The Saint Croix Courier

St. Stephen, NB

2007 Oct 5

LNG plan stumbles

[Fed]1 rejects pipeline route


[Save Passamaquoddy Bay Webmaster's Note: This story, and original subheadline, understandably confused who rejected the pipeline route. The US Interior Department, Fish and Wildlife Service rejected Downeast LNG's proposed route through Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge. The State of Maine's Board of Environmental Protection played no part in that decision, although state agencies may have conferred with Fish and Wildlife about the issue. Changes in red correct this misunderstanding.]

ST. ANDREWS — St. Andrews Mayor John Craig is applauding the decision of the US Fish and Wildlife Service to deny an application from Downeast LNG for a pipeline right of way through the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge.

Among the reasons listed for the denial was that this proposed use would be inconsistent with the goals and objectives in the approved refuge forest management plan, it would not contribute to the refuge's natural or cultural resources, and it would negatively impact migratory bird use as well as public use.

Following this rejection, Downeast's attorney Matthew Manahan sent a letter to Maine Board of Environmental Protection chair Virginia Plummer saying the company intends to withdraw their pipeline route and claiming that the state now has no regulatory authority over their project.

As required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Downeast LNG had previously submitted alternative routes and these other options still exist in their FERC application docket.

Mayor Craig said that Dean Girdis, president of Downeast LNG, has suffered a major blow.

"We have known in the past that Mr. Girdis has no respect for Canada's environment or its leaders. It is now very clear he had no respect for Maine's environment by assuming he could run his pipeline through the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge," Craig said.

"Taking Dean Girdis at his word that he will be back, it is clear that this issue is not going to go away unless his investors get tired of throwing their money away.

"It is obvious and very clear that the people and the government of [the United States]2 value their environment as well as we do by making this decision."

Mayor Craig added that Downeast LNG will still not be allowed to take LNG tankers through Head Harbour Passage because Canada will not allow it and added, "These are sovereign Canadian waters and our prime minister has made it very clear to his president."

Girdis said his company's proposal is not dead.

"This is not the end of the project. Pipeline routes change quite frequently. It is not a rare occurrence," he said. "We have invested a lot in this site but, more importantly, it is the best site in Maine with minimal impact and the people are very supportive. I think it would be a disservice to walk away because some folks don't want it."

Linda Godfrey, coordinator of Save Passamaquoddy Bay, said of this recent rejection, "This dramatic news of denying the Downeast LNG pipeline route is just the latest in a series of significant failures for Downeast LNG and their investors."

Jessie Davies, co-chair of Save Passamaquoddy Bay/Canada, said that while it was good news that Downeast LNG's application had been turned down, the fight against LNG in the bay is not over yet.

"We have had some great news lately but the war is not over and we still have lots of work to do. We have just won an important battle but it is not time to celebrate yet," Davies said.

Downeast LNG has three other options for their pipeline, she said, although the preferred one would have been through the Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge.

The pipeline decision is a setback for Downeast, she said, and for their investors, but they still have options and can select an alternative route for their send out pipeline.

"Unfortunately, it is not all over yet, and it will really depend how much their backers are willing to put up with. Is this a hiccup or is it a major setback? It still doesn't kill the project," she said.

"They have put $10 million into that site and they are not going to start over with another site just because they made a mistake. They should have realized this may be a good project but it's in the wrong place."

Davies said LNG opponents won't stop fighting the proposed developments.

"We will continue to fight. Even if they solve the pipeline business they still have to sort out the [waterway] suitability side and deal with the fact that Canada has said no one can take LNG tankers through these waters."

According to Downeast LNG and their attorneys, the ruling means that the company no longer has title, right, or interest in a portion of the natural gas sendout pipeline route that they proposed in their application to the Department of Environmental Protection which means the Maine Department of Environmental Protection no longer has the ability to [evaluate the process]3.

In a press release issued this week, Girdis said, "We advised the Maine BEP (Board of Environmental Protection) in our permit applications and again several weeks ago that we had not resolved issues with the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge. We are confident that over the next few months we can work out an alternative pipeline route and refile our application. Last month the Maine BEP refused to allow Downeast to withdraw its applications even though the Moosehorn issue was unresolved and there was additional information from state agencies that the company felt should be included with its application."

Girdis said, "These issues can and will be resolved. We are continuing to work on all of the important steps involved in getting this project approved and built."

Downeast LNG is proposing to build an LNG import terminal at Mill Cove in Robbinston on an 80-acre site where the St. Croix River meets Passamaquoddy Bay, which [would] consist of two storage tanks, a re-gasification plant and a pier to receive LNG carriers.

The project also includes a 31-mile pipeline that will connect the facility to the existing Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline that runs from Nova Scotia through Maine to southern New England.


1 Subhead originally read, "Maine rejects pipeline route."

2 Mayor Craig's quotation originally read, "It is obvious and very clear that the people and the government of Maine…"

3 The original printed newspaper story omitted the remainder of this sentence.


© 2007 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.

The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB