Thursday, April 10, 2008

Here's Why New York Said No to Broadwater

There were four reasons for New York State's decision to reject Broadwater's proposal for Long Island Sound.

1. The Sound is not an industrial park.

2. Broadwater would set a precedent and lead to an unacceptable change in the Sound.

3. Broadwater would occupy public land and water for a private undustrial use.

4. Broadwater would damage the Sound ecologically.

I was going to summarize them, but even though they're long, they're so compelling and well-reasoned and well-expressed that I'm just going to quote at length (the whole thing is here). (And allow me one more thought: everyone refers to this as Governor David Paterson's decision, and no doubt he had to to say yes to it. But when you read what follows, it's obvious that the decision was the result of a lot of hard work on the part of the staff of the Department of State. Paterson's wisdom was in realizing they were right.)

1. Long Island Sound is not an industrial park. It is an Estuary of National Significance designated by Congress 20 years ago.

• The NYS Long Island Sound Coastal Management Program (LISCMP), the document which contains the standards used in this decision, presents a compelling vision for the future of the Sound – a Long Island Sound coastal area enriched by enhancing community character, reclaiming the quality of natural resources, reinvigorating the working waterfront, and connecting people to the Sound.

• This vision and the details of the program behind the vision, is a consensus of citizens, local governments, business interests, civic and environmental groups, and New York State agencies.

• Over the past 20 years, over $7.2 billion has been invested by governments to protect and improve the Sound’s ecosystem. (New York State Revolving Loan Fund, NYS Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act, and the NYS Environmental Protection Fund).

• New York has given additional recognition to the Sound by creating the Long Island North Shore Heritage Area and the North Fork Trail Scenic Byway.

• The State isn’t alone in valuing the Sound. Local government plans and programs, including Local Waterfront Revitalization Programs and local comprehensive plans have been prepared and are being implemented to protect and restore the Sound. Federal, State and local governments are aligned in their desire to protect the Sound’s ecosystem, open waters, and traditional maritime uses (fishing, recreation and maritime navigation).

• Broadwater would be a new large, permanent, continuously operating industrial complex on public space – the open waters of Long Island Sound, a public resource valued by New Yorkers.

• Broadwater would be visible 80% of the time along 44 miles of Long Island shoreline.

• A 2007 survey showed that 79% of visitors to the North Shore of Long Island came at least once per year to enjoy the view. Over 2.7 million people visit north shore parks each year.

• On shore Long Island, industrial uses are being removed from the waterfront and a tourism based economy is growing that builds on the Sound’s visual quality, natural resources, and community character. The tourism economy is $7 billion (current estimate) and employs 122,000 people (2001 data).

2. Broadwater would be precedent-setting and would permanently change Long Island Sound from a place used for recreation, tourism, and traditional maritime activities to a place where more on-water industrial development could happen.

• Broadwater is a new industrial concept that has not been tried elsewhere in the world.

• Siting Broadwater in the Sound would introduce a large permanent industrial complex in an open water estuary of national significance where no such industrial complexes exist.

• Public plans and programs for the publicly owned Sound are aimed at protecting its ecosystem and the people that rely on it. These public plans and programs do not call for permanent floating industrial complexes. Over $7.2 billion in public investments have been made over the past 20 years to improve the Sound’s ecosystem.

• Broadwater’s 1,100 foot long LNG carriers (longer than 99% of vessels now on the Sound) would be on the Sound at least 208 days each year, interfering with traditional users and their ability to work or recreate on the Sound.

• Shell and Transcanada, Broadwater’s parent companies, will not guarantee entering into new partnerships to expand industrial activities on the Sound.

• The immense Broadwater floating industrial facility would be precedent setting if approved for LIS. If it was approved, one result might be more floating industrial facilities proposed for the Sound.

3. Broadwater would occupy public land and water for a private industrial facility.

• The land and waters of New York’s portion of Long Island Sound are held in trust for the people of New York State. Right now, the public has full access to those portions of the Sound where Broadwater would be located and where the LNG carriers would transit.

• With the FSRU and its required safety and security exclusion zones, Broadwater would take 950 acres of public waters away from the people who can use it now and replace it with an exclusive private use industrial facility for at least 30 years. This is an area bigger than Central Park.

• In addition, each LNG carrier that comes into the Sound would have a moving safety and security exclusion zone of 2,040 acres. This zone is larger than Caumsett State Park and 2.5 times the size of Central Park.

• Only commercial ferries would be allowed to enter these exclusion zones. Everyone else – recreational boaters and fishermen, commercial fishermen, and commercial navigation – is excluded from public water around the FSRU, and would have to move out of the way of the incoming LNG carriers.

• The U.S. Coast Guard would have to escort the LNG carriers, and in March, Admiral Thad Allen (Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard) testified to Congress that they do not have the resources to protect LNG carriers. He also stated that the public funds used to cover Coast Guard escort costs, is a public subsidy of private business. Giving the Coast Guard the needed additional resources of $18 to $36 million per year to cover Coast Guard costs related to Broadwater would place an additional strain on public coffers, and may result in shifting Coast Guard resources from other parts of the region.

4. Broadwater would cause ecosystem damage.

• Long Island Sound is an Estuary of National Significance, and the only region of New York State with its own specifically crafted and focused Coastal Management Program.

• Long Island Sound is valued, in part, because of its rich natural resources, especially fisheries.

• The National Marine Fisheries Service states that Broadwater would cause “significant adverse effects” to the ecosystem.

• Broadwater would damage a 4,000 foot long section of the ecologically important Stratford Shoal by dredging 40,000 cubic yards of the shoal to install part of its new pipeline. Stratford Shoal hosts a rare assemblage of cold water corals and sponges. The shoal habitat attracts a greater concentration of other recreationally and commercially important fish species than sites off the shoal.

• Broadwater and its carriers would use 28.2 million gallons per day of seawater for ballast, power generation and other uses. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation says that 270 million eggs, larvae and juvenile fish and unknown numbers of other small fish would be killed annually through the water intake. This a significant adverse effect on the food chain that the Sound depends on for its ecological health.



Anonymous Robert Funicello said...

Once again, the New York State Department of State has done well its job and honored the spirit and the words of the State's Coastal Management Program. Thank you to the Department of State and to its Division of Coastal Resources. And thank you too to all those who urged them on and gave them the public support so important to protecting our coastal resources.

9:53 AM  

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