Speaking of Saving the Sound...David Paterson, N.Y. Governor, does the right thing! 
Long Island Sound Fairfield County alternative visions...
CT DEP Commissioner has news for the pipeline proposal...the schooner Amistad during its journey to Bermuda in 2005. The ship, built at Mystic Seaport, is now in Sierra Leone, from where La Amistad sailed with cargoes of slaves in the early 19th century before it was commandeered by slaves in 1839 and found off the Connecticut coast. The slaves on board were eventually exonerated by an American court and set free. Amistad received a joyous welcome in Sierra Leoneand prediction.  What will the autumn hurricane season bring?

Long Island Sound Page:

SWRPA VIDEO WAS ON CABLEVISION PUBLIC ACCESS, IN ADVANCE OF COAST GUARD/FERC HEARINGS...early in the process (Monday,  August 1, 2005, Stamford Government Center)...PRO-CON DISCUSSION ON BROADWATER (LNG for L.I. Sound)... 


FROM THE INTERNET...ON BROADWATER






Massive Bridgeport Fire Sends Chemicals Into The Air, Water; 400 Forced To Leave Homes Two Buildings Destroyed In Five-Alarm Blaze
Hartford Coujtant
By NICHOLAS RONDINONE,
3:33 PM EDT, September 12, 2014

BRIDGEPORT — A five-alarm fire that destroyed two factories and forced 400 people to leave their homes also sent chemicals into the air and water, officials said Friday morning.  Small amounts of chemicals have been detected in the air, a state environmental official said, although they are not believed to pose any health risk. The U.S. Coast Guard announced a temporary ban on fishing in Bridgeport Harbor and Long Island Sound from Norwalk to Milford.

"There is a large amount of foam with a red color that has impacted the surface water bodies," said Jeff Chandler from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. DEEP is working with federal authorities to determine whether there will be any long-term effects, he said.

At a briefing Friday morning, Bridgeport Fire Chief Brian Rooney said officials were concerned about industrial perfumes that were stored in Rowayton Trading Co.'s building on Grant Street.  The building had "1,000 55-gallon drums of this product that were stacked up to the ceiling," he said.

David Poynton of DEEP said that only "minute levels" of materials from the fire were found in area waterways.

"The color of the river, that's more of a concern," he said.

Coast Guard Cmdr. Jonathan Theel said flyovers showed that a substance that appears to be purple dye was in the Yellow Mill Channel, which meets the Pequonnock River before flowing into Bridgeport Harbor.

"We're trying to find out what that material is out there," he said.

The runoff has prompted officials to ban any shell fishing in Long Island Sound from Fairfield to the Housatonic River in Stratford and Milford.  Also, no fishing or swimming is allowed in Bridgeport from Pleasure Beach in the east to Black Rock Harbor in the west.

"Please don't go fishing," Poynton said. "Fish other places."

Boating is allowed.

Dozens of firefighters remained at the scene Friday morning.  The fire was reported about 6:45 p.m. Thursday, fire officials said. When firefighters arrived at the scene on the 2100 block of Seaview Avenue they found heavy fire in one of the buildings.  Fireballs fueled by chemicals exploded every few minutes. Rowayton Trading Co. and JWC Roofing and Siding were destroyed in the fire.

"The fireballs and the heat were like nothing I have ever seen," Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch said in a statement. "Thankfully, no one was seriously injured. There was no loss of life."

Deputy Fire Chief Dominick Carfi said one firefighter suffered from heat exposure and another hurt his ankle.  Smoke continued to rise from the rubble Friday afternoon, and firefighters directed a steady stream of water at hot spots. Thick smoke, scented with the perfume, hung in the air.

Residents in the area still lack power.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy surveyed the rubble Friday.  He said he'll seek federal grants and loans to assist businesses affected by the fire, and that the state is working to find new quarters for the businesses that were burned out.  The state will see what assistance it can provide to home owners in the area, he said.

Nearly every firefighter in the city responded to assist. Crews from Fairfield and Stratford initially were called and then, as the fire spread, crews from Trumbull, Westport and Norwalk were brought in, fire officials said.

Siding on nearby houses was melted from the intense heat of the fire, they said. Area homes were evacuated, prompting the exodus of some 400 people.

Carfi said it was "almost a miracle" that homes in the area were saved. Firefighters sprayed water onto buildings to prevent embers traveling from the burning factories from igniting them.

"We were very fortunate," Carfi said. "The potential was there for disaster."

A shelter was set up at the nearby St. Ambrose Church, and the Red Cross provided assistance there, according to the organization. They also provided food and drinks to emergency responders.  By about 12:30 a.m., most residents were cleared to return to their homes, the Red Cross said. The organization provided temporary housing for 13 people— 10 adults and three children in four families.

Copyright © 2014, The Hartford Courant





New Ferry Terminal in Bridgeport (to Port Jeff)




A first for Long Island Sound: Kelp farmed in Branford being used as a food product

New Haven REGISTER
By The Associated Press

Sunday, June 2, 2013

BRANFORD — In a first for Long Island Sound, 120 pounds of kelp farmed in waters near the Thimble Islands has made its way to the plates and soupbowls of New York City restaurants.

"We're the only one in the country selling a fresh kelp product," said Bren Smith, owner of the Thimble Island Oyster Co., which grew the long, wide kelp ribbons on a 20-acre plot where he also raises oysters, mussels and clams. "It has a short shelf life, but because I'm close to New York City, I can sell it directly there."

Margaret Van Patten, communications director of Connecticut Sea Grant, said the sale is significant because it marks the first time seaweed farmed in the Sound has been sold as a food product.

Sea Grant, based at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus in Groton, worked with Smith, as did Charles Yarish, a UConn professor of ecology and evolutionary biology who has been involved in seaweed research for decades. Before the sale took place about three weeks ago, Smith had to obtain permits from the state Department of Public Health and the state Department of Consumer Protection. The kelp was also subjected to product safety tests, which required the purchase of new equipment that was funded by Sea Grant.

"Now that this has proved successful, Sea Grant is going to be looking to work with more people who want to grow this crop," Van Patten said.

David Carey, director of the Aquaculture division of the state Department of Agriculture, said the permits created for this new crop specify that it can be grown only in areas also approved for shellfish farming, so it must meet the same water quality standards.

"We're excited about this," Carey said, adding that he sees potential for former lobstermen who lost their livelihood when the lobster population declined to repurpose their boats for seaweed farming.

"Their boats would be the perfect size," he said.

To develop this market, he said, more research and investment is needed in economical ways of processing seaweed and increasing the market.

In addition to the permits and testing for the fresh product, Smith has also obtained the approvals to blanch, freeze, package and sell processed kelp. He is using facilities at the Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture Science & Technology Education Center for the processing.

Chefs in New York are using the kelp in soups, salads, butter and some Nordic cuisine dishes, he said. Some are also working to develop dishes such as kelp ice cream, cocktails and pickles. The kelp he is growing, raised from native seed stock originally from a site off Pine Island in Groton collected by Yarish, is not the type of seaweed used in sushi dishes. While the markets and uses for local kelp are still emerging, he said, it was more commonly eaten in past decades.

"We're trying to reclaim a very old tradition," he said. "It's a really good local food."

He is also selling his harvest to Yale for use as a fertilizer on its farm. Over the next few months, he plans to triple his kelp production and try to grow other types of seaweed.

Smith said he turned to seaweed farming after 80 percent of his shellfish crop was wiped out by Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. He started doing research on the Internet about other crops he could grow in his shellfish beds, and came across references to Yarish and his seaweed research.

Yarish said Smith's success "will open people's eyes" about the potential for seaweed farming in Long Island Sound. Several areas in the eastern Sound would be suitable, he added. Areas with good water quality and water depths of 20 feet to 100 feet are required. To help foster interest in others starting seaweed farms, Yarish is working with Sea Grant to develop a kelp cultivation manual.

The kelp Smith is growing, known as sugar kelp, "is the same stuff you find walking at Ocean Beach Park.

"This is local, high yield and sustainable," Yarish said.

Yarish is growing different types of seaweed at sites off Fairfield and in the East River near New York City, among others. In addition to promoting it as a highly nutritious food, Yarish said he and UConn are also partnering with a Shelton-based startup, Sea Green Organics, on an organic seaweed-based fertilizer.




How, and to whom (l, c), will the present CT Administration manage to shift blame this time? 

Striving for innovation, spending millions, leaders ignored major problems

Neena Satija, CT MIRROR
February 4, 2013

This is the first of two parts examining the Stamford sewage treatment plant's long history of problems, the financial implications for local residents and environmental consequences for the entire state. Part two appears tomorrow.  Part Two here.

Stamford -- In the summer of 2010, residents in the Shippan neighborhood began complaining of strong, unpleasant smells wafting through their open windows and into their cars. They live near the city's marinas and just to the south of its sewage treatment plant.

So George Stadel and Lou Basel, engineers and newly appointed members to the treatment plant's governing board, took a tour of the facility on Harbor View Avenue.

Four years earlier, the plant had completed a $105 million state-of-the-art upgrade -- mostly paid for with state funds -- that included four new odor control units. But during the board members' tour, the equipment seemed to be in disrepair.

"We saw pieces of it lying on the ground. We saw a valve on the ground," Stadel recalled.

When he and Basel asked an employee how long the units had been offline, they got an answer they did not expect.

"He said, 'They've never worked,'" Stadel said.

The odor control units -- which plant operators say are "still not at 100 percent" -- are among the least of the many problems facing Stamford's Water Pollution Control Authority, the multimillion-dollar agency responsible for treating sewage for Stamford and neighboring Darien.

After borrowing millions of dollars from the city for immediate repairs in recent years, the WPCA is likely to require millions more, and it has no money on hand for emergencies. State environmental officials say the agency will likely have to remedy that with a significant increase in user rates. 

Further, the WPCA appears to have suffered from years of administrative dislocation and neglect. There has been no chief executive since May 2011, when then-Director Jeanette Brown resigned. Only within the past few weeks has the city been able to find an interim director for the agency.

"It is hard to believe," said Ernie Orgera, Stamford's director of operations, who took over as WPCA board chairman last March. "I don't know why things were overlooked for so long."

Many current and former officials say the problems can be traced to the administration of then-mayor, now governor, Dannel P. Malloy. They say Malloy, his operations director, Ben Barnes, and Brown skirted and sometimes ignored standard procedures while trying to push through an innovative, ambitious sewage project that could cement Stamford's reputation as a cutting-edge city. The undertaking would turn waste from the treatment plant into electric power, but was abandoned by the city after Malloy left office.

Critics say that while Malloy, Barnes and Brown spent years and millions of dollars planning the project, known as "Waste-to-Energy" or "Stamford Biogas," they ignored the real issue: The plant was malfunctioning regularly, costing the city, its harbor and Long Island Sound dearly.

"Waste-to-Energy. This was the big thing," said Louis Casale, who was on the WPCA board for about 10 years and left the chairmanship and the board in late 2011.

"...We had no idea, at least I had no idea," he said, "that things at the plant were literally falling down around us."

A collapsing pipe, sewage in the street

Former Stamford operations director Barnes insists that things were going smoothly when he became the Malloy administration's state budget czar in late 2010.

"The plant was largely in a state of good repair," he said. "I'm not going to say that there weren't some issues that needed to be dealt with, but I don't believe that there were issues that were out of control."

But officials from the state's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection disagree. They say some serious problems should have been addressed as far back as 2008, if not earlier. They say the WPCA has failed to maintain its infrastructure properly -- possibly in violation of state law.

"I think that a lot of these issues should have been dealt with a long time ago ... maybe four years [at least]," said Carlos Esguerra, a sanitary engineer for the DEEP in the agency's municipal facilities section.

In March 2011, the aging concrete in a 36-inch sewer pipeline in the Wallack's Point neighborhood gave way.

Four million gallons of raw sewage rushed out of a manhole and onto the streets, over-running one man's four-bedroom ranch house in the gated community of spacious houses that overlooks Long Island Sound.

Sewage spewed out of the house's toilets and bathtubs for days. Health officials deemed the house uninhabitable for a time, and the city eventually paid the owner hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

At the time, Stamford had no comprehensive program to monitor the condition of underground sewer lines -- and, in fact, still does not. WPCA supervising engineer Prakash Chakravarti said the paperwork is now in process for awarding one company the project, at cost of about $2 million.

That project has not been the state officials' main concern, however.

... Secondary clarifier, pumps ...

The officials have chastised the WPCA for dragging its feet on fixing a key piece of treatment equipment that broke more than a year ago. Known as a "secondary clarifier," it is one of four huge circular tanks that remove solid waste from sewer water.

Because only three such tanks have been in service since last summer instead of the usual four, heavy rainfall tends to overwhelm them -- and water that should at least look clear once it leaves the tanks is instead a chocolate-brown. A $1.4 million project to fix that clarifier was finally completed in December, but since then, another clarifier has been taken off-line for repairs.

"Our problem comes in when we get a torrential downpour ... and this [system] can't handle that," said plant supervisor Bill Degnan, who began his job in Stamford last summer. "Once it starts, we're under Mother Nature. There's not a whole lot we can do until the volume of water that's coming in from the storm eases off a little bit."

Superstorm Sandy did not cause any significant problems for the plant, since rainfall was relatively low. But in late September, the lack of that one working clarifier allowed 2 million gallons of sewer water to flow into Stamford Harbor without being fully treated. The event, known as a sewage bypass, dealt a blow to the area's already hard-hit shell-fishing industry.

"When the sewage plant doesn't operate correctly, we have to close the shellfish area," said David Carey, director of DEEP's aquaculture division. The department must wait until bacterial and viral levels in the water return to normal, or there's an increased chance of food-borne illness for those who eat the harvested shellfish.

Carey said that as a result of sewage bypasses in 2011, Stamford Harbor's shellfish beds were closed for more than 100 days.

"There was a huge impact," he said. Other bypasses, in 2012, were caused not by problems with the secondary clarifier, but with the final effluent pumps, which send the water into Stamford Harbor at the end of the treatment process.

Last October, the pump controls failed. That caused high tide waters to back up into the plant, interfering with the final steps of the treatment process. About 43 million gallons of partially treated sewage went into the harbor.

Normally, a backup pump should have kicked in. But Chakravarti said that pump's controls were also out for repairs.

"We understand that, but that can't happen," Carey, of DEEP, said. "Stamford didn't have a back up ... You're operating a system that's critical to public health, and you don't have parts on hand."

... Faulty UV system

On top of concerns about the condition of the pumps is unease about the ultraviolet disinfection system installed as part of the $105 million upgrade in 2006. Engineers are still not convinced the ultraviolet lighting is working as it should, and consultants are now evaluating its condition.

Optimally, the partially treated sewage is exposed to the UV radiation, killing any living organisms. But during some periods of heavy rainfall that occurred last year, staff at the plant had to raise and disable the lamps. They did so out of concern that the effluent pumps couldn't handle the excess water, which would then overwhelm the lamps.

Carey said that without the ultraviolet disinfection, there is a chance that bacteria or viruses in the water could contaminate the fish caught for human consumption.

"You can't take that chance," he said. "Sometimes we don't feel very good about it, but we just can't guess."

Carey said the problems in 2011 were far worse than they were last year, and he thinks plant operators are doing a better job. Still, the key issues that caused the bypasses have not been fully addressed.

Controls for the effluent pumps have been fixed, but there is still concern that the pumps themselves should have been built at a slightly larger size during the upgrade. They will eventually need to be replaced, at an estimated cost of $2 million.

As for the ultraviolet lighting, plant supervisor Degnan said that is not a priority.

"That's something we want to look at, but we have a lot of issues here that are more pressing right now than that," he said. "Right now, it seems to work OK."

The state-of-the-art upgrade

Many of the plant's major problems date back to the $105 million upgrade -- which included the installation of the ultraviolet lighting system, effluent pumps and odor control units.

Completed in 2006, the improvements were celebrated with much fanfare. The design engineering firm responsible for the work, Colorado-based CH2M Hill, which has an office in Wethersfield, accepted a joint award with the Stamford WPCA known as the "Grand Award for Engineering Excellence" from the American Council of Engineering Companies in Connecticut. Most of the upgrade was paid for by state, not local, taxpayers.

Jeanette Brown, the former plant director, insists that the upgrade was successful, and that any problems now are because of the lack of good management since she left in 2011.

"It was a really good project," Brown said. "First of all, we finished on time and we finished on budget with no construction claims. For a project that big, it's really a good thing. I don't know if Stamford people realize the importance of not having claims after a project like this." (A claim is a bill for further work that needs to be done after a project is completed.)

In fact, millions of dollars have already been spent evaluating what went wrong since the upgrade, and what else needs to be fixed. After months of consideration, Stamford's Board of Finance is commissioning a full audit of all capital projects that were done at the WPCA in the past 10 years. It will be an expensive undertaking, but one that many say is necessary.

"We spent a lot of money," said Louis Casale, former chairman of the WPCA board. "It's a shame. Did we get what we paid for?"

Brown and Barnes pointed out that the upgrade included a new state-of-the-art nitrogen removal system that has allowed the WPCA to collect millions of dollars in nitrogen credits from the state.

"It was far and away the most successful nitrogen-removal program of any WPCA in the state," Barnes said.

True, one observer says, but the hundreds of millions of gallons in sewage bypasses may well have negated that.

"When you start having problems with your facilities... you almost negate the benefit of nitrogen that you've gotten from other parts of the year," said Leah Schmalz, legislative director for the advocacy group Save the Sound.

Trying to get answers

The challenges have been tough for many Stamford and WPCA staff, who say they are inheriting issues that were ignored for many years.

"Most of the infrastructure issues we're dealing with today are issues that were born a number of years ago," said Mike Handler, the city's new director of administration who began his job just a few months ago. "But there's also an absence of good leadership and management at the plant right now."

At a recent WPCA board meeting, the authority's auditor noted that, as part of its yearly audit, it will cite the agency for "material weakness" for the second straight year. That's the strongest reprimand an auditor can give, said Bruce Blasnik, a partner with the Stamford auditing firm O'Connor Davies.

"I don't think anyone can really tell me who's in charge of the plant right now," Blasnik told Stamford officials at a recent meeting. Blasnik said the firm had trouble completing its yearly audit: "We couldn't get answers to questions we should have had answers to."

Financial management at the plant has also been under scrutiny, as various officials argue over how much money the WPCA actually has to take care of what needs to be done. When Handler wanted to lend the WPCA $1.4 million from the city's coffers to pay for repairing its secondary clarifier, members of the board of finance balked, saying the agency should have millions from bond proceeds to pay for the work.

To resolve the issue, Handler resorted to paying the WPCA's auditor $10,000 to complete a report showing that all of the WPCA's bond proceeds had been spent. Some members of Stamford's Board of Finance, an elected group, still insist that is not the case.

For years, the WPCA has borrowed money from the city to finance many of its key projects. But state officials say the authority needs to have far more money on hand for repairs. Most likely, the user rates -- which rose from $2.06 per hundred cubic feet of water in 2004 to $3.89 this year -- need to go higher. The current WPCA operating budget is about $23 million.

"The system is falling apart, because they don't have enough money to maintain it properly," said DEEP's Carlos Esguerra.

It's not clear whether the additional money will come from the state, the city, or the sewer users in Stamford and Darien. But it will have to come from somewhere.

As Dennis Greci of DEEP's municipal facilities section puts it: "In one form or another, some taxpayers in Connecticut will wind up paying for whatever repairs are needed in Stamford."


MAYOR MALLOY'S ATTEMPT AT BIOMAS
Stamford Water Polution Control Authority biogas upgrade to old facility.  On paper (l), abd on the ground (r)

This is the second of two parts examining the Stamford sewage treatment plant's long history of problems and their causes, the financial implications for local residents and environmental consequences for the entire state. Part I is available here.
Stamford's failed attempt at energy innovation cost taxpayers tens of millions
Neena Satija, CT MIRROR
February 5, 2013

Stamford -- On a Wednesday evening in December, an overwhelmingly unpleasant smell wafted over the parking lot at Stamford's sewage treatment plant. It seeped into the cars of members of the plant's governing board and stuck with them as they drove home after a meeting.

"In winter months, it's bad," said Prakash Chakravarti, supervising engineer for Stamford's Water Pollution Control Authority. "In summer months, it'll be even more exaggerated."

Chakravarti said the smell was coming from several trailers that are parked nearby carrying the solid waste, known as "sludge," from the sewage plant.

Under more routine circumstances that sludge would not be festering in trailers. Rather, it would be fed into Stamford's "drier/pelletizer," a $17 million piece of equipment that sucks out excess water and converts the sludge into "cakes" or "pellets."

The pellets were to be used as fuel to generate electricity in an ambitious plan by the WPCA and the city known as "Waste-to-Energy," or "Stamford Biogas" -- a plan that was shelved in 2010 before it could produce a single kilowatt.

For several weeks recently, even the drier wasn't in use; its conveyor belt, which transports the sludge into the machinery, had broken down. It has since been fixed. But given that Stamford Biogas was discontinued more than two years ago, Stamford and WPCA officials are wondering if it makes sense to keep using the drier at all.

The drier -- and the smell of sludge waiting outside -- are probably the least of the WPCA's worries at the moment. Plagued by administrative mismanagement, failing equipment and a botched $105 million upgrade completed in 2006, the multimillion-dollar agency has come under fire for sending hundreds of millions of gallons of sewage into Long Island Sound in recent years.

But for many, the drier has become a symbol of what went wrong during the city's previous mayoral administration, headed by now-Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. The drier was the first phase of the Waste-to-Energy project that Malloy's staff spent tens of millions of federal and local dollars trying to implement.

The effort was led by the treatment plant's executive director Jeanette Brown and Ben Barnes, Stamford's then-director of operations and now the state's budget czar. It enjoyed strong support from Malloy.

After years of public outcry -- and after Malloy and Barnes had left local office -- the city abandoned the project in mid-2010. By that time, it was clear that serious issues with equipment at the treatment plant had gone unaddressed for years.

"I think [the] staff kind of got misdirected, and people weren't really looking at what our primary function and purpose was," said Mitch Kaufman, a member of Stamford's Board of Representatives who is also on the WPCA Board. " ... Instead of looking at it from a practical perspective, they were thinking, 'Wow, this is cool.' "

Risky innovations

During his 14 years as Stamford's mayor, Malloy touted his achievements in cleaning up the city's environment and water -- as did Brown, who was president of the national Water Environment Federation and known nationally for her work. Brown was director of the sewage treatment plant from 1975-2011.

The Biogas concept was relatively simple: Instead of hauling all the sludge to a landfill, use the energy that it holds to create a synthetic gas that can then power a generator.

Brown said she'd always been interested in the idea of converting waste from sewage into energy. But it wasn't until the early 2000s, when U.S. Sens. Joseph Lieberman and Chris Dodd earmarked federal funding for the project, that she began to believe her dream could become reality.

"I always thought about the chemical energy that's embedded in sludge," said Brown, a professional engineer educated at the University of Connecticut. "And it was always something like 'Why are we wasting this?' "
The city began working on research and development for the project early in the decade, using $2 million in earmarks that were matched in part by city funds. Stamford also borrowed $17 million, which it is still paying off, for the sludge drier.

Once the drier was up and running, the city began educating the public about the project -- and Brown traveled the country giving talks about it.

"I've been very aggressive on [the project's] behalf," Malloy told a writer for the monthly publication of the Water Environment Federation in February 2009. "We're going to prove this technology."

Brown told the same reporter, "We probably know more about bio-solids gasification than perhaps anyone in the world."

But Malloy and Brown's numbers fluctuated wildly. Over a six-month period, they gave widely varying figures on how much energy would be produced -- first 10 megawatts, then 15 to 20 megawatts. During testimony to Congress on sustainable water practices in February 2009, Brown said the plant would produce 15 megawatts, enough to power about 10,000 homes.

One month later, Brown told members of Stamford's Board of Finance of a "one- to two-megawatt facility," the same figure she used in later applications for grant money from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Cost estimates varied just as dramatically. A few months after Malloy gave an estimate of $50 million to $60 million, Brown said the project would cost $15 million to $20 million.

In a recent interview, Barnes said the project was scaled down "significantly."

"Doing it on a smaller basis was certainly something that all of us thought was appropriate. There's obviously some risk undertaking newer technology," he said.

But other basic facts were at issue. On Malloy's website for his candidacy for governor -- which has been disabled, but can still be accessed -- a portion of the section named "Proven Results" reads: "[Malloy] developed a facility that will turn wastewater into energy without carbon emissions, the first project of its kind in the state."

In fact, the drier by itself produces significant emissions.

Public has questions

As the public education campaign on Stamford Biogas continued in 2009, engineers and others who lived in Stamford began to take notice -- and they started to ask questions.

Malloy and his team "were incompetent to do this and they had been giving false information," said George Stadel, who revived the defunct Stamford Taxpayers Political Action Committee (Stamford PAC) in early 2009 to launch opposition to the project. "Jeanette Brown parlayed this into worldwide recognition for herself. She didn't know what she was talking about, but she became famous."

In letters to the federal Department of Energy, local newspapers and local officials, Stadel and the half-dozen active members of Stamford PAC urged the city to abandon the project.

For months, their concerns fell on deaf ears -- and today, WPCA board members admitted they were not asking the right questions at the time.

"Everyone was just saying, 'Go, go, go,' and most everything was being done by [Malloy's] administration and Jeanette [Brown]," said Louis Casale, who was on the WPCA board until 2011. "I think it was a lot of hype and we got caught up in it."

Even city employees were wary of the project and the way it was being pushed through the layers of Stamford government. In mid-2009, as Barnes and Brown were readying new contracts to begin the second phase, city lawyer Burt Rosenberg told them they didn't have the authority.

Nevertheless, Barnes and Brown were close to pushing through an agreement with the Canadian-based company Nexterra to turn the dried sludge into gas, in a technology known as gasification.

"This is a typical end run around [Stamford's] Purchasing Ordinance by Jeanette [Brown]," Rosenberg wrote in an email to Tom Cassone, another member of the Malloy administration at the time. "Nexterra will end up with a $5.4 million contract without any legitimate procurement process."

Cassone responded, "Sorry Burt. Ben [Barnes] is under some pressure and he and the WPCA board believe in this project." He did not specify where that pressure was coming from.

Soon afterward, Rosenberg apparently met with Barnes. He later relayed the events of the meeting to Cassone.

"Early in the conversation [Barnes] started screaming at me," Rosenberg wrote. "[Barnes] basically accused me of being an obstructionist -- that I did not want to see the project go forward."

Rosenberg asked Barnes during the meeting why the WPCA had not issued a competitive bid for proposals on the project, rather than simply choosing Nexterra. According to Rosenberg's email describing the encounter, Barnes had responded that "he wanted to get things done quickly because the new [mayoral administration] will kill it."

Asked about the exchanges with Rosenberg, Barnes said he did not remember the meeting Rosenberg was referring to, but that he was intent on getting the project done.

"There was a time when I thought there might be an opportunity to advance that project during my remaining time in the mayor's term," Barnes said. "[Malloy] was obviously not running again for election ... so at the time we thought, well, maybe there's a way to get this project completed before then. Ultimately we were not able to do that."

Rosenberg still works in Stamford's law department. He declined to comment, citing client confidentiality.

Skepticism takes hold

Barnes' concerns proved correct. Indeed, Michael Pavia -- who was campaigning for mayor in 2009 -- was deeply skeptical of the project.

"During the [mayoral] campaign, that waste-to-energy plant at the WPCA became the poster child for spending that shouldn't be happening," Pavia said.

Another key setback for Malloy's administration regarding the project came when it was determined that the dried sludge alone would not provide enough energy to power combustion engines and create electricity. So Brown and Barnes suggested that the city truck in wood, which, when burned with the gasified sludge, would do the job.

"It just kind of went way beyond what was practical," Pavia said.

Barnes agreed that the switch from sludge to part wood showed "legitimate operational technical issues that we never resolved."

Ultimately, Nexterra never built the gasifier, and the WPCA board voted to kill the project in mid-2010. The vote came on the heels of reports from two separate consulting companies the city had paid to answer the question of whether Stamford Biogas was ultimately feasible. Both reports said that while the project was "technically" feasible, it was not economically prudent.

But Brown, along with Malloy's staff -- who had by then moved from Stamford to the state Capitol -- still insisted that ending the project was a mistake. On the day the project was voted out by the WPCA, George Stadel remembers Brown saying, "It's not over yet."

"For the most part, municipalities aren't willing to take risks, and risks are necessary to do some of these things," said Brown.

She echoed Barnes' assumption that the project might have gone forward had Malloy remained mayor, adding that she had worked "very closely with [Malloy's] directors" on it.

"Mayor Malloy was very much committed to our project, but with the change of administration, you get different philosophies," Brown said. "So it didn't go forward."

Sometime in early 2011, Barnes -- then secretary of the Office of Policy and Management under Gov. Malloy -- approached Pavia about transferring the waste-to-energy project from Stamford to the state in order to revive it.

"I thought it was worth exploring," Barnes said, although eventually, the state did not take on the project. "Frankly, we had a lot of other things going on."

Asked if he thought the state could really have taken on the project, Pavia said, "You know, I really don't."

"I think, just being in government and knowing the kinds of intricacies that take place, it's hard enough to manage the normal operation without going into experimentation," he said.

Stamford Biogas may be dead -- but the city is still paying for it. A five-year, several million-dollar contract to operate the sludge drier will expire in March, and WPCA and city officials are debating whether to simply shut it down. Stamford Operations Director Ernie Orgera said he thinks the city could save as much as $1 million a year by doing so.

Of course, as Board of Representatives and WPCA board member Mitch Kaufman pointed out, the drier will still cost the city more money.

"We bonded the money, so we're paying interest on it," he said.

"We're still going to pay interest on it, whether it's running or not." 




One Proposal For Amtrak Bullet Train Route: Under Long Island Sound
By DON STACOM, dstacom@courant.com
5:01 PM EDT, September 3, 2012

HARTFORD —As Amtrak studies how to bring bullet trains to its frantically busy Northeast Corridor, one design team is suggesting a radically new route requiring a roughly 18-mile-long tunnel beneath Long Island Sound.

Trains speeding from Washington to Boston would run through the heart of Long Island, cross into Connecticut through a tunnel emerging in Milford, head to Hartford and then race east toward Worcester on new tracks running alongside I-84.

The segment between Manhattan and Hartford would cost about $20 billion, according to the University of Pennsylvania's high-speed rail design studio, which first put forward the idea in 2010. Overall, the full 450-mile route from Washington to Boston would cost about $100 billion, PennDesign said.

Amtrak is focusing on its own "NextGen High-Speed Rail" map for the corridor, a proposal that would skip the Long Island section and cost an estimated $151 billion. But PennDesign's plan isn't off the table.

Advocates of bullet trains in the Northeast acknowledge that a project of such magnitude, regardless of the routing or specific details, would require enormous private investment.

