2006 February 24
by Marie Jones Holmes
The pre-filing process for the proposed Quoddy Bay LLC liquefied natural gas (LNG) project was discussed by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Project Manager Robert Kopka and others involved in the process at a meeting held at the Commons in Eastport. The February 14 meeting was the first of a week of informational meetings held to acquaint the public with the pre-filing process as it pertains to the Quoddy Bay's Pleasant Point project. Also present were Uldis Vanags of the State Planning Office, Alex Dankanich of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Aileen Giovanello of Tetra Tech, a Boston firm that will prepare Quoddy Bay's environmental impact statement.
The proposed project is in the preliminary planning phase. The facility design, pipeline route and other details have not yet been finalized and a formal application has not been filed with FERC. The speakers emphasized that the pre-filing process is to encourage early involvement by citizens, governmental entities and other interested parties.
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires FERC to consider possible environmental impacts before deciding if a project is in the public convenience and necessity. As part of the NEPA environmental review, FERC will also consider alternatives to the proposed project, including alternative pipeline routes.
FERC staff will take comments received concerning the project during the pre-filing environmental review process and address them in a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The draft EIS will describe the proposed project, evaluate alternatives, identify existing environmental conditions, and assess the potential impacts associated with the project. Environmental impacts will consider endangered species, fisheries, safety, cultural issues, erosion control, vegetation, socio-economics, visual changes caused by the project, effect of construction activities. The ingress and egress out of Eastport will also be considered.
Kopka stressed that early involvement by the public and others will help the FERC staff evaluate the proposed project's potential impact. The public is asked to provide FERC with written concerns and comments about the potential environmental impacts of the project. An original and two copies of letters should be sent to FERC at 888 First St. N.E., Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426, with reference to Docket No. PF06-11.
Kopka mentioned a possible timeline for Quoddy Bay that would include the completion of the pre-filing process by September 2006; FERC action by 2007; a vaporizer on line by 2009; and tanks in place by 2010. The process could take longer than outlined.
As part of the pre-filing process, Quoddy Bay held open houses in several communities last week. Questioned about requirements concerning the open houses, Kopka said, "FERC just requires that they have public outreach. We don't tell them how to do it." Questioned about the veracity of some of the statements made by Quoddy Bay representatives, Kopka said, "We don't require veracity."
Questioned about whether a company needed to show that there are reasonable financial resources to follow through on a project, the answer was that a company is not required to do so. Kopka noted that sometimes developers "sell their certificate along the way to investors."
The state and federal officials involved in the Quoddy Bay project plan to meet with the U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian agencies shortly.
© 2006 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.