The Saint Croix Courier

St. Stephen, NB

2009 Jun 12

Regulation is needed now to end the threat of LNG


A Transport Canada regulation can end the threat of LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminals and tankers in the Passamaquoddy Bay region. Local governments and the people who live and work in the communities threatened by LNG should work with our government in Ottawa to eliminate this threat by prohibiting the transit of LNG tankers through the Canadian waters of Head Harbour and Western Passages.

The recent decision to block the expansion of the Jamer gravel mine in Bayside has given New Brunswickers a powerful example of how a determined, coordinated community campaign can inspire governments to take decisive and necessary action to protect their citizens from harm.

American regulatory agencies are continuing to evaluate and advance developers’ plans to build and operate LNG terminals on the shores of Passamaquoddy Bay and the St. Croix River in Maine. Maine’s governor and some Maine legislators and business lobbyists have recently launched a public relations campaign in the Maine media. They hope to convince Ottawa and Fredericton to stop opposing LNG in our region and allow LNG tankers to use our Canadian waters to access proposed LNG terminals--which have been rejected by numerous coastal communities in other parts of Maine.

The current economy has slowed the growth of the LNG industry. But the threat of LNG terminals in Maine directly across from coastal Charlotte County is now, more than ever, a clear and present danger. If they are allowed to build and operate, the proposed LNG terminals will destroy our natural resource based economy and severely degrade one of the last remaining healthy marine ecosystems in eastern North America.

Save Passamaquoddy Bay, the three nation alliance (including Passamaquoddy people opposed to LNG terminals) is in a good position to help shape and channel the public opinion and pressure that’s needed to end the threat of LNG development in our region.

For four years now Save Passamaquoddy Bay Canada (SPBC) has been asking Ottawa to enact a regulation prohibiting LNG tankers from using Canadian waters to access the proposed terminal sites in Maine.

So far, Ottawa--first under Paul Martin and more recently under Stephen Harper--has responded by saying they will consider enacting the necessary regulation, but only after FERC (the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) issues a permit to one or more of the developers to actually build an LNG terminal on Passamaquoddy Bay or the St. Croix River.

Informed observers agree that FERC will almost certainly approve and issue permits for one or more of the LNG terminals proposed for the Maine shores of our shared waters, perhaps as early as this year.

We think waiting for FERC to take this step is dangerous. We think the Canadian communities whose futures and communities are in the crosshairs should be encouraged to take the lead on this issue and convince our federal government to enact the protective regulation we need now, before FERC approval gives the American LNG developers the green light to begin construction.

Our way of life, our families, businesses and communities are at risk, and from our perspective, when citizens and communities in a democracy are at risk, government should take decisive and proactive steps to protect its citizens from harm.

We’d like to see Save Passamaquoddy Bay/Canada step up to the plate and write a draft of the regulation that’s needed to prevent LNG terminal development in our region. They should do this with the advice and assistance of marine law experts—SPBC has solid contacts with some of these experts already.

After a draft regulation has been crafted and made public, SPBC should convene a public meeting to hear the opinions and suggestions of Canadians in the communities threatened by the proposed LNG terminals. These suggestions should be used to fine tune the draft regulation so it directly expresses the will of the communities that would be impacted by the Maine LNG projects.

The final draft of the regulation should be sent to our government in Ottawa by our M.P., the Hon. Greg Thompson. There the draft would be finalized by Transport Canada, with any important changes referred back to the SPBC negotiating committee. These steps would assure that the final version of the regulation would reflect the desires and priorities of the affected communities.

The regulation would then become part of Transport Canada’s marine transportation rules. A regulation crafted in this way would provide our communities with an effective defense against the reckless proposals for LNG terminal development in our region. It would also stand out as a proud example of direct citizen-led democracy in action.

We think this approach, with government acting on the desires and backing up the actions of citizens, offers the best hope of success in the campaign to keep LNG terminals from destroying the way of life we treasure in this unique and environmentally sensitive corner of Canada.

We hope Save Passamaquoddy Bay/Canada and our government in Ottawa will consider and adopt this suggested approach to ending the LNG threat. Waiting for FERC to approve terminals and then trying to fight them is a risky strategy at best. Continuing to leave the initiative with FERC and the LNG developers endangers Canada’s sovereignty, our environment and our children’s future.

We ask our federal government and everyone concerned about this issue to consider and adopt this strategy now--before FERC moves to allow the LNG developers to break ground. With support from our provincial government, coastal Charlotte County communities, Save Passamaquoddy Bay and the government of Canada should work together to put a stop to the LNG threat now, before the added momentum of a FERC permit makes it virtually unstoppable.

Lee Ann Ward and Larry Lack live in St. Andrews.


© 2009 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.

The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB