Wednesday, April 30, 2008

No Shad

Back in the 1980s, the Soundkeeper sued Norwalk to get the city to upgrade its then-abominable sewage treatment plant. John Cronin, who was then the Hudson Riverkeeper, went to Norwalk to help announce the suit and, to drive his point home about how bad water quality was, said that at the upcoming Norwalk Oyster Festival, they wouldn't even be serving oysters from Norwalk.

I remembered that a decade later when someone told me that there were so few shad left in the Hudson that Cronin was on his way down to the Delaware River to buy shad to serve at Riverkeeper's annual Hudson River shad-fest.

And now another decade or so has past and the Riverkeeper's shad-fest has come to this: shad will be completely missing from the menu:

For the past few years, Riverkeeper, the Hudson River conservation group, has been easing the fish off the menu of the festival it stages in Garrison, N.Y. This year’s event, on May 18, will be completely shad-free.

The issue is simple conservation. Shad swim from the ocean to the upper reaches of rivers each spring to spawn. In the Hudson River, the number of shad has been dwindling because of overfishing and decades of environmental sins.

This year, some biologists predict the run might be the smallest in memory, prompting the state Department of Conservation to enact emergency restrictions on commercial and recreational shad fishing. The shad is the only Hudson River fish that can be sold commercially.

In a show of support for Riverkeeper’s decision, shad was taken off the menu at the Hudson River Maritime Festival May 10, too. Their motto: Please don’t eat the shad. Save the shad.


If you want to read something else that is sad, in retrospect, read William Warner's Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay. Sad because the incredible bounty he wrote about 40 years ago has been so severely compromised, in the same way that the Hudson has been compromised by the loss of shad and Long Island Sound compromised by the loss of lobsters. I read Warner's book while I was working on mine, just as I read Bob Boyle's The Hudson River: A Natural and Unnatural History. Warner died yesterday at age 88.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Broadwater Will Appeal New York State's Rejection of its LNG Proposal

No huge surprise here, but Broadwater has officially said it intends to appeal New York State’s rejection of its proposal to put a LNG terminal in Long Island Sound.

Broadwater’s lawyers have written to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asking if it would assemble the material needed for the appeal to the Secretary of Commerce (which makes sense, since all the material was submitted to FERC) and also asking FERC to let them know if they won’t be able to do so before the May 12 appeal deadline. If they can’t meet the deadline, Broadwater will ask for an extension.

The letter from Broadwater’s lawyers is here.


The 26-Toilet Mansion: Sorry, Say The Neighboring Mansion Owners, But It's Just Not Normal

Some folks in Greenwich are wondering why the people who want to build a 625,000-cubic-foot house with 26 bathrooms can't be just normally extravagant, like the rest of their neighbors, instead of so ridiculously extravagant. The new house would have 27,000 square feet of floor space. The tear-down that the owners -- Olga and Valery Kogan -- want to replace covers 19,000 square feet. It's on Simmons Lane and was built by the guy who founded the Simmons mattress company. Robert and Ethel Kennedy had their wedding reception on the grounds.

It's just so hard for the neighbors to accept 27,000 square feet and 26 bathrooms. Nineteen thousand square feet, maybe even 20, is fine. But that extra 7,000 square feet is going too far:

"We would welcome them to the neighborhood," said Charles Lee, one of the neighbors. "if they were willing to live in a normal house."

All of this believe-it-or-not information, and more, is in the Greenwich Time.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

After New York's Rejection of Broadwater, FERC Gets Petition to Reverse its Approval

New York State, Connecticut and others have filed petitions with the Federal Energy Regulatory commission, saying that in the aftermath of New York’s rejection of Broadwater, FERC should reverse the decision it made in March approving Broadwater. Here’s what Newsday reported:

... state and local officials on both sides of the Sound are, in effect, trying to buy some insurance by getting the project's March 20 approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission overturned on the grounds of potential environmental damage to the Sound and a contention that the commission violated federal law by making its decision before New York State officials had made theirs.

"The state is trying to insure that its decision is properly respected by [the commission]," Paul DeCotis, New York's deputy energy secretary, said yesterday. The state contends that the commission's March 20 decision is moot because one of the conditions accompanying that permit was New York State's approval -- now denied. "By definition, de facto, because the state [disapproved], the [commission] license is no longer granted," he said.

