The Quoddy Tides

Eastport, Maine


2008 Jun 13

Quoddy Bay delay request is challenged

by Marie Jones Holmes

A group supporting a liquefied natural gas (LNG) proposal in Robbinston has now registered a complaint against another company proposing to build an LNG facility. The group, Robbinston Residents In Support of Downeast LNG LLC, in a letter dated June 2 to Ernest Hilton, chair of the Board of Environmental Protection (BEP), asked the board to deny the Quoddy Bay LNG application for the construction of an LNG terminal at Pleasant Point, stating that Quoddy Bay's repeated requests for postponement are an abuse of the BEP hearing process. The letter, filed with the BEP by the law firm of Goodall and Denison, states, "It is unfair to the parties and the interested public and could prejudice a fair review of Quoddy Bay's application and other applications pending before the DEP." The letter further states: "It is clear that Quoddy Bay has no idea what its proposal ultimately will look like and that Quoddy Bay is simply stalling to bide time. This stalling requires the parties and the interested public, as well as the DEP staff and other state resource agencies, to devote resources to a project that may never proceed."

Quoddy Bay has requested four postponements, totaling almost one year. The letter states, "By the time of a first pre-hearing conference in late September [if that actually happens], Quoddy Bay's applications will have been pending for more than fifteen months." Earlier this year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) notified Quoddy Bay LNG that it was suspending the review of the company's application because of insufficient information. Quoddy Bay officials say they are in the process of gathering the necessary information to restart the review.

Downeast LNG's proposed import terminal would be located at Mill Cove in Robbinston, eight miles from Quoddy Bay's proposed Pleasant Point site. In October 2007, the U.S. Department of the Interior officially denied Downeast LNG's proposed natural gas pipeline route through Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge. In July 2008, Downeast withdrew its application in part because the pipeline route fell through. Downeast LNG is now seeking a new pipeline route and is planning to file new applications later this year.

On June 6, Quoddy Bay LNG submitted a letter to the BEP to update the board on the status of the company's project, to formally request a withdrawal and immediate refiling of Quoddy Bay's pending application for certification and to address the request for the board to dismiss the Quoddy Bay application in its entirety. Quoddy Bay requests that the letter serve as a brief interim update in preparation of a subsequent update by the end of July. In that update, the company will detail the status of the submittal of new filings associated with its pending applications before the board.

According to the letter, written by Quoddy Bay LNG Project Manager Brian Smith, "Quoddy Bay remains diligently engaged in its continued analysis of the LNG liquefaction market and its discussions with potential LNG suppliers and the discussions and analysis should be drawing to a close soon."

Quoddy Bay responds to Downeast LNG attack

In the June 6 letter to the BEP, Smith comments on the request by the Robbinston group in support of Downeast LNG for a denial of the pending Quoddy Bay applications. He says that the group, Robbinston Residents in Support of Downeast LNG, provides no legal support for its proposal nor does it identify any factual information that has not already been considered by the board in its prior consideration of the postponement of the pre-hearing conference. Smith states in the letter, "Indeed, the request filed with the board and parties, which was still in a redlined, draft form, seems to indicate that this request was not even penned by the Robbinston Residents for Downeast or its counsel, Mr. Goodall, but instead was the work of one or more attorneys of Downeast LNG. A copy of the filing showing the edits made to the document by attorney Matt Manahan of Downeast LNG is attached to this letter for your convenience. Apparently realizing that its surreptitious attempt to utilize another entity to do its bidding would not work since that entity has no standing, Downeast decided to file its motion in support a few days later."

A press release issued June 10 by Quoddy Bay states: "So far the developers of each project have promoted their own project and have not tried to stop the other." Donald Smith, president of Quoddy Bay LNG, states, "I fear that, in this negative attack, Downeast may be assisting in pitting community against community."

Dean Girdis, Downeast LNG president, says Downeast filed a motion with the BEP asking the board to deny Quoddy Bay application. "The motion is also in support of a recent letter from the Robbinston group." According to Girdis, Downeast did discuss the matter with the Robbinston residents' attorneys. Girdis says, "It seems pretty obvious that Quoddy Bay's state and federal applications in their current form are no longer viable."

He remarks, "This is not about pitting project against project or community against community. It is about the integrity of the process. Since Quoddy Bay had admitted that their project will undergo significant changes to be defined at some later date, the BEP should move to deny their current applications."

Roosevelt Park responds to Robbinston group request

Paul "Skip" Cole, superintendent of the Roosevelt Campobello International Park Commission, in a letter dated June 10 to the BEP states: "The park commission shares with Robbinston Residents and Downeast their concerns regarding the possibility, due to an unnecessarily prolonged application processes, of the failure of new laws to apply to either Quoddy Bay, Downeast or Calais LNG-related applications under consideration currently or to be considered in the future. The park commission also shares concerns regarding the possibility of any regulatory agency waiving certification due to inaction associated with continuing delays."

The commission also notes that their staff has had to expend hours to monitor the process of both applications to ensure the commission remains aware of the proceedings and that its concerns are being addressed. Such monitoring by the commission staff takes staff hours away from other park related projects and tasks.

The BEP will meet later this summer to take action on the motion submitted by the Robbinston group and Downeast LNG.

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© 2008 The Quoddy Tides
Eastport, Maine
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.