Fla. Congressman Joins In Opposition To Pipeline
by Nicholas Azzara The Bradenton Herald, Fla.
June 04, 2008
County leaders have gained a helping hand on the federal level in the battle against a proposed natural gas pipeline off the Anna Maria Island coast.
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, told the Manatee County Commission on Tuesday that he'll do his part to join the county in opposing a 36-inch gas transmission line that would make landfall at Port Manatee.
There could be no digging for sand 1,000 feet around the pipeline, which would destroy the county's plans to recover up to $50 million worth of sand there to restock Anna Maria beaches.
"Help us by being involved and focus on protecting these beaches now and for the future," Commission Chairman Jane von Hahmann said.
"It's instrumental to the economy of Manatee County that we work with them to change their alignment," said Commissioner Carol Whitmore. "If you have any sway federally, we'd very much appreciate it."
Buchanan already had a letter prepared to send Port Dolphin officials, but he wants local input so all parties are on the same page. A draft of the letter to Port Dolphin states that Buchanan wants to work with the company and local officials toward an alternative solution.
"If it's as big an issue as I think it is, I want to do everything I can do to weigh in with you and make sure it's clear that this could have a big negative impact in terms of our own beach renourishment efforts," Buchanan told commissioners. "We've got to do what's right for this county and for Anna Maria Island."
The Port Dolphin line would continue about four miles inland, where it would link with Gulfstream Natural Gas System's pipeline.
That kind of impact would mean almost certain doom for plans to renourish local beaches, which could in turn mean a severe blow to a local economy that depends heavily on pristine sands to attract tourists. A county in the middle of slashing budgets would be hard-pressed to find the type of money needed to carry out extensive sand restocking projects later this year and next.
Buchanan had stopped by the county's first budget planning meeting to drop off an oversized check for $1.7 million. It was federal reimbursement for county's beach renourishment efforts more than five years ago.
"When I got elected, you said there were two big things you needed help on: Wares Creek, and I feel like we're about to get that done," Buchanan said. "The other thing was getting money back from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They made a commitment in 2002 ... and I'm happy to tell you I brought the check."
Commissioners thanked Buchanan for the money, adding he had restored local trust in federal officials.
"It restores our trust in federal government by saying, 'if we're willing to step up and pay, you'll reimburse us,'" von Hahmann said. "We truly appreciate that."
Copyright (c) 2008, The Bradenton Herald, Fla. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
Port Dolphin Project
Port Dolphin Energy LLC (subsidiary of Hoegh LNG AS)
offshore Tampa Bay, FL United States