PennDesign's proposal includes a series of public-private financing scenarios, while Amtrak's own proposal doesn't address revenue sources. Last month, Amtrak President Joseph Boardman told The New York Times: "We can worry about where the money is coming from, but we need to have a plan in place so when it does, we're ready."

Unlike many of the high-speed routes that President Barack Obama proposed and the Republican Congress scuttled, some form of modern, fast passenger train service on the Northeast Corridor has at least a bit of bipartisan appeal. GOP transportation leaders in Congress have said they're open to discussing proposals because the Northeast Corridor is the busiest and most financially viable part of Amtrak's system. They've also insisted the private sector would have to play a major role in any plan that advances.

Calling the Washington-Philadelphia-New York-Boston corridor "the economic powerhouse of the United States," PennDesign contends that high-speed rail is essential to relieving congestion and accommodating population growth over the next 30 years. Amtrak served about 11 million passengers on the Northeast Corridor last year, and projects steady increases as the region's population grows in the next three decades.

Amtrak has been outselling airlines' short-hop flights on Northeast Corridor routes. Analysts say business travelers are drawn by lower prices and a trip that's ultimately faster than flying. Travel time, even on the Acela, is far longer than flying, but that can be balanced off by the convenience of trains: Passengers quickly board in one downtown and arrive in the downtown of their destination city. Air travel requires time-consuming security screenings and check-in procedures, along with long and costly trips to and from airports on both ends.

With that basis, the Federal Railroad Administration is embarking on a three-year study of what should be the long-term map for high-speed trains in the Northeast. It has established a website explaining details of its planning process: http://www.necfuture.com/

Connecticut is a particularly problematic stretch of the existing shoreline route because of century-old bridges and steady twists and bends along the southeastern coast. They prevent the Acela from getting anywhere close to its top-rated speed of 150 mph. Amtrak's own proposal is to bring trains from New York up to Danbury, then create an all-new corridor running to Waterbury and then Hartford before banking eastward for Providence.

European-style high-speed rail would require two tracks dedicated exclusively to 220 mph bullet trains, advocates say. The routes would have to be mostly uninterrupted by grade crossings or sharp curves so that the trains could maintain speed and stick to much faster schedules than what Amtrak offers now.




Environmental report touches off new Plum Island controversy
Ana Radelat, CT MIRROR
July 20, 2012

Washington -- Connecticut's environmental community is dismayed at a study released Friday on the sale of Plum Island because they believe its recommendations do not adequately protect the island's unique ecology and wildlife.

Curt Johnson, an attorney for Save the Sound, said his group will push back against the study's conclusions...  Read full story here.




DEEP to Study Decline of Lobsters in Long Island Sound
Comprehensive Testing Will Include Potential Impact of Pesticides
July 10, 2012
 
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is undertaking a comprehensive study seeking reasons for the continued decline in the lobster population of Long Island Sound.
 
"We are now developing the procedures and protocols for a study that will rely on a Sound-wide sampling of lobsters and sophisticated laboratory tests to obtain a better understanding of why this species - and an industry it has historically supported –  is now in danger of collapse in Long Island Sound," said DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty. 
 
"Through our testing and analysis we will focus on stress factors, such as high water temperatures or chemical contaminants that may be contributing to the decline of the lobster population,” Esty said.  “We will also develop a screening - similar to an annual physical exam – to monitor the vital signs of lobster health over time."
 
Esty said the study will include the possible role played by pesticides in the mortality of lobsters, given attention this issue has received from lobstermen and others, the availability of more sophisticated and sensitive test technology, and the results of preliminary tests conducted by DEEP and UConn on lobsters taken from Long Island Sound this fall.
 
Lobster Landings
 
Lobster landings in Long Island Sound have declined from 3.7 million pounds in 1998 to just 142,000 pounds in 2011.  
 
Between 1984 and 1998 state lobster landings averaged 2.3 million pounds.  Lobster abundance and landings in the Sound have declined steadily, to present record low levels, since that time.
 
The central and western Sound, where landings have fallen by 99% since 1998, has seen the greatest decline in lobster abundance. 
 
2012 Legislation
 
During the 2012 session of the General Assembly legislation was introduced, and approved by the House of Representatives substitute House Bill 5260), to restrict the use of the pesticide methoprene, a larvicide used to combat mosquitoes, in coastal areas.  This legislation did not come to a vote in the state Senate.
 
Preliminary Study
 
Working with the University of Connecticut’s Veterinary Medical Diagnostics Laboratory, DEEP staff conducted tests on lobsters taken from the catch of a lobsterman in an area in the middle of the Sound, south of Norwalk, in September, 2011.  Nine weak lobsters and one that appeared healthy were taken to the lab for necropsies, which involved macrosopic and microscopic examination of tissues.  The collections and laboratory examinations were undertaken in response to fishermen reports of dead and weak lobsters in the western basin on the Sound last fall.
 
Although thermal stress associated with warm fall water temperatures in Long Island Sound is often viewed as the fundamental cause of lobster mortality,  DEEP staff took samples and arranged for tests in order to determine whether the mortalities could be attributed directly to excessive temperatures or potentially due to bacterial or parasitic infection capitalizing on the stressed condition of the lobsters.
 
The final necropsy results provided no evidence of a consistent pattern of tissue injury that would explain the mortalities.
 
DEEP Marine Fisheries staff also asked the UConn lab to test lobster tissues for the presence of pesticides, in order to take advantage of technological advances that now allow for detection of compounds in concentrations as low as 1.5 parts per billion, or one tenth the former detectable concentrations.
 
The lobster tissues (tomalley or liver and reproductive organs) were tested for the presence of three mosquito control agents:  malathion, methoprene, and resmethrin.  The tests showed some lobsters collected in the mid-Sound waters were exposed to resmethrin and at least one was exposed to methoprene.  Malathion was not present in any of the samples.
 
Given the preliminary nature of these tests and the small sample size, it is not yet clear what the presence of the pesticides in the lobster tissue means to the relative health of the lobster population. 
 
Background on the Pesticides
 
Resmethrin and malathion are used to control mosquitoes through fogging.  Very small amounts of these products were used in Connecticut for mosquito control in 2011.  In addition, malathion can be applied to landscapes as a pesticide. Resmethrin is also applied on interior sites as a general pesticide.  Methoprene is an insect growth regulator that prevents insect pupa from maturing into the adult stage.  It is used to control mosquito larvae in stagnant water and is also used in homes and on pets to control fleas.  The three pesticides decay rapidly in nature and are not expected to accumulate in the environment, which made their presence in lobster tissue an issue meriting further study
 
When it comes to human health and safety, the detection of pesticides in the organs from a small number of lobster samples does not warrant a change in consumption advisories now in place – which remind consumers that tomalley can be high in contaminants and should not be eaten. DEEP staff also notes that the pesticide compounds would tend to accumulate most in fatty tissues and not at the same levels in the lean meat of lobsters typically consumed by people. 
 
Next Steps
 
Ongoing lobster resource abundance and fishery monitoring will continue to be important components of the agency’s lobster population monitoring efforts along with the year-round Long Island Sound water temperature monitoring the agency has conducted for more than 20 years.  Moving forward, a comprehensive Sound-wide lobster health assessment program will be designed and implemented.   While plans for the study are still being finalized, DEEP expects to:
DEEP is consulting with outside experts in appropriate scientific fields to design the study and finalize the types of tests to conduct on the lobster samples.  Testing will include additional work to learn more about the presence of pesticides in lobster tissue and the possible impact it has on the health of this species.
 
“The study planned by DEEP will fill in major gaps in our understanding of the decline of the lobster population in Long Island Sound,” said Commissioner Esty.  “There has not been a thorough study conducted with the type of sophisticated laboratory tools now available to us.”
 
“Lobsters and lobster fishing in Long Island Sound are an important  part of the history and  cultural identity of shoreline communities in this  state,” Esty said.  “We look forward to launching this study and sharing the results with everyone who has an interest in this critical issue, so we can consider any steps that might reasonably help rejuvenate our lobster population.”
Pesticides found in LI Sound lobsters for the first time: more study planned
By Jan Ellen Spiegel, CT MIRROR
July 10, 2012

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has confirmed the presence of pesticides in Long Island Sound lobsters -- albeit a very small sample -- for the first time since the crustaceans began their precipitous decline in 1999.

The findings are a surprise to the scientific and environmental communities, which have generally thought that warming water in the Sound was causing the die-off. The commercial fishing industry, however, has long pointed its finger at pesticide runoff because the lobster decline coincided with the West Nile Virus outbreak and the use of mosquito sprays to combat it.

"I'm sure there are a couple of fishermen who'll say, 'I told you so,'" said David Simpson, the director of Marine Fisheries at DEEP. "I was pretty surprised; I was expecting no pesticide residue at all."

Simpson said even with the pesticide findings, Long Island Sound lobster posed no health risk. The pesticides were found in lobster organ tissue, not meat, and in any case the levels were below what is considered harmful. And with lobster hauls at historic lows, the likelihood of actually buying a Connecticut lobster -- while higher in this state -- is still low.

Lobster landings in Long Island Sound dropped from 3.7 million pounds in 1998 to 142,000 pounds last year. That period was also marked by warming water trends and a clear shift from colder water species to warmer water ones in the Sound.

Warm-water fish such as striped bass, summer flounder, scup and butterfish increased while cold-water species such as winter flounder, Atlantic herring, winter skate and lobster seemed to move north.

Testing consistently showed no presence of pesticides. Until now.

Advances in testing technology that could detect concentrations of substances one-tenth the size of that tested previously prompted DEEP's Marine Fisheries Division to partner with the University of Connecticut's Veterinary Medical Diagnostics Laboratory to try testing again last September.

Ten lobsters, nine weak ones and one healthy one, were tested for Malathion, methoprene and resmethrin. All three chemicals had been used to combat mosquitoes, though less so recently. The state's anti-mosquito efforts now center on nonchemical bacterial products that target mosquito larvae.

The results showed no Malathion in the lobsters. One tested positive for methoprene -- which is used to inhibit growth of insects, and there were three positive tests for resmethrin, including in the seemingly healthy lobster.

"Honesty, these results are completely puzzling to me," said Bradford Robinson, supervising environmental analyst in DEEP's pesticide management program. "It's a very head-scratching result that has us all kind of baffled.

"I don't think it's a smoking gun."

Neither does Simpson. "I haven't learned anything new that changes the opinion that stressful water temperature in the fall is the most likely cause of the mortality we've seen," he said, referring to the historical death of lobsters when water in the Sound is at its warmest.

Leah Schmalz of Save the Sound, a program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, said she was intrigued by the initial pesticide findings.

"The theory has been floating around for quite some time, but this is the first real proof," she said. "I was in the 'increased water temperature is the leading cause of stress and mortality' camp, and thought that perhaps other factors were compounding that impact. While it is entirely too early to say, this finding has me wondering if 'perhaps' we had it backwards."

Rep. Terry Backer, D-Stratford, said in a statement that the findings “reinforce our contention that the use of methoprene and other ultra toxic pesticides in our waters for the purposes of killing mosquito larva is dangerous and reckless.” He called for the re-introduction of legislation that failed this year that would have curtailed its use.

DEEP now plans more extensive testing beginning this summer. It will include testing for additional pesticides in a much larger sample of lobsters as well as testing of water temperature and contamination. Robinson said he would recommend looking for the widely used pyrethroid family and insecticides similar to Malathion.

He also recommends testing northern water lobsters from Maine for comparison.

He and Simpson point out there are many questions, including if the timing of last year's testing -- after Tropical Storm Irene resulted in large amounts of runoff into the Sound -- was a factor.

"Will we find it again?" Robinson asked. "Is this an anomaly?"

DEEP expects its first results this fall.

"This study may finally give the region something solid to work from," Schmalz said.


Individual beach closures/advisories multiplied by days?
Report ranks Connecticut low in beach quality
Amanda Cuda, CT POST
Updated 06:16 p.m., Wednesday, June 27, 2012

With temperatures expected to hit the 80s and 90s over the next few days, many people will likely head to the beach to cool off. But a report released by an environmental nonprofit agency showed that might be a risky proposition because the water quality at the state's beaches is among the nation's worst.

On Wednesday, the Natural Resources Defense Council released its 22nd annual "Testing the Waters" report which ranked 30 states with coastal or Great Lakes beaches on their beach water quality. Connecticut ranked 26th, with 11 percent of samples taken from its beaches in 2011 exceeding the state's daily maximum bacterial standard of 104 colonies per 100 milliliters.

The state also had a sharp increase in beach closure/advisory days between 2010 to 2011, from 143 to 538 days. The spike was due largely to last year's heavy rainfall, particularly from Tropical Storm Irene, which hit the region last August. The report showed that about 21 percent of the closings were pre-emptive, due predominantly to Irene, and 49 percent were pre-emptive because of heavy rainfall other than Irene. About 21 percent of closing/advisory days were because of elevated bacteria levels. The remaining 4 percent were due to reports of swimmers itch.

Coincidentally, the report came out the same day that the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection closed two state beaches and partially another to poor water quality. Silver Sands State Park in Milford and Rocky Neck State Park in Niantic and part of Sherwood Island State Park in Westport were closed until further notice.

"The heavy rain that we received over the weekend and the associated runoff resulted in poor water quality and the resultant closings," said DEEP spokesman Dwayne Gardner. "They have been re-sampled today (Wednesday) and we will have results tomorrow. We are hopeful we will be able to reopen some, if not all of the closed beaches."

Locally, experts and advocates said great strides have been taken to improve Connecticut's waters, but the Natural Resources Defense Council report shows more work needs to be done. The number of closings from 2011 is particularly shocking, said Leah Schmalz, director of legislative and legal affairs for Save the Sound, a program of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment.

"We it knew it was going to be bad because of Irene, but I have to say that we were stunned," she said. The spike in closings was "unfortunate for residents who rely on the beaches in summer that they were so often closed or under advisory," Schmalz added.

As for the water quality at the state's beaches, Schmalz said a number of factors can contribute to high bacterial levels, including stormwater runoff. Runoff occurs when rainwater or melted snow isn't absorbed into the ground and runs back into lakes, rivers and oceans. During its journey, the precipitation collects debris, chemicals and other materials from the surfaces it comes into contact with. By the time it ends up in Long Island Sound or similar bodies of water, "it becomes a toxic stew that can increase bacterial loads," Schmalz said.

Gardner also cited runoff as an issue and said the problem has been exacerbated in recent years by increasing development along the shore.

Another possible contributor to water pollution in the state is sewage overflow, Schmalz said. Gardner said the state has tried to address that issue by spending millions of dollars in recent years upgrading existing sewage treatment plants and building new ones.

Of Connecticut's beaches, areas with the worst water quality included Short Beach in Stratford, where 27 percent of samples taken in 2011 exceeded the state's maximum bacterial standards. Short Beach had seven closing or advisory days in 2011.

The findings came as a surprise to Stratford resident Michelle Maddan, who was at the beach with her 4-year-old son Mike on Wednesday. "The water generally seems pretty clean, but I guess you can't really see bacteria," Maddan said. She added that the report wasn't a huge concern, as she and her family don't typically swim in the water at Short Beach. "Sometimes we wade in it, but not to the point where it would be near our noses or mouths. I don't normally see people swimming in it."

Maureen Whelan, environmental health supervisor for the Town of Stratford, said the town is vigilant about water quality, closing whenever bacteria levels are too high. She said there are a number of reasons why pollution might spike. "Certainly, the number of people using the beach has increased, and the number of animals has increased, and that can all contribute to increased bacteria," Whelan said.

Of the state's beaches, Green Harbor Beach in New London had, at 52 percent, the highest percentage of samples with bacterial levels above the state standard. At 36, Green Harbor also had the highest number of closing or advisory days in the state.

Nationwide, there were 23,481 closing or advisory days at the beaches studied by the Natural Resources Defense Council in 2011. This was a 3 percent decrease from 2010. Water quality at America's beaches remained largely stable, with 8 percent of beach water samples nationwide violating public health standards in 2011 -- the same percentage as in 2010. Of the all the states, Louisiana had the worst beach quality with 29 percent of samples from its beaches exceeding daily maximum bacterial standards.


FROM THE COURANT'S SOURCE:  How many days, again?  I thought there were 365 days per year total!
State Beach Closures Jump; Water Quality Among Worst In U.S.
The Hartford Courant
By JOSH KOVNER, jkovner@courant.com
12:00 PM EDT, June 27, 2012

Beach closings in the state jumped four-fold last year and Connecticut ranked 26th of 30 states in overall swimming-water quality, according to an environmental group's latest annual report on the nation's beach water.

In response, state officials noted the threats to water quality posed by storm run-off, aging urban infrastructure and suburban sprawl. But they said Connecticut's beaches are cleaner overall than they were 10 years ago. They said last year was something of an aberration.

The Natural Resources Defense Council said in its report, released Wednesday morning, that the torrential rains and violent churnings of Tropical Storm Irene in August helped increase beach-closing days from 143 days in 2010 to 538 last year...full story here.



Really most sincerely dead
CT/Political Mirror
Jan Ellen Spiegel
March 7, 2012

If you were wondering how much more dead the dead Broadwater liquefied natural gas plant that was proposed for the middle of Long Island Sound back in 2004 could get, the answer is, it could get really, really dead.

Today it was announced that Broadwater Pipeline LLC had requested to withdraw from its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission certificates, which were granted in 2008. In 2009, the U.S. Commerce Department ruled against the project, effectively killing it.

A joint effort of Royal Dutch Shell and TransCanada, it would have put a huge LNG facility just inside the New York side of the Sound along with a nearly 22-mile-long underwater pipeline. Groups in both states, with then Attorney General Richard Blumenthal leading the legal effort, fought it for years, arguing it was dangerous and detrimental to the environment.

"Total withdrawal of Broadwater may seem anticlimactic, but to me, this is a powerful reminder of all we accomplished by working together on both sides of the Sound to protect this treasured resource we share," said Rep. Lonnie Reed, D-Branford, in a prepared statement. Arguably Reed's public career was ignited by her anti-Broadwater activism.

So for Broadwater, to paraphrase the immortal words of the munchkin coroner in "The Wizard of Oz": It's not only merely dead, it's really most sincerely dead.


US, Conn., NY announce LI Sound protection plan
Greenwich TIME
Updated 10:30 p.m., Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Environmental officials on Tuesday said new efforts are being made to reduce the amount of sewage and storm water being dumped into Long Island Sound and improve habitats in the waterway that's shared by Connecticut and New York.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, New York Department of Environmental Conservation and Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said in addition to continued progress in reducing nitrogen pollution and sewer and sanitary sewer overflows, programs are being established to use shellfish and seaweed to reduce nitrogen pollution.

New targets are being set to restore 200 acres of coastal habitat and reopen 80 miles of migratory areas to fish, according to the announcement made at the Indian Harbor Yacht Club in Greenwich.

State Sen. L. Scott Frantz, a Republican from Greenwich, said the goals represent a "spirit of cooperation" between environmentalists and businesses such as marinas, shipyards and others that rely on the Sound to make money.

"I don't see it as a big compromise," he said. "I see it as an education play so private industry can say what their needs are ... so environmentalists can know business a lot better and vice versa."

Citing recent progress in the Long Island Sound restoration, officials announced an "action agenda" with 54 steps to improve water quality and the shoreline.

Tuesday's event was also the last stop of a summer-long "schooner tour" of Connecticut, Westchester County and Long Island, by the environmental groups Save the Sound and the Long Island Sound Study's Citizens Advisory Committee. The Long Island Sound Study, sponsored by EPA and the states of Connecticut and New York, brings in business, environmental groups, agencies, community groups and universities to work together to protect the Sound.

The tour unveiled the Sound Vision Action Plan, the citizens advisory committee's plan to restore and protect the Sound.

Rebecca Kaplan, a Save the Sound spokeswoman, said the action agenda is consistent with what Save the Sound and CAC are proposing.

Officials also said they will commit to making Long Island Sound a "no discharge zone" for waste.

New York and federal environmental officials announced that beginning Thursday, boaters will be banned from discharging sewage into an additional 760 square miles on the New York state portion of the Sound. The ban has been in force on the Connecticut side since 2007.

The expanded zone includes New York harbors, bays and navigable tributaries of the Sound and part of the East River in New York City from the Hell Gate Bridge stretching east to Block Island.

Richard Kral, owner of Cos Cob-based Beacon Point Marine, welcomes any additional moves to improve water quality.

"It's important that we are all cognizant of releasing storm water and preventing contaminated water into the Sound," he said.

Kral's marina has a pump-out station that allows boaters to discharge sewage from their boats. The town has pump-out stations at the Grass Island and Cos Cob marinas.

Kral said his station is located at his fuel dock, enabling boaters to easily dispose of their sewage while fueling.

"It's convenient and you see a lot of boaters taking advantage of it," he said.

Nancy Seligson, a Mamaroneck, N.Y., councilwoman and co-chairwoman of the Long Island Sound Study Citizens Advisory Committee, said the new efforts address pollution, restoring habitat, research and other activities.

The Sound is "pretty clean in a general sense," she said, but it's plagued by storm water run-off and sewage treatment plant overflows during storms.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



New Long Island Sound plan advocates public involvement
Jan Ellen Spiegel, CT MIRROR
August 1, 2011

NEW HAVEN -- The last time a comprehensive conservation and management plan was created for Long Island Sound was 1994. The estuary was severely stressed from pollution, toxins, garbage, poorly regulated development and general neglect.

But the phrase "climate change" had yet to enter the public lexicon, the concept of sea level rise was barely a blip, lobsters were plentiful in advance of a calamitous die-off, the Sound had not yet become a target for energy pipelines and projects and the economy was poised to soar before its current plunge.

With today's release of Sound Vision-- the first comprehensive review and agenda since 1994--changes that have resulted from those factors are now being considered. But perhaps most important, the realization that public involvement may be key to the future of Long Island Sound has moved to the forefront of recommendations.

"We constantly tell [people] that Long Island Sound is not doing as great as it should be," said Leah Lopez Schmalz of Save the Sound, a program of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment.  "But what are they supposed to do about that?"

The report was nearly two years in the making by the citizens advisory committee of the Environmental Protection Agency-financed and coordinated Long Island Sound Study. It includes a two-year Citizen Action Agenda, two dozen generalized points distilled from many dozens of short, intermediate and long-range goals in the larger report--a 10-year blueprint, though with no specific policy or legislative recommendations yet.

The points are grouped in four categories roughly corresponding to cleaning the water, creating and preserving wildlife habitat, re-inventing shoreline communities and businesses related to the Sound, and securing funding for projects.

Underlying all of it is citizen engagement. The three dozen members of the committee--environmental advocacy, business, scientific and other interested organizations from Connecticut and New York -- discovered through focus groups that people's relationships with the Sound has eroded due to a literal inability to get to it and a failure to integrate programs related to it across broad spectrums of business, community and government.

"I've always known that public access wasn't the best. It's not California, you can't get to any beach you want to," Schmalz said. "But I didn't really realize how significant that issue is."

From the land, public access often doesn't exist where it can and isn't marked where it does. Urban access is even more problematic, especially for minority populations who often live near areas unfit for use.

From the water, silt buildup threatens to lock in small recreational harbors and marinas. Without dredging, there's potential for a negative economic impact, but the cost to dredge is often too high for cash-strapped communities or private organizations.

Schmalz and others said if people can't physically connect to the Sound, asking them to do things like not put pesticides or fertilizer on their lawn so they won't wash pollution into the Sound, simply won't resonate.

"Giving them those access opportunities and making them feel like they are part of the Sound community is really critical in getting them to do attitude and lifestyle changes," she said.

Joe McGee, vice president for public policies for the Business Council of Fairfield County, one of the organizations represented on the Sound Vision committee, said his group pushed for action after noticing that Long Island Sound had dropped off the list of priorities for businesses in his area.

He believes the reason is that same lack of public engagement and lays some of the blame on the very organizations that advocate for the Sound, citing competition among them for status related to their fundraising needs. But he, like others, said in the end, the groups came together in a unified, message that dovetails their goals which he thought would help bring businesses and the people to work in them to the state.

"Long Island Sound is such a treasure; it's a major piece of what makes Connecticut, Connecticut," he said. "To attract young people, the environmental stewardship component is very important. We have to show that this place isn't a junkyard.

"Part of the branding of the state of Connecticut has got to have the issue of environment and Long Island Sound."

Despite the emphasis on public involvement, many of the practical issues that bubbled up as the top recommendations in Sound Vision, and the ones that are likely to find their ways into legislative priorities, are the same ones that have been around for years--mainly related to cleaning the water, even though the Sound is considerably cleaner than it was when the 1994 management plan came out.

One of the biggest success stories is the money spent on upgrading sewage treatment plants. The report's authors traced the sources and uses of money over the years, discovering that the vast majority came from the state of Connecticut.

Even so, hypoxia, a lack of oxygen thought to be in part responsible for some fish and shellfish die-offs, remains a frustrating problem. It has somewhat stabilized--good news in the global scheme of things since hypoxia generally is increasing worldwide. But the more scientists study it, the more they've realized that just getting rid of nitrogen in sewage was not the solution.

"If there was one mistake made, it might have been that we portrayed early on if do this one thing it will get back to how it should be," said Prof. Carmela Cuomo, head of the marine biology department at the University of New Haven and co-chair of the Sound Study's scientific and technical advisory committee.

"It's not that simple."

Nitrogen she said may also be coming from trapped sediment in the western Sound or even the atmosphere and hypoxia may have other sources. Her group is completing updated scientific findings.

The Sound is clearly shifting as its waters warm--likely from climate change, Cuomo said - bringing with it fewer cold water inhabitants like lobsters and winter flounder and more warm water species like blue crab. But it is not dead, she said.

"It annoys me when it's portrayed that way," she said also underscoring its economic importance generating $9 billion annually for the region it borders. "But it cannot be an economic driver if we don't look at it in a sustainable way."

To make that happen, Schmalz suspects her group will focus on policies and legislation that continue funding for more sewage treatment upgrades, though the Malloy administration has already increased that dramatically over where it had been.

Another likely focus will be marine coastal spatial planning--literally mapping its layers of uses from the sea floor to the water surface to figure out where the intersecting interests are and how to potentially realign them to insure sustainability, the best economic model and environmental protection. Another may be a push for green infrastructure in cities and towns that feed into the Sound and its watershed. It could potentially insist on things like capturing and reusing storm runoff instead of letting it wash away. And there could be a push to enforce public access laws to begin the process of heightening public interest in the Sound.

For Grant Westerson, president of the Connecticut Marine Trades Association with about 300 members among the 550 recreational boating businesses and their 10,000 employees in Connecticut, who also helped write the report, that public access component is paramount for the survival of the waterfront businesses he represents

"Our concern has always been that part of the waterfront just doesn't disappear from public use. It's nice to have areas preserved, but you can take that to an extreme," he said adding that he thought the report fairly balanced those two points of view.

But realistically he said: "It's an exercises in wishes at this stage. The money isn't there to do anything. Trying to bring this to the public's attention is probably the biggest chance we have at success."


Aging and failing wastewater plants sending sewage into Sound
Frank Juliano, CT POST, Staff Writer
Published 06:26 p.m., Saturday, March 26, 2011

Beach closings and shellfishing bans could become as common as cookouts this summer, environmentalists warn, because of aging and failing sewage treatment plants.

Bridgeport, Shelton and Norwalk are under consent decrees or court orders to reduce the amount of raw or partially-treated sewage discharged into waterways -- known as bypass -- but repairs and upgrades will cost millions and take years to complete. Stamford, Danbury and Greenwich also have enforcement actions against them for befouling waterways with sewage. With repairs going slowly, this mean that in particularly rainy years, more raw or partially treated sewage is entering the Long Island Sound and other waterways.

"I do not subscribe to the theory that dumping sewage into our waters is an insignificant problem, and neither should residents,'' said Leah Schmalz, legal affairs director of Save the Sound."We cannot rely on the whims of Mother Nature -- either through dry weather or "scrubbing tides'' -- to treat our pollution problems.''

Since the watersheds of the state's rivers are webbed together, and ultimately all surface water reaches Long Island Sound, sewage spills anywhere in the state affect everybody, said Margaret Minor, director of the Rivers Alliance of Connecticut.

"It's a very serious problem,'' she said. "Sewage carries pathogens and it is not healthy stuff to be around.''

The bypasses also impact businesses, Schmalz said. Shellfish beds in the Sound off Bridgeport were closed on half of all the harvestable days last year because of pollution, she said.

She said one fifth-generation shell fisherman would like to expand his operation on the Sound floor off Bridgeport but can't. "Right now the beds get shut down as soon as Mother Nature sends a storm our way. The situation is so unpredictable that right now, it isn't a prudent investment.''

Bridgeport and Norwalk, along with New Haven and West Haven, have "combined'' plants, with rain and waste arriving through the same network of pipes to be treated. In periods of heavy rain, those plants are inundated with water and must bypass raw or partially-treated sewage into the Sound.

"If we got more than a half-inch of rain in 24 hours, you can pretty much bet that we bypassed,'' said Bill Robinson, the acting director of Bridgeport's Water Pollution Control Authority.

The city's two wastewater plants bypassed full treatment 43 times during 2010, according to data from the state Department of Environmental Protection. In every case, the event was caused by heavy rain flowing into the plants.

"We estimate that it will cost $2 billion to correct all of the CSO (Combined Sewer Outflow) systems in the state, and we get $200 million per year from the federal government to do not just this work but also denitrification and other projects to improve water quality in Long Island Sound. So it will take awhile to get all of it done," said Dennis Greci, chief of the DEP's municipal wastewater division.

PAYING FOR FIXES

The state provides financial help to cities improve their treatment systems through the Clean Water Fund administered by the DEP. The current program is a 50 percent grant and 50 percent in the form of a low-interest loan, leaving local taxpayers to cover the annual principal and interest. On a project that can cost $60 million or more, those costs are not insignificant.

Bridgeport officials submitted a plan last fall to upgrade its wastewater system. The plan, which will cost $400 million and take 20 years to complete, is being reviewed by state and federal officials, Robinson said. Even then, he said, Bridgeport will not have completely separate storm water and sewage systems.

The current system can hold back some effluent until there is capacity in the plants to treat it, but the upgrade involves building a large tunnel to divert the sewage until the rain subsides.

"There is actually very little separation of storm water and wastewater in our plan. Separation by itself will never achieve the goal we're seeking," Robinson said. "Our plan is to redirect the flows, not to separate them.''

Right now in periods of heavy rain, diluted sewage flows into Bridgeport Harbor and the Pequonnock River from submerged pipes underneath the city's two treatment plants. But no one knows how much, because the plants don't have the monitoring equipment to capture that data.

