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"For much of the state of Maine, the environment is the economy"
                                           — US Senator Susan Collins, 2012 Jun 21

Downeast LNG News Release

Developer calls for continued cooperation between U.S. and Canada on energy issues

Published in Maine Today

Released 11/14/06

Contact: Dean Girdis 202-249-9035

What Downeast LNG's News Release Says

The Reality

(Provided by Save Passamaquoddy Bay)

ROBBINSTON, Maine — The developer of a proposed LNG import terminal in eastern Maine said that his team is moving forward with their application to U.S. and state regulatory authorities and called for continued cooperation between the U.S. and Canada on energy matters.

The news release is actually an indication that Downeast LNG's project has a serious problem, since it cannot access LNG by sea. Girdis's news release includes untruths, and is replete with attempts to bully Canada.

While Canada and the US do cooperate on many things, the Canadian public and Canadian leadership, up to and including Canada's Prime Minister, are justified in opposing LNG in Passamaquoddy Bay.

"Americans and Canadians have cooperated on energy issues for years," said Dean Girdis, president of Downeast LNG and a former international energy consultant. "We are asking for nothing more than a fair hearing on both sides of the border. We hope that our Canadian neighbors appreciate that the permitting process in the U.S. is comprehensive and rigorous, and that the various U.S. agencies involved are working closely with their Canadian counterparts."

Canadian leadership does not need a lecture from Dean Girdis on fairness and diplomacy, as Canada holds international respect in both of those areas. If Girdis were being fair, he wouldn't be proposing to damage the Canadian fishery, tourism, safety, health, and quality of life.

Also, as an international energy consultant, and because proposed and permitted LNG projects in the Northeast are 400% over the needed capacity, Girdis knows full well that there is no need for the LNG that he's proposing to import.

Thousands in the Passamaquoddy Bay community oppose Downeast LNG's proposed project, while only 227 people in Robbinston have voted to support it.

And, the US process is far from rigorous, is unresponsive to local concerns, and is better characterized as a "paper chase." No US project has been rejected by FERC or the MARAD/USCG process on safety or siting criteria. The US process essentially permits all applicants regardless of need or the appropriateness of the site and lets the market place determine what facilities get built.  Canadians should not be lulled into thinking that their safety, health, or economic interests are a factor in the existing decision-making process.

Girdis said that earlier this month he attended a U.S. - Canadian energy conference in Boston where high-ranking officials from both countries, including U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins and Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Gary Lunn, spoke about the need for continued cooperation on energy issues. Girdis quoted Ambassador Wilkins as telling the conference that "our two countries have a strong national interest in working together."

Canada and the US have strong interests in working together on energy issues — but note that Girdis doesn't specify that the ambassador and minister were talking about LNG.

"Just look at all of the energy-related activity in this region," said Girdis. "Crude oil comes into Portland bound for Canadian refineries, a pipeline brings natural gas from Canada into the U.S. markets through Maine, and electrical transmission lines run between the two countries. LNG is part of this increased integration, and the market can support terminals on both sides of the border."

The question isn't whether or not the market can support LNG projects on both sides of the border. The question is, "Where is the safest, best location to site such projects?" The answer is "offshore, away from people."

Late in 2005, at a town meeting in Robbinston, Girdis announced that even if Downeast LNG built their terminal, they had no idea if they'd be able to obtain LNG or have customers for the resulting natural gas. Since proposed and permitted LNG infrastructure in the Northeast is over-capacity by 400%, and since obtaining supply is already problematic, Girdis's "market" statement is disingenuous.

Girdis also cited a new report from Canada's Fraser Institute (, Achieving Energy Security through Integrated Canadian-American Markets, that notes "...and the United States enjoy the world's most integrated and efficient energy border." The report goes on to state: "Canadian federal and provincial authorities should work together with their American counterparts to develop streamlined best practices and expertise in approving new LNG facilities and in regulating LNG imports."

The "best practices" statement is especially interesting, since Girdis's project proposal violates the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO) LNG-industry world-class best practices standards by locating in a hazardous and narrow navigable waterway, locating in — and vessels transiting near — residents and civilian assets of numerous communities in two countries, and by locating an LNG pier too near the navigable "fairway." When this first came to public light, and as reported in the Bangor Daily News, Girdis wasn't even aware of what SIGTTO standards actually are, and erroneously claimed that they didn't apply to his project.

Girdis said that while many in Canada recognize the importance of the U.S. - Canadian energy relationship, it was regrettable some Canadian politicians are arbitrarily threatening to block the transit of LNG carriers to any terminal on the U.S. side of Passamaquoddy Bay.

"Some Canadian politicians"?
All Passamaquoddy Bay community governments in Canada, two New Brunswick Premiers (both past and newly-elected), the area's Member of Parliament, and Canada's Prime Minister are all determinedly opposed to siting LNG projects in Passamaquoddy Bay.

Girdis's project would harm the local economy and would pose a health and safety threat to all who live around the Bay. Plus, the project violates the LNG-industry SIGTTO best-practices standards.

Girdis needs to get a grasp on the reality that Canada is a sovereign nation, and that they will prevent his project from happening.

"There is absolutely no legal, safety, or environmental justification for keeping LNG carriers out of Passamaquoddy Bay," said Girdis. "It is difficult to understand why the bay would be closed to LNG ships when each year approximately 75 ships — some carrying hazardous cargoes such as ammonium nitrate — travel the same route to and from the Port of Bayside, New Brunswick."

The Bayside Port is less than a mile across the St. Croix River from Calais, Maine.

Girdis's "ammonium nitrate" issue is a classic "red herring" that has no equivalent regulatory oversight as does LNG. He ignores that FERC requires evaluating LNG project and transit safety, or lack thereof, on surrounding people and assets — in this case it includes the health and safety of Canadians and Canadian assets. If FERC has the authority to make such judgments of a project on Canada, then Canada has the right to make the same judgment about Girdis's project on Canada and Canadian assets.

Since Girdis is concerned about the transit of ammonium nitrate, he should suggest to Congress and Parliament that they require some type of permitting process for ammonium nitrate transit in American and Canadian waters.

Girdis reiterated that when he set out to build an LNG import terminal, he looked for the best possible site based on three key factors: sound environmental and technical characteristics; a community that would be supportive of the project; and open and deepwater access for shipping.

"We were pleased to find all of these things with the Robbinston site, including strong local support," Girdis said, noting that local residents voted nearly three to one in favor of his project last January. "We also would not be moving forward with the project if we had any doubts about our right and ability to bring ships safely through Head Harbour and Western Passages."

Girdis pretends that Robbinston is the only community involved, but Robbinston is only one small population of a few hundred people — out of thousands in the Passamaquoddy Bay community who would be negatively affected.

Deepwater access is available offshore up and down the eastern seaboard — all without impact on local population safety. Using the submerged buoy technology developed by Excelerate Energy is an obvious and elegant solution to the problem. Excelerate's terminal 116 miles offshore from Louisiana offloaded its entire LNG cargo during Hurricane Katrina. No protected harbor is required.

Offshore LNG terminal technology's costs are competitive with the costs of building onshore terminals, and are without the risks associated with land-based terminals.

Girdis said that he has had some of the best legal minds in Canada and the U.S. look at the ship transit issue. He said that they have concluded unequivocally that Head Harbour Passage (and the Bay of Fundy) is a territorial sea and that the rights of innocent passage apply to the passage of ships bound for Maine ports.

It will be up to regulatory authorities, principally the U.S. Coast Guard, to make the final determination as to whether LNG carriers can safely navigate the waters of Passamaquoddy Bay, said Girdis, adding that ship transit simulations conducted over the summer with U.S. and Canadian pilots alike have clearly demonstrated that ships coming to the proposed facility can safely navigate local waters.

Girdis said that he and his team are sharing information and working cooperatively with Canadian officials on ship safety and other issues, and that they will continue to do so as the Downeast LNG project moves forward through the U.S. regulatory process.

Girdis paid too much to "the best legal minds," because: The US has no rights under the UN Law of the Sea Convention, since the US is not a member of that treaty — and has refused to join on numerous occasions, claiming that it isn't in the US's best interests. "Innocent passage" under that treaty doesn't apply to Girdis's project.

Not the US Coast Guard — or any other US agency — has the authority to determine what Canada will and will not allow.

Girdis continues to overlook his project's violation of SIGTTO LNG-industry best-practices standards.

"It is certainly not in Canada's best interest to put local politics ahead of international law, factual data, and a longstanding tradition of cooperation," he said.

It isn't in Canada's best interests to allow a small US developer to dictate Canadian national policy. International law can speak for itself, without Girdis's interpretation, and would take years in Canadian and in international courts to settle the variety of lawsuits that Girdis would be required to file. The project is already unneeded, so such a delay would condemn the project even further.

According to Girdis, since 1959 more than 40,000 LNG carrier voyages, covering more than 60 million miles, have arrived safely without a significant accident or safety problem, either in port or on the high seas around the world. The world is a different place than it was prior to 2001. And, since that time, FERC has permitted LNG terminals that violate SIGTTO safety standards, bringing into question the future safety of LNG transit and import facilities.

Let's all remember that the sources of LNG are frequently the same countries that threaten US security.

About Downeast LNG

Downeast LNG is proposing to build a state of the art LNG import terminal at Mill Cove in Robbinston on an 80-acre site where the St. Croix River meets the Passamaquoddy Bay. The facility will consist of a single storage tank, processing equipment, a new pier and several small support buildings. The Robbinston site was selected by Downeast LNG after carefully researching and evaluating more than 27 different sites in New England and Maine. Last January, the people of Robbinston voted 227 to 83 in favor of the Downeast LNG project in a special town election

The actual reason that the Robbinston site was selected is that other communities have rejected LNG terminal proposals, and it was easier to convince fewer than 250 people in a small town downeast than it is to convince a large number of people in larger communities elsewhere along the coast.

In truth, the best sites for LNG terminals — the ones that have already rejected LNG facilities — were looked at first. The Downeast LNG project has selected one of the worst possible sites, simply because they think it is relatively "easy pickings."

A true "state of the art" import terminal would be an offshore submerged-buoy terminal, like Excelerate Energy's Energy Bridge™ technology. What Girdis is proposing is actually "old technology."

Girdis and Downeast LNG are attempting to "tilt at a windmill." Their investors will soon realize — if they haven't, already — that they're pouring their investment down a bottomless moneypit.


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