2006 January 17
By KATHY BOCKUS
ST. STEPHEN The New Brunswick government has "some real concerns" with safety and environmental issues connected to the passage of the large liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers through Passamaquoddy Bay and Head Harbour Passage on their way to proposed LNG terminal sites in the State of Maine.
But the provincial government is confident it can bring pressure to bear on the newly-elected federal government to prohibit the passage of these tankers according to New Brunswick's Environment and Local Government Minister Trevor Holder, who was in Charlotte County this week, visiting with mayors and councils from Blacks Harbour, St. George and St. Stephen.
When asked if there was any pressure the province could exert to prevent the ships from passing through Canadian waters and putting an end to the proposed LNG projects in Maine, Minister Holder replied "absolutely."
"From a lobbying standpoint, I think it bodes very well that the current member of parliament for the area (Conservative NB Southwest MP Greg Thompson) has some deep concerns about this terminal and whatever his role may be in the new minority government, I think it will be a substantial role, and I think we need to continue to work with him," stated the minister.
This week's federal election saw a new Conservative minority government placed in power in Ottawa. Although Prime Minister designate Stephen Harper has not yet named his Cabinet, there is strong speculation that Thompson will be in it.
There are three LNG terminals proposed for the Washington County area of Maine.
One is an LNG terminal proposed by Downeast LNG for Mill Cove, next to Robbinston, Me., about three miles across the Passamaquoddy Bay from St. Andrews. Another is a site proposed by Quoddy Bay LLC at Split Rock, at Pleasant Point, Me., across from Deer Island and a third, at a site near Calais.
Surprisingly enough, Minister Holder said the LNG issue was not brought up in any of the discussions he had with the municipalities.
Minister Holder said the site across from St. Andrews was the only LNG proposal he was aware of and that the government wasn't comfortable with that site for a number of reasons, primarily safety, environmental and the effect it would have on the tourist industry in the area.
He stated that "tourism is a big part of the industry around here" adding that "to any person who grew up in southern New Brunswick, St. Andrews is very important to them, certainly a community that I have a lot of affection for."
"We have to remember that people come from all over the world to come to St. Andrews and we need to preserve it," said Minister Holder.
"That is certainly something I know that the local politicians have heard and expressed to me in turn. (Western Charlotte MLA) Tony Huntjens and Greg Thompson have both indicated to me that those are obviously concerns of theirs."
While the provincial government doesn't specifically support the sites for the proposed LNG terminals on American soil, it does not disapprove of LNG terminals in general.
Minister Holder cited the New Brunswick government's approval for an LNG terminal in Saint John.
"Certainly we support LNG terminals," said Minister Holder.
"We're certainly very supportive of the one in Saint John. It will be right next to an existing energy facility that Irving Oil currently owns in an industrial area, in a coastal area that's had traffic coming through for some time."
He said that area was a different one all together from the area that would be affected in Charlotte County, should the American companies be successful in acquiring the permits and permission necessary to build their terminals.
"We certainly have some real concerns about the Passamaquoddy Bay and navigation through there and that's environmental and safety combined together," said Minister Holder.
In a separate interview, St. Andrews Mayor John Craig feels that the election of Harper's Conservatives and the re-election of local MP Thompson will put an end to the LNG threat.
He said the election results "mark the beginning of the end for all liquefied natural gas terminals being proposed for the beautiful Passamaquoddy Bay."
"With Stephen Harper as our newly elected Prime Minister and our MP Greg Thompson being re-elected, our Bay will be protected by disallowing and banning any and all LNG supertankers from entering through Head Harbour Passage," stated Mayor Craig.
"This is good news for St. Andrews which, over generations, has been built around the beauty of the Bay and the tourism and fishing industry. There is no room on Passamaquoddy Bay for any industry that will threaten our way of life and endanger our children's future," said the mayor.
"As I have said in the past, it does not matter what results comes from votes in Robbinston, Calais or any other community on the American side. What matters is what our Prime Minister says.
"We have a new Prime Minister who has promised to protect the Passamaquoddy Bay from the LNG threat and our town awaits that good news.
"It is my hope that I will have the pleasure of standing next to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and our MP Greg Thompson when he makes that announcement," said Mayor Craig.
© 2006 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.
The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB