Tuesday, January 14, 2014

No Place for Liquefied Natural Gas Imports, or Port Ambrose, in New York's Energy Future

NYS 2014 Draft Energy Plan points to a diminishing need for LNG imports and ignores Port Ambrose altogether

On January 7, 2014, the New York State Energy Planning Board released its Draft 2014 New York State Energy Plan for public comment. The Draft Plan, which runs to over 600 pages, is a comprehensive assessment of every aspect of New York’s energy matrix, including supply, demand, and infrastructure needs for the next twenty years.  While the Plan suggests that natural gas will play an important role in the state’s energy future, it sees no role for imported liquefied natural gas (LNG); and although other infrastructure projects are considered in detail, it doesn’t even mention Port Ambrose, the proposed Deepwater Port that would be constructed off Long Island and import LNG into the metropolitan area.

In its few remarks on the subject, the Plan notes that the need for LNG imports has diminished and that they now (in 2012) account for “less than 1 percent of total U.S. natural gas.” The Plan goes on to warn that natural gas markets are shifting to exporting LNG – which could “cause price volatility in the future” and have a disruptive impact on New York energy costs.

So where does this leave Port Ambrose? “This is further evidence, if any were needed, that there isn’t any demonstrable need for LNG imports for Port Ambrose,” noted Sean Dixon, Coastal Policy Attorney with Clean Ocean Action; “in aiming for affordable energy, resiliency, and market-based solutions, LNG facilities are clearly inconsistent with NYS’s Energy Future.”

“New York State must reject the false promise of carbon based fuels as a bridge to a sustainable future and stand as a leader in creating a new energy economy based on renewable resources,” said Jeremy Samuelson, Executive Director of Concerned Citizens of Montauk. “Our energy future will reflect exactly what we incentivize.  Economic growth, environment protection and greater national security are the inevitable by-products an aggressive transition to renewable energy.”

“New York State’s Energy Plan offers further evidence that Port Ambrose is not viable as an LNG import facility,” said Bruce Ferguson of Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy.  “In all likelihood, if this project goes forward it will be used to export shale gas and that will inevitably lead to more fracking in the Northeast, and that’s something none of us want to see.”

A State Energy Plan is required under state law and is open for a 60-day public comment period.  As noted in the Board presentation and press release announcements on the readiness of the Draft Plan, there will also be six public hearings (in Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island).

In June 2013, Liberty LNG’s proposed Port Ambrose LNG import facility application became active, triggering a year-long review process under the federal Deepwater Port Act.  Liberty LNG proposes building a port about 25 miles off of Jones Beach, NY, and a 20-mile pipeline which would connect with the existing offshore Williams-Transco pipeline just 2 miles off the coast of Atlantic Beach, NY.  Liberty LNG purports to be planning to use the facility strictly to import natural gas from the Gulf of Mexico and foreign nations.  Under federal law passed in December 2012, the license for this port could be amended to allow for natural gas exports.

The groups quoted above, along with an anti-Liberty LNG coalition of organizations from across the nation, continue to call on Governors Christie and Cuomo to exercise their statutory right to veto this proposal.  Such a veto, under the federal Deepwater Port Act, can be transmitted to the reviewing agencies (the Coast Guard and the Maritime Administration), at any time.

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