New York’s decision made the Shell, TransCanada and Broadwater people unhappy, naturally, but it also made people in New Jersey unhappy, because it suggested a site in the Atlantic, off the Jersey shore, as an alternative. From the Asbury Park Press:

"If it's not good enough for Long Island Sound, it's sure as hell isn't good enough for our "Clean Ocean Zone,' " said Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, a Sandy Hook-based coalition that organized the rally.

That seems fair enough to me, as long as they make their case as strongly and cogently as the anti-Broadwater people did.


Monday, April 21, 2008

National Poetry Month: "I see it as it looked one afternoon ..."

It's National Poetry Month but I know of only one poem about Long Island Sound, by Emma Lazarus. When I was looking for a title for my book, I searched through Whitman's poems hoping that, because he lived in Huntington and wrote about "fish-shaped Paumonok" (aka Long Island), he might have mentioned the Sound once or twice, but if he did, I couldn't find it. Stan Getz wrote and recorded a song called "Long Island Sound," but it's an instrumental. Here's Emma, who of course also wrote this:

Long Island Sound

I see it as it looked one afternoon
In August,-by a fresh soft breeze o'erblown.
The swiftness of the tide, the light thereon,
A far-off sail, white as a crescent moon.
The shining waters with pale currents strewn,
The quiet fishing-smacks, the Eastern cove,
The semi-circle of its dark, green grove.
The luminous grasses, and the merry sun
In the grave sky; the sparkle far and wide,
Laughter of unseen children, cheerful chirp
Of crickets, and low lisp of rippling tide,
Light summer clouds fantastical as sleep
Changing unnoted while I gazed thereon.
All these fair sounds and sights I made my own.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Commerce Secretary's 2003 Rejection of Gas Pipeline Appeal for Hudson River Doesn't Bode Well For Broadwater

A couple of times in the past, while I was speculating on how the New York Department of State would rule on Broadwater's proposal to put an LNG terminal in Long Island Sound, I cited previous department decisions, specifically rejections of a housing development for Davids Island and of a natural gas pipeline that was to run under the Hudson from Rockland to Westchester County.

I didn't follow that Millennium Pipeline case very closely, but Denise Civiletti went back and found out what happened when Millennium appealed the Department of State's decision to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, as Broadwater now has the right to do.

The precedent isn't good for Broadwater. The Secretary of Commerce rejected Millenium's appeal on grounds that seem as if they'd apply to Broadwater's appeal, and the courts then upheld the secretary's decision. Here's what Civiletti wrote, in the Suffolk Times:

Under federal law, Broadwater has 30 days to appeal to the U.S. secretary of commerce to override N.Y. state's April 10 ruling that the project is inconsistent with the state's coastal zone management policy.

The secretary of commerce, Carlos Gutierrez, can override the state's consistency ruling if he determines that the Broadwater plan is "consistent with the objectives of the CZMA," or if the project is "necessary in the interest of national security."

In 2003, the commerce secretary rejected the consistency appeal of Millennium Pipeline Company, whose plans, like Broadwater's, had been found inconsistent with New York's coastal management policies by the New York secretary of state. The secretary of commerce refused to override the state's determination, ruling that a project is consistent with the objectives of the CZMA only if it furthers the national interest articulated by Congress in a significant way, and if the national interest outweighs the activities' adverse coastal effects, and there is no reasonable alternative available. "A negative finding for any of the three elements will preclude [the] project from being consistent with the objectives of the CZMA," the commerce secretary wrote. In the Millennium case, he found that there was a reasonable alternative to the proposed project. He also refused to allow the project on the grounds of "national security," saying the record must show that "a specific impairment of a national security interest would result if [the] project were not permitted to go forward as proposed." General statements that the project is important to the national interest are not enough, he ruled.

The commerce secretary's Millennium ruling was upheld by the federal district court in Washington, D.C., in 2006.

Plum Island Worries

Whenever I complain about the noise of leaf blowers in my neighborhood someone should remind me that at least I don't live near Plum Island. The Department of Homeland Security is considering Plum Island, which is off the tip of Orient Point, as the site of a new laboratory:

"... a new biosafety level 4 facility -- the highest level lab, where pathogens potentially deadly to humans may be studied."

People on the North Fork aren't all that happy about it, as you can read here in the Suffolk Times.



