What does the 60-day extension of the deadline for the N.Y. DOS really mean, anyway?
Gov. Eliot Spitzer's office: It's an opportunity for more dialogue on a complex issue.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal: Broadwater still hasn't provided N.Y. with enough information to make a decision.
Broadwater senior vice president John Hritcko: It's just part of the normal review process. (That's about all Hritcko ever has to say about anything.)
Citizens Campaign for the Environment executive director Adrienne Esposito: It's an opportunity, granted to Shell Oil and TransCanada by Spitzer, to mount a massive PR campaign to change public opinion about Broadwater, so that an OK by NY wouldn't spell political suicide for Spitzer.
I think Esposito's assessment is on target. The media blitz has begun. Last night, I went out for a late dinner with my husband. We were at The Birchwood in Polish Town, here in Riverhead. They have several TVs positioned around the pub-style restaurant. The one facing my seat was tuned to Channel 12. In the course of about an hour, four Broadwater commercials aired.
Dick Amper of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society says Broadwater is spending $100,000 on its media campaign. That's barely a drop of oil in the barrel for Big Energy companies like Shell and TransCanada. They could spend 10 times that without blinking. And they just might.
The DOS has already written its decision (74 pages long) and was prepared to issue it on time, according to a source I can't name, but who is in a position (inside government) to know. The DOS does not believe the floating gas terminal is consistent with the state's coastal resources management plan and its decision letter rejects the plan.
It is possible the delay allows the DOS to dot every i and cross every t, just to make sure the decision can withstand the inevitable legal challenges, my source says.
But this delay is awfully convenient for Broadwater, a chance to blanket the air waves with ads, and distribute checks to local charities (like United Way of Long Island, which got $150,000 from Shell and Broadwater, announced at a press conference in Deer Park Tuesday, which I covered for Times/Review Newspapers.)
The delay also allows Big Energy, including the nuclear crowd, to circle the wagons and apply pressure on the ultimate political decision maker, Eliot Spitzer.
Yesterday afternoon, I got a press release from the N.Y. Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, or NY AREA, announcing "NY AREA calls for state to approve Broadwater: Essential, clean energy is needed now."
NY AREA is a pro-nuclear group partly funded by the owner of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. Its mission, according to its Web site, includes keeping the Indian Point power plant operating.
NY AREA's chairman, according to the press release, is Jerry Kremer — that's Arthur J. (Jerry) Kremer, former Democratic member of the State Assembly (for 23 years), lawyer and registered lobbyist. Clients for whom he has lobbied government include the tobacco giant Phillip Morris, LIPA, and, according to records on the Web site of the state temporary commission on lobbying, NY AREA. (Click here and type in Kremer in the "lobbyist name field" for records 2004 and later.) Jerry Kremer, his law firm and his various lobbying firms (I counted three) have, collectively, given upwards of $50,000 to Eliot Spitzer's political campaigns since 2003 — including donations to "Spitzer 2010," the governor's re-election campaign committee, according to records on the state Board of Elections Web site.
While Broadwater engages in its PR campaign and spreads "good will" by doling out checks to local charities, you can bet political powerhouse lobbyists like Kremer will be working Spitzer behind the scenes to get the State Department's consistency letter rewritten to approve this behemoth gas terminal.
Esposito, meanwhile, after squawking about Spitzer meeting with Shell Oil but declining to meet with "the people," as been granted an audience with the governor himself Monday at noon in Albany. She's already been warned by his staff that the meeting will be "short."
She'll be rushing back to Long Island in time to debate the merits of Broadwater with Shell CEO John Hofmeister on Channel 12 live at 7 pm.