2007 Oct 12
by Edward French
Quoddy Bay LNG is requesting that the Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) extend the timeframe for consideration of its state applications now pending before the board. A prehearing conference is scheduled for next week, but Quoddy Bay is asking for that conference to be delayed. While the BEP had been anticipating that a public hearing on the applications would be held this winter, with prefiling for the hearing by the applicants and interested parties perhaps in January, Quoddy Bay now is hoping that it will be ready for prefiling late in the spring.
In an October 9 letter to the BEP, attorney Gordon Grimes of the law firm Berstein Shur of Portland, representing Quoddy Bay LNG, wrote, "Due to a longer than foreseen processing schedule for the Quoddy Bay project on the federal level and certain unresolved issues in related pending applications before the board, Quoddy Bay would prefer to take additional time it believes is necessary to resolve all outstanding issues prior to moving forward with the prefiling of testimony of the public hearings. For this reason, we would suggest that a prehearing conference in January 2008 might be more appropriate than having one next week."
Grimes lists a number of reasons for the request, including delays in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) application process. FERC has yet to issue a draft Environmental Impact Statement, which Quoddy Bay had anticipated would have been issued by the time that the company filed its state applications in June. Also, Quoddy Bay is still awaiting the Coast Guard's Waterway Suitability Report, which the company had anticipated would come out this summer. The Coast Guard recently requested additional information from Quoddy Bay. "Until Quoddy Bay is more confident in what the Coast Guard will recommend, Quoddy Bay will be unable to provide specific information on the potential environmental impacts associated with those recommendations," Grimes wrote. Finally, Downeast LNG recently was denied permission for its pipeline through the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge and will be withdrawing and submitting an alternative route at a later time. Because the Department of Environmental Protection had asked Quoddy Bay to consider the co-location of its pipeline with that of Downeast LNG's pipeline as an alternative route, Quoddy Bay will need to consult with DEP staff on how it should handle the withdrawal of the Downeast LNG application.
"Quoddy Bay does not wish to have new issues surface well into the hearing process, thus creating potential 'holes' in the evidentiary record. For all of these reasons, Quoddy Bay believes that a slower and more deliberate approach to the schedule of its application makes sense."
According to Cynthia Bertocci, executive analyst with the BEP, the board's presiding officer, Ernest Hilton, will be making a decision on the request to delay the prehearing conference.
© 2007 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.