Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Island East Natural Gas Proposal a Supreme Disappointment

December 2, 2008

A gas pipeline proposed for Long Island Sound suffered a potentially fatal blow yesterday after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of a Connecticut ruling that rejected the project on environmental grounds.

The pipeline, known as Islander East, would have supplied gas from Canada and under the Sound to Shoreham. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was the project's most vocal opponent.

He argued it would decimate wildlife in the Thimble Islands off Connecticut, while New York officials, including Suffolk Executive Steve Levy, favored it as a "critical piece of the region's energy infrastructure." The Long Island Regional Planning Board called the pipeline "a project of regional significance." Levy hosted a summit with Blumenthal in July to urge cooperation on Islander East and other energy projects.

Blumenthal called the Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case "the death knell for this hugely destructive project."
Countered Levy: "If Mr. Blumenthal said this decision renders Islander East dead, that is contrary to his promises made at our meeting where he said that Connecticut would entertain adjustments to the proposed route." Suffolk, Levy said, will explore "adjustments and other possible alternatives," with Connecticut and developer National Grid.

When New York officials, including Levy and Gov. David A. Paterson, rejected the much larger Broadwater liquid natural-gas terminal proposed for the Sound, attention swung to Islander East.

Spectra Energy, National Grid's partner, called the Supreme Court's decision a "disappointment" but didn't rule out exploring an alternate route.

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