Friday, March 21, 2008

Liquid Natural Gas Plant Approved for Long Island, New York

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a $700 million liquefied natural gas terminal on Thursday for Long Island Sound, but the project faces opposition on environmental grounds and the possibility of a catastrophe should the terminal become the target of a terrorist attack.

New York officials have yet to decide whether to issue permits for the project, and Connecticut officials have warned that they will fight it to the United States Supreme Court.

Broadwater Energy, a consortium of Shell Oil and TransCanada Pipelines, wants to build the terminal, which would sit 9 miles from Long Island and 10 miles from Connecticut. Plans call for construction to begin in October 2009 and for the terminal to be operating by December 2010.

The commission, which voted 5 to 0 to approve the project, says it will be the first floating terminal in the United States for storage and delivery of natural gas.

“It’s a reasonable and sensible decision,” said Gary Hale, a Broadwater spokesman. “They have input from thousands of hours of efforts from the best scientific minds in the nation, environmentalists, and from the Coast Guard.”

Mr. Hale said the terminal was needed to meet the region’s growing energy needs. The New York State Energy Plan projects a 37 percent growth in statewide natural gas use by 2021.

About half of the gas from the terminal would go to New York City. Twenty-five percent to 30 percent would go to Long Island, and the rest would go to Connecticut.

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer had planned to decide next month whether the state should issue permits for the project. Gov. David A. Paterson has said he may postpone that decision.

Mr. Hale said he expected delays but was confident that the terminal would be built.

“Some officials have talked about using Connecticut resources to go to court to appeal this, which I feel would be a waste of time and money, but I suspect that will happen,” he said.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said he planned to ask for an immediate rehearing and would take the state’s arguments to the Supreme Court if necessary.

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