With Broadwater gone, what else can we say no to? Winergy has made its proposal for wind turbines off Jones Beach bigger, and has two other proposals for the area, including one at the far eastern end of Long Island Sound, near Plum Island. Here's Newsday.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The 26-Toilet Mansion: How Much Energy Use is Too Much?

Rich people who live in big houses in Greenwich are upset that an even richer person wants to put up an even bigger house in their neighborhood – specifically one with almost three-quarters of an acre of floor space and 625,000 cubic feet of volume.

I’d never heard of a house being measured in cubic feet, but I guess it’s a good gauge of vastness and cavernousness: a 625,000-cubic-foot house must have some high ceilings.

I think what’s really galling the neighbors though is the realization of how hard it will be to keep up with the Joneses (irrelevant aside: did you know that the Joneses in the phrase 'keeping up with the Joneses' were Edith Wharton's family, on her mother's side?). The Greenwich Time reports:

Another concern for residents is that the mansion has far more floor space devoted to Turkish baths, Finnish baths and other amenities, than living space normally found in single-family homes, Lee said.

"A single-family doesn't need 26 toilets," he said. "Why are there 26 toilets there?"

The owner, by the way, is a woman named Olga Korgan. Here’s what her lawyer says:

"It's the way people who can afford it like to live," he said.

To me it raises other questions: how much energy does a 26-toilet, 625,000-cubic-foot house use? And isn’t it time for local communities to start changing zoning regulations to make sure houses have as small a carbon footprint as possible?

They already regulate how much paving you can have, how close to the wetlands you can build, how close to the street and neighboring properties you can build, how tall the house can be, etc. All those are more or less important, I guess. But if limiting the affects of climate change requires a million small actions to go along with a few big ones, energy efficiency in houses is a good place to start.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

U.S. Supreme Court Will Hear Riverkeeper Case Concerning Power Plants, Cooling Water, and Fish Kills. Millstone and Other Sound Plants Are Involved.

This blog is going to be a Broadwater-free zone for the next few days, I hope. With that I mind, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an important case in the long-term battle to limit the number of fish that are killed in the cooling water intakes of power plants, including the Millstone plant in Waterford and many others.

Soundkeeper Terry Backer tipped me off (he's a plaintiff in Riverkeeper v. EPA, one of the suits that was consolidated by the Supreme Court) and sent me a link to SCOTUSBlog, which explains the case:

The Court also announced it will rule on whether the Environmental Protection Agency may compare costs with benefits when it orders major electricity-generating plants to install new technology when they draw water out of rivers and streams to cool their turbines....

In the electric industry case, the Court actually consolidated three petitions for review, and limited its review to a question as it has been composed by the U.S. Solicitor General’s office in response to the petitions. Here is the question: “Whether 316(b) of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. 1326(b), authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to compare costs with benefits in determining the ‘best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impact’ at cooling water intake structures.” One hour of oral argument will be scheduled in the combined cases of Entergy Corp. v. EPA (07-588), PSEG Fossil v. Riverkeeper (07-589), and Utility Water Act Group v. Riverkeeper (07-597).

The Court agreed to rule in those cases even though the Solicitor General had urged it not to do so. While arguing that the Second Circuit Court had been wrong in concluding that EPA could not make a cost-benefit analysis under the specific provision in the Clean Water Act, the SG also said that the EPA was conducting a new review that may take some months, and that review might change the shape of the legal dispute. The SG conceded, though, that electric-generating plants could well incur significant new costs in the interim, and might even have to shut down their facilities to retrofit their water-intake structures.

Although the electric companies had raised other issues beyond the cost-benefit question –whether EPA could offset environmental harms by restocking the fish supply or improving aquatic habitat in the streams, and whether EPA could impose new technology requirements on existing plants as well as new ones — the Court did not agree to hear those.

The cases granted on Monday will be heard in the new Term starting Oct. 6.

There's an earlier post of mine about the Appellate Division's decision here. If you search "Millstone" in the search blog box above, you'll find a bunch of other posts as well.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Remember: Broadwater Was Rejected Because It Was The Wrong Project in The Wrong Place, Not Because People Opposed It

The Broadwater people and the reporter who wrote this story for the Courant either didn’t read or are deliberately misrepresenting what New York State’s rejection of Broadwater said about alternatives to putting a liquefied natural gas factory in the middle of Long Island Sound.

New York was not saying that we don’t need Broadwater because there will be other LNG terminals coming online. Rather, the state said that alternative locations exist for Broadwater’s project but that Broadwater did not consider them seriously enough.

And yet Broadwater and the Courant’s reporter are peddling the myth that it’s somehow going to be the fault of officials in New York and Connecticut, and of activists who opposed the project, if energy costs rise because Broadwater won’t be built. Here’s what the Courant said:

The other liquefied natural gas terminals proposed, in locations in Delaware and New Brunswick, Canada, will do little for Connecticut, Broadwater officials said, and that's assuming they win approval. "The alternatives that the opposition points to don't exist, haven't been reviewed or aren't designed to serve Connecticut or New York," said John Hritcko Jr., a senior vice president for Broadwater, a consortium of Shell Oil and the TransCanada Pipeline.

That might be true but how is it relevant? The important thing is not the alternatives that the opposition points to, as Hritcko puts it, but the alternatives that the New York State Department of State said were more viable than the middle of Long Island Sound – alternatives that could have and should have been given serious study in the project’s environmental review. It was Broadwater – Shell and TransCanada – who picked the wrong spot. Hritcko should be looking in the mirror and saying, “We made a mistake in not seriously considering the alternative locations that the state identified.”

Here’s what the state said:

DOS has proposed two alternative locations that are feasible and would be consistent with the NY Coastal Management Program. These alternatives would: • present fewer use conflicts with recreational boating, sport fishing, commercial fishing, and commercial vessels;
• have reduced effects on coastal resources when compared to the effects on the LIS estuary;

• be sited outside New York’s public trust waters; and,

• not be visible from shore.
Alternative 1 - An FSRU [floating storage regasification unit, jargon for a big LNG terminal] in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 13 miles south of Long Beach Island, west of Cholera Bank. Alternative 2 – An FSRU in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 20 miles south of Fire Island Inlet.

The Broadwater people miscalculated badly. They put all their eggs into the Long Island Sound basket and when the basket fell, all the eggs broke. It was their mistake. Don’t blame us.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Quick Look Back at the Start of the Broadwater Issue and the Interest In It

It was purely coincidental that I started this blog during the week in December 2004 that the Broadwater people first went public with their proposal to put an LNG terminal in the middle of Long Island Sound. It has been satisfying that over all the months that have passed, the issue of putting an industrial facility in the Sound was a key one.

Here's what I wrote on December 5, 2004:

To me, the key issue won't be the risk of explosion or the possible effect on lobsters ... but rather the appropriateness of Long Island Sound becoming an indusustrial site. Not the Sound's harbors or cities, mind you, but the Sound itself.

Do we want businesses to be able to establish major industrial facilities on the Sound, and do we want to look at major industrial facilities on the Sound. I argue in my book that it was attitudes about what Long Island Sound was best used for that allowed it to become the place where we dumped our industrial waste and then our household waste (that is, our sewage), which in turn led to the pollution problems we're trying to fix now.

The Broadwater LNG terminal would not be dumping into the Sound, but the proposal embodies an attitude about what Long Island Sound is best used for that hearkens back to the bad old days.

When the New York Department of State issued its decision rejecting Broadwater last week, this was the first reason it gave:

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

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.

Was I unusually perceptive way back then? Nope. Just stating the obvious.

The other thing I wanted to mentioned is my own gauge of how much interest there is in Broadwater. Until last week this blog had been averaging about 325 page views a day, and 200 unique visitors. But with the Broadwater decision looming, the averages for Tuesday through Friday of last week were 473 and 336, with a peak of 579 page views and 405 unique visitors on Thursday. And the number of returning visitors rocketed as well. Proof, if anyone needs it, that when the issue is hot, people want good information quickly.

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In the Broadwater Fight, the Flea Won

There must be a fable in some culture about how a flea, through persistence, kills a gorilla or a lion or some other creature that wants to impose its will on creatures who don't want to be imposed upon.

Maybe Sid Bail, from the Wading River Civic Association, should write a contemporary version. It was back in late 2004, when the Broadwater proposal was brand new, that Sid was quoted in the Long Island section of the New York Times about the David-versus-Goliath odds of people from Long Island fighting Shell and TransCanada, Broadwater's corporate sponsors.

"I see us as a flea on the buttocks of Shell Oil," Sid said back then.

The flea won.


