When New York State extended the deadline for making its Broadwater decision last month by an extra 60 days, the word was that Broadwater would use the extra time to try to increase its popularity and to then try to convince Governor Spitzer that the people of New York really want a big LNG terminal in the middle of Long Island Sound.
If that’s there strategy, one of their tactics sounds bogus and deceitful.
I got an email on Saturday from a woman who asked me not to use her name, who said she lives on Long Island. Here’s what she wrote:
Thursday night I received a phone call from a fellow who said he was from an “independent research company” asking me if I would like to take a survey - I agreed to do so. I would like to tell you about the 'survey' questions I was asked. I am paraphrasing … to the best of my recollection:
(Right out of the gate): Do I support “imported oil or clean burning natural gas”?
- Do I believe my elected officials are responsible for keeping my energy cost lower?
- Did I consider my energy bills high?
- Do I use more energy now than I did 4-5 years ago?
- Is a reliable supply of 'State supplied' natural gas important to me?
- If my elected officials told me I would save $300 per year on energy costs, would I tell them to support the method to do so?
Then I was asked if I was familiar with a proposal for an LNG facility to be located in the middle of LI Sound, many miles off shore from land. This was followed by:
- Broadwater is working with environmental groups on this project. Knowing this, are you more likely to support the project?
- Broadwater has pledged to give millions of dollars to organizations on Long Island. Knowing this, are you more likely to support the project?
- Of the following types of organizations Broadwater can donate to, which of the following would you most support to support this project: (... a list was offered, to be rated 1-10)?
- The Coast Guard has stated that the security risks to the terminal are minimal. Knowing this are you more likely to support the project?
- The federal government has issued its final environmental assessment stating Broadwater would have minimal environmental risks. Knowing this are you more likely to support the project?
- The terminal would be nine miles off the coast on Long Island, virtually invisible from the coast. Knowing this, are you more likely to support the project?
There were more, but you get the idea. Then I was asked:
- Am I a liberal?
- Democrat or Republican?
- Race, age, religion?
- Income range?
- Very important - Where do I get my information and news sources from?
Tom, if this was an "Independent Survey" then I'm the Queen of England. I felt manipulated and used. I asked again who they were, I was told they were 'Opinion Access Corporation' in Long Island City, 718-729-2622. They make calls and send back the tallies. The only way these guys are “independent” is that they are hired by Broadwater or their PR firms to ask their questions. The client is then free to interpret and use the results anyway they want.
I know the Shell-Broadwater staff is trying to portray opponents to this terminal as a so-called “vocal minority.” Perhaps with such biased questions, they will come up with an "independent survey” saying 90% of the respondents support this project. This would be so twisted it's beyond a joke!
What a load of hogwash. This is upsetting and wrong, and I'm angry. I hope this can somehow backfire on them. In fact, I felt so manipulated I called my local officials. I also called Spitzer's office, but had to leave a message. No one has called me back yet.
So keep your eyes open for ads, press releases and other pronouncements about support for Broadwater. We should assume they’re based on the survey my correspondent participated in, and we should assume the results are a sham.
2:58 p.m. The governor's got other issues to deal with.