The Saint Croix Courier

St. Stephen, NB

2006 January 10

Council calls on PM to stop tankers


ST. ANDREWS — Now that Quoddy Bay LLC have pre-filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Passamaquoddy Bay, town council says it's time for the Prime Minister to take a stand.

At Monday night's meeting, Councillor Mike Craig said the issue of LNG plants being built on the Maine side of Passamaquoddy Bay will have a serious, and potentially devastating, effect on all facets of life in the areas surrounding the bay.

He said it had been stated that until one of the companies promoting LNG applied to FERC that the federal government of Canada could not respond to the issue.

"An application has been made by Quoddy Bay and, as yet, we still have no statement from the Prime Minister's office. I would put forward a motion asking that the town of St. Andrews immediately contact the Prime Minister's office, by whatever means necessary, and demand a response condemning the passage of LNG tankers through our waterways now and forever."

The motion was passed unanimously by council.

Just what a disastrous effect LNG development could have on the local area was also voiced in a letter that Mayor John Craig received from John Littleford, of Littleford and Associates, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Littleford said he was an owner of property on the St. Croix River, three miles outside St. Andrews, and was about to build a house there, but in the light of the proposed LNG sites for Red Beach and Mill Cove, he will not be building.

"Therefore Raymond Disher, who would have built it, will be out a sizeable house to build, and I will be out of the property about which I have dreamed for many years. I may put the land up for sale."

Littleford said he was an American of a Canadian family who wanted to move back to the area for retirement — despite the cold of the winters — but what he has read about the risks of LNG to the environment, to values, tourism, and fisheries has made him rue the purchase of the land in the first place.

"I fear for the survival of St. Andrews frankly. Unless Paul Martin or parliament or the next PM opposes the use of these waters by ships carrying LNG to the U.S., I fear these lobbyists and developers will claim growth of 50 jobs per site while losing the gorgeous river and St. Andrews environs."

Littleford said he would have spent, and has already spent, a great deal of money in St. Andrews and has stayed at the Fairmont Algonquin for two or three months already while visiting the area.

"If the LNG moves in, I would not return to St. Andrews. It would be too sad for words to see the town wither — as it surely will — at least in the form in which I have come to know it in the past few years. I ask for your support to stop these projects."

After reading the letter, Mayor Craig said this showed that the proposed LNG projects were already having an effect on the area, and Councillor Craig commented that this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Councillor Mary Myers also had some harsh words to say about LNG and referred to the recent information leaflets that have been circulated in the area by another of the proponents, Downeast LNG.

"I wondered what movie I was reading about. I could almost hear the music in the background, see the children jumping off the LNG ships into the water for a swim while frolicking with the dolphins.

"This is not a movie. This is a plan to industrialize Passamaquoddy Bay and imposing a lifestyle we don't want and I am insulted by this type of soft sell and soothing platitudes."

Referring to the statement that the "company will work with Canadians," she said she wondered if this was from the same gentleman who, at a luncheon at the Calais Motor Inn, in December, stated when asked "what about the Canadians?" that "the Canadians are not even an issue. You will see three LNG sites in Passamaquoddy Bay."

The leaflet states that the task of identifying and developing natural gas project sites has shifted to the private sector and Councillor Myers questioned what possible control or input these site development companies have with the industry.

She questioned how these industries will be run, how many ships will be coming to these sites now and in the future, how soon there will be expansion and further development at these sites, how soon other industry will come here, what type of industry it will be and how much pollution will come with that industry.

"What effect will this have on our resource-based industries and our way of life? These site companies have no influence at all. This is a company that is here to find a site and do what it needs to do to secure it. Plus, I believe they are here because they have run out of options. This is the last resort."

Dealing with the safety issue, Councillor Myers said she believed the developers have answered that question themselves when one of their studies stated the children of the isles would have to be instructed how to seek shelter.

She said they forgot to mention the children on the Maine coast but guessed seeking shelter in that area would be pointless so there was not much reason to waste time and money on that study.

Councillor Myers said all the studies that are being done are for the Maine area, and will be done by U.S. regulatory bodies who do not speak for or study any Canadian issues. She said $3 billion was spent on lobbying in the U.S. in 2004, and a large share of this came from energy companies.

She also pointed out that FERC, which will conduct and issue rulings on the studies, has had strong encouragement from Congress to open the doors wide to private developers who want to site and build onshore LNG facilities.

Speaking of the distance of the development from St. Andrews - two miles - Councillor Myers estimated the town would be within waving distance from the crew. Also, she said, Mill Cove is not behind Navy Island, plus the elevation of the island would not cover a ship that is 12 storeys high.

If there are going to be three LNG sites in the bay, said Councillor Myers, that would mean at least three ships in every eight to 10 days. She questioned who is going to coordinate this with the other industries in the area.

"If everyone has to be out of the area when the ship comes in what time is left to do your business? Also, what are we doing for the 19 hours the ship is unloading?"

When reading about spotters being used to make sure the marine life is not interfered with, Councillor Myers said, again, the movies came to mind. She nominated Leonardo Decaprio as a spotter to keep the whales out of the way since he looked so great on the bow of that other ship (in the movie Titanic).

"My question is how do you stop a ship that size loaded or, for that matter, move it to one side if a whale happens to be in the way? Well, you don't. Perhaps we could give whales cell phones so the ship could call and tell them they are on the way, move over."

The company says there is no factual basis that LNG has caused a decrease in tourism, but Councillor Myers said they have a tremendous amount of factual evidence on why tourists come to Passamaquoddy Bay.

"It is simply because this type of industry is not here. They are trying to find a clean environment to spend a few days away from noise, all night lights and pollution."

Councillor Myers said she would not bother to comment on the issues of lighting, pollution and noise as these are best left to the experts, but noted that they are all aware of what impact 24-hour lighting and noise pollution from ships have on wildlife and marine life.

She urged everyone to keep up the pressure against LNG as they don't want this mess in their back yard.


© 2006 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.

The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB