2008 Dec 12
Officials from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) held a public scoping session on December 4 at the Washington County Community College gymnasium to listen to both public support and concerns surrounding the proposed liquified natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal and storage facility that Calais LNG has been planning for the past three years. The Calais LNG project would be located approximately six miles southeast of downtown Calais, just off Route 1, near the Devil's Head area and in close proximity to the Bayside marine terminal in New Brunswick.
The meeting was presided over by FERC representative Robert Kopka, U.S. Coast Guard representative Allen Moore, and Alex Dane Cattage of the U.S. Department of Transportation. They have been a familiar presence in the area during the permitting process for Quoddy Bay LNG at Pleasant Point and Downeast LNG at Robbinston.
Although seating was provided, some over 20 people chose to stand. FERC officials opened their meeting with statements from each official and the head table and explanations of the purpose for the scoping session. Calais LNG Project Manager Art Gelber pointed out the 330-acre site location for the terminal and facility as well as the vessel transit route on a screen-projected map. Thirty individuals chose to speak and of those two-thirds were in support of the project either as individuals or as presenters of letters. Support was expressed from the Calais city council, Baileyville town council, Washington County Commission, St. Croix Chamber of Commerce, Rep. Howard McFadden of Dennysville, and Rep. Anne Perry of Calais. The issues of economic stability, job and industry creation in a slowly declining county, with whispers in the wind of the Canadian-owned Domtar mill in Baileyville planning to close, seemed to dominate the seated conversations as well as those spoken at the microphone.
Calais Mayor Vint Cassidy spoke in support of the project by relating a bit of history concerning Calais as originally a shipping community, stating, "Shipping has always been a part of this whole process." Assistant City Manager Jim Porter also supported the facility, stating, "There has been a 3 1/2 percent residential decline in Washington County since 2005." Both Robert Peacock of Eastport and Gerald Morrison of Perry, who are ship pilots, spoke in support of the proposal. Captain Peacock listed numerous comparisons, training, safety issues of concern to all. Captain Peacock also informed the committee, "Anyone can pilot ships to Bayside. The Canadian government does not require licensed pilots to pilot ships on the St. Croix River."
Larry Lack from St. Andrews spoke in opposition to the project. "Holding meetings here is being viewed by Canadians as an invasive, aggressive, unfriendly and dangerous action. It compromises Canada's rights."
Calais resident Barbara Kendall spoke against the proposal as well, inquiring, "What jobs and tugboat jobs will there be for locals?" FERC officials declined to answer as it was not the purpose of the meeting.
Former Senator Harold Silverman of Calais stated, in support of the proposal, "There is a difference between no development and safe development." He stressed the economic value that Canadians have developed with the Point Lepreau nuclear reactor for over 30 years, and he pointed out that an additional oil refinery is being planned at Saint John, a new LNG facility outside Saint John soon will begin operation, and currently nitrate shipments go through Maine waters to Bayside. These are in "the same region that the Calais LNG facility is to be part of. However, this project will be on the Maine side of Passamaquoddy Bay in Washington County and will have a definite impact in improving the economic conditions that have plagued this county for decades."
Following the three-hour meeting, Ian Emery, the Calais LNG development manager, stated, "The turnout here is indicative of the support that the area has been showing."
A series of scheduled meetings will follow to provide updates on the status of the LNG project. Comments will be accepted either in writing or online with FERC until December 22, 2008.
© 2008 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.