"It's one of the things we've agreed to do it our plan,'' Robinson said. "But it's not as simple as `it rained today so we're going to bypass'. Many things can affect it.''

`WHAT THE REALITIES ARE'

One of the main arguments in favor of bypassing sewage from full treatment is that the excess water entering the plant can destroy the "good bacteria'' that does much of the work of cleaning the water.

"The prevailing wisdom is that it is better to bypass than to damage the biological components,'' said Minor, of the Rivers Alliance. "The bacteria may be wiped out if the plant is overwhelmed with water and it may take weeks to recover. But what really needs to happen is that storm water needs to be diverted, not treated.''

Greci, of the DEP, said bypasses can occur even in communities with completely separate systems for rain water and sewage. Sometimes older cast-iron pipes may leak or break, and newer clay pipes require a lot of joints, which can fail over time. The leaking sewage may not be at the site of the failure, Greci said, "but it can show up down the street or around the corner.''

Milford, which has had separate sewer and storm water systems for many years and recently completed a $64 million upgrade to its two treatment plants, also had a sewage bypass last year. A contractor working on a water main accidentally broke the waste pipe, causing sewage to spill over the street.

Shelton separated its storm water and waste systems in the late 1980s, said Tom Sym, director of that city's Water Pollution Control Authority. Its overflow problems are caused by illegal sump pumps and drain pipes, along with vandalism, he said.

Shelton had raw sewage bubbling from manhole covers four times last year. Blockages in the system of pipes and pump stations contributed to the situation, Sym said.

Norwalk's system discharged raw sewage 28 times in 2010, mostly in periods of heavy rain. A ruptured main pipe and equipment failure contributed to three of the incidents.

When these types of failures in any system cause sewage discharges, the DEP looks to consent decrees.

"In these cases we tell towns, `OK, guys, you screwed up. Tell us how you plan to fix it, and then fix it,''' said Greci. "We prefer to get consent decrees, where we say, `We've got enough to whap you upside the head. Take care of this.' We establish realistic timelines and accomplishable goals in our consent orders. We know what the realities are.''

SOME STEPS UNDER WAY

However, officials admit that in reality even when municipalities commit to the decree to do the work, the budget crisis means it won't happen quickly.

But Minor said this kind of work can't wait. During the heavy rain March 6-7, the Danbury treatment plant bypassed diluted sewage into Lake Lillinonah, which borders New Milford, Newtown, Bridgewater and Southbury, and flows into the Housatonic River, she said.

"Many of the treatment plants are simply not built to handle the volume of water generated by a storm like that one,'' the environmentalist said. "It's time for the state to step up its investment.''

Some measures are being taken to improve the situation, short of the expensive plant overhauls. The Long Island Sound Study, a consortium of the New York and Connecticut environmental protection departments and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has pushed through legislative reforms in both states. Connecticut no longer permits boats with toilets to empty them into the Sound, and New York has established "No Discharge Zones'' in Mamaroneck, Hemstead Harbor, Oyster Bay, Huntington and Port Jefferson.

The two states are also cooperating on a project to remove illegal sewer connections that empty into the 13-mile long Byram River between Greenwich and Rye, N.Y., according to the LISS.


EPA extends no-discharge zone status to New York side of Long Island Sound
Greenwich TIME
Martin B. Cassidy, Staff Writer
Published 11:45 p.m., Sunday, April 24, 2011


STAMFORD -- Beginning this summer, boaters are expected to be barred from releasing on-board sewage anywhere in Long Island Sound, under federal regulations nearing final approval.

On April 11, the Environmental Protection Agency gave preliminary approval to the designation of the New York portion of Long Island Sound as a "no-discharge zone," pending determination that there are adequate facilities to pump the sewage from vessels, according to Mark Tedesco, director of the EPA's Long Island Sound Office based in Stamford.

A public hearing period to accept feedback on the ban will run through May 30.

Connecticut designated its portion of the Sound as a "no-discharge zone" in 2007 following similar measures taken in Rhode Island and Massachusetts to ban the release of treated and untreated sewage from vessels along the coastline.

The ban should enhance the impact of the Connecticut ban and head off any confusion about what the rules are, said Rick Huntley, supervising environmental analyst for the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection's Long Island Sound Programs.

On-board systems designed to kill sewage pathogens rarely include levels to reduce harmful nitrogen levels, and, over time, can become less effective at treating discharged waste, Huntley said.

"You can think you are doing the right thing and actually not be," Huntley said. "People do want to comply because there is an element of self interest in bringing it back to shore and having it pumped through a treatment plant, because they want to have clean water to boat in."

Chris Hynes, commodore of the Stamford Yacht Club, said the New York ban should help improve the Sound's overall health, which he said has gradually gotten better over the past two decades.

"Twenty years ago, you would sail through streaks of sludge that didn't look healthy, but I haven't seen anything like that in recent years," Hynes said.

Sewage dumped overboard by vessels contains pathogens that can contaminate large swaths of water, contaminating shellfish and sickening swimmers and marine life, according to the Connecticut DEP.

Boaters cited for dumping sewage in Connecticut waters can be fined $2,000 or more, Huntley said.

"It's not a huge input of nitrogen compared to other sources, but the focus in vessel sewage management is water contact and public health," Huntley said. "Several gallons of highly concentrated, untreated sewage can contaminate a very large area of water."

Tedesco said it is expected that the ratio of available New York pump-out facilities to Long Island boats, about one to every 179, will likely be found to be sufficient to support the ban.

In Connecticut, the state DEP launched a "Clean Marinas Program" in 2003 to expand the number of pump-out facilities, and all around efforts to make marinas more environmentally friendly.

Nitrogen-rich discharges from sewage plants and dispersed sources like agriculture, gardens, and stormwater runoff cause oxygen depletion in the Sound, a condition referred to as hypoxia, which makes water uninhabitable for marine life.

Connecticut and New York are about 70 percent toward a nitrogen limit goal set in 2001 of making an overall 58.5 percent reduction in the amount of nitrogen into the Sound by 2014, Tedesco said.

The program certified 29 marinas or other boating facilities as meeting the designation, which requires adequate pump-out stations or other methods to remove sewage, and methods to minimize debris such as sawdust, oil, or paint chips created by boat maintenance, Huntley said.

"When you think about it, a marina does everything an auto body shop and an auto mechanic do in the same location," Huntley said. "You want to as much as you can to contain the byproducts of boat maintenance and keep them out of the stormwater stream."





Boats run aground; death on another vessel

By Brian Hallenbeck, New London Day
Article published Sep 5, 2010

A sailboat owned by a Groton man ran aground Saturday afternoon during a race marred by a fatality aboard another boat.

The incidents occurred during a race sponsored by the Fishers Island Yacht Club.

In an unrelated incident, the Coast Guard rescued four people Saturday night from a boat, a 28-foot O'Day, that ran aground southwest of Ram Island at the mouth of the Mystic River.
Earlier, Greg Cypherd, chief of the Fishers Island Fire Department, confirmed that a fatality had occurred involving "someone that was sailing" - apparently during the Fishers Island race - but refused to provide any other information.

Police in Southold, Long Island, referred questions to New York State Police, who had provided no information late Saturday night.

During the race, the 29-foot vessel Showdown ran aground on South Dumpling Island, where it was to remain overnight, according to Lt.j.g. John Vasilarakis, command duty officer of Coast Guard Sector Long Island in New Haven.

None of the 10 crewmen aboard Showdown were harmed, Vasilarakis said Saturday night.

Matt Lettrich of Noank and Ted Parker of Mystic, who had set out to watch the race in Parker's 20-foot boat, spotted the Showdown and ended up ferrying the crippled vessel's crew back to Mystic. In photographs taken by Lettrich, the Showdown appears to be seriously damaged.

Calls placed to the Groton home of the Showdown's owner, Bijan Rasadi, went unanswered.

"We saw Showdown's spinnaker in a somewhat ugly configuration and I said, 'Gee, they're stuck, they're going to hit the rocks,' and they did," Lettrich said in a phone interview Saturday night. "We took (the crew) up the Mystic (River), but it was too rough to move the boat."

A commercial towing vessel arrived at the scene shortly after the grounding, as did a Coast Guard boat dispatched from New London, according to Vasilarakis.

The Coast Guard received a call about the grounding shortly after 2 p.m., Vasilarakis said. The wind at the time was 23 knots, gusting to 30 knots, he said.

Lettrich, who races regularly as a member of the Mystic River Mudheads Sailing Association, said Saturday's wind would have made for "an exciting race." He said the Mudheads ran the race, which the Fishers Island Yacht Club sponsored.

Because of the strong winds, the race, which was to have been sailed around Fishers Island, was limited to the waters between Fishers Island and Connecticut's coast, Lettrich said.

In the Mystic grounding, the Coast Guard dispatched two boats — a 41-footer and a 25-footer — as well as a helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, according to Pete Winters, a civilian search and rescue controller at Coast Guard Sector Long Island.

The helicopter turned around en route to the scene after the 25-foot boat was able to maneuver alongside the grounded boat and transfer those onboard, Winters said.  The boat's owner had indicated the boat's keel was about to break off, in which case those on board planned to jump off and swim to Ram Island, Winters said.

"I didn't want that to happen, so we sent everything we had," he said.

No other details were available late Saturday night, including the names on board the grounded boat. Winters said the boat was out of New London.



Where will the muck go?
John Burgeon, CT POST STAFF WRITER
Published: 11:42 p.m., Thursday, April 29, 2010

BRIDGEPORT -- The dredging of Bridgeport Harbor will mean that 1.78 million cubic yards of muck will have to be put someplace.

To put that in perspective, that's enough dredged material to cover 278 football fields, including the end zones, to a depth of three feet.

Officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say that the mud has varying degrees of toxicity, ranging from material that is not significantly different from any other Long Island Sound bottom mud, to material that contains cadmium, lead, zinc, copper and other metals.

About half of the material, all of which would be from the outer harbor, is sufficiently clean to be used for what's called open water displacement, which means that it can be deposited elsewhere in the Sound. It's also possible to use this material in what's called "upland displacement," which means that it can be used as capping material for landfills, fill for highway projects, and so forth.

About 1.1 million cubic yards of the material is considered contaminated by the Environment Protection Agency, and has to be placed in what's called a "confined aquatic disposal" cell, or CAD cell. These are holes dug in the Sound bottom, usually within a harbor, in which the contaminated material is deposited and then capped over with clean material.

"It is not Superfund material by any stretch of the imagination," said Michael Keegan, the project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers' New England District. He also notes that it's about the same as harbor bottom mud from just about any other New England port. Plus, since Bridgeport Harbor was last dredged in 1964, most of the silt at the bottom of the harbor had settled there after passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972 and the city's heavy industries gradually disappeared during that period.

Of the 1.1 million cubic yards of contaminated mud, 913,000 would go into a CAD cell that will be dug in Bridgeport Harbor, and 197,000 cubic yards would go into a CAD cell already in place in New Haven Harbor's Morris Cove.

That Morris Cove cell is actually a hole, or a "borrow pit," created by the removal of material mined for the construction of Interstate 95 back in the late 1950s.

The corps and state Department of Transportation officials said that at a public hearing in New Haven on April 8. Yet, residents weren't interested in listening to any explanations. They were there instead to protest using the Morris Cove pit as a place to put Bridgeport's mud.

"They were concerned about their neighborhood, which was understandable," said Charles Beck of the state Department of Transportation. "But they started shouting out questions, one after another. Mike Keegan of the Army Corps told them that he could answer their concerns, but they were only there to express their views."

Officials connected with the project hope that the Morris Cove residents, which one city official called the "Black Rock of New Haven," would take the time to become better-educated about dredging, CAD cells, and so forth.

"It goes into a hole, it's capped, it's confined and it's not coming out," Keegan said, noting that filling the Morris Cove CAD cell would not only save the state $8 million, but it would also restore the cove to its pre-1955 configuration, and it would create a new environment for shellfish.





Long Island Sound license plate program raided:  Conservationists: projects may end up underfunded

Greenwich TIME
By Ken Dixon, STAFF WRITER
Posted: 09/12/2009 08:20:06 PM EDT

HARTFORD -- Sixteen years after motorists began paying premiums for special "Preserve the Sound" license plates, lawmakers have disbanded the fund that has invested nearly $5 million in a variety of education and conservation projects.

The Long Island Sound Fund, a dedicated pot of revenue that could not be used for any other reason, will go out of business on October 1, the victim of "sweeps" by legislative leaders desperate for money to balance Connecticut's precarious budget.

On that date, money collected by the state Department of Motor Vehicles that had gone into the fund will revert instead to the General Fund.

Twenty special funds within the state Department of Environmental Protection will be closed out, from the Connecticut Lighthouse Preservation account to the pool of money used to clean up oil and hazardous waste spills.

In all, the move is expected to divert more than $70 million in the fiscal year that started July 1 and more than $73 million in the second year of the $37.6 billion biennial budget recently passed by majority Democrats in the General Assembly and tacitly approved by Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who allowed it to become law without her signature.

While state environmental officials and the governor say the changes will not undermine their commitment to Long Island Sound, state conservationists warn that it may mean less funding, in the long run, for Connecticut's most precious natural and recreational resource.

Conservationists differ on whether they'd recommend that motorists no longer buy the plates that seemed to galvanize a good percentage of state drivers back in 1993 when more than 21,000 were sold. The Sound plate continues to attract much more support than other marker plates available among the approximately 65 specialty designs offered by the DMV.

Rell said last week that funding for Long Island Sound programs will continue.

"The Sound is a unique and precious natural resource that is a part of what makes Connecticut such a special place to live," Rell said in a statement released by her Capitol office. "In the absence of the Long Island Sound Fund, we will seek out any and all opportunities to attract federal and other dollars to fund important projects related to the Sound while making the best use possible of the dollars we have."

Acting DEP Commissioner Amey Marella said that motorists should keep buying the Long Island Sound plates, which range in price from $50 for an off-the-shelf license, to $70 for a vanity plate and $100 for a special "LIS" designation followed by three numbers.

"While revenue from the sale of DEP's specialty license plates will now go to the General Fund instead of dedicated funds, the purchase of these plates will still help accomplish positive goals," Marella said last week. "The presence of Long Island Sound, wildlife and greenways themes on license plates helps build public awareness of these important resources. In addition, the agency will still benefit from the sale of the plates because important programs at DEP are supported by the state's General Fund."

Also terminated will be dedicated accounts funded by the DMV's sale of "Greenways" and "Wildlife Conservation" marker plates.

The 141,652 "Preserve the Sound" license plates have been sold at premium prices ranging from $50 to $100 depending on customized marker letters and numbers.

The $50 plate would result in a $35 donation to the fund. The $70 vanity plate would yield $55 for the fund; and $100 vanity plate with the low number would remit $85 to the fund.

Over the years, income from the "Preserve the Sound" marker plates has funded about 294 projects, with maximum grants of about $25,000 for projects up and down the coast and north and south along the watersheds of major rivers that feed the Sound.

The fund was created by the General Assembly in 1993 to support public outreach and education; increase access to the Sound by developing boardwalks, walkways, piers; acquiring more sites; protecting wildlife habitat; and supporting scientific research. In 2008, the last year with available details, the fund supported 14 projects totaling $311,000, according to the DEP.

Christopher Phelps, director of statewide initiatives for the nonprofit Environment Connecticut, said the Long Island Sound Fund was an unlikely victim of the budget process this year, since protection of the Sound is a bipartisan issue.

"The Long Island Sound license plate was created and people bought those license plates under the express understanding that extra money they were spending was going specifically to help protect and restore Long Island Sound," he said. "Now that money is just being swept right into the General Fund and the people who chose to paid that extra money for the specific purpose of protecting the Sound are not getting the money to go to that purpose."

Phelps said that over the decades, all the state's environmental protection needs have been chronically underfunded.

"But in Long Island Sound, being the signature natural resource for the state, we have made incredible progress at the state and national level, working in partnership effectively and with New York, cleaning it up over time and obviously, we're nowhere near done cleaning it up," he said. "One of the funding streams that has really helped make that happen has been things like the Long Island Sound license plate, knowing that the broad environmental protection funding in Connecticut has never really gotten where it should be."

State Rep. Terry Backer, D-Stratford, whose full-time job is director of the nonprofit Long Island Soundkeeper Fund, based in Norwalk, said last week he believes that without a dedicated fund, motorists will not be assured their contributions will get where they want them to go.

"My sense is they shouldn't buy the plates anymore," Backer said in a phone interview. "The main reason why people bought Long Island Sound plates is they cared about the Sound, they used it, or didn't use it, but they cared."

Over the years the Soundkeeper Fund, an educational and conservation organization, received a total of $50,000 in grants from the Long Island Sound Fund, the last of which was received 10 years ago for supporting a boat pump-out program to keep human waste from being dumped into Sound Waters.

"The neat thing was it wasn't using government resources to get things done," Backer said. "Someone decided this could be a good way to support small projects. Given that, now we're going to ask people to make a donation to the general fund. Everywhere else it's called taxes."

Sound investments

All told, the money collected from the "Preserve the Sound" license plate program went to 294 projects since the fund was created in 1993. Here's a list of some of them:



Fishy census in Long Island Sound - wonder about their "migraton" and definitions of residence, household, family, etc.

Trawling For Clues About The Health Of The Sound 
Fish surveys create data used by researchers, policymakers

DAY
By Judy Benson 
Published on 5/31/2009

Aboard the R/V John Dempsey - Captain Rodney Randall turned at the wheel to size up the first catch of this sunny May morning, hauled on board about an hour into what would be nearly a 12-hour workday on Long Island Sound.

State fisheries biologist Deb Pacileo had been shifting levers on the motorized winch to reel in the cone-shaped trawl net. Seasonal research assistants Dan Lee and Mike Trainor, encased in orange bib overalls and raincoats, rubber gloves, steel-toed boots and hard hats, manned the bow to grab yard after yard of net back onto the reel. A few seconds after the ghost of the sinewy mesh bag became visible just below the surface, the two swung it on board. Only its tip was full.


Lee and Trainor untied the net end to empty the contents onto a work table. In a blink, Pacileo, her colleague Kurt Gottschall, and another assistant, Tim Flanagan, joined them and, falling into the well-rehearsed choreography of cataloguing the catch, started sorting skate from squid, scup from butterfish. The captain looked on.

”I hope we get better fish than that today,” Randall said of the paltry haul from dragging the net across a 1.5-mile swath of sandy bottom near Fenwick Point and the mouth of the Connecticut River. “That's looking pretty slim.”

To the satisfaction of Randall and the crew of the 50-foot research vessel, each of the four successive trawls that day would be better than the last. By the time the John Dempsey's bow line was fastened to the dock at the state DEP Marine Headquarters in Old Lyme, the team had sorted, weighed, measured, recorded and thrown back well over 1,000 indicators of the condition of the estuary.

Among them were five varieties of herring, four kinds of flounder, two types of dogfish and two of sea robin, a few pinky-sized cod, a striped bass that flipped itself out of the holding bucket onto the deck and a lobster with a death grip on two butterfish, one in each claw.

Each specimen serves like a dot of color on a pointillist painting, contributing to an overall picture of the Sound habitat.

From this day's work of five trawls, in mud, sand and in-between “transitional” locations randomly selected from a 500-section grid map of the Sound, the team would collect less than 5 percent of the data for this year's project.

Changes in species populations tracked

The trawl survey, in its 26th year, samples 40 locations in the Sound over five months. Each site is sampled five times - once each in April, May, June, September and October. The resulting data is used by academic researchers, fisheries policymakers and others.

”There's a lot of species in Long Island Sound that most recreational fishermen don't even know are there, like fourspot flounder and mantis shrimp,” said Gottschall, seated on an overturned bucket as he recorded the vessel's position on a computer map. “We see them daily.”

Later in the trip, he held one of these little known but relatively common species, the windowpane flounder, up to the bright mid-morning sun.

”You can see through them,” he said, pointing out the outline of the flounder's internal organs visible through its speckled scales.

”It's a terrific program, providing a great data set on the amounts and types of fish and changes in populations,” said Mark Tedesco, director of the federal Environmental Protection Agency's Long Island Sound Office.

His is one of several governmental offices that rely on the state Department of Environmental Protection trawl survey data to gauge the condition of the Sound and assess any regulation changes that might be indicated. Funding comes from a combination of DEP budget funds, grants and federal motor boat fuel taxes.

The survey, Tedesco said, is unique both in its longevity - having 26 years' worth of data is extremely valuable in detecting trends - and its breadth. The trawls cover sites from the mouth of the Thames River in Groton to Greenwich Harbor, in both New York and Connecticut waters. This survey is the only source of such comprehensive baseline data on the Sound, Tedesco said, and many scientists depend on it.

One example of its value, he said, is in linking water conditions with animals. At each trawl site, the crew collects a water sample and measures the salinity, temperature, oxygen content and other characteristics.

”They've been able to show clearly that when the levels of dissolved oxygen were down, the fish numbers decreased across species,” Tedesco said. “That was enormously useful to us to understanding the benefits of improving dissolved oxygen levels in the Sound.”

That led to regulations and grant programs designed to reduce nitrogen levels from sewage outflows and other pollution sources, which in turn caused the depleted oxygen levels. Tedesco said the trawls gave scientists direct evidence of the relationship of oxygen levels to habitat.

The trawl data, he added, has also contributed to understanding how rising water temperatures in the Sound from climate change are altering the mix of fish species. Over time, the data has shown declines in cold water-loving species such as winter flounder, and increases in those that prefer warmer temperatures, such as summer flounder.

”This survey helps us understand how Long Island Sound is responding to larger forces,” Tedesco said.

Teri Frady, spokeswoman for the New England office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service, said the data is also used in combination with trawl surveys done by other states and by NOAA throughout the North Atlantic.

”The data are really most influential over time, to give you an idea of the changes,” she said.

Long-term increases and decreases in average sizes and numbers of particular species, she said, are essential to determining what actions are needed to rebuild fish stock, for example, to assess commercial fishing pressures and whether regulations are working, need to be stricter, or can be relaxed.

The Connecticut survey, she said, provides one of the most important data sets for the North Atlantic region, because it samples more sites more times over a longer time span than comparable surveys.

”Connecticut has one of the largest, and it's pretty comprehensive,” she said.

Lobster decline documented

The co-leaders of the trawl have been doing the survey work long enough - Pacileo for nine years and Gottschall for twice that - to see some trends developing. In Gottschall's first year, nearly 800 tautog, or blackfish - popular with recreational anglers - came up in the trawls.

”Now we barely get 200,” said Pacileo.

For tautog and a few other species, the survey gauges not only weight, length and numbers, but also the ages of the fish. The biologists extract the cheekbone of the tautog and view it back at the lab under a microscope to count growth rings, like the rings on a tree. For other species, the crew extracts the inner ear bones or takes scale scrapings to find growth rings.

Pacileo's first year coincided with a peak in the lobster population, just before the hard crash that started the following year and has accelerated. From the trawls that day two weeks ago, the crew counted, measured and weighed only two dozen or so lobsters. Several bore the telltale mottled shells from the disease that has contributed to the sharp decline of lobsters in the Sound.

”Winter flounder has also declined since I started,” she said as the vessel chugged to the second site. “We used to have tows in the spring where we'd fill that whole work table with winter flounder.”

The winter flounder catch for the 2007-08 trawl was 4,550 fish, compared to 10,288 in 1999. For the past several years, the most abundant species collected in the trawls have been scup, also called porgy, and butterfish, and this day's catch continued the trend. The fourth of the five trawls that day alone netted 764 butterfish, a bluish fish averaging 6 to 9 inches, and 480 scup, which are silvery with blue flecks and typically about 14 inches long.

Most of the catch is thrown back, except for a few dozen squid the crew packs on ice to donate to high school and college dissection classes, and the larger flounder and tautog whose ages will be calculated in the lab. Almost none of the smaller fish survive, but the most of the larger ones, like the striped bass and dogfish, do, Pacileo said.

”We try to get the bigger fish off the table first,” she said, as the crew began scrubbing the measuring table and buckets after the final and heaviest trawl. “They have the best chance of surviving.”   



Commerce decision called fatal to LNG tanker plans 
DAY
By Judy Benson 

Published on 4/13/2009

The federal Department of Commerce on Monday dealt a major defeat to Broadwater Energy's four-year-old plan to locate a liquefied natural gas terminal and processing plant in the middle of Long Island Sound, upholding New York state's earlier ruling disallowing the project because it would not comply with coastal projection laws.

"For all practical purposes, it's over. They're dead," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, one of the groups that led the grassroots opposition in both Connecticut and Long Island. 

Broadwater, a partnership of Shell and TransCanada, could still appeal the Commerce decision to federal court, but the attorneys general of both New York and Connecticut have vowed to fight it. In a statement, Broadwater said it is still reviewing the decision and has not yet decided whether it will appeal.

"We will review the specifics of the ruling before making a decision on next steps," John Hritcko, senior vice president and regional project director of Broadwater, said. "We believe the region will need additional natural gas to ensure a reliable supply of energy, help reduce price spikes and meet air quality and climate change goals."

The project was opposed by both governors, the congressional delegations of both states and many state legislators. Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal both issued statements praising the decision.

Broadwater had received approval in March 2008 from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the project, but still needed to obtain authorization from New York state that the LNG terminal would comply with the Coastal Zone Management Act, a federal law enforced by the states.

New York decided a month after the FERC decision that the project failed to meet six of 13 criteria for meeting the coastal zone act. In June, Broadwater appealed to the commerce department, which oversees enforcement of the law through one of its agencies, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The terminal, which would store and process liquefied natural gas imported from overseas for energy markets chiefly in New York, was to be located in New York jurisdictional waters of the Sound roughly halfway between Riverhead on Long Island and Branford. The terminal would be 1,215 feet long and 200 feet wide, and supply 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily through a subsea pipeline. 

In a news release announcing its ruling, Commerce said that "the project's adverse coastal impacts outweighed its national interest, in part because of its location in an undeveloped region of the Sound that would significantly impair its unique scenic and aesthetic character and would undermine decades of federal, state and local efforts to protect the region."


Broadwater backers just don't get it 
DAY editorial
Published on 3/27/2009

Broadwater Energy will not go quietly. That message came though loud and clear Thursday when representatives of the TransCanada and Shell Gas & Power partnership paid a visit to the Editorial Board.

It had been nearly a year since we had heard from the Broadwater folks about their desire to moor a large floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Long Island Sound. It was back on April 10, 2008, that New York Secretary of State Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez announced that the project could not proceed because it did not meet the requirements of the Coastal Management Act.

Interpretation of the federal act, which dates to 1972, rests with the states and, in the case of Broadwater, New York. The state concluded the proposed 1,215-foot long, 200-foot wide, 180-foot high floating terminal fell short of the acts' requirements on several points. Those include protecting scenic resources and the Sound's ecosystem, promoting sustainable use of marine resources and not interfering with public access and recreational use of the Sound.

Broadwater appealed that ruling to the U.S. Department of Commerce, which has the authority to reverse the New York decision if it feels the state did not correctly interpret the Coastal Management Act. The Commerce decision is due by mid-April.

While this newspaper, long on record as opposing the Broadwater project, considered the New York decision well grounded, project officials displayed a disconcerting air of confidence during their visit. Jimmy Culp, business development manager for Shell Gas & Power, said that on the regulatory issues he feels his company has a winning hand.

The fact that Broadwater is making a tour of editorial boards in the region suggests that they expect to stick around. “A lot of folks thought we had gone away, but we've been busy the past year,” said Mr. Culp.

The arguments delivered by the Broadwater officials were largely unchanged, and they're not without merit. Connecticut and neighboring states have built an electric system heavily dependent on natural gas, yet find themselves at the end of gas supply lines. This makes the region particularly vulnerable to gas price spikes and can hinder its ability to compete for business with other states that offer energy more cheaply. LNG arriving through a Broadwater terminal would increase gas supply and help control prices, goes their argument.

And the alternatives for a terminal offered by New York state in rejecting the Sound location don't make a lot of sense, said the Broadwater executives. On that issue, it is hard to disagree. One alternative site lies 13 miles south of Long Beach on the Atlantic Ocean side of Long Island, the second is 22 miles south of the Fire Island Inlet. Both would make the terminal more vulnerable to ocean storms and cause their own environmental problems in connecting pipelines.

But these arguments miss the broader point. The vast majority of residents living in the region, and most of their elected officials, consider the permanent anchoring of an industrial facility in the middle of the Sound to be an abomination. They are aware of the region's electric supply challenges but don't consider Broadwater the solution.

Those of us who oppose this project must stay on guard, because Broadwater has made too great an investment to give up now. The ending to this story has yet to be written.  


From our "Long Island Sound" page...
High Court Turns Down Appeal For L.I. Sound Pipeline
NYTIMES
Associated Press
12:13 PM EST, December 1, 2008
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a pipeline company over denial of environmental permits for a proposed natural gas pipeline through Long Island Sound.

Connecticut regulators refused to issue permits for the 50-mile project to Islander East Co., saying it would damage water quality, natural resources and prime shellfish beds.

Islander East needs Connecticut water-quality permits to secure federal approvals for the pipeline, which would link the state to the eastern end of Long Island in New York.

Long Island's Suffolk County called the project a "cost-effective and energy-efficient way to deliver much needed natural gas to the Connecticut, Long Island and New York City markets."

The case is Islander East Pipeline Co. v. McCarthy, 08-367.



Broadwater To Appeal Setback
Hartford Courant
Associated Press
April 29, 2008

Elected officials and environmentalists shrugged off an announcement Monday by Broadwater Energy that it would appeal to the U.S. commerce secretary in its bid to build the world's first floating liquefied natural gas terminal, in Long Island Sound.

Broadwater's decision comes after Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican, and New York's David Paterson, a Democrat, announced opposition to the $700 million terminal. Broadwater is a consortium of Shell Oil and TransCanada Pipelines Ltd.

The appeal could take up to a year, and even after that, court fights are still possible.

"They can appeal all they want. We are very confident they are going to lose," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

The terminal would be about the size of the Queen Mary 2 — the length of four football fields and about 8 stories high. It would be 9 miles off the north shore of Long Island and 11 miles from the Connecticut coast.

Proponents say that it could help ease rising energy costs on Long Island and elsewhere.

"We firmly believe that Broadwater is the best way to deliver a new supply of clean, affordable and reliable natural gas to the region without the onshore and near-shore environmental and safety impacts associated with other alternatives," said John Hritcko, Broadwater's senior vice president.

Politicians and environmentalists had celebrated Paterson's opposition as a fatal blow, although they were aware that Broadwater had more options.

"The point was that we spent years trying to preserve that area and we just felt that it was too intrusive," Paterson said Monday. "A liquefied natural gas facility somewhere near a refinery would be better than actually in the ocean."

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a longtime opponent, said that time is not on the side of the Bush administration.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., expressed confidence that the plan ultimately would be rejected.



Rell, Others Laud N.Y.'s Rejection Of Broadwater Gas Plant
By DAVID FUNKHOUSER | Courant Staff Writer
April 11, 2008

Opponents cheered as New York Gov. David Paterson declared Thursday, "The fact is, Broadwater is behind us."

But the high-stakes battle over Broadwater Energy's plan to put a massive, floating, natural-gas plant in Long Island Sound isn't over yet. The developers said New York's rejection of their plan Thursday was just one step in the approval process, not the last one, and opponents expect an appeal.

Still, at press conferences on both sides of the Sound, officials, citizens and environmental groups opposed to the plant celebrated their first major victory — New York's decision that the project was inconsistent with its coastal management plan.

Although Connecticut had no official standing in the decision, many in the state had been eagerly awaiting New York's decision.

"We did it! We did it! We did it!" Gov. M. Jodi Rell exclaimed at a press conference on Silver Sands Beach in Milford. "This is exactly the news we hoped to hear today: that New York's Department of State has recognized the peril that the Broadwater project represents."

New York's action leaves the next legal step up to Broadwater, and opponents concede there could be a long battle ahead.

"This does not necessarily change the game plan," said John Hritcko, senior vice president and regional project director for Broadwater Energy, a consortium of Shell Oil and TransCanada Pipeline. "Today's decision is part of a regulatory review process, not the end of one. We — and thousands of others in this region — believe that this project is the best alternative to provide the additional natural gas supply that will be required."

Hritcko said the company has "a number of options going forward" and would review the decision in detail before deciding on its next move.

Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez, New York's secretary of state, called the rejection of Broadwater's application a "complex and difficult decision," saying the project did not mesh with several aspects of the state's coastal policies.

Her decision, backed up by Paterson, puts a serious roadblock in Broadwater's path.

"We are disappointed and concerned with the [New York] decision," Hritcko said. "We specifically designed this project to be consistent with the state's coastal management policies and offered a number of additional commitments that would further enhance the state's coastal resources."

"This fight is far from over," said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a longtime opponent of the project. Under federal energy law, he said, the company has 30 days to appeal the decision to the U.S. secretary of commerce, who can overrule state decisions.

"They have a right to go to the secretary … and say that national energy priorities should override the coastal zone management determination made here by the governor," Blumenthal said.

The company also could appeal through state agencies and courts, but Blumenthal called that approach "exceedingly unlikely" because of the time involved.

Even if Cortes-Vazquez's rejection of the project were to be overturned, two other New York agencies would still have to approve Broadwater.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which has raised objections to the project, would have to issue a permit, and the New York State Office of General Services would have to grant the company an easement to use public land.

Broadwater, a 1,200 foot long liquefied natural gas processing plant, would be permanently moored to a tower in the middle of the Sound, about 10.5 miles off Branford.

Opponents have argued that the two states and the federal government have invested tens of millions of dollars over the past 20 years to improve the environment of the Sound.

They say that allowing an industrial use like Broadwater in the middle of public waters would threaten that progress.

"Gov. Paterson's swift and immediate decision to reject this ill-advised proposal should be applauded and celebrated with a ticker tape parade," said U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District. "For years, Connecticut and New York residents have faced the threat of a quarter-mile-long barge in the middle of the revitalized Long Island Sound that would serve only the interests of multinational oil conglomerates."


Cortes-Vazquez and Paterson both cited the need to find alternative ways to meet the demand for energy.

"The thorough analysis in today's ruling makes clear the importance of protecting the character of Long Island Sound as it points the way to sensible alternatives for meeting New York's long-term energy needs," said Cortes-Vazquez, whose department is charged under federal law with making sure projects meet the state's goals for both developing and protecting the coast.

Paterson stressed the Sound's environmental value.

"One of my goals … is to protect Long Island Sound, by preserving it as a valuable estuary, an economic engine for the region, and a key component to making Long Island's quality of life one of the best in the country," Paterson said. "Broadwater does not pass that test. Shame on us if we can't develop a responsible energy policy without sacrificing one of our greatest natural and economic resources."

Paterson outlined a series of steps for addressing energy needs, including an update of the state's energy plan; a 10-year, $1 billion efficiency initiative by the Long Island Power Authority to reduce demand; doubling the New York Power Authority's budget for conservation; and exploring other proposals to increase the supply of natural gas.

He also said the Long Island Power Authority would be seeking proposals for a major solar power project.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted unanimously last month to approve Broadwater. In a 2,200-page environmental impact statement, the agency concluded that the project would not have major adverse impacts, but also imposed 80 conditions intended to minimize the effect on the Sound.

The decision by Cortes-Vazquez declares that Broadwater violates six of 13 policies that are part of the state's coastal management plan, including those to:

ΔFoster a pattern of development in the Long Island Sound coastal area that enhances community character, preserves open space, makes efficient use of infrastructure, makes beneficial use of a coastal location and minimizes adverse effects of development.

ΔEnhance visual quality and protect scenic resources throughout Long Island Sound.

ΔProtect and restore the quality and function of the Long Island Sound ecosystem.

ΔProvide for public access to, and recreational use of, coastal waters, public lands and public resources of the Long Island Sound coastal area.

•Protect Long Island Sound's water-dependent uses and promote siting of new water-dependent uses in suitable locations.

•Promote sustainable use of living marine resources in Long Island Sound.

She also suggested two alternative sites for the facility that would be consistent with the coastal plan, both outside New York boundaries.

One would be 13 miles offshore south of Long Beach, N.Y., and a second 22 miles south of Fire Island Inlet.



New York Denies Broadwater's Request 
DAY
By Judy Benson    
Published on 4/10/2008 

New York Gov. David Paterson will announce at a news conference on Long Island today that the state is rejecting Broadwater Energy's request for Coastal Consistency Certification for its proposed liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound.

Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz said she was notified by her counterpart in New York, Lorraine Cortés-Vásquez, about the decision late Wednesday evening.

"New York and Connecticut stand united in their opposition to Broadwater," Bysiewicz said. "This is a major victory in the fight to prevent the desecration and industrialization of Long Island Sound."

Opponents of the project hailed the decision as the first victory in their fight after a series of actions favoring the project. Last month, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unanimously approved a permit for Broadwater.

"There were some dark moments over the last three years when we felt we were being ignored," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "This is an amazing victory to know that the public's voice can be heard over the corporations."

Broadwater, a partnership of Shell Oil and TransCanada Pipeline, had not yet issued a comment on the New York decision. The company can appeal the New York decision to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, but must prove that its project would be in the national interest and that there are no other alternatives, Esposito said. She is confident that New York state will prevail on both arguments.

"New York has never lost a coastal consistency ruling," she said.

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell will join other Connecticut officials at a news conference in Milford this afternoon to applaud New York's decision. The terminal was proposed for New York waters 10 miles south of Branford.


New York Rejects Broadwater Gas Plant For Sound
By DAVID FUNKHOUSER | Courant Staff Writer
April 10, 2008

New York state has decided to reject Broadwater Energy's proposal to moor a liquefied natural gas plant in the middle of Long Island Sound, Connecticut officials said Wednesday.

The long-awaited decision sets the stage for an almost certain federal court battle.

New York Gov. David Paterson and Secretary of State Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez planned to formally announce the decision today at a 2 p.m. news conference at Long Island's Sunken Meadow State Park.

Broadwater officials faulted New York's assessment of the project, but opponents on both sides of the Sound cheered the decision.

"I think this is a major victory," said Connecticut Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, who was notified of the decision by Cortés-Vázquez around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. "I'm absolutely thrilled that she has done the right thing and that New York is united with Connecticut in protecting the Sound."

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal called it a victory "for ourselves and for future generations."

"This decision is crucially important because it will send a message that Long Island Sound is off limits," he said.

Broadwater Energy, a consortium of Shell Oil Co. and TransCanada Corp., wants to hitch the 1,200-foot-long, 200-foot-wide vessel to a mooring 9 miles off Long Island and about 10.5 miles off Branford. Huge tankers would sail into the Sound two or three times a week to deliver overseas supplies of liquefied natural gas to the plant. The super-cooled LNG would be re-gassified and sent through a new 22-mile-long pipeline that would connect to the existing Iroquois natural gas pipeline.

The New York decision is essentially a determination that Broadwater is unsuitable for the Sound.

Because the project would sit in New York waters, Connecticut agencies have had no direct authority over it. But officials from Gov. M. Jodi Rell on down wrote to Paterson urging him to reject Broadwater. All of the Connecticut congressional delegation and much of New York's opposed the plant.

Cortés-Vázquez had faced a Friday deadline to rule on whether Broadwater fits in with her state's policies on the use and protection of coastal areas.

She found the project inconsistent with six of 13 criteria under New York's coastal zone management plan, Bysiewicz said.

Broadwater officials faulted Cortés-Vázquez's assessment.

"We believe that Broadwater is consistent with the coastal zone management plan of the state," Broadwater executive John Hritcko Jr. said.

He added through a spokeswoman: "Depending upon the nature of the determination, Broadwater has a number of options and we will review the decision and findings, then evaluate our next steps."

Cortés-Vázquez told Bysiewicz that any appeal of her decision would go first to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. However, an appeal could also go to the U.S. secretary of commerce.

The decision is the first in a series of approvals Broadwater needed from state agencies in New York. Unless it is overturned in court, the decision would make moot reviews by New York environmental officials and by an agency that would have to grant Broadwater an easement over a portion of the Sound.

"New York heard the voice of the people, weighed the evidence, and did what was right — they chose to protect Long Island Sound," said Leah Schmalz, director of legislative affairs for Save the Sound. "Their choice represents the will of thousands of people, a great coalition of environmental and citizen's groups, as well as the highest levels of Connecticut government. It is a voice speaking boldly and without regret: people matter more than profits."

Opponents argue that Broadwater would hurt the environment, interfere with other uses in the Sound and pose a security threat. They say the region and the federal government have spent millions to clean up the Sound and should not allow it to become home to such an industrial facility.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last month declared after two years of study that the facility would not pose a serious threat to the environment and could be operated safely. The agency imposed a long list of conditions intended to minimize the project's environmental impact and ensure safety.

Connecticut lawmakers in Congress this week backed a new proposal that would strip the agency of its power to decide on such projects, leaving them up to individual states.

Proponents say the region needs new supplies of energy and that Broadwater, in supplying a billion cubic feet a day of natural gas, would help keep down the price of electricity in New York and Connecticut. They say LNG has a proven safety record and that natural gas is a cleaner fuel for power plants than oil or coal.

But opponents say there are other options, including several other proposed pipeline and LNG terminal projects along the Atlantic seaboard.

"It's clear that Broadwater simply was not the answer to our energy question and would exact an unacceptable toll on our environment," Schmalz said. "We can and should encourage a considered and thoughtful discussion about how best to meet regional energy needs."


LNG Terminal Gets Federal Approval; FERC's Nod For L.I. Sound Plan Draws Immediate Condemnation 
DAY
By Judy Benson    
Published on 3/21/2008 

 
Broadwater Energy's plan to park a first-of-its-kind floating natural-gas terminal in Long Island Sound crossed an important threshold Thursday, but the contentious three-year battle over the proposal is far from over.

The five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted unanimously to approve the LNG plant, triggering a swift and predictable response from opponents on both sides of the Sound and signaling the start of a long legal fight between Connecticut and the federal agency.

The project still needs several key permits and approvals from New York state, because the terminal would be located in New York waters of the Sound, and from the Army Corps of Engineers.

But the FERC approval is a crucial first step.

“We will fight as long and as hard as necessary, even to the Supreme Court if necessary,” said Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who was flanked by Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, the co-chairmen of the state legislature's Environment Committee and representatives of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment during a news conference after the FERC vote was announced.

Blumenthal said he will “immediately” request that FERC conduct a new hearing on the project, but does not expect the agency will reverse its decision because of what he contends is the Bush administration's “lawless love for energy projects at the expense of safety, the environment and quality of life.”

“Next stop: the D.C. Court of Appeals,” he announced in a news release.

The basis of his appeal, Blumenthal said, will be his contention that in approving Broadwater, FERC failed to carry out its responsibility to seriously consider viable alternatives to increase the region's natural-gas supply that would do less environmental damage and be less dangerous to the public. He said he hopes New York agencies will stop the project and that the two states will be allies in opposing it. But he said he would also take New York state to court if it gives Broadwater the go-ahead.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell issued a strong statement decrying the FERC decision, as did the state's entire congressional delegation. The Long Island-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment called the FERC vote “disdainful to public interests and a disgrace to democracy.” It called on newly sworn-in New York Gov. David Paterson to “say no to Broadwater.”

Blumenthal said the longer the project can be delayed, the better, because that will give other projects that will increase the region's natural-gas supplies time to come on line, cutting into potential markets for Broadwater. As an estuary, he said, the Sound is more environmentally sensitive than other offshore locations proposed by alternative projects.

•••••

But Broadwater is unlikely to give up easily. It is a joint venture of TransCanada and Shell Oil, part of the huge, multinational energy firm Royal Dutch/Shell Group, which has annual revenues of $355.8 billion — nearly 20 times Connecticut's annual budget of about $18 billion.

In a statement, John Hritcko, senior vice president of Broadwater, hailed the FERC decision as one that will help bring “new clean, reliable, affordable natural gas supply to a region where prices are volatile and climbing.” He added that increased use of natural gas in the region would help improve air quality because it is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel, and that the region is at a disadvantage because it is at the end of the pipeline delivery system that carries gas from wells in the West and Canada.

“Without new energy supply,” Hritcko said, “energy consumers will continue to face volatile and increasing natural-gas prices in New York and Connecticut.”

The terminal, which would be 1,215 feet long, 200 feet wide and rise 180 feet above the water line, would be anchored about nine miles north of Riverhead, L.I., and 10 miles south of Branford. It would supply about 1 billion cubic feet of gas daily to New York City, Long Island and Connecticut markets.

The gas would be from overseas wells in compressed, super-chilled liquid form to the terminal on tankers that would enter Long Island Sound through The Race and offload at the terminal about two to three times per week. The Coast Guard has determined that both the terminal and the tankers as they traverse the Sound must be surrounded by a safety and security zone enforced with patrol boats to prohibit all other vessels from coming too close.

The approval by the five FERC commissioners, which came with 80 conditions they said would help protect the environment and enhance the project's safety, had been expected for weeks. In January, FERC staff released an Environmental Impact Statement strongly favoring approval and concluding that there would be limited environmental impacts from the project that would be less than any alternatives that could bring in a comparable amount of natural gas — a contention opponents dispute.

FERC Chairman Joseph Kelliher, in a statement before the vote, said FERC “is first and foremost a safety agency, but we do not balance safety against need. But we are not unmindful of the need for additional natural gas supplies in the Northeast.”

Kelliher also took issue with the strong anti-Broadwater rhetoric from Blumenthal, Rell and other officials.

“I respect public opinion, and we have gone to great lengths to respond to the legitimate concerns raised by the public,” he said. “Doing so has been made more difficult by the attitude of some public officials in the region, who have chosen to exploit and inflame public fears. These public officials have done a great disservice to the citizens of the region, which is regrettable.”

In response to objections that allowing Broadwater would mean the industrialization of the Sound, FERC commissioners and FERC staff said the Sound is already a multi-use waterway, with considerable commercial vessel traffic and two small oil platforms off Long Island.

“This is a market-driven project,” said Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff, adding that the $700 million cost would be financed by “independent capital, not anybody's rate base.”

“It's a floating facility,” he said. “If there's no longer any need, it would go away. I recognize our decision will upset the citizens and public officials and groups opposed to the project. But our decision is based on the law and the facts.”


Feds Approve Broadwater Energy
By DAVID FUNKHOUSER And JESSE A. HAMILTON | Courant Staff Writers
12:40 PM EDT, March 20, 2008

Federal energy regulators today approved Broadwater Energy's application to moor a natural gas plant in the middle of Long Island Sound, a key turning point in more than three years of study and argument over the controversial project.

At a meeting in Washington, commission Chairman Joseph T. Kelliher said the project proposal meets federal safety and environmental standards and noted the commission imposed some 80 conditions intended to further mitigate its impact.

Kelliher also criticized unnamed "public officials" who he said "have done a disservice to the citizens in the region" by "exploiting fears" of a threat to public safety and environmental damage. Pointing to the thousands of pages of documents prepared in the course of the project review, he said charges by local officials and others that the FERC report is inadequate are false.

Broadwater Energy, a company formed by Shell Oil and TransCanada Pipeline, is proposing to build a 1,200-foot-long vessel to process liquefied natural gas and pipe it to New York and Connecticut. The facility would be moored to a fixed tower in the middle of the Sound, about nine miles from Long Island and 10.5 miles from Branford.

The federal commission, however, is not the only agency with jurisdiction over Broadwater. Since the facility would be in New York waters, several state agencies have to approve the project.

Up next: The New York Department of State is due to decide by April 11 whether Broadwater is consistent with policies designed to control development and protect coastal resources.

The proposed facility would be fed by two or three huge tankers a week, loaded with supercooled LNG from abroad. The floating terminal, about four football fields long, would heat the LNG back to a gaseous state and send a billion cubic feet per day through a 22-mile pipeline running along the floor of the Sound. That's enough to heat about 4 million homes.

The project was first proposed in 2004; the company had hoped to have the facility in operation by late 2010.

FERC staff issued a final environmental impact statement on it in January -- a 2,200-page document that concludes the project will not have a significant impact on the environment.

Opponents say the report relies on outdated and incomplete information, and they take issue with the report's assumptions about what constitutes a significant impact. Broadwater would have an effect on fish stocks, water temperature and the sea bed. Opponents also say the project would be pose safety risks from leaks or explosions and offer an inviting target for terrorists. The U.S. Coast Guard concluded Broadwater could be safely operated and would not pose a significant risk from terrorism – if adequate resources are applied. The facility and the tankers supplying it would be encircled with security zones, presumably enforced by Coast Guard personnel.

A General Accounting Office report last year questioned whether the Coast Guard would have adequate ships and personnel to handle the job.


U.S. May Act Soon On Broadwater
By DAVID FUNKHOUSER | Courant Staff Writer
March 15, 2008

The federal agency charged with reviewing the Broadwater natural gas project in Long Island Sound could make its long-awaited final decision Thursday in Washington.

The controversial project is on the agenda of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the panel will hear a presentation from its staff, said spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen.

Even if approved, the project still needs approvals from three New York State agencies to go forward. Opponents in Connecticut, including Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, have vowed to take the matter to court if Broadwater wins approval from federal and New York state regulators.

The soon-to-be governor of New York, David Paterson, said he was considering postponing a decision on the project. The New York Department of State is due to rule by April 11 whether the project meets that state's standards for the use of coastal resources.

Paterson takes over Monday from Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who will resign from office that day following revelations of his use of a high-priced prostitution service.

"I do not know what [Spitzer's] decision would have been," Paterson said at a press conference Thursday. "I might actually ask for a little more time because it's coming to that point and I really haven't been able to look at it enough to render a decision."

Connecticut leaders this week reiterated their fervent opposition. A joint venture of Shell Oil and TransCanada Pipeline, the project would moor a 1,200-foot-long barge in the middle of the Sound to process liquefied natural gas shipped across the Atlantic and pipe it to New York and Connecticut.

FERC meets at 10 a.m. Thursday, and the meeting will be webcast live (go to www.ferc.gov, the calendar of events, to find the meeting).

The commission can vote the project up or down, or seek more information, or refer the issue to an administrative law judge if it feels there are legal issues to be resolved, Young-Allen said.



In retrospect, check out this link and try to figure out what Spitzer might have been doing to delay the matter...
Paterson Hints At Delay In LNG Decision 
DAY
By Frank Eltman , Associated Press Writer    
Published on 3/14/2008 
          
Garden City, N.Y. — Lt. Gov. David Paterson said Thursday he may seek another delay in deciding whether the state will approve a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound.

Speaking to reporters in Albany during his first briefing since the resignation of Gov. Eliot Spitzer, Paterson noted that Spitzer had already delayed a decision on the controversial project until April.

“I do not know what his decision would have been,” Paterson said. “I might actually ask for a little more time because it's coming to that point and I really haven't been able to look at it enough to render a decision.” The lieutenant governor is scheduled to be sworn in as Spitzer's replacement on Monday after the governor resigned this week in a call girl-sex scandal.

Broadwater Energy, a consortium of Shell Oil and TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., wants to build a $700 million terminal that would be 1,200 feet long and 82 feet high. It would be located 9 miles from Long Island and 10 miles from the Connecticut shoreline. Plans call for construction to begin in October 2009 and for the terminal to be operating by December 2010.

Environmentalists and most elected officials oppose the project, saying that it could imperil the fragile ecosystem in the sound and that a terrorist attack on the facility could result in catastrophic results.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's company, Giuliani Partners, did a safety and security assessment in 2006 and said the proposed terminal would be “as safe a facility in design as you could possibly have.”

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission must issue final approval on the proposal, but New York and Connecticut also have a say in whether it should proceed. Spitzer has said he was waiting until after the Department of State completed a review before announcing his position.

A spokesman for Broadwater did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Paterson's remarks.

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell and all four of the states' U.S. senators are against the LNG terminal.

A task force formed by Rell is sending Paterson a copy of a new report that criticizes FERC's review of Broadwater as inadequate and inaccurate and suggests there are viable alternatives to provide New York with the natural gas it needs.

“This report simply ought to blow them out of the water,” Rell said in Hartford.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said he was optimistic that Paterson will be persuaded by the Connecticut report, released Wednesday. He said Paterson has a “good environmental record” and has been receptive to the kinds of arguments Connecticut is making against Broadwater.

“I'm very hopeful,” he said.



Sen. Williams Says Spitzer Scandal Could Affect Long Island Sound Natural-Gas Terminal Project 

DAY
By Associated Press    
Published on 3/12/2008 

Hartford (AP) — Given the sex scandal surrounding New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, Senate President Donald Williams wants Connecticut to reach out to his lieutenant governor and persuade him to oppose Broadwater.

Williams said Connecticut should be prepared for Spitzer's possible resignation because his administration is expected to make a decision soon on state permits for the proposed liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound.

“Assuming there is a transition at some point in the near future, the new governor will have hundreds of issues on his desk and he'll be required to get up to speed quickly,” Williams said. “We can't afford to drop the ball on Broadwater.”

Spitzer is being pressured to resign after allegations surfaced of his use of high-priced call girls. If he left office, Lt. Gov. David Paterson would become governor.

Broadwater Energy, a consortium of Shell Oil and TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., wants to build a $700 million terminal that would be 1,200 feet long and 82 feet high, located 9 miles from Long Island, N.Y., and 10 miles from the Connecticut shoreline.

The site is in New York waters, but most Connecticut officials oppose the project, including Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell. In January, she wrote to Spitzer, asking him to help protect Long Island Sound from the natural gas platform

Spitzer, a Democrat, has been waiting until his Department of State completed its coastal zone consistency review of the project before announcing his position.



Key New York Decision On Broadwater Delayed 
DAY
Published on 2/9/2008 

A much-anticipated decision by New York state regulators on the controversial Broadwater liquefied natural gas terminal will be delayed at least 60 days, officials said.

The decision on whether the proposed Broadwater liquefied natural gas terminal conforms to the state's rules for coastal development had been expected to be issued Tuesday.

“By mutual agreement, Broadwater and the New York Department of State ... signed a 60-day stay to extend the consistency review for the Broadwater Project,” said a written statement by N.Y. State Department of State spokesman Eamon Moynihan. “This will allow for further discussion of what is a very complex proposal,”

The agreement was reached Thursday.

“The New York Department of State (NYDOS) asked Broadwater for an additional 60 days to review our application and we agreed,” John Hritcko, senior vice president and regional project director for Broadwater Energy, said in a written statement Friday. “This is part of the review process and we expect to continue our dialogue.”

Hritcko said the agreement, and all past correspondence with NYDOS and previous stay agreements, will be publicly available on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission docket.

Broadwater Energy's 1,200-foot-long floating liquefied natural gas storage and processing terminal would be in New York waters of Long Island Sound, about 10 miles south of Connecticut. Connecticut officials, including the entire Congressional delegation and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, have recommended against the project's approval.

“This 60-day extension proves the serious, severe, insurmountable environmental and safety obstacles that should doom this project,” Blumenthal said in a press release issued Friday. “New York cannot overcome the fact that Broadwater is completely unnecessary and unacceptable legally, because effective alternatives exist without the monstrous environmental damage and public safety dangers.”

The stay does not affect the actions of another agency, the N.Y. Department of General Services, which is considering whether to grant Broadwater a lease to occupy the portion of Long Island Sound where the terminal and mooring tower would be located.


Yesterday...

Key N.Y. Broadwater Ruling Likely Tuesday 

DAY
By Judy Benson     
Published on 2/8/2008   
 
Both opponents and proponents of the Broadwater Energy liquefied natural gas terminal are awaiting a key decision due Tuesday from New York state regulators on whether the project conforms to the state's rules for coastal development.

Despite rumors that there could be a delay, the N.Y. State Department of State is still on track to make the decision on Tuesday, said spokesman Eamon Moynihan. The agency has all the information it requested from Broadwater and other parties, he said. Another agency, the N.Y. Department of General Services, is also considering whether to grant Broadwater a lease to occupy the portion of Long Island Sound where the terminal and mooring tower would be located.

The pending New York decisions have become the focus of efforts by those seeking to stop the project, including Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. The 1,200-foot-long floating storage and processing terminal, would be in New York waters of the Sound, about 10 miles south of Connecticut. In a Feb. 1 filing with the N.Y. Office of General Services, Blumenthal said Broadwater has provided incomplete and inaccurate information about the environmental and safety impacts, and that the project design remains incomplete.

Also, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could decide this month whether to grant Broadwater, a partnership of Shell Oil and TransCanada, a key permit. In January it released a highly favorable environmental analysis of the project.

Connecticut's Congressional delegation, however, is still trying to persuade FERC that Broadwater should not be approved. In a letter sent Wednesday to FERC Chairman Joseph Kelliher, the state's two senators and five congressmen argued that the project would have “significant and permanent adverse impacts to the health of Long Island Sound's fragile ecosystem.”

The delegation sent a similar letter Wednesday to Adm. Thad Allen, commandant of the Coast Guard, urging that he not issue a Letter of Recommendation. The letter would be the Coast Guard's determination that the project is suitable for the Long Island Sound waterway.

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, meanwhile, is completing its review of the FERC environmental analysis and is preparing to submit a list of concerns, DEP spokesman Dennis Schain said Wednesday.

Earlier this week, Broadwater announced a $150,000 donation to the United Way of Long Island's Project Warm for heating assistance for needy families. Shell Oil Company President John Hoffmeister, who met earlier in January with N.Y. Gov. Eliot Spitzer, said in news reports that Shell makes charitable contributions in all the communities where it works.

Critics, however, questioned Shell's motives, suggesting that the donation and a series of ads the company had placed recently in New York and Connecticut media outlets was timed to influence the upcoming New York agency decisions. They also took issue with Spitzer's meeting with the Shell president.

The Citizens Campaign for the Environment urged opponents of Broadwater to call Spitzer's office and voice their opposition.

Michael Whyland, spokesman for Spitzer, said the governor has not yet taken a position on the project.

The recent advertising campaign by Broadwater and the meeting between Spitzer and Hoffmeister is an attempt by the company to “dispel some of the myths” that critics of the project are circulating, said Froydis Cameron, company spokeswoman. It is also seeking to highlight some of the findings of FERC's environmental analysis.

Shell has donated money to Project Warm for the last three years, she added.

Leah Schmaltz, director of legislative and legal affairs for Save the Sound, part of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, said her group is prepared to fight the project in the courts if necessary, and has filed legal briefs with all agencies involved, including the Army Corps of Engineers. That agency must decide on dredging permits for Broadwater to dig a trench for the 22-mile undersea pipeline that would carry the natural gas from the terminal to a main transmission line.

“While there are legitimate energy concerns that exist on Long Island and in Connecticut,” Schmaltz said Wednesday, “there are also smart, safe ways to address those concerns that do not put Long Island Sound's future in jeopardy. ... The notion that we have to make a choice between addressing our energy needs and protecting our environment is a false one,” she added. “We can and should do both — we just have to be smart about it.”





Governor Rell: FERC Decision ‘A Travesty’

 

‘We Will Fight This Reckless Decision Every Step of the Way’

  

FERC Broadwater Report 

 

            Governor M. Jodi Rell today utterly rejected the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s environmental impact study of the proposed Broadwater liquefied natural gas facility, saying FERC’s conclusion that the project would have little effect on the Long Island Sound is ludicrous. “We will challenge this absurd and indefensible agency decision in court,” Governor Rell said.

 

            “The Broadwater project would be a travesty – the complete desecration of Connecticut’s environmental crown jewel and a total setback to the decades we have spent improving water quality and habitat in the Sound,” Governor Rell said. “FERC has ignored the rights and needs of Connecticut residents time and again and with today’s decision is once more trying to run roughshod over the people of our state.

 

            “An enormous and potentially flammable industrial facility floating in the middle of Long Island Sound would be as shockingly out of place as a steel plant in a state park,” the Governor said.

 

            FERC announced today that it had completed an environmental impact study (EIS) and that its staff believed the project was likely to have “limited adverse environmental impacts.”

 

            “I cannot see how any reasonable person or government agency can come to that conclusion,” Governor Rell said. “We are talking about building and operating a massive, possibly hazardous industrial facility in the middle of an important estuary with sensitive natural resources. We are taking about a platform as large as an ocean liner, requiring an unprecedented and untested 950-acre safety and security zone, as well as moving security zones around incoming tankers.  Let’s not kid ourselves: All of this will change Long Island Sound forever.”

 

            Under federal environmental laws, the FERC must wait at least 30 days after releasing an EIS before issuing any permits for a facility.

 

            “Connecticut will fight this reckless decision every step of the way,” Governor Rell said. “Today I am directing the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection to go over this EIS with a fine-toothed comb, identifying every flaw and faulty conclusion. I know the Attorney General’s office will be happy to support us in this endeavor.”

 

            Connecticut will also coordinate efforts with New York, which is responsible for several permits ncessary for the Broadwater project to proceed.

 

            The Broadwater project will require a coastal consistency determination – in keeping with the federal Coastal Zone Management Act –  from the New York Department of State as well as a number of permits from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

 

            “We were heartened by the DEC’s December 21 letter to Broadwater, which was severely critical of plans for the project,” Governor Rell said. “The letter said the permit applications were incomplete and said current plans for the project would have several significant adverse environmental impacts. We believe this letter is a strong signal of where New York is headed on critical Broadwater decisions that lie ahead.”

 

            On November 17, 2006, FERC issued its draft EIS. At that time, Governor Rell joined the DEP, other public agencies, numerous environmental groups and private citizens to raise a number of questions concerning the potential environmental and use impacts of the proposed project.

 

            Although FERC attempted to address some of those issues in its final EIS, the project will still have significant impact on aquatic life, benthic habitat and recreational and commercial use of the Sound.

 

            Governor Rell said FERC has only given cursory attention to alternatives to Broadwater.

 

            “Recent proposals for offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals south of Long Island show that the energy industry itself believes there are better ideas, yet FERC persists in its myopic, case-by-case analysis of energy projects,” the Governor said. “The EIS simply assumes that the goal is to create an LNG terminal in Long Island Sound, rather than to meet regional energy needs in the most environmentally sensitive fashion.

 

            “There simply has to be a better way. I call upon FERC and the rest of the federal government to work with the states on a comprehensive approach to national and regional energy planning.”

 

            Governor Rell has successfully battled previous efforts by FERC to impose higher electric rates on customers in portions of the state – a strategy known as Locational Installed Capacity, or LICAP – and clashed with the agency over its refusal to include Conecticut in Broadwater siting discussions, despite the fact that half of the Sound is Connecticut territory.



Content Last Modified on 1/11/2008 11:58:16 AM






Broadwater Environmental Impact Would Be Minimal, Feds Say 
DAY
By Judy Benson    
Published on 1/11/2008
 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Friday issued its final Environmental Impact Statement on Broadwater Energy's proposal for a floating liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound, concluding that the project would have "limited adverse environmental impacts" and recommended 86 actions Broadwater should take to minimize those impacts.

The long-awaited report is positive news for Broadwater, a partnership of Shell and TransCanada Corp., because it will serve as a recommendation to the five-member of FERC panel that will decide whether the project should be permitted.

"We welcome the issuance of the FEIS," John Hritcko, senior vice president of Broadwater said in a statement. "The attention to details by the federal and state agencies involved is clearly evident and we will be reviewing the findings and conclusions in detail over the coming days. We are pleased that this state of the regulatory review is complete and, in the coming months, look forward to the commissioners' decision on Broadwater's proposal."

The project, which would supply about 1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas to markets in New York City, Long Island and Connecticut, has met with widespread opposition in both Connecticut and Long Island. Gov. M. Jodi Rell called the FERC report "absurd and idefensible" in a statement Friday, and vowed to fight the FERC decision in court. It would be the first offshore LNG terminal in the U.S.

Adrienne Esposito, the executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said her group will continue its fight with Gov. Eliot Spitzer's office and New York state agencies that must also issue permits for the project. A key New York state ruling is due Feb. 15. The terminal would be located in New York state waters of the sound, about 9 miles north of the nearest Long Island shore and 10 miles from the nearest Connecticut shore, attached to a yolk mooring system.

The terminal would be 1,215 feet long and 200 feet wide, and rise about 82 feet above the waterline. It would be supplied by about two to three tankers per week, each carrying about 125,000 to 250,000 cubic meters of liquefied natural gas. The gas would be processed at the terminal and fed into a 22-mile-long undersea pipeline connected to a an existing gas supply line in the western Sound.

"We totally expected this," Esposito said of the FERC report. "That is why we need for Gov. Spitzer to stand up for the public, because the federal government is standing up for Shell Oil."



N.Y. Officials Find Broadwater Application For Liquefied Natural Gas Plant Lacking 
DAY 
By Judy Benson   
Published on 1/3/2008 

Still awaiting the final version of a key federal report, the Broadwater Energy project has been told that its application with state-level environmental regulators is lacking in several key areas and that the project could have “significant adverse impacts” on Long Island Sound's fish and lobsters.

Broadwater, a partnership of Shell US Gas and Power and TransCanada Corp., applied in early 2006 to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to locate a floating liquefied natural gas processing, storage and supply barge in New York state waters in the middle of Long Island Sound.

In November 2006, FERC released a draft environmental impact statement taking the position that the facility would have minimal impacts on the Sound, but the statement met with sharp rebuke from critics for what they called incomplete and faulty analysis.

The final statement, which would be the basis for FERC's decision about whether to approve the facility, had been expected three to four months after the draft.

On Wednesday, FERC spokeswoman Mary O'Driscoll said she could not estimate when the final report will be released. A Broadwater spokesman, Chris Senecal, said the company was hopeful the FERC report would be released within the next two weeks.

While the project stalls pending the FERC report, Broadwater last week received a letter from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation listing several problems with its application.

Yancey Roy, spokesman for the New York DEC, said the 11-page letter, despite its specific criticisms of the project and the information provided by Broadwater, is not an indication that the application will be approved or denied.

“It's not a thumbs up or a thumbs down,” he said. Notices to permit applicants of application deficiencies are a normal part of the process, he said.

John Hritcko, senior vice president of Broadwater, also characterized the DEC letter as “typical” of the permit process. It identifies the issues that must be addressed before the application can progress, he said.

One of the groups leading the opposition to Broadwater, however, said in a statement that the DEC letter was a “good omen” moving “one step closer to squashing Broadwater.”

“The letter was fairly scathing of the Broadwater project with regards not only to the environmental impact but it indicates that Broadwater has been displaying corporate arrogance by disregarding New York State's repeated requests for accurate information,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of The Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

In its letter, the DEC said:

•The analysis of the air quality impact of the Broadwater project lacks details and fails to address several requirements it had been told to address. The project as currently proposed will exceed standards for sulfur dioxide and particulate matter emissions, and could not receive an air quality permit.

•The trench for the undersea pipeline that would connect the LNG facility to main natural gas pipelines supplying New York and Connecticut should be backfilled, not left open as the project proposes, to avoid harm to marine life. The pipeline would also harm the movement of lobsters and increase water temperatures to a level that could be harmful or fatal to lobsters in the summer.

•Design changes would be needed to avoid the entrainment and destruction of 274 million fish eggs and larvae annually that would become trapped as the LNG facility draws in and discharges 28.2 million gallons of seawater daily. Even with design changes suggested, at least 210 million fish eggs and larvae along with adult fish would die. Broadwater, DEC said, must seek alternatives to eliminate or minimized this impact.

•Alternatives to the Broadwater project must be explored more thoroughly.

In addition to FERC permits, Broadwater also needs approvals from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the New York environmental agency and other New York regulators for the project to go forward.



A Warning About East Coast Tsunamis
NYTIMES
By WILLIAM J. BROAD
Published: December 3, 2007

The risk is low. But the consequences could be high, with deadly waves striking the coastal communities of Long Island, Connecticut and New Jersey and killing thousands of people.

Today, the federal government is announcing that it has completed the mid-Atlantic region’s risk assessments for the killer mounds of water known as tsunamis, or tidal waves.

Scientists have long considered the West Coast of North America as the side of the continent most likely to suffer earthquakes and the undersea disturbances that raise tsunamis. But in recent years, with a growing appreciation of the diverse origins of the giant waves and their potential for havoc, experts have found new reasons for vigilance along the East Coast.

“Tsunamis are a real threat,” said Lisa Taylor, an official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is conducting the assessments for coastal regions that are considered at risk. A main factor is whether the land rises sharply or gently, the latter being more prone to poundings from unexpectedly high waves.

The project creates elevation maps of coastal lands and adjacent seafloors, helping scientists better forecast the areas that a tsunami would flood. The giant waves can arise hundreds of miles away, in theory giving emergency planners hours to send people to higher ground.

Part of the new analysis focuses on the easternmost area of Long Island, including East Hampton and Southampton, and the southeastern coast of Connecticut, including Mystic and Old Saybrook. The analysis also evaluates the risk for Atlantic City.

A recent federal study found that a seaquake in a deep trench off Puerto Rico could raise a tsunami that would travel for nearly five hours on the ocean’s surface before crashing into Montauk, on the southeastern tip of Long Island.

Since 2006, scientists at the oceanic agency have digitally created elevation models for 20 coastal communities, and they expect to make more than 50 others. Analyses are planned for Miami and Palm Beach in Florida; Boston, Cape Cod and Nantucket in Massachusetts; and New York City.

The scientists work at the agency’s National Geophysical Data Center and at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, both in Boulder, Colo.

Once the scientists develop an elevation model, they send it to the agency’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle. There, it is incorporated into tsunami models, which simulate seaquakes, the tsunamis’ travel across the ocean and the magnitude and location of coastal flooding.

With the models in hand, the agency’s Tsunami Warning Centers can issue more accurate flooding forecasts.

“Near the shoreline, all tsunamis are sensitive to minor variations in seafloor and land topography, increasing in height as they approach the coast,” said Barry Eakins, a scientist with the modeling project. “Better understanding of the relief of the coastal zone is critical to predicting how a tsunami will flood coastal communities.”



Curbing Runoff In The Sound
Hartford Courant editorial
August 23, 2007

Development and the paving of Connecticut's shoreline has made rainwater runoff - and the bacteria that washes along with it - the No.1 culprit in beach closings. Runoff is also a prime source of nitrogen pollution, which feeds massive algae blooms that rob oxygen from the waters of Long Island Sound (and its marine life).

Runoff is a big problem. But how do you chip away at it? The Jordan Cove Urban Watershed Project, a government-funded study on the effectiveness of techniques for low-impact development, has some encouraging answers.

Located in Waterford, Jordan Cove is a small estuary fed by Jordan Brook. Like many small coves, its waters are plagued by bacteria and pollution from runoff. In 1995, the state launched a 10-year study comparing the impacts of two new subdivisions.

One, a conventional subdivision, features a 24-foot-wide asphalt road, separate driveways, individual lots, curbing and storm drains. In the other, homes are clustered to create more open space; several share driveways. Lawns are smaller, with low- and no-mow areas to reduce the need for fertilizer. The access road is narrower (20 feet wide) and made of interlocking concrete pavers to let rainwater soak through. Instead of curbing, grassy swales or channels line the street to slow runoff and absorb water.

Driveways are made of crushed stone or pavers; each lot has a rain garden, a depression with plantings designed to collect and filter runoff from roofs and yards.

The study's results are impressive - and encouraging for people who care about the health of Long Island Sound. Years later, runoff from the non-conventional subdivision remained the same as before development, while runoff from the traditional subdivision increased several times over. The swales, rain gardens and other low-impact techniques also made a big difference in controlling the release of pollutants from the subdivision

To see the study, visit www.ct.gov/dep/lib/dep/water/watershed_management/wm_plans/jordancovebrochure.pdf.

By incorporating such techniques into new development along the shoreline (and encouraging property owners to modify areas that are already developed), contractors, developers, and state and local officials can chip away at the problem of runoff, addressing a significant threat to the health of Long Island Sound.



Voice For Long Island Sound:
Federal judge gives credence to Connecticut's reasonable, necessary environmental concerns. 
By The Day    
Published on 8/22/2007 


A judge's ruling reversing federal approval of a natural gas pipeline to Long Island from Connecticut, if upheld, scores a victory for Long Island Sound and reinforces the principle that environmental law is not a simple inconvenience. U.S. District Court Judge Stefan R. Underhill correctly saw that former Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans was “arbitrary and capricious” in casually tossing aside Connecticut's environmental concerns.

The message from Judge Underhill's opinion rings with authority and says Long Island Sound is a precious and sensitive environmental resource that deserves protection from projects that might severely impact the marine life inhabiting its waters.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell, Environmental Protection Commissioner Gina McCarthy and State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal all deserve credit for protecting the state's huge stake in the environmental health of Long Island Sound. From both an environmental and political standpoint, the proposal by Islander East for the project from Branford to Long Island was a bad program. Connecticut's appointed and elected environmental stewards reflected the attitude of the overwhelming majority of state residents who did not want the natural gas pipeline under the Sound.

The Day hopes this decision, although entirely unrelated, may have raised an issue that is equally applicable in the courts regarding the Broadwater liquefied natural gas platform proposed for downstate. That project envisions a skyscraper-like station in Long Island Sound that may satisfy some of the state's energy needs, but could have a bad effect on the Sound while providing most of its energy storage for Long Island.

The environmental health of Long Island Sound is no simple matter. The states and federal government have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to provide sewage treatment plants to protect the water quality. Indeed, Connecticut now is taking legal steps to try to assure that New York State follows similar measures in upgrading its sewage treatment discharges into Long Island Sound. And frankly, Connecticut needs to do much more to modernize its own shoreline plants so that oxygen levels are adequate and nitrogen content is not excessive in the Sound.

The net effect of Judge Underhill's ruling is to throw a serious roadblock in the face of the Islander East proposal. More important, the decision provides a measure of states' rights in the face of arbitrary and unfair decisions by the federal government.

Long Island Sound, while a national resource, is much more an asset shared by Connecticut and New York. New York has miles of beach along the open Atlantic Ocean, but Connecticut does not. That makes Long Island Sound an even more important resource for Connecticut.

The state has just had a good day in court, one that puts everyone on record that the federal government cannot ignore important environmental concerns simply because it sets higher priorities for energy production or economic growth.



Judge Reverses Islander East Ruling; State's coastal management plan cited as pipeline plan dealt setback 

DAY
By Ted Mann    
Published on 8/21/2007 
 
Hartford — A federal judge dealt a major setback Monday to the proposed Islander East natural gas pipeline under Long Island Sound, ruling that the U.S. Secretary of Commerce did not fully consider the concerns of state environmental officials before overruling them and permitting the project to proceed.

In a sternly worded decision released Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Stefan R. Underhill wrote that then-Secretary Donald L. Evans was “arbitrary and capricious” in deciding that the Islander East project would not run counter to the Coastal Zone Management Act, as the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection had contended.

Read the court ruling.

The act is a federal law administered by the states, which are charged with ensuring that projects undertaken along coastlines are in compliance with their management plans for those areas. State officials had found against the Islander East project, only to be overruled by Evans in 2004.

But Evans, Underhill wrote, “failed to address” many of the state's objections to the proposed route of the 45-mile pipeline, and had “effectively ignored” the DEP's concerns that the construction could damage the valuable oyster beds and other marine life around the Thimble Islands off of Branford, where the pipeline would be buried and run 22 miles across the sea floor to Long Island.

Evans' decision, Underhill wrote, is “replete with generalities and vague statements ostensibly cited to support the Secretary's conclusions, but in reality, failing to say much of anything.”

The court ruling is a victory for Connecticut officials — including Gov. M. Jodi Rell, DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal — and a significant blow to Islander East that state officials said calls into question whether the pipeline will be built at all.

The ruling, McCarthy said, “is a huge setback, if not the death of this project.” Blumenthal, a Democrat, concurred, saying the ruling “should effectively kill” the pipeline proposal.

Underhill's decision “verifies everything that Gov. Rell and the state have been saying about this project, and its inconsistency with our need to manage our energy resources in a way that's protective of the state's natural resources,” McCarthy said, speaking alongside Rell after a press conference in the parking lot of the Capitol.

“We are well aware that we can do both,” McCarthy said. “This project does not do both. It may take care of an energy issue, but it does it at the expense of the environment, and we simply won't have it.”

A spokesman for Islander East, John Sheridan, said the company was “disappointed with the court's decision, and currently reviewing options internally to determine best direction to go.”

Underhill's decision returns the case to current Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez for review, though Islander or the federal government could appeal the ruling to a higher court. Such a move could likely mean years more legal action, Blumenthal said.

“We're still hopeful that we'll be able to work with the DEP and other stakeholders,” Sheridan said. “We really believe this is an important project for the region and will guarantee a steadier supply of natural gas not only to Connecticut but also to New York and the region as a whole.”

Connecticut officials said they believed the ruling validated their concerns, particularly their claims that Islander East officials had never taken seriously the potential for damage to the shellfish beds and marine habitat around the Thimble Islands and along the coastline.

In his decision, Underhill noted that the area provides habitat for a broad assortment of animals, including fish, crabs, urchins, snails, sponges and mussels. Beds along the Connecticut coast yield the highest-priced oysters per pound in the nation, the decision noted, and the state harvests more clams than any other on the east coast.

“I think the net effect of this decision is to say to any administration (that) if you make a decision that affects environmentally sensitive areas, you have to do your homework,” said Blumenthal. “You have to make sure that you consider the facts and the evidence, which (the Evans) decision fails to do. And the Bush administration has essentially ignored and disregarded environmental interests, and this decision says you won't get a pass for this kind of work.”

The decision also raised comparisons to the other energy project proposed for the Sound: the quest by Broadwater Energy to anchor a massive floating terminal for liquefied natural gas off the Connecticut coast.

Both Rell and Blumenthal saw a precedent, though the projects are not related, in the court's insistence that state environmental concerns be adequately considered and examined by federal officials.

“This decision certainly shows that the federal courts are not going to give agencies a pass just because they are supposed to have expertise or skills in a particular area,” Blumenthal said. “This decision says about Broadwater that the federal government's feet will be held to the fire environmentally when vital Long Island Sound interests are at stake. And it shows a sensitivity to the importance of Long Island Sound as an environmental resource, but also as a commercial and recreational one.”

A spokesman for Broadwater declined to discuss the ruling, noting that his company's proposal is still under review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“Broadwater is in the middle of its state and regulatory review and it would be inappropriate to speculate on how one decision on a different project would reflect on the Broadwater project,” said John Hritcko, a vice president at the company.

Islander East is still awaiting the result of another court proceeding. A water-quality permit for the project has twice been denied by the DEP, findings the company appealed to federal court. A decision in that case is expected soon.


Feds ignoring LNG perils, report says
New Haven REGISTER
By Gregory B. Hladky, Capitol Bureau Chief
01/23/2007

HARTFORD — Federal officials have ignored critical environmental and safety issues surrounding a proposed $700 million liquefied natural gas facility for Long Island Sound, according to a Connecticut task force.


The state task force report faulted a preliminary federal study for failing to look at such safety issues as the need for a no-fly zone over the floating LNG facility or do enough research on potential dangers posed to marine life.

The preliminary environmental impact study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, however, found the project would have little negative impact on the Sound and that the location would be safe.

One of the co-chairs of the Connecticut panel, state Sen. Andrea L. Stillman, D-Waterford, said she is so upset with the federal handling of the proposed Broadwater LNG facility that she’s ready to take drastic action.

"If they move forward with this, I’m getting in a boat and block it," said Stillman. "I will, too!"

The other task force co-chairman, state Sen. Leonard A. Fasano, R-North Haven, called the FERC study "totally inadequate."

FERC officials say Connecticut’s opposition to the project will be taken into account and the initial environmental impact statement was no more than a draft that can be changed.

A spokesman for Broadwater insisted that Connecticut officials are ignoring needs of Connecticut consumers and industry who desperately need new sources of clean energy.

"Connecticut consumers are paying the highest energy rates in the nation because of opposition to energy projects like this," said Gary Hale, a former state lawmaker who is now a lobbyist for the Broadwater project.

Hale argued that Connecticut consumers would benefit economically from the Broadwater project, since 25 percent of the natural gas would come to this state. He said Connecticut also would see additional supplies of natural gas because less Canadian gas would be pumped through existing pipelines to Long Island, N.Y.

However, Fasano charged FERC has failed to perform proper computer modeling of potential accidents and failed to provide critical details about the proposed floating LNG facility and huge tankers that would provide it with liquefied natural gas.

"We need to know those answers now," insisted Fasano, who said he personally opposes anchoring a massive LNG facility in the middle of Long Island Sound. "As a public policy, I don’t think it’s a good idea to put anything in an estuary (such as Long Island Sound)," said Fasano.

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said his office today filed comments with FERC and the state of New York arguing the project violates both New York and federal law.

The Broadwater plan calls for a floating facility about the size of Queen Mary II to be permanently anchored in the Sound about 11 miles off Branford and nine miles off Long Island. The project would require the laying of more than 20 miles of underwater pipeline to enable gas to be pumped to Long Island and Connecticut. Massive ocean-going LNG tankers would bring the fuel to the floating facility for processing.

The project has produced strong protests from officials and activists in both New York and Connecticut. However, Connecticut has virtually no direct involvement in approval of the project because it would be located entirely in New York waters.



Scientists: LNG Draft Analysis Needs More Work
DAY
By Judy Benson
Published on 1/17/2007
 
East Haven — Three Long Island Sound experts told fellow scientists with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Tuesday that their draft analysis of the Broadwater liquefied natural gas terminal is inadequate to support conclusions that the project would have minimal environmental impact on the Sound.
The scientists also gave details on numerous areas needing thorough study for the final document.

The three scientists are retired state geologist Ralph Lewis; University of New Haven biology professor Roman Zajac, a specialist in benthic ecology; and Peter Auster, science director for the National Undersea Research Center at the University of Connecticut at Avery Point.

They met with FERC representatives and the environmental consultants who prepared the draft report at the request of the state task force reviewing the Broadwater plan. The meeting at East Haven Town Hall came before a FERC public hearing Tuesday night on the LNG proposal.

Lewis said the draft report reflects a poor understanding of the geology of Long Island Sound and did not use the most current and authoritative references to describe its bedrock geology and its pre- and post-glacial history. That material, he said, is essential to determining effects of the LNG terminal with its mooring tower and 22-mile submerged pipeline.

Lewis and the other scientists said they are not taking a position on the Broadwater plan, but they want to point out the inadequate analysis so far.

“If you don't recognize the geologic setting, how can you decide?” Lewis asked. “This wasn't even a cursory discussion of the geology.”

The report, he said, must contain more information on the depth and extent of clay deposits in the Sound where the terminal and pipeline would be.

In addition, he faulted the authors for using as a reference a general interest pamphlet about the Sound he helped to write, rather than academic documents with more detail and up-to-date data.

“This is a nice, cute little reference. It's a brief overview,” he said. “ ... I'm not saying there's any hidden problems here, but if you're going to base your decision on something, your knowledge should be complete.”

Seismic data on probable locations of rift and fault lines in the Sound are also needed, Lewis said.

Mark Robinson, director of the office of energy projects for FERC, said the points raised by Lewis and the other scientists would be useful for revisions.

The final version, which he hopes will be completed in three months, will include a recommendation to the FERC leadership on whether the project should be approved.

Auster said the document should have more information on how the 190 decibels of sound Broadwater anticipates its terminal would emit would affect fish and other marine life.

Wayne Kicklighter, senior consultant for the company hired by FERC to prepare the report, said the acoustics discussion was limited to marine mammals because FERC lacks the authority to set limits on the level of sound that would be considered harmful to fish.

Auster countered that a report on environmental effects should cover fish and should be comprehensive.

Hard and soft coral communities, lobster borrows and shell deposits, which are habitats for many animals, also need to be more thoroughly documented, Auster said.

He said all those underwater communities should be protected from the terminal and pipeline.

Zajac said one of his main concerns was the scant discussion of how the area and marine life around the trench for the pipeline might recover from the digging. The trench would be 25 feet wide with a 25-foot berm on each side.

“There's very little substance on the level of disturbance and recovery of the benthic community,” he said, referring to plants and animals living on the bottom of the Sound.

The report contains some references to studies of recovery where dredge spoils had been dumped, he said, but these are not relevant to an area dug for a pipeline trench.

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, an opponent of the project, told the FERC representatives that the scientists' comments show the draft report is flawed beyond repair and that the conclusion it makes is not supported.

“What I'm asking is that conclusion be changed,” he said. “In my view, this report is a do-over. It's not just lengthening the sentences. You need to fundamentally go back to the drawing board ....”

As the meeting ended, Robinson said, “This was a rare opportunity. We don't typically have ... folks in like yourselves to take a hard look at what we've done.”

He said the final report will be complete and thorough, and added, “Nothing interferes with getting it right.”



Concerns raised from Broadwater hearing
Mark Zaretsky, New Haven Register Staff
01/12/2007

EAST HAVEN — About 70 people turned out Thursday for an informational hearing on the proposed liquefied natural gas platform that Broadwater Energy wants to build in the middle of Long Island Sound.

Virtually all of those who spoke, other than a representative of Broadwater, raised concerns about the project’s effects on safety and the environment and whether it would really save consumers money, as Broadwater claims.
 
"I think it’s unbelievable, what I’ve been hearing about it," said Al Skolonis Jr. of East Haven, a longtime fisherman and boater, speaking before Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s Long Island Sound LNG Task Force, co-chaired by state Sen. Leonard Fasano, R-North Haven, which organized the meeting in the East Haven High School auditorium.

"Through the years, there’s been many changes in the Sound ... but it seems like it’s getting knocked back rather than going forward," Skolonis said. "I don’t think it should be allowed to go on, messin’ with the Sound," he said of Broadwater. "It’s a beautiful place, and it’s very fragile. ... I think it should be left alone."

Joe Thibault of East Haven wondered whether there were any similar projects "that are vulnerable to hurricanes, like we are?"

Fasano, who grew up in East Haven and represents the town in Hartford, told him that Broadwater is the first such totally free-floating plant ever to be proposed, but said its proponents say it is designed to survive a Category 5 hurricane — stronger than the devastating 1938 hurricane, which was said to be equivalent to a Category 4 storm.

Fasano was joined by his co-chairwoman, state Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, and other members of the task force, including state Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Gina McCarthy; former East Haven Fire Chief and current Emergency Management and Homeland Security Deputy Commissioner Wayne Sandford; and representatives of the state Department of Transportation, the state Department of Public Safety and the Connecticut Marine Trades Association.

The hearing took place in the midst of a parallel set of hearings being conducted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which will decide whether the Broadwater project, a joint venture of TransCanada Corp. and Shell Oil, goes forward.

The next nearby FERC hearing will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday night at Branford High School, 185 E. Main St. in Branford.

Broadwater spokesman Gary Hale, a former state senator who now is a lobbyist working for the company, was one of several Broadwater representatives at the hearing and the only one who spoke.

Hale said, responding to an earlier question from an East Haven Town Council member, that Connecticut would benefit from the project because it would bring in 1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas, of which 25 percent would flow into Connecticut, and it also would free up gas that comes via the Iroquois pipeline that is put to use in Long Island.

He challenged McCarthy and Sandford to meet with the company, charging that they had made recent statements "that need more substance."

McCarthy refused, saying, if there is confusion, it’s the result of information contained in the FERC’s draft environmental impact statement on the project.

"I have no desire to meet with Broadwater," she said, telling Hale that the department will respond to what’s in the draft EIS and if it has questions, it will ask them.

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal repeated his opposition to the project, saying, that "the security issue is just one of many that will get me to continue to fight this." Blumenthal said he is troubled by recent revelations that the Coast Guard does not have enough boats and other equipment to adequately protect the facility.

"The fact is, this project is an accident and an attack waiting to happen," and "we need more than faith and hope" to prevent that, he said.

Town Council Chairman Ken McKay, R-1, reading a statement from Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr., called the Sound "a crown jewel" of the state and said the draft EIS "falls well short of the standards which are required before an ultimate decision on the Broadwater project can be rendered." He also expressed concern about the Coast Guard’s ability to ensure the project’s safety.

Town Council member April Capone Almon, D-3, one of several other council members to speak, stated her unequivocal opposition and said, "I feel that the Broadwater project really doesn’t present any benefits."

Leah Schmalz of Save the Sound, a program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, called Broadwater’s claims of the project’s benefits "faulty" and said its "vague statements" rely on old projections "that have already been proven wrong."

.

Bay State plan may ease demand for LNG for heating
Hour editorial
December 26, 2006


Action in Massachusetts may mitigate the need for the proposed liquid natural gas terminal that has been proposed for Long Island — at least, we hope so.
The Bay State plan, approved by Gov. Mitt Romney has the support of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Executive Office of Public Safety.  Furthermore, a spokeswoman for the Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental advocacy group, said she was pleased with the proposal.

Susan Reid, an attorney, said "If done right, an offshore LNG terminal eliminates the need for more dangerous land-base proposals." The key words are "done right."

There is a major difference between the plan for two terminals off the coast of Gloucester and that in the middle of Long Island Sound.  The Massachusetts' terminals will be in the open ocean, not in a narrow estuary as is proposed for the Sound, about a dozen miles from Branford.  In the latter case, the Coast Guard has expressed reservations about safety and security.

Given the confines of Long Island Sound, the floating terminal as big as the Queen Mary would require a large safety zone and impinge on both commercial and recreational boating and fishing.  True, there has been some objection from Massachusetts fishermen that the two terminals would have an impact on fish habitats and close some fishing grounds.

The companies proposing the terminals have agreed to pay $47 million mitigation fees for any effects they might have on the fishing grounds.  Lest you think this is just another case of "not in my backyard" disabuse yourself of that notion. The risks in the Sound proposal are far greater than those offshore from Gloucester.

The Sound plan would increase tanker traffic into the estuary, with at least two or three tankers arriving each week to pump off their LNG.  That compounds the danger of the facility itself, something about which the Coast Guard has expressed concern.  The LNG dispensed by the Gloucester facilities would be pumped right into the New England grid, providing a 20 percent boost in the supply.

Additionally, it would provide a competitive market that might even bring prices down. (We're not counting on that, though.)

The plan must still overcome some hurdles in the form of federal permits, but the Federal Energy Regulation Commission has yet to see an energy source it didn't like. FERC will love it.




Agency Backs LNG Terminal;  Report Says Facility In Sound Would Be Safe; Foes Vow To Fight

By DAVID FUNKHOUSER, Courant Staff Writer
November 18, 2006
 
The proposed Broadwater natural gas terminal could operate safely and would not have a significant environmental impact on Long Island Sound, the federal agency charged with assessing the project says.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Friday said the proposal - a massive liquefied natural gas conversion plant moored in the middle of the Sound - offers the best alternative for boosting the region's energy supply and meeting growing demand.

The agency's long-awaited draft environmental impact statement, called "a real breakthrough" by Broadwater representatives, unleashed a firestorm of objections from opponents, who contend that the project would begin "the industrialization" of the Sound.

"This is a use more appropriate for the New Jersey Turnpike than it is for Long Island Sound," said Roger Reynolds, senior staff attorney for the Connecticut Fund for the Environment and Save the Sound. "We have serious disagreements with FERC's [report] ... and we look forward to the public hearing process to air those differences."

"The FERC report is a whitewash," Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said. The report, he said, "is no surprise - true to [FERC's] tradition of favoring energy company interests ahead of environmental concerns."

John Hritcko, senior vice president for Broadwater Energy, said the FERC report "is an important step forward for the Broadwater project to provide Long Island, New York City and Connecticut with a safe, affordable supply of clean-burning natural gas, and we are encouraged by these preliminary findings."

He said Broadwater would work to find ways to further reduce or avoid potential environmental impacts.

His company, a joint venture of Royal Dutch/Shell Group and TransCanada Corp., wants to tether a 1,200-foot-long vessel to a mooring tower 9 miles off Long Island and 11 miles from Branford, in New York waters. The terminal would be 200 feet wide and sit 82 feet high. It would take in liquefied natural gas imported from overseas in huge tankers, convert it back to a gas and deliver it through an undersea pipeline.

The facility would process about 1 billion cubic feet of gas a day, enough to boost the region's supply by 25 percent, Broadwater says. About half of the gas would go to New York City, 25 to 30 percent to Long Island and the rest to Connecticut.

"Construction and operation of the proposed project, with the adoption of the FERC and Coast Guard recommendations, would result in limited adverse environmental impacts," FERC said in a prepared statement. The Coast Guard earlier this fall spelled out what measures would be needed to ensure safety of the facility and the tankers carrying liquefied gas through the Sound.

FERC will accept public comment on the report through Jan. 23, and plans to schedule public hearings in the area before that deadline, said Tamara Young-Allen, a FERC spokeswoman.

Then, FERC staff members will prepare a final environmental report to be submitted to the commission. Young-Allen said a decision could come sometime next year.

Broadwater hopes to have the plant operating by the end of 2010.

The project also needs various federal and state permits. Save the Sound on Friday called on New York to deny Broadwater a required underwater easement.

FERC's report was based on input from the public and numerous state and federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Coast Guard analyzed safety and security issues and determined that although the project posed problems, the terminal could be safely operated, and that the risk of a catastrophic incident would be remote. But the facility and the tankers feeding it would require extensive safety zones, where commercial and recreational activities would be barred.

FERC said the safety zones would have only a minor impact on commercial fishing and recreational activities, and that they could be reduced by careful scheduling of deliveries to the terminal.

The FERC assessment also found no reason to believe that Broadwater would lead to additional industrial activities on the Sound.

Opponents remain skeptical.

FERC "has not only given short shrift to scientific evidence about environmental dangers, but also ignored security threats and impacts on navigation, as well as recreational and economic values," Blumenthal said.

Connecticut's junior U.S. senator, Joseph I. Lieberman, called the FERC report "deeply flawed" and said the agency's conclusions are "undercut by its own findings. ... The extraordinary steps that the FERC and the Coast Guard have said would be needed to allow for the safe and secure operation of the Broadwater facility leave no doubt that this facility has no place in Long Island Sound."

Broadwater is just one of many proposals to build or upgrade liquefied natural gas terminals. Natural gas now supplies about 40 percent of the energy consumed in New England.

Opponents argue that the region needs to turn to alternative sources of energy, both to reduce dependence on foreign supplies and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming. FERC concluded that alternative energy sources cannot meet the demand.

Even if FERC were to approve Broadwater, the plant might not get built.

"We fully expect that many facilities that get approved ultimately will not get built," said Bryan Lee, a spokesman for the agency. "The market is going to determine whether these get built."

Contact David K. Funkhouser at dfunkhouser@courant.com.

To view the FERC staff's draft environmental impact statement online, go to: http://www.ferc.gov/industries/lng/enviro/eis.asp, click the "Issued" tab and click on "Broadwater." The public may submit comments by Jan. 23, 2007, to FERC either by e-mail after following instructions under "eFilings" on FERC's homepage or by postal mail to FERC, Office of the Secretary, Washington, DC 20426.




Broadwater's Terminal Plan
Hartford Courant editorial
November 5, 2006

The Coast Guard's review of Broadwater Energy's proposal to moor a gargantuan liquefied natural gas terminal in the middle of Long Island Sound concludes that the project could be done if Broadwater takes steps to "responsibly manage risks to navigation safety and security." Days later, officials for Broadwater, a joint venture of TransCanada Corp. and Shell, issue assurances that they always meant to provide security without burdening state or local taxpayers.

The problem is that Broadwater and the Coast Guard define the issues of security and cost too narrowly.
 
Broadwater's proposal would increase the region's dependence on foreign sources of fuel. How does that strengthen national security? In addition, natural gas already accounts for too large a share of the Northeast's fuel supplies, making the region vulnerable to the whims of the global market. Expanding that dependence on natural gas for heating and generating electricity will increase the region's exposure to volatile energy prices and threaten its long-term economic stability.

Broadwater's bid to maintain the energy status quo would have the added effect of undermining efforts at conservation, the best and most direct path to long-term economic security and cleaner air.

Broadwater submitted its application under the Energy Independence Act of 2005. The law gives the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authority to override states in deciding the location of such energy facilities. At 1,200 feet long and 180 feet wide, this terminal will be bigger than the Queen Mary 2. If approved, it will serve as a symbol of the federal government's willingness to trample states' rights for short-sighted energy policies.

It would also set an ugly precedent for the further industrialization of a national treasure. Long Island Sound, the country's second-largest estuary, has been the focus of years of efforts (and billions of dollars) at environmental cleanup and reclamation.

Finally, it seems that every day, the body of scientific evidence linking fossil-fuel consumption and deforestation to global warming grows. A report released recently by the British government on the economics of climate change warned that, barring an international commitment to cutting fossil-fuel consumption, the world could face a decline in productivity on a scale not witnessed since the Great Depression.

The threat to our globe is real. The question before us - now - is whether to continue blindly following the status quo to disaster or to push for change.

The Coast Guard concludes the Broadwater project can be done in a way that minimizes its hazards to public safety and navigation. But such conclusions don't address the broader question of whether this should be done; whether, as a matter of national energy policy, Broadwater is in the region's best long-term economic and environmental interests.

It's not.


Coast Guard report spells out danger in LNG terminal
Norwalk HOUR editorial
September 27, 2006


As if we needed any further affirmation that the proposed liquid natural gas terminal planned for Long Island Sound presented a security risk, the U.S. Coast Guard nonetheless has provided it.

In an extensive report, the Coast Guard, charged with homeland security on Long Island Sound, was careful not to make a recommendation one way or the other, but its report certainly spells out the dangers.

Among other things, the Coast Guard report states that it would need a major infusion of resources in order to provide security for the vessel.

The terminal, basically a floating LNG tank, would be the length of two football fields and stand about 100 feet tall. Under Broadwater Energy's plan, two or three LNG tankers would be docking there each week to disgorge the fuel.

Read the words of the report: "Based on current levels of mission activity, Coast Guard Sector Long Island does not have the resources required to implement the measures that have been identified as being necessary to effectively manage the potential risk to navigation safety and maritime security..."

Broadwater attempted to put its own spin on the Coast Guard report, calling the security measures the report said would be needed as "standard practice."
The report's recommendations call for escort boats for LNG carriers and establishment of a security zone around the facility as well as around the moving tankers.

While we feel the placement of the Coast Guard under Homeland Security made more sense than its previous existence as a part of the Department of Transportation, it also greatly expanded its responsibilities. The change came as the service dealt with an aging fleet to cover more and more tasks, including port security. The report states flat-out that existing firefighting capability to deal with a blaze at a terminal such as this is inadequate.

Both officials in Connecticut and New York are on record as opposing the gas terminal.

Beyond the security problems, they all cite the threat to the ecology of Long Island Sound, negating the difficult effort that has been under way to bring this estuary back to what it once was.

There also will be an impact on its struggling fishing industry and will curtail the use of it by recreational boaters, no small business on both sides of the Sound.

The sad part of it is that the Federal Energy Regulation Commission will no doubt totally ignore the positions of Connecticut and New York.

We've seen in the past that FERC pretty much goes its own way when it comes to matters affecting the population of Connecticut and the devil take our position.



Another strike against LNG plant
CT POST editorial
Article Launched: 09/25/2006 02:54:23 PM EDT
 
Mark one more strike against a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal being situated in the middle of Long Island Sound.
The United States Coast Guard on Friday confirmed what many have been contending for months: The proposed LNG terminal poses a safety and security risk to our region. It would necessitate more firefighters, escort boats and other measures to both prevent and respond to accidents or terrorist attacks.

Although the Coast Guard's security analysis didn't explicitly offer support or non-support for Broadwater Energy's proposed hulking energy terminal that would tower more than 10 stories, the Coast Guard did make clear that the facility would create a significant need for more resources to ensure public's safety.

Of course it would. And not only does the facility pose a huge safety threat to the region's residents, it also poses an environmental threat to the Sound's delicate ecosystem.

Our Sound is one of the most precious resources — in an economic sense and in an environmental sense — shared by Connecticut and New York. One can only imagine the devastation that would ensue if the terminal, proposed to be built only 10 miles from Connecticut's shores, were to explode.

The list of those opposing the proposed LNG terminal — many of whom were quick to point out Friday that the Coast Guard's report is another reason why the terminal is a bad idea — is both lengthy and impressive. The list is so lengthy that it's enough to make one wonder who exactly supports this incursion by private enterprise into public waters.

Broadwater clearly isn't interested in the Connecticut's opinion on the terminal. What's worse, it appears that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission isn't either. FERC has steadfastly refused Connecticut's requests for a seat at the table when final decisions about the Broadwater project are made and refuses to grant Connecticut official status.

Broadwater's chief argument for the terminal is to consider the alternatives. Unless we address our region's energy needs, the consortium argues, the New York-Connecticut region faces higher energy costs in the future.

We're not buying that, especially if state lawmakers finally get off the dime and formulate an effective energy conservation and development plan for Connecticut, including new, alternative energy sources that won't desecrate Long Island Sound.


From CFE/Save the Sound:  Statement on Release of U.S. Coast Guard’s Safety Report on the Proposed Broadwater Energy LNG Terminal and Pipeline
 
NEW HAVEN – An approximately one-and-a-half-square-mile safety and security zone would be needed to secure the proposed LNG industrial complex and, if breached, an ignitable vapor cloud could travel 4.7 miles from the complex in any direction, according to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Waterway Suitability Report released today. 
 
    "This report shows that the three hazard zones associated with the Shell project could significantly affect important natural resources within 70 square miles of the industrial complex and will impact commercial shipping, recreational boating, and commercial and recreational fishing within Connecticut and New York,” said Leah Schmalz, Director of Legislative and Legal Affairs for Save the Sound, a program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment. “This proposal raises serious legal issues concerning the rights of the citizens in both states."
 
    The complex that Shell wants to build in Long Island Sound – a congressionally declared Estuary of National Significance – would be approximately 11 miles south of Connecticut and nine miles north of New York in New York waters. It is expected to receive two to three weekly shipments of LNG via tankers that will enter the Sound through The Race – the constricted, eastern-most access point.
 
    An area around the industrial complex and around each of the LNG delivery tankers would be quarantined, disallowing free use by other citizens or commercial vessels. "The U.S. Coast Guard often calls Long Island Sound ‘I-95 Wet,’ but I doubt that New York and Connecticut would ever consider severely restricting traffic on I-95 three times a week for one corporation’s exclusive use," Schmalz said.
 
    Broadwater would exclude citizens from portions of the Sound and could require them to subsidize safety and security response for the project through local cost sharing. "Allowing Shell to usurp our citizens’ rightful use to portions of the Sound is unacceptable," Schmalz said. "Furthermore it is unconscionable that it also expects us to pay for responses to emergencies arising from their facility or tankers. These two facts alone prove that this project is inappropriate for Long Island Sound."
 
    "In light of CFE’s Alternatives Analysis to Broadwater released on March 2, 2006, we know with certainty that Broadwater is unnecessary," Schmalz said. "There are a number of ways to assure adequate gas and energy supplies for New England. They are commonsense approaches that do not require the industrialization of a large portion of the Sound."
 
    "Broadwater Energy has failed to identify any compelling local or regional need that would justify the impact that this proposed LNG terminal would have on the environmental, economic, recreational and historical value of Long Island Sound," Schmalz said.


Coast Guard: LNG terminal would require additional security
Hartford Courant
By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN, Associated Press Writer
Sep 22, 2:56 PM EDT

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) -- A giant liquefied natural gas terminal proposed for Long Island Sound poses safety and security risks that would require more firefighters, escort boats and other measures to prevent accidents or terrorist attacks, according to a Coast Guard report released Friday.

The Coast Guard issued a security analysis that does not take a position on the proposal by Broadwater Energy, but concludes that additional measures would be needed to "responsibly manage risks to navigation safety and security risks" associated with the project.

"Based on current levels of mission activity, Coast Guard Sector Long Island currently does not have the resources required to implement the measures that have been identified as being necessary to effectively manage the potential risk to navigation safety and maritime security associated with the Broadwater Energy proposal," the report states.

Broadwater Energy wants to build a floating terminal that would supply 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day, enough to heat 4 million homes a year. Environmentalists oppose the application and some officials worry the terminal is too dangerous for the busy waterway between Connecticut and Long Island.
 
Natural gas is cooled and condensed into a liquid to make transportation easier. Under the Broadwater proposal, the terminal would receive LNG shipments by boat, then pump the gas into the existing pipeline between Long Island and Connecticut.

"The bottom line is this validates everything we've been saying. This is very risky, very costly and potentially dangerous," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Long Island-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "This should be the beginning of the end for Broadwater. This plan turns the tranquil waters of the Long Island Sound into the nightmare on Elm Street for the public."

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell and other officials also said the report justifies opposition to the project because the security measures would be too costly. The report recommends Broadwater share in the costs but does not provide an estimate, saying an emergency response plan must still be developed.

"The Coast Guard report seeks methods to manage or mitigate risks, but cannot acceptably reduce or eliminate them," Blumenthal said.

Broadwater officials have argued the facility is a safe new source of clean energy to ease power shortages on Long Island. They said Friday that the Coast Guard report confirms that.

"We thought that the Coast Guard did a very detailed, thorough analysis," said Broadwater spokesman John Hritcko. "The safety and security measures that they had outlined are very much standard practice, and the Coast Guard has determined that there are no credible threats. They've also said that the offshore location does reduce the potential consequences."

Hritcko said the costs of providing security pale in comparison to the potential cost of not adding energy sources.

"If you don't implement a project such as Broadwater to bring more energy into the region, what are you going to do, continue to pay higher prices for energy and use fossil fuels into the future?" he said.

The Coast Guard, which spent more than a year conducting its analysis, concluded that the proposed LNG terminal would likely not be an attractive target for terrorists because of its remoteness. The terminal would be 10 miles from Connecticut and 9 miles from New York.

"We found risks to navigation safety and some risks to security. But we did not feel those risks could not be mitigated," said Capt. Peter Boynton, who commands the Coast Guard's Long Island Sound division, at a press conference Friday.

The report recommends escort boats for LNG carriers to help prevent terrorist attacks or shipping accidents. A security zone that would limit access to the area around the facility and a similar zone around moving tankers as they transport gas also is recommended.

"The zone gives us the ability to help people who don't want to interfere with the tanker to safely get out of the way," Boynton said. "It also provides us a zone that we could defend the tanker were that to be necessary."

The Connecticut Fund for the Environment said the security zone would severely restrict use of the Sound by residents and other commercial vessels. The group also cited a finding that an ignitable vapor cloud could travel 4.7 miles from the complex in any direction.

Boynton disagreed that the zones would amount to a severe restriction, saying they would cover only a tiny fraction of the waterway. The facility is expected to generate two to three tankers worth of gas per week.

During the past 45 years since LNG shipments began, eight marine incidents worldwide have resulted in spills, but no cargo fires have occurred on LNG carriers, according to the report.

The principle risk from an accident or attack is a fire, not an explosion, according to the report. LNG fires are typically short but intense.

The report concludes that existing marine firefighting capability is inadequate.

"There are currently very limited resources immediately available to respond to a large marine fire on Long Island Sound," the report states.

It also recommends that a mooring system for the terminal be able to withstand a category 5 hurricane.

The report will be sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which will determine whether the proposal will be licensed. Decisions usually take a year to 18 months after an application is submitted. Broadwater submitted its application in January.



Coast Guard says Broadwater could meet safety, security requirements; 'Foreign-flag' traffic would increase by 20-30 percent
DAY
By Judy Benson
Published on 9/22/2006
 
The Broadwater Liquified Natural Gas facility, proposed to be permanently moored in Long Island Sound, could meet the Coast Guard’s safety and security requirements  if certain steps are taken to increase emergency resources and manpower on the Sound, according to a Coast Guard analysis released today.

The safety and security analysis was released by the Coast Guard Friday and represents a major milestone in the lengthy application and approval process that will determine whether a first-of-its-kind floating natural gas facility can be located in the Sound.

The facility, the length of four football fields, would be located 10 miles south of Branford and nine miles north of Riverhead on Long Island. It would supply  one billion cubic feet of natural gas to the New York-Connecticut region daily.

Capt. Peter J. Boynton, of Sector Long Island Sound, emphasized that the CG analysis is neither an endorsement nor a criticism of the project but an objective analysis that will be one factor in the decision ultimately made by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

He said it would increase foreign-flag traffic on the Sound by 20 to 30 percent.

Company officials said they were pleased with the content of the analysis and could meet all of the Coast Guard’s recommendations for minimizing safety and security risks. Opponents meanwhile said they believe the report illustrates that the facility is inappropriate for Long Island Sound.

 

States Unite For A Sound Purpose
New London DAY
By JUDY BENSON,H
ealth/Science/Environment Reporter
Published on 12/4/2005

Over the years, the watery wedge between Long Island and coastal Connecticut has appeared as either the chasm of divided interests or the bridge connecting the two states in a common purpose.

Long Island Sound has revealed itself as a rift when New York and Connecticut disagreed over such issues as the dumping of dredge spoils in the estuary and the placement of submerged electric cables and natural gas pipelines slicing through the sea bed.

The Sound has bridged the states when they have come together to restore its habitat and craft initiatives to curb nitrogen-laden runoff and sewage discharges in its waters.

From its easternmost point at Race Rock to its western tip at Greenwich and New York City, territorial control over the estuary is split between Connecticut and New York. But to many, the imaginary state line is irrelevant.

“You really can't look at the Sound ecosystem by jurisdictional boundaries, because anything you do in the Sound affects all the other communities there,” said

Kimberly Graff, the outreach coordinator for New York state for a two-decade-old federal and bi-state restoration program called the Long Island Sound Study. “Nothing would get done if we weren't working together.”

Since its introduction a year ago, a first-of-its-kind proposal to park a huge floating industrial facility in the middle of the Sound has the two sides talking as never before. Much of the conversation has focused on uniting against what many perceive to be a common enemy. Broadwater Energy, a Shell Oil-TransCanada PipeLine partnership, is seeking to permanently anchor a 1200-foot-long barge to store and process liquefied natural gas that would be piped mainly to New York City-area utilities.

Though the barge would sit in waters controlled by New York, nine miles from Riverhead on Long Island and 11 miles from Branford in Connecticut, the plan has met with equal scorn in both states as a threat to the safety and environmental well-being of the Sound. Both the barge and the tankers that would supply it would be surrounded by a wide safety and security buffer closing those areas to fishermen, recreational boaters and others.

“The best thing about Broadwater is that they've united New York and Connecticut in favor of Long Island Sound,” said Leah Schmaltz, director of legislative and legal affairs for Save the Sound and staff attorney for its affiliate, the Connecticut Fund for the Environment. “Up until now we've had this on-again, off-again rivalry between the two states. But this idea that Broadwater would take away a part of the Sound from the public was something new entirely. This is probably the most important decision to be made about Long Island Sound.”

•••

The ultimate authority over whether Broadwater receives the permits for its offshore energy plant rests with the federal government, thanks to recent expansion of powers given to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, under the energy bill passed by Congress this year.

Resentment over loss of state control has further motivated bi-state cooperation among the region's congressmen, state and municipal officials, and environmental and grassroots activists groups.

“We needed to muscle up and join forces on this,” said Lonnie Reed, a member of Branford's Representative Town Meeting who's become a leader in bringing residents of Long Island and Connecticut together. “We wanted to create a structure moving forward to get people talking on both sides of the Sound. The people on Long Island love the Sound just like we do.”

Reed, a former journalist and congressional staffer, teamed up with fellow Branford resident Felise Cressman, a former science teacher long involved in environmental causes, to form the Hands Across Our Pond. With Save the Sound as its parent organization, Hands Across Our Pond has reached out to Broadwater opponents in both states for solutions to the region's energy needs that won't impact the shared estuary.

“We're trying to heal some of the schisms that we've felt over other energy debates, and come up with rational energy policies and create a new relationship,” said Cressman, who lives a few steps from the shores of the Sound, where she kayaks and sails.

Among those Cressman and Reed have approached is Sid Bail, president of the civic association of the Long Island community of Wading River. Bail, a veteran of opposition to the Shoreham nuclear power plant in nearby Brookhaven, has welcomed the gesture.

“Over on our side of the pond,” he said, “we've have been very puzzled by some of Connecticut's actions on the dumping of dredge materials and the tremendous amount of hostility to any cables across the Sound. But this effort to come together (against Broadwater) is extremely important, because this is not going to be the last issue we face in terms of uses of Long Island Sound.”

Bail thinks a successful campaign against Broadwater could require a long-term commitment. Regardless of the outcome, he said, the Broadwater plan points out the need for the two states to establish common policies to ensure that the Sound's open waters do not become industrialized.

“Open space preservation regulations for Long Island Sound,” he said, “are something we need to explore.”

•••

Hands Across Our Pond has also established contacts at Concerned Citizens for the Environment, an 80,000-member New York-based organization in the forefront of the anti-Broadwater campaign.

Adrienne Esposito, CCE's executive director, believes the recent grassroots-level teamwork is, in some ways, a revival of what happened decade ago. Then, environmental groups from both states pushed federal and state officials to aim for stricter limits on polluted discharges entering the estuary. The recent unity is also a reaction to what she views as FERC's usurpation of the approval process for LNG terminals.

“When states find their rights being yanked away from them,” she said, “you do find the states coming together. The federal government plays the trump card in this. ... The only real way to protect Long Island Sound is for the two states to work together and focus on what they agree on.”

State Sen. Andrea Stillman, Democrat of Waterford, is hoping that a bi-state Long Island Sound committee of elected and non-elected officials will begin meeting in the near future. The Connecticut law establishing the group was passed this year, but an equivalent measure has not made its way through the New York state legislature.

Stillman's objections to the Broadwater plan, she said, were her main motivation for proposing the law, but the group's purpose would go well beyond this one issue.

“I'm looking at overall concerns about the industrialization of Long Island Sound,” she said.

Another opponent of the project, U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District, is putting his hopes for stopping Broadwater into a bi-state group of lawmakers he calls the Long Island Sound caucus. Before Broadwater, he said, the New York and Connecticut delegations had come together to craft the Long Island Stewardship Act, which enables preservation of certain properties along the coasts of both states.

Simmons said he opposed the portion of the energy bill that gave FERC final say over LNG terminals but thinks Connecticut and New York can still have some influence over the decision.

“Working together,” he said, “team Long Island Sound could mount a very powerful campaign against this project and present it to FERC successfully. This is an opportunity for New York and Connecticut to get together on something.”



Critics call LNG plant unsafe and unsuitable
Robert Varley, Register Staff
09/22/2005
BRANFORD — A public hearing on a proposed liquefied natural gas plant in Long Island Sound had all the flavor of a political protest Wednesday night at Branford High School.

About 250 people turned out to voice their concerns. The $700 million Broadwater Energy plant would be 10 stories tall, four football fields long and 180 feet wide, and float in New York waters about 10 miles south of Branford Harbor.

Critics of the proposal say it’s unsafe and unsuitable for the Sound. Broadwater Energy, a partnership formed by the TransCanada Corp. and Shell U.S. Gas and Power, says it will help provide much-needed energy in the region.

The public hearing was held by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The proposal is in the preliminary stage of a multiple-year review process.  Before the meeting, a crowd rallied in front of the school.  In addition to speakers protesting the project, Clinton’s Tom Callinan sang "Our Water, Not Broadwater."

"And what if something goes awry with Broadwater in our water?" he sang as the generally upbeat tune took an ominous turn. "How many innocent souls will die with Broadwater in our water?"  Natasha Proctor, 8, of Orange, who came with her father and others from the New Haven Yacht Club, danced in a blue crab costume.

"I haven’t felt this kind of spirit since the late ’60s and Vietnam," said state Sen. J. Edward Meyer, D-Guilford.  The New York-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment produced 50,000 signatures opposed to the Broadwater plant.

"I don’t get why we have to entertain every crazy proposal that comes along," said CCE executive director Adrienne Esposito.  She said Broadwater was not a public need, but corporate greed.  John Hritcko Jr., a Broadwater regional project director, said the project was driven by necessity.

"They don’t want the visual of the facility, but all you have to look at is the energy prices in Connecticut," he said, saying 25 percent of the gas would be pegged for the state.  He said the size of the project made sense because of the need for volume.

"LNGs are large-scale projects. They’re difficult to design and justify on a small scale," he said.  He said they’ve worked to ensure the project will be safe from any terrorist threats.

"It’s too difficult to hit and it will not provide a spectacular event," he said, referring to any casualties in a terrorist raid.  Much of the comment period before the panel was taken up by politicians.

"I’m not a knee-jerk, energy industry demonizer," said Branford Representative Town Meeting member Lonnie Reed, D-5. But she said it was wrong to "test drive" the LNG plant in the Sound.  She said she worries about potential collisions, diesel fuel spills and "catastrophic mooring failure."

While earlier fears about the safety of Broadwater were linked to a terrorist attack, the shock of Hurricane Katrina pushed natural disasters to the forefront.

"It could make the Sound look like the Gulf," said Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. "I’m haunted by the hulks of platforms on (the Gulf of Mexico) shore that were supposed to be impregnable."

Blumenthal quoted a Coast Guard report that called the Sound "fragile and stressed."

"We ought to keep in mind what doctors have as their professional motto: First do no harm," he said.

Meyer pushed the Katrina connection further. He said the federal government had not proven its mettle in responding to that crisis.

"I ask you to make your responsibility in this hearing the avoidance of risk, not the management of risk," he said.  He told the panel that a University of Connecticut marine biologist said ecology would be ruined for a generation by a major accident.



Battle brews over terminal
By CHRIS BOSAK Hour Staff Writer
Sunday, September 18, 2005

REGION -- Opposition groups in Connecticut are circling the wagons in preparation for what could be an important week in determining the fate of the proposed liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound. In advance of public meetings scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, many Connecticut mayors and first selectmen will announce their collective opposition to Broadwater Energy's proposal at a gathering at 2 p.m. on Monday at Walnut Beach in Milford.

"We're hoping for a big crowd," said Veda Napoletano of Connecticut Fund for the Environment. "It will be a celebration and announcement of the towns that have formally come out against the project." Broadwater proposed to build a 1,200-foot-long, 180-foot-wide floating terminal in New York waters 11 miles off the coast of Branford. The facility would receive natural gas shipments from ocean-going tankers, about one vessel every three days, store the natural gas in a liquefied state, then reheat it and send it to shore via a 22- to 25-mile pipeline that would connect to the existing cross-Sound Iroquois pipeline.

Broadwater says the terminal will help sate the region's healthy appetite for energy. Norwalk is one of at least 29 municipalities to formally oppose the proposal, according to Napoletano, who added that Westport continues to debate the issue. Also, state Reps. Chris Perone, D-137, and Toni Boucher, R-143, have announced their opposition. There will be two U.S. Coast Guard public meetings this week in the state: Tuesday at East Lyme High School and Wednesday at Branford High School. Members from many environmental groups are hoping for strong turnouts at the meetings.

The Connecticut Fund for the Environment has arranged for free round-trip bus transportation for the Wednesday meeting and plans a public demonstration to express its opposition. The bus will pick up passengers at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Westport commuter lot off Exit 18 of I-95. (To reserve a spot, call (203) 787-0646.) The first two Coast Guard meetings were held last week on Long Island. John Hritcko Jr., senior vice president and regional project director for Broadwater, said the meetings went well.

"Both meetings were productive," he said. "A lot of people came with some good questions. That's the purpose of the meetings: To get face-to-face with officials and ask questions." Hritcko said Federal Energy Regulatory Commission officials will be on hand will take into consideration the questions asked when it puts together its draft environmental impact statement. Another round of public meeting will be held after the draft is announced, said Hritcko, who does not expect a decision by FERC until the end of 2006.

Hritcko is expecting some opposition at the Connecticut meetings, but also more good questions. "It's an opportunity for the people of Connecticut to weigh in," he said. Broadwater recently released updated graphic images showing what the terminal would look like. Overhead and underwater images were sent to The Hour. The terminal would float and be hitched to a mooring tower. The four legs of the mooring tower, he said, would have an underwater footprint about the size of two "basketball fields." Hritcko said the color nature of the images are to show detail and the real product in the Sound would be grayish.

He added that Broadwater has already made several revisions to its initial proposal based on public concerns and input. Changes were made in equipment used, vaporizers and air-emission methods, he said. The South Western Regional Planning Agency, which in early August hosted a presentation by Broadwater Energy and rebuttals from Save The Sound and Citizens Campaign For The Environment, has not taken a position on the proposed terminal, according to an agency official. Robert Wilson, executive director, said the board of directors at its Sept. 6 meeting was preoccupied with finishing its final draft of the Regional Plan of Conservation and Development. Broadwater may come up at the board's October meeting, he added.



A Big Thumbs Down On Idea To Build LNG Terminals
New London DAY
By BETHE DUFRESNE

General Assignment Reporter/Columnist
Published on 9/16/2005

Casinos moored along the Gulf Coast were tossed around like dice.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said it was as if a nuclear bomb had been dropped.

That was Hurricane Katrina, but it could have been a reprise of the 1938 storm nicknamed “The Long Island Express.”

So I have to ask: Is it really a good idea to put a floating liquefied natural gas terminal in the middle of Long Island Sound, as proposed by Shell Oil Co. and TransCanada Corp.? The $700 million terminal — much more than a pipe dream — would be anchored 11 miles from East Haven and would be about 10 stories high and four football fields long. Boaters are already protesting. But officials from the operator, Broadwater Energy LLC, assure us that it would be a safe way to ease power shortages.

Funny how we rarely hear anything about easing power shortages the safest way, through conservation, especially from an administration so intent on pushing abstinence in safe-sex programs as the best or only solution. Now I know it's unfair to pass judgment on this project before all the facts are known. But the scary thing here is that President Bush's new energy bill gives federal regulators — not us — final say over import terminals.

The public can comment — how generous of the feds — during a hearing Sept. 20 at East Lyme High School. Maybe the terminal wouldn't be a huge hazard or target, just monstrously ugly and in the way. But don't forget that a few weeks ago the president said, “I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees.”

Science isn't my forte, nor does it appear to be the president's. For more information on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), I surfed the Web, starting with the Sierra Club. Not surprisingly, the Sierra Club gives LNG terminals a thumbs down. To find out why, including worldwide statistics on mishaps and resulting casualties, check out www.lngwatch.com.

The view from business is more reassuring. The Web site for Trunkline LNG Terminal in Lake Charles (La.) noted that the facility is built to withstand winds up to 150 mph.
Perhaps I'm just being picky, but on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, a category 4, like Katrina, has “dangerous, sustained” winds of 131 mph to 155 mph. That's a five-mile doorway to doomsday, not to mention a “cat 5.”

A report from Hybrid Energy Advisors Inc., a Houston-based enterprise that “provides independent business advisory services to the natural gas industry and related markets,” concluded that “LNG appears to be a very viable and constantly improving choice” to satisfy increased energy needs. The report did, however, admit that LNG is a hard sell.

“LNG re-gasification terminals are viewed as large, obstructive and generally displeasing to the eye,” it said, therefore “one mitigant to that problem is siting the terminal off-shore ...”

Still, problems remain.

“With the threat of oil tanker, nuclear reactor and LNG ship sabotage, political risk to siting an on- or off-shore re-gasification unit is high,” Hybrid Energy Advisors warned.
Note the term political risk.

“Man-made or accidental explosion of such a tanker can be catastrophic in the mind of the common person,” the report said, meaning me,“and although studies have shown that LNG volatility is much lower in its liquid cooled form, the image of a giant vapor cloud can have devastating effects on the human psyche and at the very least create an apocalyptic image that few are willing to internalize.”

Well, even though I'm just a common person, I'm willing to internalize it. And I have to say ...

AAAAAAAeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!


Report Raises Concerns Over Gas Terminal;  State study questions need for facility in Long Island Sound
DAY
By Associated Press & Stephen Singer 
Published on 3/9/2006
 
Hartford — A plan for a floating natural gas terminal on Long Island Sound fails to factor in costs to the public and has no identifiable market, according to a commission appointed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell to study project's impact on Connecticut.
The Broadwater Energy terminal would require public expenditures for security and other requirements, the panel said in an interim report.

The panel said there are numerous environmental concerns with the project. It also criticized what it called the lack of a federal energy policy that it says has led to corporations racing to capture a monopoly in the deregulated energy market.

Amy Kelley, project adviser for Broadwater, disputed the report Wednesday.

“The market is here and we'll be providing energy,” Kelley said. “Broadwater would not propose this project if it does believe there's a need.”

Kelley said Broadwater and state officials have a “common goal of finding a way to provide energy in a safe and environmentally sound way.”

Broadwater Energy, a joint venture of TransCanada Corporation and Royal Dutch/Shell Group, wants to build the $700 million floating terminal to receive and pipe liquefied natural gas.

It is not clear how much influence Connecticut officials will have in determining whether the plans will go forward, said Sen. Andrea Stillman, co-chairwoman of the panel.

The terminal, which would be as long as four football fields, would be in New York waters 11 miles from Branford, and will also require federal approvals.

“We believe we will have some say,” said Stillman, D-Waterford.

Several officials involved in the report oppose the project, but Sen. Leonard Fasano, also a co-chairman of the panel, called it an “open-minded report.”

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a long-time critic of the plan, said that the Broadwater plan is the “worst case and worst place.”

The report called for a review that “should be methodical and meticulous. Every alternative should be examined, every safety issue explored and every economic impact studied and analyzed.”

Rell said in a statement Wednesday she has “very serious concerns about this project from a point of view of public safety, security, the environment and the economy.”

Stillman and Fasano said key information about security, such as the impact of increased Long Island Sound traffic on the submarine base in Groton and the environmental impact of the 25-mile connecting pipeline and trench to install it must be provided before final decisions are made.

 


The Meddling Feds
Hartford Courant editorial
August 12, 2005

Long Island Sound has taken it on the chin, compliments of the sweeping energy bill approved by Congress and signed this week by President Bush.

Tucked inside the legislation are all kinds of hidden morsels meant for special interests. Some are downright indigestible, especially to Connecticut and New York, which are fighting to maintain regulatory control of the bi-state body of water.

Under the new law, the authority to site a liquefied gas terminal in the middle of the Sound has been wrested from the states and turned over to federal regulators. The rationale? The nation's unquenchable thirst for energy supercedes state sovereignty, even if the gas terminal could pose a threat to the environment or the safety of the local populace.

As if that weren't bad enough, the energy law also will allow companies to bypass state courts and go directly to federal court in certain cases in which state officials deny or delay energy projects. The proposed Islander East pipeline is such a case. Hours after Mr. Bush had signed the bill, the owners of the pipeline - KeySpan Corp. and Duke Energy - were in the U.S. Court of Appeals, asking that this state's denial of a construction permit be overturned.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a champion of the environment, has vowed to fight the appeal, as well he should if the evidence warrants it. But the issue is larger than this one pipeline. States' regulatory rights shouldn't be subservient to a national energy policy.

In the case of Islander East, a 23-mile pipeline that would connect Branford with eastern Long Island, state officials have determined that dredging and plowing would degrade the water quality, endanger shellfish beds and damage the coastal environment. The state issued its ruling in 2002 and affirmed it a year later. The owners subsequently sued in Superior Court.

Meanwhile, the $185 million project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce, putting the two governmental jurisdictions at loggerheads.

But instead of trying to negotiate a compromise, the feds have authorized an end-run. Long Island Sound will be worse off because of it.


GAS PLANT PROPONANTS FACE GRILLING
Stamford ADVOCATE
John Nickerson
August 2, 2005
STAMFORD -- Proponents of a plan to build a floating liquefied natural gas plant the size of four football fields on the New York side of Long Island Sound faced tough questions last night from area residents and environmentalists.

Standing before about 80 people last night at Stamford Government Center, Norwalk resident John de Regt asked representatives of Broadwater Energy, the company proposing the plant, why it couldn't be placed in Block Island Sound -- which would keep three LNG tankers per week from servicing the plant on Long Island Sound.

Many Block Island Sound locations weren't protected enough and those that were suitable were too far away from main pipelines that would be used to transport the gas to market, said John Hritcko, Broadwater's senior vice president and regional project director.

The proposal, which if all goes according to Broadwater's plan, would put a 1,200-foot-long floating plant about 11 miles southeast of New Haven in 2010. The plant would be 70 to 100 feet high and 180 feet wide.

The $700 million terminal would be used to warm natural gas brought by tanker in its liquid state at minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit before pumping it into a pipeline to New York and Connecticut energy markets.

Much of the gas would be used for energy production.

To make the plan work, a 25-mile pipeline would be put in place leading to the Iroquois pipeline, which runs between Milford and Northport on Long Island, N.Y.

At last night's meeting, called by the South Western Regional Planning Association, representatives of Save the Sound and the New York-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment -- which oppose the plan -- shared the dais with Hritcko.

After Hritcko and a Broadwater consultant spent about a half-hour explaining the proposal, Leah Lopez Schmalz, Save the Sound's director of legislation and legal affairs, said the plant would create a precedent for industrialization of Long Island Sound.

If the project was successful, Lopez Schmalz asked how many more floating plants would be put on the Sound.

Lopez Schmalz said the Sound should not be a "guinea pig" for the plant, which would be the world's first.

Acknowledging the plant's uniqueness, Hritcko said it would help solve the region's growing power problems.

Asked by Norwalk resident and sailor Bob Yeager what would happen if the plant was not built, Hritcko said problems could become so acute that power companies may fail to keep the lights on in southwestern Connecticut.

Lopez Schmalz countered that more than 10 LNG plants are in the application stage and Broadwater wasn't the only alternative.

During the question-and-answer period, Jeff Cordulack, a Stamford resident and president of the Environmental Council of Stamford, elicited a few laughs when he asked if Connecticut residents, like Alaskans who receive money each year from oil leases, would be paid for use of Long Island Sound.

Hritcko said his company would pay a lease to New York..

Roy Fuchs, a Westport resident and SWRPA board member, asked Hritcko how much money Broadwater expected to make by siting the plant on the Sound. Hritcko said there were internal estimates, but they have not been made public.

Broadwater will soon submit an application for the plant to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which will hold public hearings on the proposal in the fall.

The firm will need environmental approvals from New York, but Connecticut agencies will have no oversight authority over the project.

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Connecticut's Stake
DAY editorial
Published on 1/11/2007


Connecticut has made it resoundingly clear that even though the proposed Broadwater liquefied natural gas terminal will be in New York territorial waters, this state has both a large stake in the outcome of the matter and serious questions about the proposal that require clear answers from federal regulators.

The first public hearing on the LNG proposal Tuesday night in New London amplified the state's firm and official position, which is that the facility would pose a threat to the Sound and the environment unwarranted by the need it would fulfill for energy. What adds to the credibility of this case is that it arises from the elected government of the state, not merely from environmental groups. And it is lodged by some of the same officials who are keenly aware of the state's energy problems and are working on public-policy solutions to them.

The state's vocal and at times theatrical opposition (Attorney General Richard Blumenthal took a frigid dip in Long Island Sound this week to protest the plan) has had an apparent impact. While Connecticut has had no formal status in the deliberations over Broadwater's plan, a federal official announced at the hearing that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will meet with a state task force that has been studying the proposal and scientists who question the conclusions in FERC's draft environmental impact statement.

Scientists consulted by the LNG task force set up by Gov. M. Jodi Rell have challenged the scientific conclusions reached in the FERC report that the operation would cause minimal damage to the environment. FERC has an obligation to address these concerns and others raised by this state, which along with New York, is a steward over this natural resource.

Gov. Rell led off the salvos of opposition to the project in a statement read into the record by her commissioner of Environmental Protection, Gina McCarthy. The governor characterized the move as a taking of public property, colorfully comparing what would take place as akin to obtaining an easement to drive through someone's gardens or to locating an industrial plant in the middle of a national park. The testimony included a repetition of the point that the project would result in the act of handing over property held in public trust to a private industry. Broadwater is a consortium of energy companies led by Shell Oil Co.

The governor demanded and the state is entitled to influence FERC's decision. Connecticut and New York are jointly responsible under law for protecting Long Island Sound, and collaborate in confronting pollution and other threats to the well-being of the Sound. They arguably get little help or encouragement from the federal government.

The state doesn't need to be reminded, as several supporters of the project did for the audience Tuesday night, of the high cost of energy in Connecticut and the need for inexpensive energy sources . Broadwater has postulated its project will provide relief on these issues.

But Gov. Rell addressed that matter, as well, in a pointed attack on the federal policy that is guiding these deliberations. Under federal energy law, Washington has launched a veritable derby, as one critic referred to it, of competition to build LNG facilities. The region may need cheap natural gas, but not in the quantities proposed by energy companies in the Northeast. Gov. Rell argued that the situation calls for a more comprehensive regional or federal approach rather than looking at “one impact act at a time” and leaving the results to market forces.

“The market doesn't take environmental impact into consideration,” she said.

Compounding the problem with the Broadwater issue may be bad federal policy. But FERC at least can mediate the issue fairly and responsibly and this means answering the concerns that it heard in New London Tuesday night and no doubt will hear repeated in the remaining hearings in Connecticut and New York in the following weeks. 


Speak Up About Broadwater: The public needs to be heard on whether liquefied natural gas project is worth the disruption it will bring to Long Island Sound.
DAY editorial
Published on 1/7/2007
 
Beginning Tuesday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will hear comments from the public on the proposed Broadwater liquefied natural gas project on Long Island Sound and the agency's assessment of its environmental impact. The first hearing will be from 7 to 10 p.m. in New London at Mitchell College's Clarke Auditorium. A second is scheduled the following Tuesday in Branford.

This is an opportunity to be heard that the public must not squander. For this industrial project will bring substantial changes to Long Island Sound and the communities in New York and Connecticut that border this precious and endangered body of water. The question before the public has to do with whether it agrees with FERC's preliminary assessment that the project's benefits in adding to the energy supply in the region outweigh the damage the operation will cause to the environment.

There is considerable concern in both states that the project will cause more trouble than it is worth. Environmental organizations and government officials in Connecticut, including state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, are among the opposition. And while Connecticut enjoys only a marginal say in the outcome because the facility will be located in New York waters, New York is also skeptical.

New York State has expressed its concern that the project may violate the Long Island Sound Regional Coastal Management Program, which the state is responsible for enforcing. New York said the project would damage the character of the Sound and limit public access to it.

Broadwater, a consortium of energy companies, argues that the project will add 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day to the energy supply, most of this going to New York. The added natural gas would help lower the costs of electricity by supplying energy generation, among other benefits, the advocates argue. FERC's draft environmental impact statement contends that the project will fulfill a need while having a minimal impact on the environment.

The extent of mitigation that would be required underscores the concerns that exist in both states. The project would impose upon the Sound off Branford a large industrial facility 28 stories high off its waterline, 200 feet wide and 800 feet long on space that belongs to the public. One issue before New York is whether it is willing to grant the necessary easement to the private company.

The operation would entail large security zones around the facility and along the routes of the 800-foot long tankers that would transport the liquefied gas to the terminal, entering the Sound at The Race and adding to the congestion of commercial vessels navigating the Sound. Tankers would re-supply the facility two to three times a week.

The Federal Energy Act furnishes FERC with considerable power over the states to make decisions of this magnitude regardless of how the states feel. This authority does not preclude the public from weighing in on this important matter. The draft report is available on the agency's Web site. Read it, see whether you agree and then let FERC know. Presumably the agency will listen.


A Defining Decision for Long Island Sound; Sides line up over propsed mid-Sound tanker terminal
DAY
By Judy Benson
Published on 1/7/2007

More than two years after the idea of parking a large fuel depot in the middle of Long Island Sound first stirred strong reactions in the two states that share the waterway, the proposal by Broadwater Energy has reached an important juncture.

Until recently, the bureaucratic reviews of the $700 million project — where as much as 8 billion cubic feet of liquid natural gas could be held for transfer through a 22-mile underwater pipeline — has proceeded at a methodical pace.

Now the approach has quickened, and a crucial decision by a federal regulatory agency is just months away.

“We've put out an action alert to our members, and put announcements on the radio, done a massive flier distribution and taken out full-page ads,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of a group opposing Broadwater, the 80,000-member Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

At 1 p.m. today, activists will be joined by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Sen. Joe Lieberman in an “Our Water, Not BRRRroadwater Polar Plunge” at Branford Point Beach. The event, organized by Save the Sound and the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, is intended to bring attention to a series of meetings on the project that begins this week.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency that will decide whether to grant Broadwater one of the key permits it needs, will host four public meetings over the next two weeks. Specifically, FERC wants comment on its draft report, released in November, about the likely environmental impacts of the facility. That report said the project would have few serious negative effects and could fill a need for energy supplies.

The first meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Mitchell College in New London.

FERC will then move to Long Island for public meetings on Wednesday and Thursday nights. The series will conclude back in Connecticut on Jan. 16 at Branford High School.

These meetings preface FERC's Jan. 23 deadline for comments from citizens, environmental groups and government officials. After that, the agency will produce a final environmental report, which should lead to a decision within a few weeks, said Tamara Young-Allen, spokeswoman for the agency.

The FERC decision is one of the major hurdles in the complex approval process for Broadwater.

“We encourage participation,” Young-Allen said. “It's very helpful in shaping the final EIS (Environmental Impact Statement). If you see a gap in the draft, you need to let us know.”

•••••

The terminal in the Sound would be 80 feet high and 1,200 feet long — the length of four football fields.

It would be supplied by tankers designed to carry natural gas from overseas wells in a super-chilled, liquid state.

At the terminal, the fuel would be heated back into a gas and fed into supply lines serving New York and Connecticut.

The proposed project comes as supplies of liquefied natural gas are increasing along with worldwide demand. New regulatory rules and federal policies in this country have encouraged an explosion of proposals for new terminals.

“Generally,” said Young-Allen, “we believe the more natural gas the better. And the safest and cheapest way to get it to customers is through LNG.”

Today there are five LNG terminals in the United States, and nearly 20 more have been approved for this country, Mexico and Canada. Another 20 proposals are pending, including Broadwater's, which is a new design with a floating platform miles from the nearest shore.

The company has pinpointed a spot at the widest part of the Sound, 9 miles north of Long Island's Riverhead and 10 miles south of Branford in Connecticut. Once operating, it could supply enough fuel to power up to 4 million homes a year, according to Broadwater, which is a partnership of Shell Oil and TransCanada Corp.

Broadwater would like to begin operations by 2010, said company spokeswoman Amy Kelley.

The New York-Connecticut boundary line in the Sound runs just north of the terminal location, so it would be just within New York waters. The Coast Guard-mandated exclusion zone around the depot, however, would extend into 40 acres of Connecticut waters.

“Broadwater is specifically designed for the needs of this region,” Kelley said. “That's why we chose a floating facility away from people and away from the sensitive coastal environment.”

Taking advantage of what may be the last opportunity to comment, said Leah Schmaltz, who leads the anti-Broadwater campaign at Save the Sound, “is very critical. This document will give the entire basis for FERC's decision.”

The document is likely to be considered by other agencies with jurisdiction over other permits Broadwater needs. The report, by FERC staff, concluded that any safety and security challenges posed by the terminal and tankers traveling to and from the platform could be addressed.

Four scientists with expertise in various aspects of Long Island Sound recently told a panel of Connecticut legislators that the draft report fails scientific scrutiny for thoroughness and rigor.

•••••

One of the essential questions opponents have raised, said Blumenthal, is “whose Sound is it, anyway?” Turning over a piece of the Sound to a private corporation, the attorney general said, contradicts how most people in both states view the waterway.

If FERC decides for Broadwater, Blumenthal said, he will take the case to court. Meanwhile, he added, “I can't afford to give up on FERC.”

He plans to argue at the New London meeting that the project would be too great a security risk.

At the public meetings, along with FERC, representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will take comments. The corps will determine whether to allow a 22-mile pipe entrenched in the sea floor that would connect the terminal to an existing natural gas supply line.

The New York State Department of State will have representatives at the two Long Island meetings.

That agency will decide if the industrial terminal is in keeping with the Coastal Zone Management Act, a federal law designed to protect waterways and shore areas.

Some opponents of Broadwater, including Esposito, at Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and state Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, have all but given up on FERC. They say the draft report sets the stage for a “rubber-stamp” approval.

Fasano said he is angry about FERC's dismissive attitude toward Connecticut, noting he requested in early December for an extension of the comment period but has not heard from the agency.

He and state Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, co-chair a special panel set up by the governor on the Broadwater project.

“I'd love to believe FERC is open minded, and I'd love to believe FERC is not going to be short-changing the process by coming in predisposed to it,” he said.

Esposito and others say they are now encouraging opponents to try to stop the project through the New York state agency, believing that is their best chance. A recent letter from the N.Y. State Department of State bolstered their hope.

On Dec. 20, the New York agency wrote to FERC about concern the Broadwater proposal would “impair the character of the Sound and of its traditional coastal communities” and would “limit public access to a portion” of the Sound.

The letter further said it would “potentially displace, adversely impact or interfere with water-dependent commercial and recreational fisheries, navigation and general recreational uses.”

Contrary to arguments the project would harm the environment, Broadwater says bringing in a new supply of the cleanest-burning fossil fuel would be good for the environment.

The company estimates household utility bills would be $300 to $400 less a year with Broadwater than without. About three-quarters of Broadwater's gas would be sent to New York markets and the rest would go to Connecticut, according to the company.

As appealing as that sounds, opponents say better alternatives can be found.

“The main problem is the country's energy policy,” said Creig Peterson of East Lyme, a retired science teacher who plans to attend the New London meeting and write to FERC about the serious flaws he said he found in its draft report.

“Whatever you do to make people more dependent on fossil fuels” only delays the need to develop alternatives and reduce dependence on foreign energy supplies, he said.

One supporter of the project is Bozrah First Selectman Keith Robbins, who is also chairman of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments.

“We have an energy problem in New England, and we keep putting up roadblocks in front of anything that might solve it,” he said. “I find it interesting that some of the politicians who are rallying against projects such as this in the next breath are rallying against high energy costs. ...

“I would rather have that platform in Long Island Sound than have a thousand more tankers on I-95.”

 

Chairman Won't Sit Out Gas Plan Talks;  Sees No Conflict Of Interest
March 15, 2006
Courant Staff Report
 
The chairman of the agency reviewing the Broadwater LNG proposal has declined a request from lawmakers to step aside from the deliberations because of his ties to a law firm representing the developer.

Joseph T. Kelliher, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said in a letter to the lawmakers Tuesday that his "paid employment" for the law firm of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae "lasted little more than two months," and that he left the firm in 2000.

He said the commission's ethics counsel advised him that there would be no need to recuse himself from the Broadwater review.

LeBoeuf has been retained by Broadwater Energy to represent it before the commission. U.S. Sens. Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer of New York and U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop, who represents the east end of Long Island, wrote Kelliher last week asking him to step aside to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

Bishop said Tuesday he was disappointed by Kelliher's response. "I hope that at the culmination of the FERC review, we can all agree that the process was as free as possible of any potential conflict."

Broadwater wants to put an import terminal for liquefied natural gas in the middle of Long Island Sound, in New York waters. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is the chief agency reviewing the proposal, which has generated furious opposition.

Kelliher, one of three members of the commission, has extensive background in energy policy, both as a lobbyist and as an adviser to President Bush.


Report Raises Concerns Over Gas Terminal;  State study questions need for facility in Long Island Sound
DAY
By Associated Press & Stephen Singer
Published on 3/9/2006

Hartford — A plan for a floating natural gas terminal on Long Island Sound fails to factor in costs to the public and has no identifiable market, according to a commission appointed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell to study project's impact on Connecticut.
The Broadwater Energy terminal would require public expenditures for security and other requirements, the panel said in an interim report.

The panel said there are numerous environmental concerns with the project. It also criticized what it called the lack of a federal energy policy that it says has led to corporations racing to capture a monopoly in the deregulated energy market.

Amy Kelley, project adviser for Broadwater, disputed the report Wednesday.

“The market is here and we'll be providing energy,” Kelley said. “Broadwater would not propose this project if it does believe there's a need.”

Kelley said Broadwater and state officials have a “common goal of finding a way to provide energy in a safe and environmentally sound way.”

Broadwater Energy, a joint venture of TransCanada Corporation and Royal Dutch/Shell Group, wants to build the $700 million floating terminal to receive and pipe liquefied natural gas.

It is not clear how much influence Connecticut officials will have in determining whether the plans will go forward, said Sen. Andrea Stillman, co-chairwoman of the panel.

The terminal, which would be as long as four football fields, would be in New York waters 11 miles from Branford, and will also require federal approvals.

“We believe we will have some say,” said Stillman, D-Waterford.

Several officials involved in the report oppose the project, but Sen. Leonard Fasano, also a co-chairman of the panel, called it an “open-minded report.”

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a long-time critic of the plan, said that the Broadwater plan is the “worst case and worst place.”

The report called for a review that “should be methodical and meticulous. Every alternative should be examined, every safety issue explored and every economic impact studied and analyzed.”

Rell said in a statement Wednesday she has “very serious concerns about this project from a point of view of public safety, security, the environment and the economy.”

Stillman and Fasano said key information about security, such as the impact of increased Long Island Sound traffic on the submarine base in Groton and the environmental impact of the 25-mile connecting pipeline and trench to install it must be provided before final decisions are made.


State DEP Seeking A Role in Broadwater Deliberations
DAY
By Judy Benson

Published on 3/3/2006

The state Department of Environmental Protection is seeking special status in deliberations of federal authorities on whether to grant Broadwater Energy the permits it needs to locate a floating liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound.
 

Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced the action Thursday, the same day the DEP, at her request, filed a petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for intervener status in the Broadwater decision. The DEP also requested that Broadwater be reviewed for compliance with Connecticut's coastal management policies.

“I am committed to pursuing every available opportunity for Connecticut to play a meaningful role in the review of the Broadwater application,” Rell said in a news release, adding that she has already gone on record as opposing the plan.

“The steps we are taking today will help guarantee that Connecticut plays a legitimate role in the decision-making and is not left on the sidelines,” she said. “The issues already raised are critical to the future of Long Island Sound and the well-being of our state.”

Under the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005, FERC has final authority over permits for LNG facilities. Rell noted, however, that states can have input on safety issues and provide an advisory report to FERC.

The DEP is the second state agency to request intervener status in the Broadwater decision. Last month, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, also a Broadwater opponent, filed a parallel request.

“The governor adds significant force to our fight against Broadwater,” he said in a statement.


Environmental Report says LNG Terminal in Sound 'unnecessary'  - Lawmakers Opposed To Project Say document Strengthens Their Position
DAY
By Judy Benson
Published on 3/3/2006
 
Broadwater Energy's plan to park a huge liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound is not needed to fill the region's long- or short-term energy needs, according to a report released Thursday by the two environmental groups leading opposition to the project.

The report, commissioned by the Connecticut Fund for the Environment-Save the Sound, one of the two groups, was prepared by Synapse Energy Economics, a research and consulting firm based in Cambridge, Mass., that specializes in energy, environmental and economic policy. Joining CFE-Save the Sound in the presentation was the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, based on Long Island.

“We can now say with certainty that Broadwater is unnecessary,” said Leah Schmaltz, director of legislative and legal affairs for Save the Sound. “As this report points out, even if we do nothing to invest in efficiency or renewables, our needs will be met by new supplies before Broadwater even finishes its full review process.”

The report was released at a Washington, D.C., news conference attended by all seven members of Connecticut's congressional delegation, both New York senators and two U.S. representatives from that state. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said the report lends important support to arguments against the plan, now in the early stages of review by federal regulators.

“It's easy to say no,” Dodd said. “But we have some ideas (for alternatives.) The report today shows that from a pure energy standpoint, an LNG facility is not the best solution for our area.”

Other speakers, including Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., Connecticut Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., used the release of the report to reiterate their opposition to the project.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign, said the report clearly shows that Broadwater cannot justify a project that would threaten a critical natural resource such as the Sound.

“Broadwater will not save us money,” she said. “Broadwater is not needed. And Broadwater is not wanted.”

Broadwater is currently seeking permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to place a floating terminal and storage barge for liquefied natural gas in New York waters of the Sound, about 9 miles north of the Long Island town of Riverhead. It would be the first offshore, floating LNG terminal. The liquefied gas would be revaporized and stored on the terminal, and fed into a new 21-mile undersea pipeline connected to an existing main pipeline that supplies the New York City area.

It would add about 1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas to the main pipeline. Officials at Broadwater, a partnership of Shell Oil and TransCanada PipeLine, have said about one-quarter of the gas would supply Connecticut.

The plan has generated widespread opposition among state and local officials, citizens and environmental groups in both states concerned about placing a large industrial facility in the middle of the region's most important waterway. Both the terminal and the ships that would supply it with imported liquefied natural gas would be encircled by safety and security quarantine zones set by the Coast Guard.

In its report, Synapse Energy concludes that the Broadwater project “is not well suited to local or regional gas supply needs” and that its main purpose may not be to supply the New York City area with natural gas. Rather, the report states, “the Broadwater project is designed to serve a much broader market, financially if not physically. The primary attraction of locating an import terminal in Long Island Sound is not that it addresses the supply requirements of the local market. It is that by injecting gas in this downstream position, the facility would have access to high-priced gas markets anywhere in the eastern United States.”

In other words, the location is attractive because it is at a kind of crossroads of the natural gas infrastructure.

There is no evidence, according to the report, that the region needs its gas supply expanded at the level Broadwater is proposing, especially in light of the impact on the “environmental, economic, recreational and historic value of Long Island Sound.”

More economical alternatives exist to meet the region's needs that have been well tested, according to the report. These include:

•Increasing on-shore storage facilities for LNG, which would be tapped only during periods of peak energy demand. The stored gas, held in large tanks, would be fed into existing gas lines as needed.

•Investing in energy conservation measures, increasing the amount of energy generated by renewable sources, refitting gas-burning power plants so they burn less fuel, and expanding the use of combined heat and power technology that seeks to capture and channel heat lost in the power-generation process. Projected increases in gas demand can be reduced by as much as 75 percent, the report says, with these approaches.

•Tapping into the LNG supplies scheduled to come on line as soon as 2008 in eastern Canada. Two terminals and pipelines under construction are intended to supply the Northeastern United States. The locations of both pose fewer environmental threats than Broadwater, the report says, and could yield lower-priced fuel because the cost of transporting LNG to eastern Canadian ports is cheaper due to the shorter distance to LNG supplies. Broadwater plans to have its terminal in operation by 2010. Several other, more suitable LNG terminal plans also have been proposed to serve the Northeast, the report notes.

It also questions whether increasing gas supplies with the Broadwater project would result in lower costs to consumers. While new LNG supplies are being developed, demand also is increasing worldwide, and continuing price increases are likely. This region would be better served if it does not become more dependent on these supplies, the report says.

John Hritcko Jr., senior vice president of Broadwater, said that while he agrees with some of the report, much of it is flawed. For example, he said, the region's growing energy needs cannot be met by the kinds of measures the report suggests. He agrees, however, that conservation, increased use of renewable sources and other steps will be important, but that these will not be enough to offset all the demand. The increase that's needed, he said, is in base supplies as well as in what's available when demand peaks in the winter months.

“Energy providers and planners have all been saying that the demand is there,” he said. “It isn't just Broadwater. This region desperately needs more gas supplies.”

In addition, Long Island Sound is the best location because it is closer to population centers than eastern Canada. Hritcko said gas prices would be cheaper coming from the Broadwater terminal than from eastern Canada, the opposite of what the report concluded.

He added that completion of one of the two projects being built in eastern Canada is uncertain. He also disputed the notion that Broadwater's gas is really not intended specifically for the New York-Connecticut markets.

“Our gas will go to the region we've defined, and it will bring down the price,” he said.

Most of the current supplies of LNG originate in Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Brunei, Algeria, Nigeria, Trinidad & Tobago, as well as Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. New LNG sources in nations such as Russia and Norway are expected to double worldwide supplies in the next decade, Hritcko said.

“There's no question the supply's going to be there, and the supply will more than match demand,” he said.


Critics dismiss gas terminal design changes
Norwalk HOUR
By ROBERT KOCH, Hour Staff Writer
February 27, 2006

NORWALK — Opponents of Broadwater Energy's plan to build a floating liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound praise the company for listening to the public, but vow to continue fighting the project, which last month went to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for review.

"I do credit them with sitting down with the public, but all the issues remain the same. The environmental impact is going to be significant," said Leah Schmalz, director of legislative and legal affairs for Save The Sound Program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, an environmental advocacy group based in New Haven,

Broadwater Energy LLC, a joint venture between Shell Oil and TransCanada Corp., last month submitted its application to the regulatory commission for review.  Environmental groups, lawmakers and many Connecticut municipalities have labeled the project a threat to the environment and public use of the sound.

Broadwater officials say the terminal will provide needed energy to a large market cornered by high prices, operate cleanly and efficiently and reduce the need for oil and coal-fired plants. And, they say they've listened to the public.

"We've listened to many of their concerns and addressed those as best we could. We actually moved the location one mile to the west — that is a direct result of conversations with lobstermen," said John Hritcko Jr., senior vice president regional project director for Broadwater. "We changed the technology for warming the liquefied natural gas back to gas. It actually lowers the profile 20 feet."

Broadwater's plan calls for a 1,200-foot 180-foot-wide floating terminal in New York waters 11 miles off the coast of Branford. The facility would receive natural gas shipments from ocean-going tankers, about one vessel every three days, store the natural gas in a liquefied state, then reheat and send it to shore via a pipeline that would connect to the existing cross-Sound Iroquois pipeline.