Friday, April 11, 2008

What's Next for Broadwater? Nothing. It's Dead, Even If Broadwater Wins An Appeal

There was a lot of talk from Broadwater's people yesterday about how New York's rejection of the proposal for a floating LNG terminal in Long Island Sound is just one step in the approval process and that there are avenues of appeal open that could still lead to approval.

Here's what I think is the truth: Broadwater is dead.

Why? Because even if the Broadwater people appeal to the federal government and win, they still need New York State's permission to use the waters of Long Island Sound and the land under the Sound.

We the people of New York State own the land and water on which Shell and TransCanada want to build the Broadwater LNG terminal. New York State, acting on our behalf, has total control over whether it wants to let Broadwater use that water and land.

If Governor David Paterson and the Secretary of State and the staff at the Department of State have determined that Broadwater is not in the best interest of New York, why would they let Broadwater use the Sound and its underwater land, even if the state's decision is reversed on appeal?

New York State's decision, announced yesterday, was based on its authority to oversee activities in the state's coastal zone. The state has that authority because the federal government gave it to the state, through the Coastal Zone Management Act, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce. So if Broadwater wants to overturn New York's decision, the Department of Commerce is the place to go.

Here's how the New York State Department of State describes it:

Unless the U.S. Secretary of Commerce overrides the Department of State (DOS) decision on appeal, pursuant to the CZMA, the decision means that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cannot approve construction of the project in LIS.

The Hartford Courant quoted Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal:

"They have a right to go to the secretary … and say that national energy priorities should override the coastal zone management determination made here by the governor," Blumenthal said.

Let's take the most cynical point of view. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of course has already approved Broadwater's proposal, saying it can go forward if it meets 80 conditions meant to guarantee safety and environmental protection. So let's say the Secretary of Commerce gets Broadwater's appeal and says, essentially, "The people at FERC think this is a worthwhile project and their opinion is good enough for me, so I'm overturning New York State's decision." I don't think that's out of the question at all. (This paragraph is corrected from an earlier version in which I mistakenly asserted that the Secretary of Commerce oversees FERC.)

Broadwater then has to come back to New York and ask for the right to use our land and water (Broadwater also needs permits from the state Department of Environmental Conservation).

Yesterday New York State laid out an articulate and compelling rationale for rejecting Broadwater, based on the following:

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.

Broadwater can appeal New York State's coastal zone determination, and it can win on appeal. All that would mean is that New York State would have to formally issue a permit for use of the coastal zone. It would not force the state to give away our water and our land for a project that the state thinks is bad for New York.


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.


Paterson Says No to Broadwater Because It Would Turn Over Part of the Sound to a Private Company and Exclude the Public

New York State's reasoning for rejecting Broadwater was exactly right. Governor David Paterson, speaking at Sunken Meadow State Park within the last hour, officially announced New York State's rejection of the proposal. Newsday cited Paterson as saying

"... the facility would not guarantee low cost natural gas to Long Island. He said it would disrupt commercial and recreational fishing and would, in essence, turn over a section of the sound to a private company at the exclusion of the general public.

Calling energy "our new currency," Paterson spent much of his speech talking about energy alternatives could be developed to replace whatever capacity Broadwater would have provided. Paterson spoke to a cheering crowd of activists and legislators gathered on the park's boardwalk.

Broadwater of course says it won't give up:

John Hritcko, senior vice president and regional project director, said in a statement, "The regulatory process provides Broadwater a number of options going forward and we intend to fully review the decision and findings, then evaluate the project's next steps."

Those options including appealing the state's rejection to the U.S. Department of Commerce, and going to court.

The Long Island Power Authority, which of course is a state authority, said it supports the state's decision. Kevin Law, LIPA's president and chief executive:

"Broadwater was never the be-all and end-all for Long Island's energy future," he said, adding that he supports Paterson's decision. He said, however, that altenatives like added pipeline capacity or a liquid natural gas terminal in a different location should be explored.

And I agree with this (as do the environmental groups that were Broadwater's chief opponents, Citizens Campaign for the Environment and Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound):

Matthew T. Crosson, president of the Long Island Association, the island's largest business group and a conditional supporter of Broadwater, said, "As proposed, the Broadwater project would have disproportionately burdened Long Island without producing a corresponding benefit to the region...[However] it is now incumbent upon Governor Paterson to clearly state how New York will help Long Island meet its energy needs in practical, low-cost ways that can be achieved in the near future."

As of now, nothing about the decision yet on this website.


