Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Long Road Trip to Support Broadwater

If you thought it was a good idea to put a big liquefied natural gas facility in the middle of Long Island Sound and you happened to live in San Francisco or Pennsylvania, would you go to a public hearing in East Lyme, Connecticut, to make your opinion heard?

Two people did, and it makes me wonder if Broadwater paid their expenses or even just flat-out paid them a fee to do so.

Judy Benson, of the New London Day, covered last night’s hearing in East Lyme, and here’s what she reported:

Representatives of Broadwater, a partnership of TransCanada Corp. and Shell Oil Co., attended the meeting but did not speak, but a group of liquefied natural gas engineers and seamen spoke on their behalf, sometimes to a hostile reaction from local residents in the audience of about 50.

“We are all consumers of energy,” said Bill McHugh, who identified himself as a mariner on LNG carriers and a resident of the New York area. “LGN is clean, and can be transported and stored safely.”

John Andrews of Altoona, Pa., a retired shipyard engineer, and Michael Blakesley of San Francisco, a sailor on LNG carriers, said fears the barge would be vulnerable to strong hurricanes are unfounded, because the facilities are built to the highest safety standards and have safety records better than those of the petroleum industry.

I suppose it’s plausible that their union or even their employer sent the two sailors. I can’t figure out why the retired shipyard engineer from Altoona would travel all the way to eastern Connecticut though.

I’m not implying that there’s anything wrong with helping your supporters get to the hearing. Save the Sound sent me an e-mail the other day asking if I planned to go to tonight’s hearing, because if I was, a bus was leaving from Westport in late afternoon, making a stop in Milford, and arriving in Branford by 6. I declined but it seemed perfectly appropriate for them to make the offer.

That said, I’d be interested in knowing more about the speakers from California and Pennsylvania and any other unlikely location.


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