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Connecticut AG: Environmental Group Could Support Offshore LNG

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who has opposed construction of the proposed Broadwater floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, is calling for the creation of a two-state commission on environment and energy needs. He said the commission should consider, among other things, supporting LNG facilities off the New York or New Jersey coasts.

Speaking at a regional energy summit on Long Island, Blumenthal said Connecticut and New York should establish a joint commission of government officials and others "representing a broad range of important interests, including businesses, ordinary citizens, environmental groups, commercial and recreational users of [Long Island] Sound, utility regulators and consumer develop a regional consensus about environmental protection, energy needs and ways and means to meet all concerns."

Blumenthal said the proposed commission should consider:

Blumenthal and Connecticut officials have been vocal opponents of the proposed Broadwater offshore terminal, a joint venture of TransCanada and Shell US Gas and Power. Broadwater plans call for an average sendout capacity of 1 Bcf/d and peak sendout of 1.25 Bcf/d. The LNG would be delivered by tankers, temporarily stored on the floating LNG facility, vaporized and then transported in a new 21.7-mile subsea pipeline that would have an offshore connection with Iroquois Gas Transmission, which crosses Long Island Sound. Broadwater estimates that an average of 118 tankers annually (two to three per week) would be needed to meet the project's planned sendout volume. The tankers would enter Long Island Sound from the Atlantic at the eastern end of the sound and travel down the middle to the terminal, away from Long Island and Connecticut harbors and not approaching New York City harbor.

When Broadwater Energy filed its application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in January 2006 to build the LNG terminal approximately nine miles off the shore of Long Island and 11 miles from Connecticut, it immediately drew widespread opposition (see NGI, Feb. 6, 2006). FERC in March imposed more than 80 environmental, security and safety conditions in its order approving the project (see NGI, March 24). Connecticut's Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Blumenthal asked FERC to reconsider that decision (see NGI, April 7).

Days later the New York State Department of State announced a negative consistency determination in Broadwater's Coastal Zone Management Act application, finding that the project was not consistent with the state's coastal zone policies. On the same day New York Gov. David Paterson said he opposed construction of the floating LNG project, saying "privatizing open water would be fundamentally wrong." He issued an executive order for a planning board to find alternatives (see NGI, April 14). Broadwater Energy fired back, announcing that it had taken the first step in preparation for an appeal to the U.S. Department of Commerce (see NGI, May 5).

Earlier this month Broadwater Energy LLC and Broadwater Pipeline LLC filed an administrative appeal with the Department of Commerce asking the agency to overturn New York regulators' opposition (see NGI, July 14).

According to Blumenthal, Broadwater "would have blighted the Sound environmentally and aesthetically, creating a clear and present security danger, as well as a navigation nightmare...[and] is effectively and deservedly dead."

Also "deservedly dead," Blumenthal said, is the Islander East Pipeline project, a proposed 45-mile Connecticut-to-Long Island project. The $180 million project, jointly sponsored by Spectra Energy and KeySpan, initially would deliver 285,000 Dth/d of gas from New Haven, CT, across Long Island Sound to Suffolk County near Yaphank, NY, with a lateral to be constructed to Calverton, NY. Additionally, Algonquin Gas Transmission, a subsidiary of Spectra Energy, would loop about 13.7 miles of existing pipeline in Connecticut and add a new compressor station in Cheshire, CT. As a result of these upgrades in Connecticut, Algonquin would interconnect with Islander East. Approximately 22 miles of the pipeline would be built on the floor of Long Island Sound.

The Islander East proposal has been at the center of a lengthy legal dispute since it was first approved by FERC in September 2002 (see NGI, Sept. 23, 2002). Connecticut initially interrupted the Islander East project by claiming that it was inconsistent with the state's Coastal Zone Management Act, which gives states the right to block projects that they view as detrimental to their coastal areas. But former Commerce Secretary Donald Evans in May 2004 overturned the state's decision (see NGI, May 10, 2004).

In May the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York said it would not review a Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) decision to deny Islander East Pipeline Co.'s a water-quality permit (see NGI, May 12). Earlier, the same court upheld an August 2007 ruling by the U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, CT, which set aside a decision by the secretary of the Department of Commerce that overruled Connecticut's objections to the project (see NGI, Feb. 4; Sept. 3, 2007). The required water permit has been denied twice by the Connecticut DEP.

Blumenthal said he that from the beginning he had told Islander East's proponents that the proposed route "was environmentally intolerable, but that a different route was far preferable and even potentially acceptable. Yet, both Islander East and FERC plowed ahead, only to be stopped by my office and the federal courts."

In addition to protecting Long Island Sound's environmentally sensitive areas, future projects "must ensure that the burdens and benefits are shared fairly on both sides of the Sound," Blumenthal said.

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