2009 Aug 21
ST. ANDREWS – It’s time for the federal government to enact regulations that will prohibit the passage of liquefied natural gas tankers through Head Harbour Passage, say LNG opponents.
Speaking at the annual meeting of Save Passamaquoddy Bay/Canada Tuesday night, David Coon of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick said Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said government will use all legal and diplomatic means to prevent the passage of these tankers through Head Harbour Passage.
While they have seen the diplomatic means – the most recent being a letter last month from Michael Wilson, Canadian Ambassador to the United States, expressing concern about the proposed LNG terminals on the Maine side of Passamaquoddy Bay. That letter was sent to the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – he said the government has not passed any regulations.
Coon said it is within the powers of the federal Transportation Minister to prevent LNG tankers from passing through Head Harbour Passage if they are carrying hazardous cargo that could have an impact on people or the environment.
“Canada has a piece of legislation that recognizes hazardous cargo and LNG is one of them,” Coon said. “There is nothing standing in the way, from a legal perspective, of the minister enacting a regulation prohibiting the transportation of LNG through Head Harbour Passage.”
Coon said his group has been talking to all the political parties about the LNG situation and its strategy is to make this the kind of issue it needs to be in Parliament.
“The prime minister has not done what he said - to use all legal means - and that is where we need to go.”
At the start of the meeting St. Andrews Mayor John Craig, a staunch opponent of any LNG development in the bay, said he was proud of the way the people in the community were standing together on this issue.
The LNG developers have received a clear message from the Prime Minister and Ambassador Wilson restating their opposition to the new administration in Washington, Craig said.
The bay, he said, is off limits and he reinforced the town’s commitment to fight these developments.
“As a town we say again that ‘no’ means ‘no’ and we will do whatever needs to be done to defend our town and our lives.”
The co-chairwoman of SPB/C, Jessie Davies, gave an update on the three proposed LNG projects – from Quoddy Bay LNG, Calais LNG, and Down East LNG.
While not much is happening right now with Quoddy Bay, she said president Donald Smith has said the project is still positive.
Calais LNG has completed the FERC scoping process, she said, and things have been quiet recently but she suspects they are preparing information for the Maine Board of Environmental Protection.
The most active applicant has been Down East, Davies said. The U.S. Coast Guard issued a favourable water suitability report in January provided certain mitigations measures are fully implemented.
“The Coast Guard has a very long list of conditions that have to be fully implemented and many, many of these require the co-operation of Canada,” she said. “We need our federal government to continue their stance on this.”
In May, Davies said, FERC released its draft environmental impact assessment for the Down East project.
It concluded that while the construction and operation would result in some adverse impacts, these would be reduced to less than significant levels with the implementation of mitigation measures.
SPB/C submitted its objections to the assessment, she said, which was a huge undertaking, as did the province and many U.S. agencies. They expect to have the final environmental impact statement in September.
The United States has a 10 per cent surplus of LNG, so the need for these projects is non-existent, Davies said. They cannot succeed financially, she said, due to lack of demand.
If the projects go ahead, it will be at considerable cost to the local communities, including St. Andrews, affecting activities such as tourism and fishing, as well as lowering property values, she said.
However, Carl Sapers, who is a retired lawyer on the SPB/C executive, said he is optimistic about what is going to happen in the next couple months.
Things have changed in the United States with the election of a new president who does not believe in relying on fossil fuels, and there is a tremendous environmental crisis in the world that has to be remedied, Sapers said.
“North America has suddenly discovered we have enough natural gas to be an exporter, not an importer and I think this is a major change again since last year,” Sapers said.
Guest speaker Sean Mahoney, environmental lawyer and Maine Advocacy Centre director for the Conservation Law Foundation, said the demand for natural gas in the northeast will be flat until 2030, plus shale gas in the U.S. is a tremendous potential resource.
Mahoney said he was not as optimistic as Sapers, and felt both Down East and Calais LNG have potential, but the CLF’s position is that none of these projects justify the impact they will be having.
© 2009 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.
The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB