Conn. AG Favors BlueOcean Over Broadwater
by Gregory B. Hladky, New Haven Register, Conn. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
January 08, 2008
A new plan to anchor a liquefied natural gas facility 20 miles off the New Jersey coast has become the latest weapon in Connecticut's bid to block a proposal for an LNG plant in the middle of Long Island Sound.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal Monday asked a New York state agency to reject the Broadwater proposal for the Sound on the grounds the New Jersey scheme would be "far less dangerous and destructive to the environment."
The BlueOcean Energy project to build a floating LNG facility off the New Jersey shore was proposed by ExxonMobil officials last month. The plant would have the capacity to provide about 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, or 20 percent more than the Broadwater proposal.
"While Broadwater would devastate pristine, untouched areas in Long Island Sound and endanger the lives of countless recreational and commercial sailors, the BlueOcean Energy project would be located 20 miles off the coast, away from crowded areas of the Sound," Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal also argued the BlueOcean plan would require only 20 miles of undersea pipe to bring gas to shore, while Broadwater would need about 30 miles of new underwater pipe.
But a spokesman for Broadwater said Monday that the New Jersey coastal project would "tend to serve New Jersey, not New York City, Long Island and Connecticut, as Broadwater will do."
John Hritcko, senior vice president and regional project director for Broadwater, issued a statement saying the planned facility for the Sound "is designed to serve New York City, Long Island and Connecticut energy needs in the safest, most efficient, reliable and environmentally responsible manner possible."
The Broadwater plan calls for a floating LNG facility to be anchored about 11 miles from Branford Harbor and nine miles from the Long Island shore. Since the plant would be entirely in New York waters, Connecticut has no direct authority over it.
Yet, the proposal to put a floating LNG facility about the size of the Queen Mary II in the Sound has generated enormous opposition from Connecticut officials and environmental activists in Connecticut and in New York.
Last April, Blumenthal filed a formal objection to the Broadwater project with New York's Office of General Services, an agency responsible for issuing a key permit for the project.
In that filing, Blumenthal argued the Broadwater project "poses a direct and substantial threat to human health and safety and critical ecosystem resources of national importance in Long Island Sound."
Broadwater officials at the time accused Blumenthal of waging a "campaign of misinformation."
The $700 million Broadwater proposal is a joint venture by TransCanada Corp. and Shell. The Broadwater group has asked for approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has primary authority over facilities involving natural gas. FERC is expected to make a final ruling soon on an environmental impact statement for Broadwater, Blumenthal said.
However, the project also needs approval from at least two New York state agencies. Except for New York's environmental agency, which asked Broadwater to resubmit its permit application, any of the state or federal agencies involved could "rule any day now," Blumenthal said.
Copyright (c) 2008, New Haven Register, Conn. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
Broadwater Energy LLC (TransCanada and Shell)
Long Island Sound, NY United States