2010 Sep 24
The Coast Guard recommended on September 21 to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that the waterways associated with the Calais LNG proposal to construct a liquefied natural gas facility in Calais are suitable for LNG vessel transits, provided certain safety and security actions are taken as part of the permit. The Coast Guard's role in the process was to assess the safety and security issues associated with LNG tankers transiting the Passamaquoddy Bay and the St. Croix River.
As part of the Coast Guard's contribution to the FERC review process, the Coast Guard captain of the port for Northern New England, along with key stakeholders, reviewed and validated the navigation safety and maritime security aspects of the Calais LNG proposal.
FERC has final approval authority on site placement and authorization to construct the facility. The letter of recommendation provides the Coast Guard's assessment of the suitability of the waterway for LNG marine traffic.
The Coast Guard received official notification from Calais LNG of their proposal to build an LNG terminal in Calais in May 2008.
Since the applicant's filing, officials from Coast Guard Sector Northern New England have worked with the applicant, port and community stakeholders as well as state and local emergency responders to assess the safety and security issues associated with LNG tankers transiting the waterways.
"We are pleased with the cooperation of our port partners who have provided their candor and expertise to the review process," offered Captain James McPherson, Coast Guard captain of the port. "We will continue to work with the community and our fellow emergency responders to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to assure the safety and security of the port and surrounding communities."
In an 88-page analysis, the Coast Guard reviewed and validated Calais LNG's Waterway Suitability Assessment.
If licensed by FERC, Calais LNG will be required to submit an Emergency Response Plan to address safety and security issues identified in the WSA and the Coast Guard's analysis.
In response to the Coast Guard's recommendation, U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe stated, "Increasing maritime transport and natural gas supplies are critical to Washington County's economic future, and I appreciate the Coast Guard's deliberative analysis of the safety and security issues associated with LNG tankers transiting the Passamaquoddy Bay and the St. Croix River. The development of an LNG facility is a crucial issue for the communities of Washington County, and I will continue to work to ensure that the federal agencies continue to engage in a deliberative permitting process with the individuals most affected by this decision."
In her response to the Coast Guard's decision, U.S. Senator Susan Collins, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, stated, "The LNG project has very positive implications for the economic future of Washington County. This assessment of the navigational safety and security issues focused on the Passamaquoddy Bay and St. Croix River, and the conditions for ship travel to and from the proposed facility."
In June, Senator Collins sent a letter to President Obama, sharing her concerns about Canadian objections to LNG tankers transiting Head Harbour Passage while en route to ports in Maine. Senator Collins also addressed Canada's concerns about the planned Calais LNG facility in a meeting she held with Gary Doer, Canada's ambassador to the U.S., and Vic Toews, Canada's minister of public safety.
The Coast Guard's letter of recommendation is included on the FERC docket and can be found at <www.ferc.gov/docs filing/elibrary.asp>.
© 2010 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.