Sunday, December 12, 2004

Broadwater & Community Participation

I got a call at work the other day from a fellow who identified himself as Joel Rinebold. He told me he was being paid by Broadwater to do community outreach and that he had looked at this blog. He was wondering if I was interested in being part of a committee or community group or something that would share ideas about the proposed LNG terminal, in hopes of making the facility better.

Generally I support these attempts to get the community involved in shaping development projects that are in one form or another inevitable. The unspoken reason for participating, from the developer's point of view, is this: We can either do it with your help, in which case the project might be better than it would otherwise be, or we can do it without your help, but one way or another we're going to do it. My friends at the Pace University Land Use Law Center, in White Plains, promote this kind of mediation. When done right it has the dual benefit of improving a development proposal and making different stakeholders satisfied that their concerns were taken into consideration.

Rinebold and I talked about it for a few minutes. I'm not immune to flattery, and I was pleased that someone thought I might be influential enough in some small way to want me on his side. (A woman named Amy Kelly, who also works for Broadwater, had called me several weeks ago to say that I was among a group of influential people who were getting a Broadwater information package sent to them by overnight mail. So clearly I'm on someone's list, which is fine as long as they buy my book.)

The problem is that I'm pretty sure the LNG proposal is a bad idea. I'm not against LNG terminals in general, or against the use of natural gas. But it seems clear to me that Broadwater chose the middle of Long Island Sound as a location for the terminal because it calculated that that there would be far less opposition than if they had proposed it for a waterfront community in New York or Connnecticut.

In other words they thought it would be easier to win approval if they proposed using the publicly-owned waters of Long Island Sound.

I think publicly-owned waters should be used by the public, and therefore I think that the basic premise of the Broadwater proposal is a bad one.

If I participate on a committee that improves the Broadwater proposal, and perhaps does away with some of the opposition, then I've helped facilitate the approval of something I think should never be built in the first place.

I told Joel Rinebold that I'd think about it and let him know. He seemed like a nice enough guy, not a smooth-talking shill by any means. So with all respect to him here's my answer: I'm not going to be participating on any Broadwater committees.

Meanwhile, here's today's Broadwater story, from the New Haven Register.

Update: I didn't know who Joel Rinebold was when he called me, although if I had been more on top of things I would have recognized his name. He suggested I Google him, which I did. Here's a brief bio from Save the Sound's roster of speakers at the recent LISWA conference.


Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker