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NY Governor Nixes Port Ambrose LNG Import Terminal

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday vetoed the Port Ambrose Liquefied Natural Gas Deepwater Port, citing security and economic concerns along with the project's potential to harm offshore wind development.

Cuomo's veto came one month after the project, backed by Liberty Natural Gas LLC, received its final environmental impact statement from the  U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) and U.S. Coast Guard (see Daily GPIOct. 14).

Port Ambrose would have delivered regasified LNG to markets during peak winter demand times via an offshore pipeline that would interconnect with the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline system. ICF International had estimated that the annualized Port Ambrose benefit to New York and New Jersey gas consumers would be $300 million a year from 2018, according to Liberty.

"We are disappointed and very surprised with Gov. Cuomo's decision today to not allow a cleaner, more affordable energy supply to reach New York consumers," said Liberty Natural Gas CEO Roger Whelan. "We had hoped that the safety and environmental concerns raised by the governor this afternoon had been thoroughly addressed and dismissed in the final environmental impact statement."

In order to go forward, the project needed the blessing of Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie under the Deepwater Port Act. In a letter to MARAD, Cuomo outlined his objections.

"My administration carefully reviewed this project from all angles, and we have determined that the security and economic risks far outweigh any potential benefits," Cuomo said. "Superstorm Sandy taught us how quickly things can go from bad to worse when major infrastructure fails -- and the potential for disaster with this project during extreme weather or amid other security risks is simply unacceptable.

"Port Ambrose would also hinder the local maritime economy in a way that negatively impacts businesses throughout Long Island, and that is simply unacceptable. This is a common-sense decision, because vetoing this project is in the best interests of New Yorkers."

Cuomo emphasized his state's commitment to clean energy projects, including offshore wind, and said Port Ambrose was a threat to such efforts. The port would have made about 20% of the area proposed for an offshore wind project unavailable, the governor said.

The Deepwater Port Act requires approval from the governor of each adjacent coastal state before a deepwater port license is issued. For the Port Ambrose project, both New York and New Jersey are adjacent coastal states.

Even with the growing gas production from the Marcellus and Utica shales and infrastructure projects planned to get that gas to New Yorkers, Liberty said there was a role for Port Ambrose.

"New York is currently the fourth-largest consuming state of natural gas in the country, and demand is expected to grow significantly in the coming decades, with the majority of the growth in the capacity constrained New York City and Long Island areas," according to the Port Ambrose project website. "Regional growth in demand for natural gas is projected to outpace growth in supply infrastructure, even allowing for the expected development growth of the Marcellus Shale."

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