Friday, December 21, 2007

Dear Governor Spitzer: Reject Broadwater's Proposal for Long Island Sound (II)

Tom Baptist, vice president and executive director of Audubon Connecticut, has written an open letter to Governor Eliot Spitzer, explaining why Broadwater's proposal to put an LNG terminal in Long Island Sound, should be rejected:

Dear Governor Spitzer:

I recently received a letter from Broadwater Energy that began “Dear Small Business Owner.”

Broadwater had written to me to obtain my support for the construction of a massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in the middle of Long Island Sound. Their letter contended the proposed LNG facility would “have limited adverse environmental impacts” while saving the average homeowner “$300 per year” by providing more natural gas - - “an additional 25% of what we use right now”.

Unfortunately, Broadwater’s calculations don’t add up. They ignore the $5.5 billion contributed annually to Connecticut/New York economy by Long Island Sound. Any potential negative environmental impact to this Estuary of National Significance would jeopardize this economic engine and the revenue it provides.

The potential for environmental impacts is real. Dozens of experts have concluded that the Broadwater proposal understates or ignores the potential for environmental damage from the project. There is no shortage of testimony to this effect: the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission records contain hundreds of pages contesting Broadwater’s claims. These potential impacts include significant disruptions to fish and bird habitats, and the impairment of recreational and other commercial uses of the Sound such as fishing and lobstering.

Broadwater assumes – wrongly I believe – that small business owners will be willing to sell off Long Island Sound, our state’s most important open space and natural resource, for a vague promise of $300 in annual savings that may never materialize.

Governor Jodi Rell recently requested a Congressional investigation into the possible manipulation of natural gas prices. In her letter to federal officials, the Governor cites the fact that according to federal data natural gas prices for residential users increased 169% from June 2002 to June 2007. The record is even worse for business users. Over the same period, natural gas prices for commercial users increased 175% and for industrial users 207%.

So how does Broadwater with its massive construction project propose to generate the promised $300 in annual savings? By slowing the rate of increase in the price of natural gas, that’s how. And the savings promised are only for residential consumers. No such figure is promised for commercial or industrial users – presumably the very small business owners whose support the company is seeking in their letter.

Perhaps most importantly, Broadwater ignores energy conservation and increased efficiency as viable alternatives to its project. Taking steps to conserve energy and to improve efficiency will put money directly into the pockets of small owners faster than any promised reduction in the rate of increase offered by Broadwater. Given the conservation potential in Connecticut and New York, this LNG facility might not be needed at all if we implemented conservation measures statewide. For those small businesses interested in realizing savings through conservation and increased energy efficiency, the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund offers information on available conservation programs at

Broadwater wants us to put the Long Island Sound ecosystem at serious risk and forever restrict public access and commercial use of the vast area consumed by their facility, all for the promise of $300 in annual savings that may never materialize when simple energy conservation can guarantee that amount of savings or more. Connecticut small business owners should not be fooled.

Thomas R. Baptist
Vice President and Executive Director
Audubon Connecticut

Audubon Connecticut, the state organization of the National Audubon Society with more than 13,000 members statewide, works to protect birds, other wildlife, and their habitats using education, science and conservation, and legislative advocacy for the benefit of people and the earth’s biological diversity. Through our network of three nature education centers, more than 4,500 acres of protected wildlife sanctuary lands, and11 local volunteer Chapters, we seek to connect people with nature and inspire the next generation of conservationists.



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