2007 January 26
by Edward French
The Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) will be holding public hearings on liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility proposals in Washington County later this year. At its January 18 meeting, the board decided to assume jurisdiction of the Downeast LNG application, and it is expected that the board will also assume jurisdiction of the Quoddy Bay LNG application once it is filed.
The action will provide for a more public process of the projects than a staff review by the Department of Environmental Protection would have allowed. Department staff, in their recommendation to the board, stated that the Downeast LNG project "is of substantial public interest and does have the potential to affect a broad geographic area."
Dean Girdis, president of Downeast LNG, says the decision by the board to assume jurisdiction is "a good idea," since the proposal is a significant project for the state. "I expected the board would want an active role in its review."
Quoddy Bay LNG has requested that the board assume jurisdiction for its project, too, says Quoddy Bay Project Manager Brian Smith, since it's a complex and large development. He expects Quoddy Bay will file its state permit applications within the next couple of months.
"It's good that the DEP recognizes that these proposed projects could affect a huge geographic area," says Linda Godfrey, coordinator of Save Passamaquoddy Bay U.S. "We look forward to sharing with them the issues that surround these proposed projects."
With a DEP review, the staff provides a recommendation, which is placed out for public comment, and then a decision is made. With BEP jurisdiction, a public hearing is held, and any individual, company or organization may file to become an intervenor. Intervenors are allowed to testify and offer evidence during the hearing and may cross-examine witnesses. Members of the public who are not intervenors may write down questions during the hearing and give them to the board chairman, who may ask the witness the question. There will also be an evening session for the public to address the board.
Those seeking to be intervenors have to file a petition, which must be received by the board no later than Friday, February 9. Petitions should be addressed to: Virginia Plummer, chair, Board of Environmental Protection, 17 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333. They may be faxed to (207) 287-2814. Questions about the petitions should be directed to Cynthia Bertocci at (207) 287-2452. The board will consider petitions to intervene at its March 1 meeting.
The date and location of the hearing have not yet been set and will partly depend on the number of intervenor requests and who file the requests. Also, the DEP has made additional requests for information from Downeast LNG.
© 2007 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.