Big energy isn’t fiddling around while New York and New Jersey rebuild the coastline. They’re, once again, trying to fast track both oil exploration and the industrializing of the Atlantic Ocean with LNG – Liquefied Natural Gas facilities.
First they tried to place Broadwater, a 1200’ long terminal, in Long Island Sound. But impossible to ignore resistance from both sides of the estuary thwarted this LNG facility. (To his credit, New York’s replacement Governor David Patterson vetoed it after his predecessor Eliot Spitzer had failed too.)
Undaunted, big energy tried to get a foothold in the ocean and build “Safe Harbor” an artificial island off Long Beach, New York. Plus two more Broadwater type LNG terminals off the New Jersey shore — “Blue Ocean” and “Liberty Gas.” (Karl Rove himself couldn’t have come up with three better names to try and cloak the raping of the ocean.)
So the battle to protect the New York /New Jersey Bight from big energy ensued. Why it’s called “the Bight” I don’t know. What I do know is that it’s one of the most bio diverse marine environments along the Atlantic Coast. It’s home to more than 300 species of fish, 350 species of birds, 25 species of whales, dolphins and seals, and 5 species of endangered sea turtles. It runs 256 miles from Cape May, NJ to Montauk Point, NY and out to the continental shelf.
Due to soaring energy costs brought on by greed, big energy got an enormous amount of support from Washington. Congress wanted to drill everywhere without environmental review. Barack Obama, facing a difficult reelection, championed opening up more of the Arctic, the Gulf of Mexico and even the Atlantic Ocean to oil and natural gas exploration.
Then fate stepped in. BP’s Deep Water Horizon (also one of those apple pie and motherhood names) exploded and defiled the gulf. Day after day of news stories on the massive oil spill placed a pall over big energies plans for the Atlantic.
Suddenly Safe Harbor folded its tent. So did Exxon’s Blue Ocean. And NJ Governor Chris Christie kept his campaign promise and vetoed the last hold out, Liberty Gas! LNG in the Bight was finally dead.
Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action based in Sandy Hook, New Jersey sensed an opportunity. She dusted off legislation she had been working on for years and rekindled the campaign to create a Clean Ocean Zone (COZ) to protect the Bight.
Enough with all these endless meetings, late night hearings, and countless conference calls, for once and for all we were going to get a federal law that made sure that the only energy development in the Bight would be renewables — green energy, like wind, solar and geothermal. There would be no oil drilling, no LNG terminals, no BP type oil spills, no medical waste, no toxic dredge spoils or sludge and sewage disposal. And both New York and New Jersey would have a greater say in what neighboring states wanted to do to the ocean.
Cindy got tremendous support from municipalities, commercial and recreational fishermen, surfers, boaters, businessmen, environmentalists, restaurants and resorts up down the coast. There were 170 different business and environmental groups who signed on to the COZ. Then last summer Cindy launched the “Tour for the Shore” educational campaign. It featured Margo Pellegrino, a world-class ocean kayaker paddling from Cape May to Montauk, Clean Ocean Action attorney Sean Dixon peddling his 10-speed all the way, and philanthropist Andrew Sabin, who calls himself a Teddy Roosevelt republican, wearing a GOP cycling suit, as he covered the last 100-mile leg of the journey.
The politicians on both sides of the isle started paying attention. But it was an election year. No new legislation would be possible until 2013. Cindy had planned a massive letter writing campaign, meetings with our congressmen and senators and Town resolutions supporting the COZ.
Then fate stepped in again. October 29, 2012, super-storm Sandy devastated the coast and all bets were off on the COZ. People were focused on getting the ocean out of their homes. Not trying to protect an unfriendly sea.
As expected, Liberty Gas has resurfaced again with a new proposal to place another Broadwater type terminal off Atlantic Beach — the New York side of the Bight. And once more were playing whack-a-mole with LNG.
In case you’re wondering what LNG is all about, it’s simple. These gigantic facilities are for is exporting natural gas extracted by Fracking — the process of sending pressurized fluid (water) into the shale, and blasting the trapped gas out of the rock. Fracking contaminates drinking water and pollutes the air we breathe. What’s more, LNG, a carbon-based fuel, is almost as dirty as coal. It’s a greenhouse gas that’s helping to cook the life out of the planet, and by the way, helping cause super storms like Sandy, last summers drought and the recent blizzard in the northeast.