Tuesday, September 20, 2005

No Exaggerations Needed to Oppose Broadwater

Anti-Broadwater organizers did a good job getting pols out to Milford yesterday to announce their opposition to the big LNG terminal that Shell-TransCanada wants to put in the middle of Long Island Sound.

Some of the pols, and some of the reporters who covered the event, even said things that made sense and were true.

"This is the beginning," state Rep. Richard Roy, D-Milford, warned. "If this is approved, we will see the beginning of the industrialization of the Sound."

Although this can’t be proven, it is plausible. If the feds OK a terminal between Branford and Shoreham, why not put another between West Haven and Mount Sinai, or for that matter, why not stick one way out on the north shore of Long Island?

"This proposal is a terrible and stupid idea," Norwalk Mayor Alex Knopp said.

It’s an opinion and can’t be proven, but he’s right.

"We are at a crossroads here on the Sound and in the nation as to whether we will tolerate these kinds of liquid natural gas facilities to be built willy-nilly on our shores."

So said Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who apparently found time to break away from the big investigation into the New Haven sewage spill. He was right to imply that unless we deal with these issues as part of a coherent energy policy, we’re going to be fighting them one after another.

Other assertions were much more questionable. Some verged on the idiotic. Here are a few not from the local pols but from the reporters.

The terminal would also fill the Sound with ships carrying liquid natural gas.

In fact, there will be two or three deliveries of LNG a week, according to FERC's Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.

Whether the facility will be visible from the Connecticut shore in Fairfield County is in dispute.

It’s probably true that on the clearest days, the terminal will be visible from parts of Stratford, which is about 15 miles away – but only barely. Are tankers going in and out of New Haven Harbor a visual blight in Stratford? If not, then the LNG terminal, which is further away, won’t be either. Anything west of Stratford is simply too far away. From Compo Beach in Westport, for example, you can’t see tankers leaving New Haven, and Compo faces due east. And of course you would not even be looking in the right direction from any beach or harbor or coastline that faces west.

The plant would be visible from most of the Connecticut coastline.

Long Island Sound is a big place – 111 miles long and 21 miles at its widest. The site for the LNG terminal is approximately in the middle. Hammonasset is 18 miles away, which puts it at the very edge of visibility. Anything east of there is highly unlikely to be affected by a view of the terminal. The mouth of the Connecticut River is about 30 miles away; New London more than 40. Stamford is about 35 miles away, Greenwich 40.You can’t see that far, even on a clear day.

Long Island Sound is not an industrial district, and it’s a bad idea to put a major industrial facility in the middle of it. In fact, it’s a bad enough idea that there’s really no need to exaggerate just how bad it will be.

(Full disclosure: CFE and Save the Sound sponsored yesterday's event.)


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