2009 Jan 9
ST. ANDREWS – Opponents of LNG developments in Passamaquoddy Bay have been dealt a blow this week as the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has issued a favourable waterway suitability report to the American firm Downeast LNG.
A letter of recommendation to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) was issued by the USCG Wednesday stating the waterway proposed for use by vessels associated with the Downeast LNG facility in Mill Cove, Me., is suitable provided that recommended risk mitigation measures outlined in a supporting waterway suitability report are fully implemented.
The letter, issued by Capt. James B. McPherson, Captain of the Port for Coast Guard Sector Northern New England, states that if and when the risk mitigation measures are put into effect by Downeast LNG, they will sufficiently mitigate the identified risks associated with LNG traffic on the Passamaquoddy Bay Waterway. The waterway includes the waters of Head Harbour Passage, Western Passage, and Passamaquoddy Bay.
Jessie Davies, co-chair of Save Passamaquoddy Bay/Canada, a group opposed to any LNG development in the bay, said she believes the document states clearly that it will be necessary to have the cooperation of the Canadian government and the Canadian Coast Guard — and they have been assured that is not forthcoming.
“Canada would have to cooperate for security and safety reasons and, to me, that is huge. I cannot imagine the Canadian government is going to cooperate. We have not had one inkling of any change of heart from the Canadian government,” she said. The federal government has stated it is opposed to the transit of LNG tankers through Head Harbour Passage.
Linda Godfrey, co-ordinator of the Save Passamaquoddy Bay (SPB) Three Nation Alliance, said she needs to study the entire 100-page Waterway Suitability Assessment.
“The devil is in the details of this Washington-created document with huge hurdles for the proposed developer. This is a very complex international and domestic issue in an area with severe geographic, meteorological, economic, traditional, and local constraints,” Godfrey said.
Dean Girdis, president and founder of Downeast LNG, said he was pleased that the U.S. Coast Guard has issued a favourable report for the company’s proposed LNG import terminal and that the conditions for ship travel to and from the facility outlined in the report are reasonable.
“The release of the WSR and the LOR are very significant milestones in the federal approval process and gives our project substantial momentum as we begin this new year,” said Girdis.
“We know that the Coast Guard and other federal agencies have given intense scrutiny to everything in the report, and we are pleased it has been completed and released.”
The Coast Guard made its suitability determination after a comprehensive review that followed applicable USCG Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circulars. The review focused on navigational safety and maritime security risks posed by LNG marine traffic and the measures needed to responsibly manage those risks. The Coast Guard consulted stakeholders, including the Passamaquoddy Bay/Downeast Regional Sub-Committee of the Area Maritime Security committee, the Maine and New Hampshire Port Safety forum, and other ad hoc groups.
© 2009 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.
The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB