14 Apr 2006
by Eileen Curry
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) heard comments from area residents regarding Quoddy Bay LNG's proposal and plans for a $500 million liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility at Split Rock at Pleasant Point. Two meetings, one held at Pleasant Point on April 5 and the other in Perry on April 6, brought a large turnout of people to speak out for and against the proposal. FERC and U.S. Coast Guard officials invited comments from the public on environmental and security issues only.
Quoddy Bay LNG Project Coordinator Brian Smith gave an overview of the project. The LNG proposal consists of four main components: an LNG import and regasification facility consisting of a pier with two berths and equipment; the Split Rock support facility consisting of offices, control buildings, warehouses, a nitrogen mitigation plant; an onshore storage and regasification facility containing three storage tanks with a capacity to store the equivalent of 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas; and a sendout pipeline that would connect the facilities to the Maritimes and Northeast pipeline.
At Pleasant Point, FERC officials heard tribal member Gracie Davis, an opponent of LNG, singing "The Humble Song." She and others spoke about the sacredness of Split Rock. Others denied the claim that the area was sacred, saying that the area was known in the past as "partying ground." Still others were fearful that, if built, the LNG facility would be close to the church, the school and elderly housing on the reservation. The LNG company's safety record was questioned, as was the notification of the meeting itself to the tribal population. In question was the omission of the meeting date, time and content in the tribal newsletter and on the reservation's access channel.
Proponents of the facility also had an opportunity to speak to officials, saying that LNG is "critical to the economic health of the tribe." Other speakers said that claims made in regard to LNG facilities being unsafe were unfounded and that research and plans for the facility should continue.
In Perry, more than 30 people, with an audience of over 100 people, stepped up to the podium to voice their concerns and comments to FERC and Coast Guard officials, who were intent listeners but growing weary eyed as the clock neared 10 p.m. Many residents were concerned that the pre filing process was moving ahead too quickly. FERC officials told the audience that the pre filing for Quoddy Bay LNG proposal was "an extension of our scoping process." Ron Rosenfeld, a resident of Perry and an opponent of LNG, was concerned about the "time constraints placed on the public" to submit written information to FERC by the deadline date of April 28. "It's not possible to present our comments in the short time frame." Rosenfeld also cited that he had not received some documents about Quoddy Bay LNG that he had requested from FERC and he couldn't see "how the process could work without an informed public."
Art MacKay of the St. Croix Estuary Project and an opponent of LNG, drew the largest applause during the forum. He said, "I am not a paid environmentalist. I am for development, the development of our area here, which has enormous resources in marine species and a great diversity of sea creatures." MacKay also told FERC, "From a Canadian perspective, these species are at risk from the tanker route through Head Harbour, and some serious research needs to be carried out in this area." MacKay also was concerned about ferry service interruption and lost tourism dollars.
John Cook of Perry read a statement in opposition to LNG that received applause and support from other speakers in the audience. Cook was concerned that FERC "may be covering up a problem," and is "at the beck and call of this developer." Cook, a well known opponent to LNG and a target of frequent mailbox vandalism, also said, "LNG has split our community and has created unnecessary vandalism in our area." Cook's wife, Katherine, said, "You can call me a tree hugger, but I am not a mailbox basher or a tire slasher," which also drew laughter and applause.
Two Perry selectmen, Chairman David Turner, a proponent of LNG, and Jeanne Guisinger, who is opposed, both spoke. Turner said, "I think Quoddy Bay LNG will make a substantial contribution to our tax base, bring in good-paying jobs with benefits for local workers, and I look forward with optimism about the future of this project." Guisinger said, "We are used to a particular way of life here. Someone has to look at the whole picture as to why LNG is not right for this area."
Gerry Morrison of Perry, a ship pilot and LNG proponent, extended an invitation "from the bridge of a ship" to address any safety concerns that doubters had of safe passage through Head Harbour during a ship transit.
Perry Fire Chief Paula Frost told FERC officials, "Our fire department is entirely staffed by volunteers. We are a bit challenged as we don't know all of the risks and hazards involved with this facility." Frost requested that FERC conduct an examination and identify the necessary equipment and staffing that would be needed in Perry if the proposal were to be developed at Split Rock.
During the meeting, a U.S. Coast Guard official also read a statement assuring the audience that the Coast Guard "is neither a proponent, nor opponent to LNG. Our major concern is port safety and we will conduct a thorough investigation on the overall navigability of the tides, currents, depths of water, natural hazards, and width of channels, and be an active participant in the process."
Nearing the final 30 minutes of the meeting, John Hanson of the Maine Building and Trades Council spoke "for crafts and trades people" saying, "We ask and hope that you look at the totality of the project, not just a narrow passageway, but the whole picture. What we have here our trades and work, our families, what will sustain us here in the future it is an issue that goes beyond this project and we hope you will take a good, hard look at it."
FERC has a website for written comments at www.ferc.com. Information gathered or addressed during the pre-filing process can be viewed on the website under FERC Docket #PF06-11 under eLibrary.
© 2006 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.