Monday, April 07, 2008

The Public Deserves the Right to Use All The Water

Lots of environmental groups and public officials have expressed their opposition to the Broadwater proposal to put a liquefied natural gas terminal in the middle of Long Island Sound. Today Federated Conservationists of Westchester County wrote to the Secretary of State:

Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk, and New York City have already spent millions of dollars to successfully improve the water quality of LIS. Westchester alone is now required to spend a projected additional $355 to $573 million dollars on nitrogen removal to continue the water quality improvements already achieved and meet Federal and State mandates. This amount of money will be an extraordinary tax burden on the people of Westchester living in the affected sewer districts. For the State of New York to now issue a decision that would prohibit the public from using 1.5 square miles of LIS waters, would be an injustice to that public that paid, and will pay, so dearly to clean up that very same water. To give Broadwater 1.5 square miles of public water and the underwater lands, at no cost to Broadwater, but at a great cost to the public that is paying dearly for water quality improvement, would not be consistent with the public trust obligations of those in public office....

Thank you for your consideration on the issue of protecting the public use of public waters. This decision on the closure of 1.5 square miles of LIS water from public use, is not just a LIS issue, but an issue for all waters in NYS if a precedent is set by any decision to allow Broadwater free and exclusive access to public water and the underwater land and to prohibit the public from any use of that 1.5 square miles of water.

The Federated Conservationists of Westchester County and all the people of Westchester, urge you to decide against Broadwater, and to continue the free access of the public to all the waters of New York State. It is the public that is paying to maintain water quality, therefore, it is the public that deserves the right to use all that water.

Cesare J. Manfredi, PE


I'm quoting it here, after ignoring most of the other statements and letters I've gotten over the months, because FCWC is my home team, so to speak, and because its president took the time to send it to me. But also because I like the sentiment: it's our water -- why should we give it away to a corporation?



Anonymous Bryan said...


You've phrased the issue as "Why should we give it away?" But putting it that way makes it sound like the 1.5 square miles is available for a price. I don't think that's your position, right?

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom is phrasing it that way because that is the current Broadwater proposal. If Broadwater should ever offer to pay money there will be plenty of time-and weblog space-to condemn that too. But, the Public Trust Doctrine clearly prohibits the alienation and private use of public water and underwater lands without the legislature adopting a law and the Governor signing it. Broadwater has given us this stick, so let’s hit them with it.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Bryan said...

Anonymous, er, Tom, er, Whoever,
Exactly. So saying "Why give it away" implies that it could be given away, when, really, it can't (because of the Public Trust Doctrine).

Forgive the semantic argument, because I know Tom is well-versed in all this. I just wanted it clarified for anyone who might have happened upon this issue and post for the first time. Otherwise, it sounds like that ridiculous Newsday editorial that ran a few weeks ago.

PS. How do you know Shell didn't already put money on the table (in the form of grants, fees, donations, PILOTs) and Spitzer came thisclose to going for it (ignoring the PTD)?

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Tom said...

When I wrote "why give it away" it was basically a throw-away line, not meant to imply anything really (you have to remember that on the rare occasions when I post something while I'm at work, I knock it out fast so I can get back to what I'm paid to do) but pretty close to the way Anonymous interpreted it.

However it would make things interesting if real money came into play. I assume that if the state says yes to Broadwater, it will charge a fee for use of the Sound and the underwater land. Suppose that fee was a substantial proportion of the nitrogen removal costs for Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester -- say, half -- and that the money would go into a dedicated nitrogen-removal fund? We might look at Broadwater differently.

It's too late for that to happen and I wouldn't really want it to happen because I wouldn't want the state to negotiate away parts of the Sound. But it would change the way some of us look at things.

'By the way, I have a policy (that I don't always follow) of not letting anonymous comments go through unless I know who the person is and unless the comment is germane. In this case, I knew the commenter.

7:30 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker