28 April 2006
by Edward French
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has been receiving comments about the proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects proposed by Quoddy Bay LNG and Downeast LNG for Passamaquoddy Bay.
The Canadian ambassador to the U.S., Michael Wilson, stated, "Given Canada's sovereignty over our waters, and due to the proximity of the proposed projects to the province of New Brunswick, the local Canadian communities have expressed strong concerns to my government about the potential environmental, navigational and safety risks of the proposed projects. Canadian citizens have told my government that they do not want to see LNG tankers transiting the Head Harbour Passage."
He notes that the Canadian government is conducting its own study, which will be completed this summer, of the navigational safety, environmental and others impacts of these projects on Canada. The study will assist the Canadian government "in arriving at a position related to the proposed projects, including whether to enact any measures to avoid LNG tanker traffic in the Head Harbour Passage and, in any event, to minimize risks to Canada."
The Maine State Planning Office suggested that FERC should evaluate having a common send-out pipeline for the Downeast LNG and the Quoddy Bay LNG projects, since both pipelines will connect with the
Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline and both projects are seeking certification at the same time. "The evaluation should consider whether a common send-out pipeline would result in a reduced environmental impact, as well as a reduction in property and land disturbance."
The National Park Service requested that the environmental impact statements for the LNG projects consider numerous possible effects on the St. Croix Island International Historic Site.
Maria Recchia of the Fundy North Fishermen's Association wrote on behalf of six fishermen's associations Fundy North, Campobello, Grand Manan, Fundy Weir, Lepreau Clam Diggers and Sea Urchin of New Brunswick Inc. and six seafood buyers and processors, expressing opposition to the LNG projects. They estimate that the fishing industry brings in over $200 million annually in the Charlotte County economy and provides employment for several thousand.
A copy of a petition against the projects was forwarded by Janice Meiners of Campobello. The petitions were circulated on Campobello, Deer Island, St. Stephen, St. Andrews and Grand Manan, and hundreds of signatures have been collected, she states.
The Sunrise County Economic Council wrote in support of the Downeast LNG project. "We believe the Downeast LNG project presents an opportunity to demonstrate that the assets of rural areas can be used in new ways to attract investment, create jobs, support future development, improve our communities and protect the environment," wrote Executive Director Dianne Tilton. "Affordable, accessible natural gas, currently unavailable in our region, will help existing industry be more competitive, and could ultimately project direct benefits to our residents and small business."
The FundyCulture Museum Network, based in St. Andrews, wrote, "We strongly oppose the placement of LNG terminals on the bay and the inevitable industrialization of the area for reasons including harm to the preservation of cultural resources, the destruction of a strong and sustainable tourism industry, national sovereignty, safety, security, the environmental impact on ocean life."
The St. Croix International Waterway Commission recommended that the effects of the Downeast LNG project on migratory fish, shellfish, birds and marine mammals be considered. Other concerns include the Oak Bay fault, marine safety, and the effects on wetlands, cultural resources, water, air and noise quality.
Concerns about the pipeline crossing lands in Alexander and Princeton that are owned by Typhoon LLC were expressed by the property's manager, Wagner Forest Management Ltd. The land is encumbered by a conservation easement held by the New England Forestry Foundation that seeks to maintain the property in its undeveloped condition.
The Bayside Port Corporation expressed concern about the effect that the Quoddy Bay LNG project, with 180 ships per year, would have on shipping entering and leaving Passamaquoddy Bay. The increased traffic in a confined area would create safety concerns. The port corporation felt that the Downeast LNG project would have less impact on shipping. St. Croix Stevedores and Affiliates opposes an LNG terminal in the bay, since other ship traffic would be stopped while LNG ships are entering and leaving the bay.
Two ship pilots wrote in support of the LNG projects. Gerald Morrison of Eastport Pilots USA, who lives in Perry, stated that Head Harbour Passage is not as dangerous as opponents have claimed. Robert Peacock II of Quoddy Pilots USA, who also lives in Perry, has been the harbor pilot on over 900 freighters through Head Harbour Passage, including ships that are over 850 feet long. "My experience leads me to conclude that LNG vessels can be safely navigated on Head Harbour Passage, Western Passage and Passamaquoddy Bay to the Downeast LNG site at Mill Cove in Robbinston."
Robert Godfrey of Save Passamaquoddy Bay, though, wrote, noting that the pilots had opposed aquaculture sites off Loring Cove and Lewis Cove in Perry because they would present unreasonable hazards to safe navigation in the area. He argues that an LNG pier would present an even greater navigational hazard for ships heading to the port at Bayside.
Robbinston First Selectman Tom Moholland commented about the strong support for the Downeast LNG project in the town and said that most of the reports in the media gave excessive coverage to opponents. While opponents have expressed concerns about noise, lights and the industrialization of the area, Moholland pointed to the effects of the Bayside Port and the quarry operation there, with its noise and strip mining without any reclamation.
Numerous other organizations and individuals also sent comments, both in support and in opposition to the projects. The comments are posted on FERC's website at www.ferc.gov. The docket number is PF06-11 for the Quoddy Bay LNG project and PF06-13 for the Downeast LNG project.
© 2006 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.