Thursday, August 22, 2013

Public Expresses Overwhelming Opposition to LNG Port in Coastal Waters

Over 10,000 Comments 
Submitted in Opposition to Port Ambrose

Ever since Liberty Natural Gas first proposed constructing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) port in New York and New Jersey waters, the project has engendered a storm of opposition and received almost no public support. Today, as the public comment period draws to a close, the extent of this opposition can be seen in the thousands of comments that have been submitted to the Maritime Administration. Catie Tobin of Clean Ocean Action has been closely monitoring the government website, and she reports that as of this morning only 12 out of more than 10,000 comments express support for the project.

As expected, much of the opposition stems from concerns that the port would create air and water pollution and harm marine life, including endangered species, and would exclude fishermen from prime fishing grounds. Others have expressed concern that the facility would be an attractive terrorist target, and that it could disrupt shipping to and from the Port of New York. These hazards and more were identified by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie when he vetoed this project in 2011 and reaffirmed his veto in 2012. The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management noted that the port could interfere with the construction of an offshore wind farm proposed for the same location.

Claudia Borecky, of the Coalition of Nassau Civic Associations, says, "Our south shore communities are still struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy. Siting an LNG port off our coast would stress our communities to the breaking point."

Matt Gove, Mid-Atlantic Policy Manager for Surfrider, adds, “Our thousands of members in New York and New Jersey are strongly opposed to the Port Ambrose LNG project. It is dangerous and unnecessary, and not worth the risk it presents to our economically and recreationally critical coastal ecosystems and communities"

But not all of the opposition to Port Ambrose comes from coastal areas.  Bruce Ferguson is with the all-volunteer Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, which has been working to prohibit high volume fracking in New York State. He is concerned that the proposed LNG port will be used to export fracked gas overseas. “The project sponsor and the Maritime Administration insist that Port Ambrose will only be used to import LNG from abroad, but that doesn’t make any economic sense. Foreign gas companies are unlikely to ship LNG to the United States facility, since natural gas prices are three-to-five times higher in Europe and Asia. I have no doubt that if Port Ambrose is built, it will be used to export fracked gas overseas, and that could have a devastating effect on New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.” Catskill Citizens submitted more than 5,400 comments on the proposed port; many of them were about fracking related “upstream impacts” of fracking.

“It is clear that Port Ambrose is not in the public’s interest,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action.  “Our organization has described the many adverse safety, environmental, economic, and cumulative impacts in 127 pages of detailed comments we are submitting to the Maritime Administration.”  Zipf points out that the governors of both New York and New Jersey have the authority to unilaterally prevent Port Ambrose from being built. “It would be a great end-of-the-summer gift to all of us if our governors would keep our ocean safe for tourists, fishermen, commerce and the future by officially vetoing the project.” 

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