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Republican American: Rell among foes of liquefied gas terminal: Broadwater Energy project

Wednesday, January 10, 2007
By STEPHEN SINGER

NEW LONDON — Strong opposition by Gov. M. Jodi Rell to a proposed natural gas terminal on Long Island Sound kicked off a hearing Tuesday night as the public had its first chance comment on a draft report by federal energy regulators.

State Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Gina McCarthy delivered Rell’s statement, criticizing the proposed security zone around the terminal as the taking of property by a private company with federal approval.

“It’s like your neighbor forcing you to grant an easement so he can continuously drive his car through your nicest garden to and from his garage,” McCarthy said.

Nearly 200 people attended the hearing at Mitchell College. Their focus was the report by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission draft report that found the project will have minimal impact on the environment and public safety if certain guidelines for construction are followed. Many of the opponents worried that Connecticut has been stripped of its jurisdiction and that Long Island Sound would be industrialized.

Broadwater Energy, a consortium of Shell Oil and TransCanada Corp., wants to build the floating liquefied natural gas barge in New York waters about 10 miles south of New Haven and nine miles off Wading River, Long Island.

Rell compared the terminal — projected to be 1,200 long and 82-feet high — with building factory “in the middle of a national park.”

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani fielded questions before the hearing to address public safety concerns. His company Giuliani Partners was hired by Broadwater to provide safety and security assessment. Broadwater organized a meeting with Giuliani and local officials before the public hearing.

Giuliani said the facility will “have the best security possible.” Employees would have thorough background checks and the company is committed to using the latest security technology available. Since the platform would be located near middle of the Sound, shoreline communities would be far from danger, Giuliani said.

The terminal would supply 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day, enough to heat 4 million homes a year and would be completed by mid-2010.

Natural gas is cooled and condensed into a liquid to make transportation easier. Under the Broadwater proposal, the terminal would receive LNG shipments by boat, then pump the gas into the existing pipeline between Long Island and Connecticut.

John Hritcko, Broadwater’s senior vice president, said about half of the gas would go to New York City, 25-30 percent is targeted for Long Island and rest would go in Connecticut.

A report issued by the U.S. Coast Guard in September said the natural gas terminal poses safety and security risks that would require more firefighters, escort boats and other measures to prevent accidents or terrorist attacks.

Leah Schmalz, a spokeswoman for Save the Sound, a program of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, said the project’s design is not final and called the draft report an “inadequate document.”

Her group contends the terminal would have a cumulative effect on water quality and make the large resource off limits to residents.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who jumped into Long Island Sound on Sunday with a group of Broadwater opponents for a benefit, said in a statement Tuesday that the project should be doomed because a plan to modernize the Coast Guard is behind schedule.

“This new information shows that the Coast Guard’s plan to expand and upgrade its fleet is a colossal failure and provides new evidence that the Coast Guard cannot address accidents or attacks on the proposed Broadwater energy facility or tankers supplying it,” he said.

Other officials including Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., oppose the project.

Broadwater, based in Riverhead, N.Y., ran radio ads Monday promising Connecticut and New York natural gas customers savings of $300 a year if the terminal is built.

Hearings also will be held Wednesday in Smithtown, N.Y.; Thursday in Shoreham, N.Y; and Jan. 16 in Branford.

Even if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approves the project, Broadwater will need permits from New York.

Copyright © 2007 AP Wire

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