Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bi-State Cooperation on LNG Proposal Is a Long Shot

Pols from Connecticut and New York met yesterday on Long Island to talk about what to do about the proposal for a huge liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound.

They didn't seem to accomplish much, however, aside from agreeing to try to stop bickering over Long Island Sound issues. As Newsday noted:

With a recent history of rancor between the two states on the cross-Sound electrical cable, the "Islander East" gas pipeline and the designation of dredge-dumping sites in the Sound, both sides acknowledged that communication is key as they gear up to battle Broadwater Energy's proposed terminal.

To which Adrienne Esposito, of Citizens Campaign for the Environment remarked:

"Something good may come out of something bad," she said. "That is, the Broadwater proposal may be the compelling factor to bring the two states together to protect the shared resources of Long Island Sound."

Bi-state cooperation is a good thing but there's a history of cooperative efforts starting out with much hoopla only to fizzle immediately afterward. Ask John Atkin. Twenty years ago, when he was a Connecticut State Senator, he and New York State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer agreed to work across state lines to benefit the Sound. My recollection is that they met exactly once.

And compared to another publicity-seeking "cooperation agreement" from the same era, between Westchester's county executive, Andrew O'Rourke, and his Nassau counterpart, Thomas Gulotta, Atkin and Oppenheimer at least had the advantage of actually caring about the Sound. (John Atkin, in fact, left politics to become the head of Save the Sound, is now the head of Regional Plan Association's Connecticut office, and has been the long-time co-chair of the Long Island Sound Study's Citizens Advisory Committee.)

The problem is that it's easy to meet and to say you're going to cooperate. But then reality intrudes, local political concerns take precedence, and suddenly the drive across the Throgs Neck Bridge seems too long and the Bridgeport-Port Jeff ferry makes you seasick.

Fighting Broadwater is worth the cooperative effort. I just don't hold out much hope that concentration will hold steady over the long term. But maybe Adrienne Esposito will be right on this one, and something good will result.

Here's how Newsday and the New Haven Register covered the meeting.


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