Saturday, January 19, 2008

Attention, Mr. Spitzer

Editorial from The Suffolk Times/News-Review/North Shore Sun

January 17, 2008

If you've been paying attention to the Broadwater plan, it's no surprise the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has concluded Broadwater's proposed natural gas terminal in L.I. Sound would have minimal adverse environmental impacts. (See story, page 1.) FERC's very mission is to carry out the Bush administration's wrongheaded energy policy, which increases America's reliance on fossil fuels and enriches the president's and vice president's friends, family and colleagues in the oil and gas industries. FERC is working hard to permit and site more than three dozen new natural gas terminals in the U.S., Broadwater among them.

With that knowledge, observers and opponents of Broadwater's plans have long said the outcome of the FERC review process was a foregone conclusion: Broadwater would get FERC's blessing. Now that the FEIS is done, Broadwater's FERC permit is in the bag.

But the process is far from over. Even with its FERC permit approved, Broadwater Energy can't develop its behemoth LNG terminal in the Sound unless and until the U.S. Coast Guard signs off on the plan, certifying that it is able to provide security for the terminal and the tankers that will deliver LNG to the terminal; the state DEC issues an air emissions permit and a wastewater discharge permit; and the N.Y. secretary of state rules that Broadwater is consistent with the state's coastal resource management policy.

The Coast Guard already has reported it cannot protect the new terminal or the LNG tanker traffic from attack without more equipment and resources. A report by the federal government accountability office made public last week reached the same conclusion about the Coast Guard, increased LNG tanker traffic, and security (see story, page 3). So far, those additional resources have not been forthcoming.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who has the final say on whether New York finds Broadwater consistent with its coastal management policy, has not said a thing about Broadwater -- publicly -- since he took office in 2007. His position will soon be known, since the state's consistency determination must be made by Feb. 12. We urge you to tell Mr. Spitzer to reject Broadwater's plan to turn the L.I. Sound, a designated estuary of national significance, into an LNG import terminal for the profit of international energy companies Shell Oil and TransCanada.

Let Mr. Spitzer know that Broadwater's LNG terminal and its international tanker traffic are inappropriate uses of the pristine waters of the eastern L.I. Sound. Broadwater's terminal and tankers will pollute the water and air with emissions and discharges; deplete the Sound's fisheries by killing millions of young fish, larvae and eggs annually; wreak havoc on the local commercial fishing and lobstering industries, which won't be able to fish the eastern Sound when tankers are in transit; disturb recreational boating activities with "no entry" security zones that will, among other things, shut down the Race every time a tanker is in transit; and pose a safety and security threat to New York residents that simply can't be addressed.

The state holds the waters of the L.I. Sound in public trust. Allowing those waters to be used by international energy companies for private profit, to the detriment of the environment, the economy and the enjoyment of this natural resource by the people of the state, is a violation of the public trust.

Tell Mr. Spitzer you object. Write to: Governor Eliot Spitzer, the State Capitol, Albany, NY 12224. Call his office at 518-474-8390. Or send an e-mail by going to the governor's Web site at and clicking on "CONTACT THE GOVERNOR."

Copyright 2008 Times/Review Newspapers Corp.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Relax, this is no big deal

Hey, guess what?
You know that 1,215-foot-long gas terminal Shell Oil wants to build in a public waterway in the Long Island Sound off the coast of Wading River?
The terminal that will receive, store and “regasify” liquefied natural gas at the rate of about a billion cubic feet per day and ship it through a brand-new 23-mile seabed pipeline to consumers in New York City and New Jersey?
The one that will take in between 5.5 million and 8.2 million gallons of seawater daily, together with every living organism unfortunate enough to be sucked up with that water into the hull of the floating terminal and either be killed by its mesh screening system or by poisonous chlorine?
The terminal that will receive shipments of LNG from an estimated 104 to 150 foreign-flagged international tankers every year — tankers that will take in an additional 23 million gallons of seawater, also killing the unfortunate organisms that happen to be living therein?
The one whose operations will destroy hundreds of millions of fish eggs and larvae each year, plus an unknown number of small fish, having a potentially disastrous impact on a fishery the state and federal governments have gone to great lengths — and huge expense — to rehabilitate and protect over the past two decades?
The terminal the state DEC concluded would have significant adverse environmental impacts?
The one that will forever appropriate to Royal Dutch Shell and Trans-Canada a one-square-mile chunk of the Long Island Sound, public land and sea, which will be closed to boating and fishing — and theoretically protected from terrorist attack — by armed security boats supplied by the energy giants’ private contractor?
The terminal the U.S. Coast Guard said it doesn’t have the equipment or manpower to protect from attack? The terminal that will more than double the existing tanker traffic in L.I. Sound — which the Coast Guard already can’t protect?
The terminal whose tanker traffic and security escort will shut down the Race for hours at a clip at least six times a week, and will force lobstermen to relocate their pots, and fishing boats to pull in their lines, each time the 900-foot-long deep-draft international tankers traverse the length of the eastern Sound?
You know the one I’m talking about, don’t you? You’ve seen the pictures and the Power Point presentations, right?
Then you know there’s nothing to worry about. This appropriation of public property for private profit by Royal Dutch Shell and TransCanada, with more than a little help from their friends in Washington, will be good for us. After all, it will provide “a reliable supply of clean, safe natural gas” for the region (west of here) and possibly save L.I. ratepayers more than $2 million a year, according to an LNG industry consultant.
And those troublesome environmental impacts? Not to worry, folks. There are plenty of fish (and eggs and larvae) in the sea. Killing a few hundred million of them each year won’t put a dent in the supply. And pumping 28 million gallons of chlorine-treated seawater back into the Sound won’t matter, either. Heck, that’s only .005 percent of the “total daily seawater inflow to the Sound.” The little fishies will hardly notice the elevated chlorine levels.
Air pollution from the terminal’s smokestacks? Sure, the ambient air around the terminal won’t meet Clean Air Act standards because of the terminal’s emissions. But since the public will be banned from entering a one-square-mile area around the floating terminal, it doesn’t really count.
And so what if lobstermen will have to move their pots, and fishermen can’t drag their nets because the eastern Sound’s traditional shipping channel will be shut down every time an LNG tanker comes through, say, six times a week, forcing vessels into the area traditionally worked by local fishermen for, oh, a couple of centuries. No biggie.
Recreational boaters and fishermen will experience minor inconvenience, sure.
But all told, the Sound really is the best place for Shell and TransCanada to set up shop.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says so. And not just FERC, you know, but Entrix Inc., the “independent” environmental consultants that prepared the final environmental impact statement for FERC. And they really know what they’re doing. After all, when they’re not working for FERC reviewing and analyzing LNG permit applications, they’re working for energy companies, like Chevron, preparing LNG permit applications to submit to FERC. So they’ve really got this stuff nailed.
Relax. The fate of the Sound, the stability of our local economy, our safety and security are all in the best of hands, tended by people whose only concern is our welfare and the greater good.
If there’s one thing we know by now, it’s this: What’s good for Big Energy is good for us all.