Paterson, New York State Say No to Broadwater

The word got out late yesterday and started appearing on newspaper websites in early evening -- New York has decided to reject Broadwater's proposal to put a liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound.

The state Department of State, which was required to determine if Broadwater was consistent with state policies for use of the coastal area, decided that it was not. Of 13 criteria, it failed on six, according to the Courant.

Governor David Paterson and Secretary of State Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez will make the announcement today at 2, at Sunken Meadow State Park.

There was no indication in any of the news accounts which of the 13 criteria were the basis if the rejection, although presumably we'll know later today. Remember though that early last year the Department of State gave a clear indication of which direction it was headed in, which you can read about here. And the coastal policies themselves are here.

Remember, by the way, that Denise Civiletti, out on eastern Long Island, learned in early February, that the Department of State had decided to reject the Broadwater proposal and was ready to go public, here. Knowing that, it would have been very interesting and disconcerting if two months later the decision had been revered.

One personal observation about the Department of State. Twenty years ago I reported on its coastal resources division's role in deciding the fate of a proposal to build 2,000 condos in high rises on Davids Island, in the Sound off New Rochelle. My impression then was that they were scrupulous and fair, and operated with the highest integrity under intense pressure from both proponents (including the entire New Rochelle city government, organized labor and construction interests, among others) and opponents (well-connected and well-organized officials of other communities and residents of New Rochelle and elsewhere). Broadwater was no different. The Department of State made the right decision both times, and the governors -- Mario Cuomo then, David Paterson now -- were smart enough to let the decisions of their experts stand.

If you're interested in this sort of thing (and I am), the news itself came from Connecticut yesterday, not New York. New York officials were keeping quiet to the press, not wanting to pre-empt the governor's press conference. But they were nice enough to tell their anxious counterparts in Connecticut the news, and the Connecticut officials were too thrilled and excited to keep it quiet.

Chris Zurcher compiled all the headlines and links by early this morning. Here are the ones that I read: Hartford Courant, New Haven Register, Newsday, AP.

I'll try to follow this with more quick hits throughout the day, if my responsibilities at work allow it.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Governor and the Secretary of State Will Be on the Island Tomorrow for the Broadwater Announcement

The Governor and the Secretary of State will travel to Long Island tomorrow to announce the Broadwater decision. This email just came across from Kasey Jacobs, of Citizens Campaign for the Environment:

We've finally received word that the decision we've all been waiting for will be tomorrow, Thursday April 10th.

Governor David Paterson and Secretary of State Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez are expected to announce their decision in-person on Long Island tomorrow afternoon. Details will be announced later today, so please stand by for a follow-up email with that information.

We need as many people there as possible to show our opposition en masse!

This has been a long and challenging fight. A huge thanks to all for everything that's been accomplished. Please come tomorrow so we can support each other on the most important day of the campaign.

Hope to see you there!

Together we can make a difference,

Kasey Jacobs
Program Coordinator

Would two politicians travel to a region where virtually every politician is against Broadwater just to announce that they are giving it the green light?


One More Thought About the Broadwater Poll While Waiting for the Secretary of State

Regardless of whether the Broadwater poll was a sham (and it was), the issue should not be decided based on how many people think it's a good (or bad) idea. If putting an LNG terminal in the middle of Long Island Sound is bad for the Sound, then what does it matter if a lot of people want it?


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Broadwater's Poll: The True Believers Will Believe, The Rest of Us Can Scoff

The Broadwater folks released the results of a public opinion poll yesterday and Newsday found it sufficiently newsworthy but before you read about it, read the post I wrote, here, based on an email from someone on Long Island who was among those polled. Go ahead, read (again, it’s here), then come back.

Now that you’ve read it, you can read this Newsday story and decide whether to believe the poll.

To his credit, Newsday’s Tom Incantalupo went to the trouble of finding a believeable skeptic. Here’s what he wrote:

'… Philip Meyer, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Institute for Research in Social Science, said after reviewing the poll material Broadwater released that it was improperly done because it did not present both sides of the issue. "It shows that two in three New Yorkers support Broadwater as an energy solution after they listened to a one-sided explanation of it," he said.

'The poll results are at variance with another, conducted recently by Cablevision Inc.'s News12 and Hofstra University. That survey found only 37 percent of Long Islanders favoring Broadwater, 41 percent opposed and 22 percent undecided.'

