Monday, May 21, 2007

FERC Gives More Hints That It's Ready to Say Yes To Broadwater, Which Puts the Onus on New York State

I've been saying for a while that if you think the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is going to say no to Broadwater's LNG proposal for Long Island Sound, you are naive, at best. Although FERC may occasionally reject big energy proposals, they're in the business of regulating, not rejecting, and so they need something to regulate. Add in the Bush Administration's scandalous pro-business attitude and there's virtually no way FERC will say no to Broadwater.

Judy Benson of the New London Day, used the tried and true techniques of actual reporting (as opposed to the quote-gathering that passes for reporting among the other newspapers), to find these telling details (Robinson is J. Mark Robinson, director of the Office of Energy Projects for FERC), here:

On May 7, Robinson spoke positively about the Broadwater project in testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. He said the project's offshore location reduces any safety risks, and many safety and environmental concerns would be reduced by the 79 conditions FERC would impose on the project. The conditions were listed in its draft report. He also countered concerns about negative impacts of the LNG tankers using The Race and of the terminal's visual impacts.

“Due to the distance from shore,” he said, “the (terminal) would be visible but would appear to be about the size of a paper clip held at arm's length...”

Even though the Race is a narrow passage, he said, it could still be used by other vessels when the tankers and the required security zone are them are moving through.

“In conclusion,” he said, “LNG is a commodity which has and will continue to be transported safely in the United States.”

Which means that if anyone is going to stop Broadwater it's going to have to be New York State, in particular the Department of State, which oversees use of the coastal zone. The department has hired the Battelle Memorial Institute to study whether the Atlantic Ocean is a better place for an LNG terminal than the Sound, as Newsday reported, here. As I wrote here, the Department of State has already indicated that Broadwater might not be consistent with state policies for use of the coastal zone.

Broadwater, meanwhile, is ferrying reporters out to the proposed terminal site today in two boatloads, one from Connecticut, one from Long Island. I would have taken two Dramamine just for the chance to hear what the flacks and mouthpieces had to say, but my invitation must have gotten lost in the mail.

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