Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on Wednesday continued his fight against the proposed Broadwater liquefied natural gas facility, formally demanding that both the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and State of New York Department of State (NYDOS) reject the project.
Blumenthal contends that it is impossible to lawfully evaluate the impacts of the LNG facility, noting that the most basic, critical planning aspects of the Broadwater project have not been completed--in some cases, not even started.
In formal comments filed with FERC, Blumenthal said that the federal Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) fails to meet even the minimum standards of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
In separate comments filed with NYDOS, Blumenthal said the Broadwater project would virtually violate every aspect of New York's Long Island Sound Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP), which explicitly protects commercial and recreational boating interests, open space, visual qualities and environmental interests in the Long Island Sound.
"This document is a manifesto: it draws a line in the Sound," Blumenthal said. "Public authorities must protect the public trust and stop private companies from seizing public property.
"Our message to New York authorities: if you care about your coast and our Sound, you must reject this project," Blumenthal said. "You cannot remain neutral: you must stand with us against a project that would degrade and desecrate a national treasure.
"For both state and federal authorities, the unknowns are unacceptable - and should doom this project. There are better, safer means for delivering natural gas to Long Island. Law and logic dictate a different conclusion: This draft report is a do-over - not just for new findings, but new results. Broadwater should be broadsided and sunk."
In his comments to FERC, Blumenthal said, "The Broadwater project is an unacceptable security danger, an environmental atrocity, and an aesthetic monstrosity. The deficiencies in (FERC's) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) are stark and stunning."
Blumenthal said FERC continues its steadfast, but illegal, refusal to consider regional needs as a whole, and to approve only the least damaging alternatives, rather than the first plans to cross the finish line.
Blumenthal cited the following items as deficiencies in the FERC Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS):
- Even though the U.S. Coast Guard itself says that it lacks the resources to protect Broadwater and its delivery tankers, the DEIS offers no emergency response plan - simply assuming that it will somehow be arranged later.
- Even though Hurricanes Katrina and Rita damaged or destroyed 109 oil platforms and drill rigs in the Gulf of Mexico - and new design standards for anchoring systems to better withstand similar storms remain under development - the DEIS presumes there is a reliable method of attaching the Broadwater mooring system to the floor of the Sound.
- The National Environmental Policy Act plainly requires full evaluation of the reasonable alternatives to a major project such as Broadwater, but the DEIS simply, and unlawfully, refuses to conduct it at all.
In his comments to NYDOS, Blumenthal said that his major points are:
- One of the New York CZMP's stated goals is to "foster a pattern of development…that enhances community, character, preserves open space, makes efficient use of infrastructure…and minimizes adverse effects of development." Broadwater's project plainly violates each one of these goals, Blumenthal said.
- The CMP requires "reserving coastal waters for water-dependent uses." This policy would be directly violated by the vast exclusion zone that would surround Broadwater - 1,210 yards in every direction from the anchoring system. The LNG carriers will also have an oval-shaped exclusion zone two miles ahead of the vessel bow, one mile behind from the stern, and 750 yards on either side.
- Open space access to the entire Sound is vital to the public in these three states. There are as many as 300,000 registered recreational vessels in Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island that will be potentially affected. Additionally, more than 7,000 commercial vessels arrived in the Sound between the years 2003 and 2005.
- Broadwater claims that its project complies with New York's CMP because it brings a new supply of relatively clean energy into the region. Any new source of natural gas in the region - for example, new pipelines of Canadian gas - could produce the same benefit without the serious adverse consequences.
- Broadwater's anchoring unit alone will destroy 13,180 feet of seafloor, both by the construction of the unit and the inevitable anchor scars imposed to position the construction barges. The pipe-laying operation, installed over 21.7 miles, will also increase concentrations of sediment.
- Past installations of pipelines have inflicted persistent and-long lasting damage to shellfish beds - and this project would pose the same irreparable harm.
- There is no basis for asserting that this proposed facility - with its mooring system construction method as yet unknown - is not likely to break away in a major storm.
Comments filed with New York Department of State - (PDF-2687KB)
Comments filed with FERC - (PDF-178KB)