Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The View of Broadwater from on Deck

The few people who think Broadwater's proposal to put a liquefied natural gas terminal in the middle of Long Island Sound is a good idea often make the argument that the thing would be so far away -- nine or 10 miles from New Haven and Shoreham -- that it will hardly be visible from the shore.

That may or may not be true, and it may or may not be important. One issue that hardly ever gets mentioned though is that if views are important, the views from the shore are not the only ones that should be considered.

Two decades ago it was estimated that on summer weekends, 90,000 recreational boats take to the Sound. Even though they have the right to cruise on the waters of the Sound, the part of the Sound that Broadwater wants to take over will be off limits to them. And, of course, they'll have to look at this new, enormous industrial facility as well.

You might consider that to be a trivial problem. Another perspective, though, is that boaters make up an important part of the Sound's constituency. The Long Island Sound survey that came out two weeks ago showed that the people who use the Sound the most are also the most zealous in wanting to protect it. Ruining the boating experience -- ruining the view of the open Sound -- could easily cause those recreational mariners to care a whole lot less. As I said, it's not the most important issue, but it's one worth remembering anyway.

In the meantime, Congress is holding hearings on Long Island on Broadwater security problems, here.



Blogger Sam said...

You are so right about (1) scenic vistas and (2) recreational boating. I recall sailing up the Chesepeake one time with my dad, and we chose a route through an area that said it was a restricted zone. It turned out to be part of the Aberdeen Proving Grounds ... after there was a rocket that blew up a mile away and a patrol boat came out to warn us off. It ruined the experience, to say the least.

To a recreational boater, such restricted areas have no meaning at all until something happens. In fact few of us boaters even have updated paper charts or GPS software so we might not even suspect it. Can you imagine boating down the Sound and some patrol boat comes out from Broadwater, loaded with security dudes brandishing large caliber automatic weapons? What is this, the Cuban Coast Guard or something?

Bummer. But look and you won't see or hear any rockets or bombs, just a rather nasty floating terminal that looks suspiciously like they're drilling for oil.

Yes, the Sound is nothing more than a highway of the ocean used for sailing for pleasure and fishing from a boat. Loads of traffic heads out to the Race at the eastern end of Long Island because that is where the clean fish, clean air, and clean water is. Putting in a facility like Broadwater would be like putting up a traffic checkpoint in Bagdad, a major pain in the ass that can actually attract violence. /sammie

12:22 PM  

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