” said Broadwater senior vice president John Hritcko in a written statement. “The attention to details by the federal and state agencies involved is clearly evident and we will be reviewing the findings and conclusions over the coming days,” Mr. Hritcko said. “We are pleased that this stage of the regulatory review is complete and, in the coming months, look forward to the Commissioners’ decision on Broadwater’s proposal.
The next major hurdle for the project is obtaining a determination from the N.Y. state department that the project is consistent with the state’s coastal zone management policy. The state department had postponed its ruling until the FEIS was issued by FERC. By law, the state had six months from the issuance of the DEIS to make its consistency determination. But Broadwater Energy agreed to several extensions of the deadline, to allow the state agency the opportunity to review the FEIS before making its own decision. The current extension agreement expires Feb. 12.
Stephen Resler, deputy bureau chief of the resources management bureau in the state department’s division of coastal resources, said today the DOS plans to issue its consistency determination on or before the current deadline.
Governor Eliot Spitzer has not said publicly whether his administration would support the Broadwater application.
“This is exactly what we expected FERC to do, it’s not a surprise,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and a leader in the opposition to Broadwater’s plans. “This is why all eyes are on Gov. Spitzer. We need our governor to stand up for the environment. We didn’t expect FERC to. We do expect Gov. Spitzer to,” she said.
Broadwater Energy LLC seeks to build a 1,200-foot-long liquefied natural gas terminal in the middle of L.I. Sound, approximately nine miles north of Herod’s Point, Wading River and 11 miles south of the Connecticut shore. The facility, resembling a large vessel, would be the first of its kind in the world. It would be permanently moored offshore and would connect with the existing Iroquois pipeline via a new 30-inch, 22-mile subsea pipeline. The terminal would have a capacity of eight billion cubic feet of LNG, and would take delivery from LNG tankers at the rate of two to three tankers per week, according to the Broadwater EIS. The LNG, which is shipped in a liquid state at minus 260 degrees Farenheit, would be heated at the terminal to return it to a gaseous state.
In addition to the FERC permit and the consistency ruling from the N.Y. state department, Broadwater needs to obtain other permits and approvals from various state and federal agencies. Among them are an air quality permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, a DEC wastewater discharge permit, a letter of recommendation from the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port of Long Island Sound concerning the suitability of the Sound for the proposed project, and the agreement of N.Y. state to lease the underwater land on which the facility would be moored to a 7,000 square foot tower structure, as well as the land in which the new pipeline will be laid.
Broadwater’s construction timeline would have the new plant put in service in late December 2010.