A federal appeals court has breathed new life into a lawsuit brought by six members of the Pleasant Point Passamaquoddy Reservation who are seeking to derail the Quoddy Bay liquefied natural gas terminal (LNG) proposed for development on tribal land in Maine.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston reversed a federal judge's November 2006 ruling, which held that the six dissenting members of the Passamaquoddy Tribe lacked standing to seek an injunction against the Bureau of Indian Affairs for approving a lease to allow project sponsors to investigate the Split Rock, ME, reservation site to determine its suitability for an LNG import terminal (see NGI, Nov. 27, 2006).

The tribal members are just one of a number of groups protesting Quoddy Bay and the rival Downeast LNG project in Robbinston, about 60 miles north on the Maine coast. The Canadian Ambassador to the United States Michael Wilson also has registered his government's strong objection to LNG-laden tankers crossing Canadian waters to reach terminal sites in Maine (see NGI, April 17, 2006).

Quoddy Bay LLC is seeking FERC approval to build a 2 Bcf LNG import terminal at Split Rock and a storage project in Perry, ME. The 15-acre site abuts the Passamaquoddy and Cobscook bays.

In a related development, Downeast LNG has temporarily withdrawn permit applications to build its proposed LNG terminal in Maine, but it said it intends to refile by the end of the year. The company said it took this action so the Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) would have key information from the state Department of Marine Resources and pertinent studies when it considers the applications. It does not expect this to unnecessarily delay the project.

"The BEP has suggested to us that refiling is the only way to ensure that complete comments from all of the appropriate state agencies can be included in the record. This should not impact our proposed construction schedule," said Dean Girdis, founder and president of Downeast LNG.

Saying Downeast LNG had "jumped the gun" in its race for permits, a group of concerned residents and organizations in April called on the Maine BEP to reject the company's application to build the terminal (see NGI, April 16).

The opponents claimed that in its race to capture a portion of the highly competitive natural gas market, Downeast LNG had failed to meet the basic requirements put forth by state regulators. Those thresholds exist to avoid "wasting time and scarce public resources in reviewing applications designed merely to gain speculative marketplace advantage," they said at the time.

The Downeast LNG project, which still is awaiting FERC approval, would consist of two storage tanks, a regasification facility and a pier to receive LNG carriers, according to the company. It also would include a 31-mile pipeline that would connect the terminal to the existing Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline that runs from Nova Scotia, Canada, through Maine to southern New England. The proposed terminal would have storage capacity of 320,000 cubic meters, with an output capacity of 500 MMcf/d and peaking capacity of 625 MMcf/d.

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