Monday, December 03, 2007

More Evidence That We Shouldn't Believe Anything Broadwater Says

Back in late summer, Tom Baptist, who is the executive director of Audubon Connecticut, sent me a copy of a letter he had gotten from Broadwater, the people who want to put a huge LNG facility in the middle of Long Island Sound. The letter was addressed to small business owners, as I remember, and asked them to support Broadwater (Tom Baptist, as the head of an organization on record as opposing the LNG terminal, obviously received it by mistake).

Tom was concerned that Broadwater was going to use it as propaganda in its public relations war, and he was right, to some extent. Broadwater tricked the Stamford Advocate into thinking that its self-serving and self-selected survey was somehow newsworthy.

That’s an embarrassment for the Advocate, particularly because of the story’s headline, which says: “Gas Terminal Gains Support.”

But they saved themselves from completely going into the tank for Broadwater by calling around and finding a number of business owners whom Broadwater claimed support the LNG proposal but who say not only that they don’t support it but that they have no recollection of ever seeing Broadwater’s letter.

So once again it leads me to question why anyone would believe anything Broadwater says. Here are some excerpts from the Advocate:

Fifty-seven of the businesses are in lower Fairfield County. Among the several business owners reached by The Advocate, some maintained their support, others are having a change of heart and still others did not recall receiving Broadwater's letters.

"I never signed a petition for anything," said Sharon Goldstein, owner of Depot Liquors in Westport. "I don't even know what's going on" with the gas platform project….

John Barricelli, owner of SoNo Baking Company in South Norwalk, said he favors low energy costs but did not recall signing a petition supporting Broadwater's proposal.

"If anybody asked me directly, 'Are you in favor of an offshore natural gas platform in Long Island Sound?' I'd say no," Barricelli said….

Olga Ziapoutzis, who owns the Post Road Diner in Norwalk, said it is possible a former business partner signed the petition. The diner is now owned solely by Ziapoutzis and her husband.

"I don't think it's a very good idea," Ziapoutzis said of the floating natural gas terminal.

Martin Mezza, who operates the UPS Store on Westport Avenue in Norwalk, said he might have signed Broadwater's letter out of frustration with his current gas and electric suppliers.

"Sometimes . . . you sign things and maybe don't read them carefully," Mezza said. "If it's going to hurt the environment, I don't want any part of it. But I want other suppliers in this area."

J.C. Woodward, co-owner of The Clockery, a clock shop in Norwalk, said he has misgivings about signing a letter supporting Broadwater.

"I've since received mailings from the other side and they're just as convincing," Woodward said.

Woodward said Broadwater in its letter never mentioned the possibility the security zone surrounding the floating platform could extend more than a mile in either direction, taking away recreational and commercial boating space.

Broadwater's letter stated: "The Sound is an important body of water, however we must remember it is a mixed-use body of water important to local and international commerce and trade."

Woodward likened it to taking parts of Long Island Sound through eminent domain.

"The idea of allocating public resources for private interests . . . rubs me the wrong way," he said.

In a separate story, Soundkeeper, Terry Backer talks about why he opposes Broadwater but also why it’s but such a tough stance for him to take, here.

1:10 p.m. update -- Perhaps sensing that Broadwater might have gotten some public relations advantage from its approach to small-business owners, Citizens Campaign for the Environment sent out the following about 20 minutes ago:

Another 20,000 Signatures Sent to FERC in Opposition to Broadwater The Total: 80,000 Signatures in Opposition, Sets National Record

Farmingdale, New York - Citizens Campaign for the Environment has mailed FERC the latest round of petition signatures in opposition to Broadwater.
To date, a grand total of 80,000 signatures opposing the ill-fated project have been mailed to FERC.

"The signatures of opposition are from all parts of Connecticut, Westchester County and Long Island. The public opposition is widespread, strong and it's not going away," said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
"We are hopeful that Governor Spitzer will hear the unified call of the people to protect Long Island Sound."

The Anti-Broadwater Campaign is awaiting Governor Spitzer and New York State Department of State's ruling on weather or not Broadwater will be approved under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). This federal law was designed to protect waterways from over-intensified uses. "If New York State wrongly decides that Broadwater is in compliance with the CZMA, then New York will have greatly weakened the value of this essential law. A ruling against Broadwater will be a ruling for the protection of all water bodies. This state decision will make history, not only for New York but for the rest of our nation," Esposito concluded.

New York State currently has a deadline of releasing their decision by February 12, 2008, pending the release of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Final Environmental Impact Statement. This report is currently scheduled to be released at the end of December/ beginning of January.



Anonymous Bryan said...

It's interesting that both of the articles you linked to mention AG Blumenthal and his opposition to Broadwater on a number of grounds, including safety and security. That would be the same Richard Blumenthal who was said in a recent Waterbury Republican-American article to have praised the newly-constructed 1.2 billion-cu.ft. Yankee Gas LNG storage facility? The Richard Blumenthal that praised Yankee gas for constructing an environmentally safe facility? He was quoted to say, "'I believe this facility [Yankee Gas] will be a model for Connecticut and the nation as a whole,' he said. 'There is a way to meet our energy needs in an environmentally
friendly way.'”

Terry Backer realizes he's in a minefield when he tries to navigate the intricacies and interconnected nature of our energy infrastructure and policies. I don't know if Richard Blumenthal sees the same minefield. Maybe it is so clear in the AG's mind the differences between Broadwater and Yankee Gas that no parsing or rationalizing is necessary. If so, he either has a super-clear focus on the issue or tunnel vision.

Rep. Backer seems to recognize that we have, more or less, a zero-sum energy game, and that what gets taken away from one side has to be added from somewhere else. I hope he continues to make the connections and vocalize them. For example, the Peak Oil report produced by the Caucus is looking to the electrification of our transportation resources as a way to reduce dependence on fossil fuel, at least for transportation. We still have to generate the electricity, so, I hope Rep. Backer incorporates his Millstone cooling water campaign into his energy policies.

Perhaps he could also indicate whether he's looking to shut down Millstone. I would not expect him to chose a position to shut it down lightly or in a knee-jerk fashion. I would also expect him to have a plan for replacing the energy that Millstone produces.

A plan for replacing the power is something I'm not sure that AG Cuomo and Gov. Spitzer have when it comes to Indian Point. They are looking to shut it down, but the governor has tempered his opposition by calling for its shutdown only after "sufficient" replacement power is available. He doesn't call for green, or renewable or even non-nuclear replacement power, just a sufficient amount of it.

It would be great if everyone could just sit down and hash it all out. strive for what's desirable, accept what's unavoidable and make some progress.

6:47 PM  

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