New York and Connecticut political leaders agreed Thursday to form a bi-state panel of 15 to 20 people to plan regional energy needs.
But there was no agreement at the two-hour "summit" in Hauppauge on the biggest item of contention between the states: the proposed new Islander East natural gas pipeline from Canada through Connecticut to Long Island.
The summit, called by Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, was packed into a small conference room, with about 70 state, county and town elected and appointed officials, including Connecticut State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, as well as utility executives and environmentalists.
Suffolk began planning the session after New York Gov. David A. Paterson in April denied permits for the Broadwater Energy liquid natural gas processing plant proposed for Long Island Sound. Backers said it would help the Island and New York City to meet expected increases in demand, but Suffolk and Connecticut officials deemed it too high an environmental risk. Broadwater is still fighting for permits.
"We're basically shaking hands today and moving forward in a cooperative fashion," Levy said when reporters were let into the private session. Said Blumenthal, "The fact of the matter is we have a lot more in common than we have in conflict."
The two said the bi-state commission, proposed by Blumenthal, would include representatives of business, consumers and environmental groups.
But there was no indication from either man of progress in resolving the stalemate over the proposed routing of the Islander East pipeline that National Grid and a partner want to construct. About a mile of the pipeline is in dispute, passing through the environmentally sensitive Thimble Islands region south of the Connecticut coastline.
Copyright (c) 2008, Newsday, Melville, N.Y. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.