Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image

The New York Times: The Broadwater Battle

Published: February 5, 2006
Now that the federal government has received an energy company's formal application to anchor a huge natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound, the Battle of Broadwater can be fully engaged.
On this side is an array of deeply suspicious local residents, lawmakers and environmental groups infuriated at the thought of turning a fragile estuary into a combustible filling station. On that side are the TransCanada Corporation and Royal Dutch Shell, deep-pocketed multinational corporations that have teamed up in the Broadwater project to better exploit the global market in liquefied natural gas.
In the middle are regulatory agencies facing intense pressure to do the right thing. It will not be pretty, but there are few debates more urgent on Long Island, and in the wider region, than this.
Many circumstances have brought us to this combative place. The main one is the nation's lack of a full-bore commitment to wean itself from fossil fuels and to develop clean, renewable energy. This was underscored yet again last week in one of the lamer portions of President Bush's State of the Union address, in which he failed — again — to map a convincing exit strategy from the country's dismal entanglement with foreign energy sources.
That's the global issue. The local one is whether expanding the region's supply of liquefied natural gas, or L.N.G., through efforts like Broadwater can be a reasonable step toward a saner future.
Arguments against Broadwater are easy to summon. It will be huge, as big as the Queen Mary 2, serviced by tankers traveling in wide security buffer zones that would disrupt use of large sections of the Sound two or three times a week. All that explosive gas might tempt terrorists. Though natural gas may be cleaner than oil or coal, it still isn't clean, and using it only perpetuates the fossil-fuel habit.
Broadwater has now entered the regulatory thickets, with its application under review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Coast Guard and other agencies. (Documents are available at or Broadwater's many opponents, including the elected officials who jumped early and eagerly onto the anti-Broadwater bandwagon, now have the opportunity and obligation to use this data to spell out what the better alternatives are. They should develop ready answers to questions like these:
¶Can gas from existing pipelines and pipelines yet unbuilt really tide the region over (as the environmentalists hope they will ) until wind farms and other alternative fuels and clean technologies come to the rescue?
¶If global warming is an issue of utmost urgency, with half the energy for power plants in the United States supplied by coal, the dirtiest fuel around, then why shouldn't there be efforts to promote relatively cleaner fuels like L.N.G.? Long Island, after all, has some of the nastiest power plants in the Northeast, including an oil-fueled monstrosity spewing tons of sulfur dioxide and carbon above the pretty village of Northport.
¶If Broadwater is so unsightly and terrifying, how is it that other parts of the country, notably the Boston area, have lived with L.N.G. for years? And as hulking as Broadwater promises to be, isn't its footprint — four mooring pillars embedded in the Sound bottom nine miles offshore, as well as a pipeline spur and the floating platform — a lot tinier and more easily removed than, say, the fixed platforms of the offshore wind farm proposed off Jones Beach, which many environmental groups support? It is certainly less hideous than the 53-acre artificial L.N.G. island that a company with no connection to Broadwater is proposing to build in the Atlantic between New York and New Jersey, isn't it?
Broadwater has a long way to go to prove that its untried L.N.G. behemoth is suitable for Long Island Sound. But a healthy skepticism cuts both ways, and we look forward to hearing the best arguments of those who would lead us down another path.

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.