By Denise Civiletti
Broadwater Energy and the N.Y. Department of State have signed an agreement extending by 60 days the state agency’s deadline for ruling on whether Broadwater’s plan to build a floating liquefied natural gas terminal in the L.I. Sound is consistent with the state’s coastal resources management plan.
The agreement was signed Thursday (Feb. 7), according to Froydis Cameron, a spokesperson for Broadwater. The extension, she said, was requested by the state.
The state’s consistency determination was due by Feb. 12. The deadline for the DOS decision had already been pushed back several times by agreement between Broadwater and the DOS, in order to allow the DOS the opportunity to review the final environmental impact statement issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission before making its consistency determination.
The FEIS was issued by FERC Jan. 11. FERC staff concluded that, with specified mitigation measures in place, Broadwater would have minimal adverse environmental impacts.
The State Department’s decision is a crucial one for the project. If the agency determines Broadwater’s plan is inconsistent with the state’s coastal resources management plan, the only way the project could move forward is upon the U.S. secretary of commerce ruling that its construction is in the interests of national security.
Less than three weeks ago, the chief executives of Shell Oil Company and TransCanada Corp., joint venture partners in Broadwater Energy, met with Gov. Eliot Spitzer, according to John Hofmeister, president of Shell Oil.
Mr. Spitzer has been conspicuously silent about the Broadwater proposal, which has drawn the opposition of most elected officials on Long Island and in Connecticut, including Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell.
“We wanted to make sure he was fully apprised of our views of the FEIS and our efforts to meet the FEIS terms and conditions,” Mr. Hofmeister said in an interview Tuesday morning.
Mr. Spitzer was “very clear to explain his current neutrality” on the Broadwater plan, Mr. Hofmeister said. The governor told the energy chiefs “he would review the Department of State’s recommendation and make a decision from there,” Mr. Hofmeister said.
Mr. Hofmeister denied that he and TransCanada CEO Hal Kvisle asked Mr. Spitzer for an extension of the DOS consistency review deadline in order to have more time to sell their plan to the public.
On Tuesday, spokespersons for Mr. Spitzer and for Secretary of State Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez declined comment on whether discussions were held regarding extending the Feb. 12 deadline. But after the extension was announced yesterday, Mr. Spitzer’s office issued a statement that said “We support the mutual decision of the Department of State and Broadwater to take the appropriate time for dialogue without the looming pressure of a deadline.”
Last week, Broadwater Energy began a campaign aimed at winning public support for its project. In print, television and radio ads now running in the New York metropolitan area market, Broadwater says its proposed terminal will lower heating and electric costs for Long Islanders without damaging the environment.
Broadwater senior vice president John Hritcko said Tuesday this is “the appropriate time” for the company to get its message out to residents, with the deadline for the state department’s coastal consistency determination looming and the possibility that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission may vote on Broadwater’s permit application as soon as Feb. 21.
“If the deadline is extended, Broadwater wins,” Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said Tuesday. CCE, a Farmingdale-based nonprofit organization has led public opposition to Broadwater’s plans. Ms. Esposito said she fears Mr. Spitzer might support Broadwater if the energy company could garner more support from the public through its current media campaign and other community-outreach efforts such as corporate giving.
Mr. Hofmeister came to Long Island Tuesday to announce a $150,000 gift to United Way of Long Island. The gift on behalf of Broadwater won the company accolades from United Way of Long Island CEO Chris Hahn, who said the donation to the organization’s Project Warmth would provide emergency heating assistance to families in need on Long Island. “It really does show Broadwater is committed to Long Island,” Mr. Hahn said at a press conference called to announce the gift. “They are good corporate citizens on Long Island,” he said. “We’re very grateful that Shell Oil and Broadwater have stepped up to the plate.”
Ms. Esposito, who did not attend the press conference, said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon that the donation to United Way of Long Island was part of a “public relations scheme” by the energy company, and called the donation amount “pocket change.”
“With $27 billion in profits for 2007, it took Shell Oil less than three minutes to generate that $150,000. That’s not much of a peace offering,” she said.
The Broadwater facility and its 22 miles of new underwater pipeline will cost upwards of $800 million to build. It will be capable of supplying the region with 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily, an influx of new energy that the developer says will result in a median household energy savings of $300 per year for Long Islanders.
Suffolk County and several towns have also filed a lawsuit in an effort to stop the plan, which would moor a 1,215-foot-long floating liquefied natural gas storage and regasification terminal in Long Island Sound, nine miles off the coast of Wading River, in the Town of Riverhead.
Copyright 2007 Times/Review Newspapers Corp.