Friday, January 18, 2008

New York's Three Broadwater Decisions

Three bits of information or inferences from a Courant story today about how Governor Rell really really really wants Governor Spitzer to say no to Broadwater ("I'm begging you, man!"):

1. The New York State Department of State, which has to decide whether a big, industrial LNG terminal in the middle of Long Island Sound is consistent with state standards for use of the coastal area, has a deadline of February 12, at which point Spitzer will review it. But how long he'll take or whether the department's decision will be made public while Spitzer is reviewing it (doubtful but it would be nice) is unknown.

2. Broadwater has yet to respond to the many and detailed questions and concerns that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation raised in a late-December letter. A DEC spokeswoman said it could be months before the department makes its decision.

(What I still don't understand though is this: the DEC said the Broadwater environmental impact statement didn't address a number of issues and told Broadwater that it can't make a decision until it gets more and better information; but the Department of State is using that same (flawed) environmental impact statement to make its decision -- so how could the DOS be able to say yes based on an analysis that another state agency says is flawed? Maybe one of my loyal readers in state government can explain it to me, anonymously or not.)

3. Reading between the lines, it seems that Connecticut officials might believe that their best hope is the New York Office of General Services, which has to decide whether to grant an easement to Broadwater for use of the land under its terminal (I thought it was a lease rather than an easement, but whatever). Rell said in a letter:

It is critical that these agencies carefully consider ... how Broadwater would violate the state's public trust responsibilities to manage its submerged lands and waters for the benefit of the people, not for private exploitation and profit.

Could it be that that sort of basic decision -- it's our land and we've decided we're not going to let you use it -- is the one that would be hardest to challenge in court?

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Anonymous Bryan said...

The "basic decision" has always been the one that will win or lose the case, IMO.

The rhetoric about terrorists and atomic bombs only obscured the premise of public trust and only made those who spouted such rhetoric look less than informed, particularly when they started backing away from their earlier shouts of "danger" and endorsed LNG in other locations (and then denied they were ever opposed to LNG).

Even the arguments about the environmental impacts of the pipeline look silly when the same people making those arguments have endorsed, or at least ignored, other pipelines.

And on a related matter, a few posts back, Sam commented that regional cooperation and planning are necessary to ensure that energy infrastructure, be it wind power or LNG terminals, ends up where it should go and not just where a developer wants to put it. It's been over three years since Broadwater was proposed and I've yet to hear that anyone is reviewing the DOS LIS coastal policy to identify and close any loopholes.

10:23 AM  

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