2008 Jun 10
ROBBINSTON,Me. Lawyers for Downeast LNG have filed a motion with the Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) asking the board to deny the pending state permit applications for the Quoddy Bay LNG project "without prejudice."
This means that the company would have the right to file updated applications for the project at some point in the future, when the applications have been completed.
The motion is in support of a recent letter to the BEP from "Robbinston Residents in support of Downeast LNG," an intervenor in the Downeast LNG hearings last year.
"It seems pretty obvious that Quoddy Bay's state and federal applications in their current form are no longer viable," said Downeast LNG president Dean Girdis.
"It's unfortunate that they find themselves in this position, but this is an expensive and time-consuming process for all parties, and it is simply not fair to expect the intervenors, other projects like Downeast LNG, and various state agencies to continue to spend limited resources on applications that have been determined to be incomplete and that are subject to substantial changes if they are to advance at all."
In the year since Quoddy Bay first filed its permit applications with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the company has asked to postpone consideration of its applications at least four times and has failed to provide additional information requested by the DEP staff.
A pre-hearing conference originally scheduled for last October has now been put off until at least September of this year, 15 months after the applications were first filed.
Recently, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) suspended consideration of Quoddy Bay's federal applications, which were originally filed in December of 2006.
Girdis said that all interested parties are asked to evaluate the various components and cumulative impacts of the proposed projects as part of the review process.
To leave an open-ended and undefined project like Quoddy Bay LNG in a perpetual state of preliminary review, he said, only wastes resources and causes confusion, especially for the communities and public members who are actively involved in the planning process.
Girdis said that last fall, after it became clear that several issues identified by state resource agencies needed to be addressed and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied Downeast LNG's original proposed pipeline route through the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, Downeast LNG asked to withdraw its applications.
After first refusing to allow the withdrawal, the BEP reconsidered its decision and granted Downeast LNG's request. The company is planning to file new applications later this year.
"This is not about pitting project against project or community against community. It is about the integrity of the process. Since Quoddy Bay has admitted that their project will undergo significant changes to be defined at some later date, the BEP should move to deny their current applications."
© 2008 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.
The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB