Friday, March 27, 2009

Broadwater Appeal Decision is About Three Weeks Away and I'm Not That Worried Although Some Political Pressure Wouldn't Be a Bad Idea

"Multiple" anonymous sources told the Long Island Business News the other day that there was a good chance the feds will overturn New York decision to reject Broadwater's proposal to put a liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound. The deadline for a decision is April 15.

The New London Day reports (here) that the Broadwater suits are making the rounds of newspaper editorial boards and "displayed a disconcerting air of confidence during their visit" to New London. There's also a news story about the visit here.

Make of this what you will. I don't put much credence in the Business News story -- "multiple" sources might mean two people, and since we don't know who they are it's hard to say if we should believe them. Part of the evidence for the conjecture is that the Commerce Department is questioning New York State officials, wanting to know why they rejected Broadwater if FERC and the Coast Guard said it would be safe.

Asking questions means nothing, of course; it would be odd if no questions were asked. On the other hand, the state's extensive reasoning for rejecting Broadwater had nothing to do with safety. Here's what the state said:

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.If the feds wanted to know why New York rejected Broadwater, all they'd have to do was read the decision, which I'm sure they did. From that point of view, the Business News story makes little sense.

Of course the Business News story could be nonsense and still be right. The feds have to say yes or no, so there's a 50-50 chance that they could overturn New York's decision.

I also think the disconcerting air of confidence on the part of the Broadwater people means little. It's an act. I don't think word has gotten out to them that they're going to win; if it had, it would have gotten out to others, including environmentalists and officials in New York and Connecticut, and we would have been an eruption of conern by now.

Still, it might not be a bad idea to get some political pressure applied in the right places. Christopher Dodd, Chuck Schumer, Rosa DeLauro, Tim Bishop -- someone ought to be urging those folks to make a couple of phone calls.

12:35 p.m. -- David Reich-Hale, the reporter who wrote yesterday's Long Island Business News story, is now saying this, on his blog:

Yesterday, LIBN reported that many business leaders and high-ranking government officials believed the Department of Commerce would reverse Gov. Paterson’s rejection of the Shell Oil/TransCanada LNG.

It's possible that he spoke to many business leaders and high-ranking government officials, but that's not what he reported yesterday. Read it again (here) and you'll see he says next to nothing about who his "multiple" sources are. He said two of them had "strong connections to the state and federal government" and one had "no ties to Shell but with plenty of ties to officials in DC and Albany" (it sounds to me like there are only two sources there).

The only reason I care, by the way, is that he's asking us to believe him but offering very few reasons to actually do so, beyond "I said so."



Anonymous Here we go again said...

Just called my Senator's office asking an update on the latest, was told 'there is a rumor' Commerce will overturn NYS. 'But that's all it is, a rumor'. Let's hope that's correct, and it simply started from hopeful (desperate?) Broadwater suits begging for attention at newspaper editorial boards.

Despite that, Shell is rich, powerful, and angry. I wouldn't discount anything with those guys in the mix. Tom, maybe encourage readers to please call their Senators and the Dept. of Commerce?

12:46 PM  

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