2006 November 24
Over 12,000 flyers entitled "LNG No way in our bay!" went into Charlotte County mailboxes recently, compliments of Save Passamaquoddy Bay/Canada. The citizens group formed to oppose three liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals proposed for the Maine shore of Passamaquoddy Bay wants to inform all residents of Charlotte County of the issues associated with such development and urge them to support the campaign.
"It's important that everyone know the basics of the LNG issue and where things stand today," says Janice Harvey, co-chair of the group. "With the right whales providing people with a first hand view over the past few weeks of what's at stake, support for our campaign needs to come from all corners of county."
Rather than leave the Bay of Fundy at the end of the summer, as many as three dozen endangered North Atlantic right whales came inshore. Generally seen further out in the bay, they have been visible from land at Head Harbour, Campobello, Pea Point near the Wallace Cove ferry landing, Crow Harbour near Seeley's Cove, Route 1 along Maces Bay, Deadman's Harbour where one was caught in a weir, Swallowtail and Long Eddy Point on Grand Manan, and along the route of the Grand Manan ferry. These whales are listed as endangered, with only 350 individuals left and fewer than 100 breeding females. Ship strikes are the leading cause of death for whales.
"These whales have been moving back and forth along the route LNG tankers would take to Passamaquoddy Bay, either veering off the shipping lane between The Wolves and Grand Manan, or travelling through the Grand Manan Channel," says Harvey. "If both of the terminals are built, there would be more than 500 additional ship transits into and out of Head Harbour Passage every year. The developers have said right whales don't use this area. Well, the whales proved them wrong this year."
Save Passamaquoddy Bay/Canada is using a two-pronged approach to prevent the LNG terminals from being built. First, they are pressing the federal government to ban LNG tankers from entering Head Harbour Passage, internal Canadian waters over which Ottawa has jurisdiction. Citizens are being urged to write to Prime Minister Stephen Harper supporting such a ban and asking him to act quickly. Second, the group is preparing to be an intervenor in the regulatory approval process in the United States carried out by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Should FERC approve either project, Save Passamaquoddy Bay/Canada is preparing to challenge that decision in a U.S. federal appeal court.
"Clearly, this is an expensive and time-consuming route to go," Harvey says of the FERC process. "It could all be avoided if Prime Minister Harper signaled through legislation his intent to refuse tanker passage. Until that happens, however, we have to be prepared for all eventualities, including a court challenge."
Downeast LNG and Quoddy Bay LNG are expected to file formal project applications with FERC within weeks.
© 2006 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.