2009 May 19
ROBBINSTON – The president of Downeast LNG says plans for an import terminal at Mill Cove have taken a major step forward in the regulatory approval process with the release of a favourable draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Dean Girdis, president and founder of the company said, “The DEIS is validation that this is a viable, responsible, environmentally sound project, which is what we have been saying all along.
“As expected, there are some conditions that we need to address, but nothing that is insurmountable or unreasonable as we continue to move forward through the approval process.”
Co-chair of Save Passamaquoddy Bay/Canada Jessie Davies said the DEIS is 500 pages long and the group will be commenting on it as soon as they have read it through carefully.
“This is the next step in the process so it was not unexpected. It is based on information supplied by Downeast LNG and we are putting together a team of experts to review it. It is obviously written looking at the impacts almost exclusively on Maine and the U.S.,” she said.
“What does not change is that the Canadian and provincial governments have said no and that is the same as it was. We really cannot comment on it until we have done a lot of work but we will be commenting on it and sending in our review as soon as we get it ready.”
St. Andrews, said Davies, is a major and very important resort town for New Brunswick and Canada but it is not mentioned at all in the report.
St. Andrews Mayor John Craig, who is a staunch opponent of LNG in Passamaquoddy Bay, said the developers still don’t seem to understand that their super tankers will have to travel through Head Harbour Passage which is Canadian waters and the federal government has made it very clear they will not allow this.
“They can make all the statements they want. The government of Canada says they cannot go through. The government of Canada has said this and it has not changed its position on this.”
In releasing the report, FERC said that its staff “concludes that construction and operation of the Downeast LNG Project would result in some adverse environmental impacts. However, most of these impacts would be reduced to less than- significant levels with the implementation of the applicants’ proposed mitigation measures and the additional measures we recommend in the draft EIS.”
The draft EIS provides a comprehensive review of the engineering, environmental and socio-economic details of the project and identifies any issues that need to be addressed before final approval can be given.
Girdis said that issuance of the report gives significant momentum to Downeast LNG. Last month, FERC said that according to its planned schedule, a notice of availability of the final EIS would be issued Sept. 18 and the 90-day federal authorization decision deadline, essentially final approval for the project, would be Dec. 17.
In January, the US Coast Guard issued a favourable Waterway Suitability Report (WSR) for the Downeast LNG project, which is included in the draft EIS.
In a letter transmitting that report to FERC, the Captain of the Port for the U.S. Coast Guard’s Sector Northern New England said that he had determined that the Passamaquoddy Bay Waterway was suitable for the type and frequency of marine traffic associated with this proposed project provided that all of the recommended risk mitigation measures are fully implemented by the applicant.
Now that the DEIS has been released, FERC will initiate a public comment period and hold a public meeting in the local community to receive comments from area citizens. After receiving comments, FERC will issue a final environmental impact statement which is the last step in the federal approval process.
Support for LNG in Maine is stronger than ever, Girdis said.
© 2009 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.
The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB