The Quoddy Tides

Eastport, Maine

2010 February 12

Calais LNG project draws 12 intervenors

by Edward French

A dozen groups and agencies are seeking to be intervenors in the Calais LNG application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal just south of Devil's Head, Calais. The deadline to file was January 27.

In its intervenor request, the Province of New Brunswick asks that FERC reject Calais LNG's application because the proposal fails to comply with FERC's regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act and ignores the cumulative impact of the Downeast LNG and Calais LNG proposals on the LNG tanker routes. The province's statement notes that if both proposals proceed, the two projects could result in more than one LNG tanker a day entering Passamaquoddy Bay, thus increasing the risk of accidents. The province also asks that the proposal be rejected because Calais LNG ignores the Canadian ban on LNG vessel traffic through Head Harbour Passage; improperly assumes the threats of accidental release of LNG are not credible; fails to acknowledge the impact of the LNG tankers on New Brunswick communities; and fails to provide information about vital impacts to Canada, including ferry transportation, whales, marine mammals and wildlife.

In a July 2009 letter to FERC concerning the Downeast LNG proposal, Premier Shawn Graham commented, "While the vessel transit is subject to federal Canadian jurisdiction, the impacts and issues identified in this report fall squarely upon New Brunswick and are within the jurisdiction of my province to review, analyze and address. It is not within the scope of the commission's authority to address and/or propose mitigation for these impacts and issues." He adds that many of the impacts "cannot be mitigated under any circumstances." The New Brunswick Department of Intergovernmental Affairs concluded that LNG vessel transit through its waters to Maine "would present substantial and currently unmanageable risks and losses to the province, its citizens, economy and environment." Among the concerns listed are the limited resources to address public safety and security issues, the inadequacy of emergency communications capabilities, the risks to people located in safety zones along the vessel transit route, privacy rights of Canadians, and the impacts on fisheries and aquaculture.

Save Passamaquoddy Bay-Canada includes statements of opposition from several organizations and people, including the Town of St. Andrews, which could suffer a decline in tourism and property sales; the Fundy North Fishermen's Association, since fishermen could lose gear and access to fishing grounds; the operator of the Deer Island ferries to Campobello and Eastport, since the schedule would be disrupted; and a whale-watching business in St. Andrews, which would have its trips disrupted.

Nulankeyutomonen Nkihtahkomikumon (We Take Care of Our Land) also includes statements of opposition from its members. Passamaquoddy Chief Hugh Akagi of St. Andrews asks, "As our way of life becomes collateral damage in support of the large populations along the New England coast where industry many years ago gained footholds, which they now seek in our territory, can no one see how the sacrifice we are being asked to make is no longer ours but the future of our children and our children's children for generations to come?"

Among the concerns expressed by members of Save Passamaquoddy Bay-U.S. are those of Jeffery and Kay Wright, who own tourist rental properties within a mile of the Calais LNG site and who fear business would be "severely negatively impacted" by Calais LNG.

The Bayside Port Corporation, in its request to be an intervenor, notes that the proposed LNG terminal would be located less than a mile for its marine terminal, with ships using the same transit route. "This will affect our business as far as safety implications, financial implications and operational and environmental implications," its letter of request states. The Roosevelt Campobello International Park Commission also opposes the Calais LNG proposal, citing the risk of accidents.

Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, in its motion to intervene, points out that it does not have any commitments to propose the pipeline expansion that would be necessary to accommodate any gas from the Calais LNG project. The company will only propose an expansion if Calais LNG satisfies certain conditions and only after the pipeline company has undertaken additional analysis of the market demand.

Others seeking to intervene are: the City of Calais; Downeast LNG Inc.; the U.S. Department of Interior, on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs; the Conservation Law Foundation; the Industrial Energy Consumer Group, a nonprofit Maine trade association, which supports the project; and the National Grid Gas Delivery Companies. Requests from those supporting the project did not include statements about why FERC should approve the proposal.

A Safety Advisory Report prepared by the Maine State Planning Office (SPO) lists safety and security issues related to the tankers, storage tanks and trucks transporting LNG over public roads that FERC should address. Other issues that the state agency says should be addressed include the impact on homeowner values and businesses, tourism, tidal energy projects, environmentally significant areas and natural-resource-based occupations such as fishing. The state finds that the project "necessitates a coordinated effort among federal, state and local officials to assure that an effective emergency response and recovery plan is developed and resources needed to implement that plan are fully identified and acquired."

The SPO report also comments, "The state is concerned that the Canadian government has voiced its opposition to this project, as it has to the proposed Downeast LNG project, and has not indicated to date a willingness to participate in formulating an emergency response plan, or to enter into discussions on accomplishing the necessary security measures required for safe transit of the LNG vessel through Canadian and United States waters."

FERC staff will now prepare a draft environmental impact statement (EIS), which the public will have the opportunity to comment on, before a final EIS is issued. The FERC process usually takes 12 to 18 months. Along with its application to FERC, Calais LNG has also filed its applications with state agencies.


© 2010 The Quoddy Tides
Eastport, Maine
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.