Clean Ocean Action
ASBURY, NEW JERSEY (Asbury Park Press) - A proposed offshore liquified natural gas terminal opposed by Gov. Chris Christie is still under study by the U.S. Maritime Administration and Coast Guard, in an altered form that would move the delivery sites closer to New York and eliminate the need for a new pipeline and shoreside connections in the Raritan Bay area.
Jersey City-based Liberty Natural Gas president J. Roger Whelan says the revised plan to federal officials is in response to concerns over environmental questions, vessel traffic and safety. Instead of building a pipeline to Perth Amboy, the revised plan would interconnect with the existing Transco Lower New York Bay natural gas pipeline.
Environmental activists with the Sandy Hook-based group Clean Ocean Action recently learned of the revised plan when COA lawyer Sean Dixon came across it during his regular purviews of federal dockets.
On Tuesday, the group and 30 allied outdoors and conservation organizations sent a letter to Maritime Administration Administrator David Matsuda asking him to kill the MARAD review process.
“When Governor Christie says no, I think he means ‘no’,” said Richard Lee, East Coast director of the Surfer’s Environmental Alliance, said in a joint statement by the groups.
In February 2011, Christie asserted authority as governor to disapprove the LNG terminal under the Deepwater Port Act that grants a say over such projects to governors of affected states.
In a May 11 letter to Liberty’s lawyers, MARAD chief counsel K. Denise Rucker Krupp offered her opinion that Christie’s statements of opposition, coming as they did before any public hearings on the proposal, “have no legal signifigance.”
“As a practical matter, however, they constitute a potential impediment that cannot be ignored,” Rucker Krupp added.
Liberty president Whelan on Tuesday said the latest iteration of the plan calls for two submerged turret loading buoys about 35 miles east of the Monmouth County coast and about 19 miles south of Long Beach, N.Y., where gas would be delivered to shore via the Transco pipeline.
The buoys would connect to those pipes with flexible risers; when not in use, they would be submerged to rest on seafloor mats just over 100 feet down. Arriving LNG tankers would connect with the buoys and re-gasify their cargoes, with a combined maximum capacity of 660 million cubic feet per day of fuel.
Whelan said the company hopes the farther offshore location will allay objections. But Cynthia Zipf of Clean Ocean Action said moving the site doesn’t make a difference.
“The governor vetoed this plan, end of story,” she said.
While the Liberty project is designed as a receiving port for LNG imports, environmental groups lately have been tying the surge in other LNG port applications to the potential export of North American gas, portraying it as an issue of conserving U.S. energy resources as well.
“Actually Dominion Energy in Maryland has already contracted with Marcellus shale producers” to obtain Pennsylvania gas to liquify for LNG export, said Dixon of Clean Ocean Action. “In this country gas prices are nthe lowest they’ve been in 20 years, and it’s six to eight times as much in Europe and Asia.” LNG ports on the West Coast and Gulf of Mexico have already realigned themselves to serve export markets, he added.
Dixon said the proposed Liberty location could also put it in competition with wind energy ventures.
“It happens to be smack in the middle of the New Jersey-New York wind energy field,” Dixon said, referring to feasibility studies for placing turbines at sea. “There’s only so many things you can fit on the ocean.”
Copyright 2013 Asbury Park Press
Updated 416 days ago Article ID# 1535999
Clean Ocean Action