Monday, August 01, 2005

Don't Use Long Island Sound to Subsidize a LNG Factory

By bad coincidence, yesterday’s “Bi-State Day of Celebrating Long Island Sound” (which was the stealth name for the anti-Broadwater event that took place in Branford, Connecticut) came just a couple of days after the passage in Washington of a new energy bill that stripped the states of any say in where to locate liquefied natural gas terminals.

So officially, people who think the middle of Long Island Sound is a bad place for a major energy facility will have to rely on the political appointees at FERC to protect our publicly-owned resource.

Unofficially, we might have to rely on the likes of Charles Schumer. From a May post:

Schumer said yesterday he'll stop the project, which is a joint venture of TransCanada and Shell, by pressuring the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, according to Newsday:

"FERC is very susceptible to what Congress wants. We set its budget and approve its members," Schumer, a Democrat, said. If FERC approves the project, Schumer added, he will push for special legislation to block it.

The New Haven Register reported that 75 people showed up for yesterday’s “celebration,” which was held in the adjoining backyards of two public officials from Branford.

Although I had other plans though and couldn’t make it, I was flattered that Leah Lopez, of Save the Sound, asked me to give a short talk on the history of the Sound, and even offered to get copies of my book to sell and sign. But today I got a chance to say what I think anyway when a reporter, Ali Macalady from a monthly called the Northern Sky News, called to interview me about Broadwater.

I told her what I would have told those at yesterday’s event: Long Island Sound used to be an industrial center, and while the local wealth created by manufacturing led to a golden era in many of the region’s cities, it also led to astonishing pollution.

The industrial era is long gone. And now that factories have abandoned the region, leaving the heavy metals that still contaminate our harbors and the useless mills that blight our cities, we’re finally shaking the attitude about the Sound that the industrial era typified – namely, that the main function of Long Island Sound and its tributaries is to subsidize our incompatible economic activities.

In the old days that subsidy amounted to free disposal of industrial waste. Now, with Broadwater, the subsidy would be the use of publicly-owned waters for private corporate gain. But there’s no difference. In both cases, it’s not what Long Island Sound is for.


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