2007 Sep 14
by Marie Jones Holmes
Canada's recently appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Bernier assured members of Save Passamaquoddy Bay/Canada (SPB/C) that the Canadian government remains strongly opposed to the establishment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in Passamaquoddy Bay. Bernier, in a meeting held at the Algonquin Hotel in St. Andrews on September 9, told the citizens' group, "This passage is internal waters, and it's very important for us. We want to protect our people and the environment. The prime minister has been very clear in this."
Last month, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in a meeting with U.S. President George Bush, expressed the Canadian government's opposition to the passage of LNG ships through Canadian waters. In February of 2006, Canada expressed its formal opposition in a letter from Canadian Ambassador Michael Wilson to the chairman of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). FERC, though, has decided to continue its review of the projects.
Passamaquoddy Bay lies between Maine and New Brunswick, and LNG tankers in transit to two proposed terminals located on the U.S. side of the bay would need to pass through Head Harbour Passage enroute to the Quoddy Bay LNG proposed site at Pleasant Point or to the Downeast LNG site in Robbinston. Both projects are now in the process of seeking licenses from FERC. A third proposal for an LNG project, which appears dormant at this time, would be located in the Calais area.
Citing threats to the environment and public safety, the Canadian government has stated it would use "all legal and diplomatic means" to prevent LNG tankers from entering Head Harbour Passage. The Canadian and American governments disagree on the status of the waters. The Canadian government maintains the passage is internal waters and thereby has jurisdiction over the waters. The U.S. government sees the waters as a territorial sea in which commercial ships would have a right of innocent passage. Both Quoddy Bay LNG and Downeast LNG also maintain that the vessels would have a right to transit through Head Harbour Passage.
Bernier had been scheduled to tour Head Harbour Passage and travel the proposed tanker route, but the trip had to be abandoned at the last moment.
SPB/C represents citizens of Charlotte County who oppose the establishment of LNG terminals in the bay. SPB/C is a member of Save Passamaquoddy Bay a Three-Nation Alliance, which also includes Save Passamaquoddy Bay/U.S. and We Protect Our Homeland, a Passamaquoddy group. Janice Harvey, one of the directors of SPB/C, says, "We are very pleased that this [St. Andrews meeting] was one of Bernier's early briefings. He is eager to get it to the top of his agenda. Basically he reiterated the position that Canada will oppose the passage of LNG tankers through Canadian waters."
Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson, who represents the area and was in attendance at the St. Andrews meeting, said several government departments are actively looking at regulations to ban tankers from Head Harbour Passage.
© 2007 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.