(You’ll also note the similarity between the “Queen of England” quote in Newsday’s story and the “Queen of England” quote in my earlier post. My source that day was the same woman; I identified and then, after she asked me to take her name out, I removed it.)

With a decision by New York expected tomorrow or Thursday or Friday, the anti-Broadwater folks are going crazy with press releases and letters and media events. You can find summaries and links to just about everything new today here, at Chris Zurcher's headlines blog.


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?


Expect a Broadwater Decision by Friday

The NY Secretary of State has said that she will make the Broadwater announcement towards the end of this week.

That's what Adrienne Esposito, the head of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, told me and everyone else on her email list late yesterday afternoon. I thought the passive "has said" was a bit vague and so I responded:

Where did she say that, or to whom?

Adrienne wrote back:

I meet with her on thursday. She said she did not anticipate a delay & the ruling would be made by the 11th.

I could speculate on what it means and make a prediction (I'd have a 50-50 chance of getting it right) but why bother. Let's wait to hear what Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez has to say.

Early afternoon update: Now Adrienne is saying she hears the decision will be announced Wednesday or Thursday, 4/9 or 4/10.


Friday, April 04, 2008

Rye Becomes the Ninth Community in Westchester to Ban Leaf Blowers in Summer

Bravo to the city of Rye. The other night the City Council approved a ban on leaf blowers from May 1 through September 30. Think of it -- for the whole summer Rye residents won't have their senses assaulted by roaring leaf blowers using fossil fuels to accomplish a job that is essentially frivolous.

And the best thing is that it seems to be a trend. This from the Journal News:

Yonkers, Hastings, Greenburgh, Bronxville, Larchmont, Pelham village, Scarsdale and the town of Mamaroneck also have leaf-blower bans.

Here's hoping the trend is viral and spreads throughout the region.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

For Broadwater, All Eyes Are On Albany

Peter Applebome gives the four reasons Broadwater is still alive, in today's Times:

One is the bottomless pockets of its big-energy sponsors, TransCanada Corporation and Shell Oil. The second is support, overt and covert, in New York, where the City Council has backed the project as part of a long-term strategy to provide natural gas to the city. The third is a federal regulatory process that is extremely friendly to the energy industry; the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last month voted 5 to 0 in favor of the project.

And fourth is the fact that one person matters in the regulatory process more than anyone else. That would be the governor of New York, who has enormous power to kill the project or keep it alive.

He also raises the question of whether Eliot Spitzer, the steamroller playing the part of maverick gunslinger, would have been more likely to buck popular opinion than the new governor, David Paterson.

Most of us have heard Mr. Spitzer’s boast on that issue often enough to know that he might have been more willing to expend political capital on a politically unpopular project than the typical politician. And absent strong intervention by the governor, the most relevant sign of the state’s thinking would seem to be a harsh review in December 2007 by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that raised numerous serious concerns about the project, including its negative effects on the Sound’s fisheries.

With the change of governors, people have been expecting another extension of the deadline for the New York Department of State to decide whether Broadwater is consistent with state regulations on the use of coastal resources. An extension could still happen, but it gets less likely as the April 11 deadline looms, and the guess is that without one, the environmental agency’s reservations could settle the issue.

Applebome is partly mistaken, though. Yes, it's true that the DEC has serious misgivings about the process and must issue a permit. But the deadline extension -- from the second week of February to the second week of April -- was to give the state Department of State more time, at least officially (the informed speculation of course is that the Department of State was ready to say no in February and that Broadwater and Shell prevailed on Spitzer to extend the deadline to give Broadwater more time to muster public support, which, by the way, they do not seem to have succeeded at).

The Department of State must certify that Broadwater's plan for an LNG terminal in Long Island Sound is consistent with state (and federally-sanctioned) policies for use of the coastal zone.

People generally think that's more important than the DEC permit because Broadwater can satisfy the DEC's concerns -- about air quality and the number of fush that will be killed in the terminal's cooling system -- by improving the technology they use at the terminal. But if the terminal itself is inconsistent with the state's coastal zone policies, technical improvements don't matter.

In the meantime, it was on March 13 that Governor Paterson said at a news conference that "he might actually ask for a little more time" to make a decision on Broadwater. Since then there hasn't been a peep out of Albany. Spitzer deadline extension came just seven days before the first deadline, so there's still time for Paterson to delay it again.

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