Natural gas shipped into the terminal and piped onward would go largely to repowered power plants — oil and coal-fired plants converted to run modern gas-powered turbines — according to Broadwater.  Broadwater hopes to receive all necessary approvals by 2007 and have the estimated $700-million facility up and running in late 2010.

Review agencies include the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, New York Department of State and New York Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.

Amy Kelley, project advisor with Broadwater Energy, said the technology allowing the facility's profile to be lowered from 100 feet to 80 feet will reduce emissions to the lowest possible level. Broadwater has strengthened the terminal moorings to withstand a 10,000-year storm, and shortened the connection pipe from 25 miles to 22 miles, she said.

Save The Sound Program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment remains critical of the project.

"They're minimal changes. They always said their profile would be 75 feet to 100 feet," Schmalz said. "I can't think of any significant changes, where they could maintain their profit margin and all the issues we have could be fixed."  Schmalz said Save The Sound is mobilizing for public hearings, which she anticipates the regulatory commission will hold this summer after reviewing the Broadwater application and issuing a draft environmental impact statement.

Said Schmalz: "The only thing we've seen is that the opposition has gotten stronger."

Broadwater and its detractors each maintain that they are winning support in what has become a public relations battle over the proposed terminal.  Broadwater officials point to letters from hospitals, school districts and groups concerned about rising energy costs. At the very least, those groups are urging a fair and impartial review of the project, they say.

"We've had a lot of letters filed to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by various groups saying, 'We need projects like this. We're dying from high-energy bills,'" Kelley said.

Consumer Power Advocates — whose member institutions include Columbia University and Mount Sinai Medical Center — has endorsed the project.

"CPA believes that the Broadwater Liquefied Natural Gas project would provide a much needed new source of natural gas supply and will also improve air quality in the region," wrote CPA Executive Director Catherine M. Luthin. "On behalf of our CPA members institutions, I urge the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to give the Broadwater LNG Project its full consideration."

A resolution passed by the New York City Council last December asks the public, and federal and state agencies to provide all natural gas supply projects, "including the proposed Broadwater Energy Project, a fair and full review."

At the same time, the list of Broadwater opponents continues to grow.

Norwalk is among 40 Connecticut municipalities to have sponsored resolutions opposing Broadwater, according to Sound Alliance No! To Broadwater, a coalition of organizations, elected officials and individuals against the project.  In addition, Sound Alliance has enlisted 50-plus organizations, including Audubon societies and many yacht clubs that oppose the proposed terminal.

U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., last week announced his opposition. While Lieberman said he remains concerned about how to bring down energy prices for Connecticut residents, he also labeled Broadwater a unacceptable trade-off between environmental protection and economic health.

"Approval of the facility would remove forever a portion of the Sound from the public trust for commercial use, and its operations would impact the commercial and recreational uses already provided by the Sound," Lieberman said. "I simply cannot support this project."

A group of New England lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4, last week called for a new regional approach to siting liquefied natural gas facilities and urged federal regulators to adopt a "rational process" for approving new projects.

The congressmen said the current project-by-project review of proposed liquefied natural gas facilities by federal regulators is not good for the region.

"We believe that this ad-hoc approach is unsuitable for New England and that a more comprehensive and regional approach is required," wrote the lawmakers in a letter to Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman.

Lieberman was not part of the group that sent the letter, but said he supports the concept. Shays last August took aim at the $12.3 billion federal energy bill, which he said would give Connecticut and New York no say in Broadwater project.



Federal LNG Siting Authority Seen As Liability Of Energy Bill

By LOLITA C. BALDOR & ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published on 7/30/200
5

Washington — New England lawmakers said Friday they voted against the wide-ranging energy bill passed by the House and Senate in part because it will give federal regulators the power to site liquefied natural gas facilities.

Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., and Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., were among just six Senate and 31 House Republicans to vote against the bill — which was a key priority for the GOP administration.

They said they split from their party on the bill for a number of reasons. The LNG provision alone, said Shays, was a good enough reason to vote no.

And Chafee said that he had several major problems with the bill, including its failure to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil, increase fuel economy for vehicles and expand support for alternative energies. Expanding the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's authority over LNG plants, he said, was another significant issue.

He agreed that it may seem contradictory for lawmakers to complain that the bill doesn't do enough to promote alternative fuels, and yet opposed the LNG provision, but Congress members said they oppose the idea of taking away state authority in the LNG sitings.

LNG facilities have been proposed in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The Federal Regulatory Commission, which under the bill has the authority to approve LNG facilities over the objections of state officials, has approved the Weaver's Cove Energy project for Fall River, Mass. But it rejected the KeySpan LNG proposal to convert its existing LNG storage tank in Providence, R.I., into an import terminal, citing safety concerns.

Another terminal is being proposed for Long Island Sound between Connecticut and New York by Broadwater Energy. It would be located about 11 miles off Connecticut's coast and would be about four football fields long.

“The energy bill has many shortcomings, but the LNG provision that strips states from making decisions based on the safety of its citizens is an outrage,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. “This provision protects only the gas companies and not the citizens of the United States.”

Federal officials have said they needed Congress to affirm FERC's authority over LNG plants in order to help meet the nation's growing energy needs.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., was the only senator in southern New England to vote for the bill. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said that despite the administration's rhetoric about reducing the country's dependence on foreign oil, the bill does little to get that accomplished.

“Why aren't we getting the message and getting behind these alternative fuels,” said Dodd.

Rhode Island officials have expressed relief that the Providence proposal was rejected, but they also oppose the Fall River plan because it would require ships to pass up through Narragansett Bay to the terminal.

Massachusetts officials have said they will go to court and do everything possible to stop the Fall River project.
    

FERC Approves Fall River LNG Facility, Rejects One In Providence
New London DAY
By LOLITA C. BALDOR
Published on 7/1/2005

Washington — Saying they tried to balance New England's energy needs with public safety concerns, federal regulators Thursday approved plans for a liquefied natural gas terminal in Fall River, Mass., but rejected a proposed expansion of an LNG facility in Providence

It was the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's first rejection of a new LNG facility; seven others have been approved since 2003.

The commission approved the $250 million Weaver's Cove project for Fall River by a 3-1 vote. Commissioners said the project met safety standards, though residents and government officials have protested it would put the community at risk.

Commissioner Suedeen Kelly, the lone dissenter, said the project would damage the environment and aquatic life in the river, and that tanker traffic along the narrow Taunton River would raise safety concerns and disrupt the community.

Fall River mayor Edward Lambert and Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., who watched the vote, vowed to do whatever is necessary to defeat the proposal, including suing in federal court. Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly said officials are asking FERC to reconsider its decision.

“We'll kill this project with a thousand paper cuts,” said Lambert. “We'll use every avenue, legal, political, public relations and regulatory.”  Commission chairman Pat Wood said he knew the vote would not be popular, but said the terminal would help meet New England's serious energy needs.

“We are looking at the long range economic health of the oldest region in our country,” he said. Wood added that the commission needs to better educate the public on the benefits of LNG and FERC's role in the approval process.

Members of Massachusetts' congressional delegation, along with lawmakers from Rhode Island, all said they plan to fight the Weaver's Cove decision, saying the terminal is an attractive target for terrorists and will put residents in both states at risk.  Gordon Shearer, chief executive officer of Weaver's Cove Energy, said the company is prepared for a legal battle.

“We don't expect this to come quickly, but we're well down the road,” he said. “We would not have gone as far as we have, if we were not comfortable that we would be able to comply with the permits.”

The commission voted 4-0 to reject the KeySpan LNG proposal in Providence, saying the project didn't meet safety standards. Commissioners said that converting the existing LNG storage tank on the Providence waterfront into an import terminal would require KeySpan to bring the facility up to current safety standards.

“New England does need additional LNG import capacity,” said FERC commissioner Joseph Kelliher. “This (vote) demonstrates that the commission does apply high safety standards.”  The company has said it would cost more than $35 million and would force officials to take the tank out of service for two to three seasons.  KeySpan executive vice president David Manning said the company is disappointed by the vote, and will consider its options after reading the full FERC decision.

A significant issue, he said, will be FERC's conclusion that the project is a new terminal that must be brought up to current code, rather than an existing facility that meets applicable standards and would not need costly safety upgrades.  Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said FERC accurately found that the KeySpan plan did not properly balance the region's energy needs with the safety of citizens.

Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri said he was pleased by the KeySpan rejection, but said the approval of the Fall River terminal was a setback. To reach a Fall River terminal, a 73-acre former Shell Oil site along the Taunton River, the LNG tankers must travel 26 miles in mostly Rhode Island waters.

“I remain deeply concerned about the dangers of transporting large quantities of LNG through Narragansett Bay,” Carcieri said.  Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch said the Fall River vote “puts a kill zone in the heart of a densely populated New England city.”

LNG is natural gas supercooled until it turns to liquid so it can be shipped. If released, it becomes a colorless, odorless vapor that can catch fire and explode in a confined area.  Residents and community leaders in both cities have vigorously battled the projects, arguing they don't belong in such densely populated areas. They also argue the ships carrying the LNG will create a safety hazards as they pass local communities.

The two New England proposals are among about 40 LNG proposals nationwide being discussed or reviewed by the commission. There are currently four onshore LNG terminals in the continental United States.



 

Federal regulators poised to vote on New England LNG projects
By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer
Jun 30, 1:20 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- As a storm continues to brew over states' rights to site liquefied natural gas projects, federal regulators Thursday will vote on two LNG proposals that could feed New England's growing need for energy sources.

The proposals for a $250 million LNG terminal in Fall River, Mass., and the $100 million expansion of a facility in Providence, R.I., have triggered heated opposition in the local communities and calls for more state power to veto such projects.

Weaver's Cove Energy would build a ship unloading berth, storage tank and two pipelines on the waterfront in Fall River. And KeySpan LNG would build a marine dock at its Providence terminal to accept LNG delivers and add a direct connection to the Algonquin Gas Transmission system.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission votes will come just two days after the Senate approved a far-reaching energy bill that endorsed FERC's authority to decide where LNG facilities can be located.

Massachusetts officials are braced for FERC to approve the Weaver's Cove proposal and are already preparing legal arguments for a federal court appeal.

"My colleagues and I, together with the Fall River community, continue to believe that this project unnecessarily puts residents at great personal risk and opens up our coastline to terrorist attack," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

Rhode Island lawmakers, however, are pinning their hopes on comments by FERC commissioners suggesting that KeySpan LNG would have to bring its existing facility up to current safety standards before the expansion could go forward.

FERC gave both projects generally positive environmental reviews.

Weaver's Cove spokesman Jim Grasso said Wednesday that the company is encouraged by FERC's positive review, but he said there are many other required permits if FERC approves the project. The company has already applied for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit to dredge about 20 miles of the federal channel up through Narraganssett Bay, at a cost of $50 million, he said.

FERC's final review of KeySpan raised concerns, saying the company has not shown that the terminal could be brought into compliance with current safety standards and that would be considered in the final decision.

KeySpan spokeswoman Carmen Fields said the company believes the terminal meets all applicable safety standards, "and our additional proposals were enhancements to an already safe and legal facility."

To meet current standards, KeySpan would have to spend millions to buy surrounding property for a buffer zone and take its LNG tank off-line for three years for construction.

Government officials and community leaders from Fall River and Providence have fought the projects every step of the way saying they don't belong in such densely populated neighborhoods, and that they will create safety hazards as the ships carrying the LNG travel up the bay and under highway bridges.

"My question to FERC Chairman Pat Wood, is how many and which Americans are expendable?" said Fall River Mayor Edward Lambert Jr.



WHEN IS THE STATE'S RIGHTS QUESTION A POLITICAL CONUNDRUM?


****** CFE Activist Alert ******

LONG ISLAND SOUND NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT...and it got it...as well as the bill - BUT, the story is not over 'til the bigpower brokers sing (i.e.  Congress)...

With less than three weeks to go in the 2005 session of the Connecticut General Assembly, many important pieces of legislation must still be voted on.

An important bill affecting the future of the Long Island Sound has just passed the state Senate and will be voted on by the Connecticut House of Representatives in the next few days!

Senate Bill 637 An Act Concerning a Bi-State Long Island Sound Committee" will help usher in a new era of New York and Connecticut partnership, ensuring that both states work together on Sound-wise initiatives to provide for public enjoyment and protection of the natural resources of Long Island Sound.

This bill is critically important in ensuring our elected officials in Connecticut and New York focus their legislative energy on timely issues needed to preserve, protect and enhance the Sound's habitats, waters, and fisheries.

The rapid growth of population and industry around Long Island Sound requires all of us to work together NOW to guarantee the long-term restoration and protection of Long Island Sound - one of the most beautiful and important bodies of water in the United States and a vital
part of our nation's ecosystem.

PLEASE CONTACT THE HOUSE LEADERSHIP AND YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVES TODAY.  ASK THEM TO SUPPORT SB 637 - THE BI-STATE LONG ISLAND SOUND COMMITTEE BILL.

Long Island Sound is our REGIONAL TREASURE.

Take action TODAY to protect its future!

Contact The House Democrats
1-800-842-8267
- and -
The House Republicans
1-800-842-8270

Click here to contact your state legislator and the leadership of the House Democratic and Republican caucuses.

Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.
--Albert Camus



U.S. LNG imports jump 29% in 2004
By Stephanie I. Cohen, MarketWatch
Last Update: 5:59 PM ET April 15, 2005

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Imports of liquefied natural gas into the United States jumped 29% in 2004 and helped meet soaring demand for natural gas, the U.S. Energy Department said Friday.

Imports of the fuel increased to a record 652 billion cubic feet from 507 billion cubic feet in the previous year, according to a report from the Energy Department's Office of Fossil Energy.  Although these imports accounted for just 3% of total U.S. natural-gas demand in 2004, the Energy Department anticipates continued growth will have imports meeting 20% of demand by 2020.

Liquefied natural gas is formed when natural gas is cooled to -260 degrees Fahrenheit, a process that shrinks its volume by more than 600 times and makes it easier to transport in tankers around the world.  In 2004, five companies imported 244 cargos of liquefied natural gas into the United States, including BG Group, BP Energy, Distrigas, Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Statoil, the Energy Department said.

Roughly a third of all liquefied natural gas entering the United States came through Dominion Resources' Cove Point receiving terminal on Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore.  Imports also arrived at three other receiving terminals located in Georgia, Louisiana and Massachusetts.  About two dozen new terminals have been proposed for the United States, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Roughly 71% of total imports came from Trinidad. The United States imported smaller quantities of liquefied natural gas from Algeria, Australia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Tobago, Oman and Qatar.



LNG firm to pursue offshore Fall River berth 
DAY
By Andrew Miga   
Published on 7/18/2008 

Washington - The company hoping to build an LNG terminal in Fall River, Mass., said Thursday it is focusing on an alternate plan for an offshore berth in Mount Hope Bay to receive tanker deliveries.

The original proposal from Weaver's Cove Energy depended on tankers traveling up the Taunton River to Fall River.

Critics, including Fall River officials and members of the state's congressional delegation, worked to block the original proposal, saying it poses unacceptable risks to the heavily populated area. That plan also was opposed by officials in nearby Rhode Island.

The Weaver's Cove announcement came one day after the House voted to extend federal “wild and scenic” environmental protection to the Taunton River, dealing a setback to the company's plan for an LNG terminal on an urbanized stretch of riverbank in Fall River. The Massachusetts congressional delegation was behind the bill.

Under the new plan, tankers would unload LNG offshore into a four-mile underwater pipeline to Fall River. Company officials said the proposed offshore berth would be located about one mile from the nearest shoreline and two miles south of the Braga Bridge.

”This new proposal would not require LNG ship traffic within the confines of the Taunton River and would address concerns previously expressed by the community and the U.S. Coast Guard,” Weaver's Cove officials said in a statement. “It would also greatly decrease dredging within the Taunton River.”

Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., said he has concerns about safety risks posed by the latest proposal. He said it was misleading for Weaver's Cove to characterize it as an “offshore” proposal.

”Mount Hope Bay is not the Gulf of Mexico,” McGovern said in a statement. “It's a crowded waterway, and LNG tankers would continue to pose a significant hazard to commercial and recreational boat traffic. But the most important point is this they still want the storage tankers on land in Fall River, a stone's throw away from residential neighborhoods.” 






MaineToday.Com
-- April 1, 2005

TransCanada Pipelines wants to build a liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal in Casco Bay. The terminal would transfer super-cooled LNG from tankers to a warming facility. Then it could be transported in pipelines to customers and power generation facilities.

TransCanada formed a partnership with Conoco Phillips to build a $350 million facility at a former U.S. Navy fuel depot in Harpswell. But town residents blocked the proposal in a March 9 referendum.

After the rejection in Harpswell, TransCanada resumed its search for a site. One possibility is Hope Island - the 89-acre island owned by the New York developer John Cacoulidis in the middle of Casco Bay. The town of Cumberland would have to change zoning for the island to allow an industrial facility.

Also being considered is Cousins Island. TransCanada has had preliminary discussions with Yarmouth officials about building the facility next to Wyman Station, an oil-burning power plant. There has been no permit request - just notification the island is on the list of possible sites.

Sears Island - farther up the coast - was discussed briefly. But neither its neighbors nor an energy company seem seriously interested in the location.

LNG is shipped in tankers that keep it cooled to -256 degrees Farenheit. At that temperature, it is in a liquid state. Its volume is reduced 600 times and more easily transported by ship as a liquid. The terminal being proposed would return the LNG to its gaseous state. Then it is pumped into the pipeline network as natural gas. (More information about the process)

Proponents say LNG is a relatively clean source of energy. Such a facility could means millions more in tax revenue and addtional economic benefits for its host community. But opponents cite concerns about safety, environmental impacts and disruptions to fishing vessels in the area. Proponents cited tax revenue for the town, job creation and a source of clean energy.

In addition to local approval, such a facility would need to reviewed by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the Maine Department of Marine Resources and the U.S. Coast Guard, which send their recommendations to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. FERC maintains that the federal government has sole jurisdiction over the siting and construction of liquefied natural gas terminals. This approval process could take three years.

POSSIBLE SITES

Hope Island
The 89-acre island is in the town of Cumberland and owned by the New York developer John Cacoulidis. It sits between Chebeague and Cliff islands. The town would have to rezone the island from residential to industrial. (More info)

Cousins Island
The small island off of Yarmouth already is home to Wyman Station - an oil-burning power plant. The LNG terminal could be placed near the plant. The water around Cousins Island is shallower than the ideal, but the island has a large industrial zone and is close to the mainland. (More info)

Harpswell
On March 9, Harpswell residents rejected a lease agreement for an LNG terminal called Fairwinds. Harpswell would have received lease fees and tax revenue for letting TransCanada and its corporate partner, ConocoPhillips, develop 70 acres of town-owned land.

BROADWATER NORTH?
Same characters, different place (we have L.I. Sound as potential victim)

LNG issue far more than just tankers;  The real problem is that reserves get smaller rather than larger, so what's the long-range plan?

During last year's debate about a possible liquified natural gas terminal near Searsport, summer resident and investment banker Matthew Simmons expressed his concern this way:

"Wow, to even think about sending one of those (tankers) up to the top of Penobscot Bay. That should be the last, last thing we do before we just, y'know, dismantle our economy."

This, from a man who has spent his life studying energy and who has visited the facility in Qatar where LNG originates.

So apparently the vote by Perry residents to keep such tankers out of Passamaquoddy Bay was a wise thing to do.

But it only dodges the real issue, one that, as far as I know, has never been addressed by this newspaper: the depletion of fossil fuels in North America and, indeed, the world.

The very fact that we debate whether to send aircraft-carrier-sized vessels filled with methane into our most treasured areas is a testament to the crisis we refuse to face.

As geologist Jean Laherrere says in a paper for the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, "The fact that . . . natural gas discoveries peaked in the '70s is for the majority a well hidden secret."

This, he says, is "devastating for (the United States)," because production necessarily tracks discovery: you can only extract gas that you have found.

It follows, as discoveries decline, so does extraction. And indeed, natural gas production has been flat for years in both the United States and Canada, even as demand skyrockets.

Yet hundreds of gas-fired generation facilities are being built across the country. We currently depend on gas for 50 percent of our electricity generation, as well as for 50 percent of our home heating.

Methane molecules are the "feedstocks" for the production of agricultural fertilizers, plastics and industrial chemicals. But as Simmons says, "Sixty-five percent of the world's gas supply . . . is now in decline."

Unlike oil, 99 percent of our gas comes from North America. Gas from abroad is not easy to get as it doesn't ship well. Oil can be poured into tankers and offloaded into pipelines. Gas must be frozen and pressurized, then carefully thawed and depressurized at the terminal.

But with gas in the Western Hemisphere in terminal decline, there is no place else to get it but from places like Qatar. Problem is, everyone else wants it, too.

A symptom of gas scarcity is cost: "The wellhead price of natural gas skyrocketed 400 percent" since 2000, according to Randy Udall of the Community Office of Resource Efficiency in Colorado. This happens even as we spud more wells, because 17 must be drilled each day just to keep supply flat.

"North America has not run out of natural gas," Simmons reminds us. "What we are short of is any way to grow our energy supply."

Canada is bound by NAFTA to sell us their gas, even as their production goes flat and their consumption rises, just like the United States. Problems will arise when they need to burn their gas more than they need to ship it to us - it's much colder in Canada.

True, we only import 15 percent of our gas from Canada. The problem is, this represents over 50 percent of Canada's production.

Unless we pull our heads out of the sand and learn to use less gas, we can count on the future bringing more of what we've seen in the past: vast blackouts, fertilizer plant shut-downs, and higher prices - for everything, not just gas.

Either that, or we float bombs up and down the Maine coast.

About the Author
Michael Bendzela of Standish, an adjunct professor of English at the University of Southern Maine, studies oil and gas depletion as a hobby.




Opposition to LNG facility
By CHRIS BOSAK, Norwalk HOUR, 3/14/05
NORWALK -- Many are vehemently opposed and outspoken about it. Many others simply want more information before taking a stand.

It's the proposed LNG (liquified natural gas) floating facility that would be located in Long Island Sound about 11 miles off the coast of New York and nine miles off the coast of Connecticut, just east of New Haven.

It would resemble a large ship permanentely situated on the Sound. The facility has been proposed by Broadwater Energy, a joint venture between TransCanada Corporation and Shell. For those already opposed, a meeting was held recently at which officials from both states voiced their concerns.

"I have long opposed ill-conceived and poorly planned energy projects that threaten our natural resources and public trust lands," state Attorney General Richard Blumental said in a statement read at the meeting.

"(This) project is another sad chapter in the ongoing saga of energy industry projects that put profits ahead of our environment and public interest." For those who need additional information, a briefing will be held Wednesday, March 23 as part of the Connecticut Maritime Association's SHIPPING 2005.

State politicians, officials and others will join LNG experts in an informational meeting at the Westin in Stamford. State Sen. Bob Duff, D-25, of Norwalk often takes sides with the environment, but like others, he wants to get all of the facts.

"It's a massive application for Long Island Sound," he said. "Anytime that type of use is proposed for recreation and small-use water, it's definitely going to raise concerns. The state and federal governments have spent millions of dollars getting the Sound to where it should be." That the facility was proposed for New York waters was no accident, added Duff.

"It was proposed for that side of the state line for a specific reason," he said. "They knew that if they put it in Connecticut, it would be more difficult to get it in. I think they are a little shocked by the opposition in New York.

"There's a lot of opposition, but a lot of people just don't understand it yet," he said. "If we determine that it's not in the best interest of us in the region, we have to mobilize against it." People oppose the facility for a variety of reasons, including safety concerns and the asthetic beauty of the Sound. The Broadwater Web site addresses some of the concerns.

"Safety and security are among the most vital elements of our entire project," the site states. "An unsafe facility is not a viable project for us or the residents of the region."

U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, R-4, is far from a supporter of the project, but he realizes that southwest Connecticut's energy sources must come from somewhere. "We can't reject every idea that comes along," he said last week during a visit to The Hour.

"We have less refineries than 20 years ago. There needs to be a meaningful debate about energy."

Perhaps the briefing on March 23 will shed light on some of the questions. According to the Connecticut Maritime Association, the briefing will focus on the operation, engineering, safety and commercial aspects of liquified natural gas facilities.

The following question and answer session will be monitored by Warren Bluestein, president of BGT of Stamford. BGT moves LNG from Indonesia to Tokyo, a project that has been going on for nearly 25 years.

The homepage of the Broadwater Web site welcomes public opinion. It claims that a survey determined that 73 percent of registered New York voters wanted to know more about the project before formulating an opinion. According to the Web site, "By 2010 Broadwater could be safely and reliably delivering a large new supply of clean-burning natural gas to homes, businesses and power generation plant. Your input will help Broadwater build a project compatible with the public interests in the region."

Some have formulated their opinions already. "The Long Island Sound is a priceless natural resource shared by the people of both Connecticut and New York, and we must always be mindful of our mutual responsibility as stewards of this environmentalal treasure," State Sen. John McKinney, R-Southport, said during the meeting with officials from both states.

"Unfortunately, this threatens the Sound's ecosystem by the damage it will inflict to the seabed, along with the continual danger of pool fires and vapor clouds. That is why selling off part of the Sound to private industry for these kinds of projects is not responsible stewardship -- it is shortsighted and should be vigorously opposed."


Public voices concern over Sound terminal
Mark Zaretsky, NHRegister Staff
12/07/2004

NEW HAVEN — The company that wants to put a $700 million liquefied natural gas plant the size of the Queen Mary II in the middle of Long Island Sound took its plan before the public for the first time Monday, but not before an array of environmentalists and public officials raised questions.

Both events took place in the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale.

A coalition led by state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and environmental groups held a press conference preceding Broadwater Energy’s first "open house" information session on the project.

Broadwater officials, led by project director John Hritchko Jr., listened to concerns expressed in the hotel lobby, then went upstairs to address, on a one-to-one basis, questions or concerns the public might want to voice about the project.

"We share their concerns" about things like safety and the environment, Hritchko said. But he said the project, nine miles off Long Island and 10 miles from the nearest point in Connecticut, would be safe and that a study for a similar project recommends a safety zone of 1.6 to 2.4 miles.

No LNG facility ever has been built in the middle of the water, although similar facilities have been proposed off Santa Barbara, Calif., and China.

There are four on-shore facilities in the U.S. that turn liquefied natural gas back into its gaseous form, as Broadwater would do.

One source of concern was that while the floating platform would be built 11 miles south of Branford Harbor and, according to Save the Sound environmental group, 10.5 miles from East Haven’s town beach, it would be in New York State waters and would have no Connecticut regulatory review.

Nick Crismale of Guilford, president of the Connecticut Commercial Lobersterman’s Association, and his partner in Branford River Lobster, Michael Guarniere, were more concerned about their lobster pots.

"I’ve been there for 32 years," Crismale said. "Where am I going to put them?"

Blumenthal said he fears Long Island Sound "is in danger of becoming a dumping ground."

Several who spoke made clear that they oppose the project, a joint venture between TransCanada Corp. of Calgary and Shell U.S. Gas & Power, a subsidiary of the Dutch energy conglomerate, Royal Dutch/Shell.

Both Blumenthal and DeStefano stopped short of that.

"No," Blumenthal said when asked if he was coming out against the project. "We are saying at this point we have more questions than answers" concerning everything from the project’s proposed technology to the 25-mile underwater pipeline that would connect it to the Iroquois pipeline off Milford to what security measures might be in place.

DeStefano said he "genuinely would be willing to look at anything," but that, given the state’s lack of a coherent energy policy he believed there was an "air of inevitability" that ultimately all in Connecticut might end up fighting it.


Bill On Sound Dies In House
December 6, 2004
By DAVID LIGHTMAN, Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON -- It looked so easy. The Connecticut delegation's effort to provide sweeping new protection for Long Island Sound zoomed through the Senate, and members had hopes of slipping it through the House.

Then Rep. Richard Pombo got a look.

It was over in an instant. The California Republican stopped the bill cold and killed its chances of approval this year because, said his spokesman Brian Kennedy: "The congressman does not rubber stamp anything as significant as this."

Conservationists and bill supporters saw other motives. They see the bill's demise as a result of a trend of increased clout on environmental issues for conservative, often Western, lawmakers who are skeptical and even fearful of government control of their land and their lives. Their clout comes at the expense of power wielded by Connecticut and other like-minded members of Congress from the Northeast.

"Richard Pombo is a guy who's really frightened by what most people consider to be mainstream conservation practices," said Betsy Loyless, vice president for policy at the League of Conservation Voters.

Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4th District, saw another motive. "He thinks it's another example of Easterners telling Westerners what we want to do with property owned by the American people," Shays said.

Connecticut's congressional delegation will revive the bill next session, and hope their effort will get it enacted.

"We'll probably get back on track," said Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-3rd District. "It's just going to take awhile longer."

But there are no guarantees - in fact, there's plenty of pessimism - because Pombo, chairman of the House Resources Committee, has a lot of serious questions about the legislation, including a projected price tag that could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.

Complicating the process is the shift in congressional power to the South and West, as well as to more conservative Republicans.

The death of the bill this year is a big blow because it was a top 2004 priority for the New York and Connecticut delegations.

They used almost every howitzer in their arsenal to win passage. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., got the Senate to act by holding up a powerful Republican's bill. House members tried a maneuver of their own to avoid bringing the measure before Pombo's committee, dominated by Westerners.

Pombo is "likely" to bring the bill back next year, said Kennedy, with possible hearings in Connecticut and in Washington. If witnesses and lawmakers can make the case before his committee, he said, the bill has a shot.

But it's probably a long shot. There are currently no Connecticut or New York members on the 52-member panel.

The top Democrat is from West Virginia, and the subcommittee chairmen, all Republican, are from California, Wyoming, Oregon and Maryland.

Pombo is a northern California rancher, with a history of questioning what he sees as too much government intrusion into private property rights. He is also a protege of Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, heading a committee that has a strong influence on forest, energy, parks and other environmental policy.

Pombo has long been viewed with suspicion by the environmental community. Loyless called him "the darling of the private property rights movement," and her League of Conservation Voters' 2003 score for Pombo was 5 out of 100.

Pombo championed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and has spent years trying to rewrite the Endangered Species Act to make it less harsh on private interests - something that is expected to be a second-term priority of President Bush's administration.

And when Pombo sees Eastern lawmakers trying to rush - let alone sneak - through what they view as an important Long Island Sound reform, it's no shock when he pounces.

"Actions like the one on Long Island Sound can set precedents," Kennedy said, anytime the government wants to dictate to landowners.

Pombo has often cited instances where environmental regulations have had the potential to create problems for private interests.

When his committee considered the Missouri River Breaks National Monument, for instance, Pombo was leery that protecting the acreage would hurt private landowners - even though their land was not included as part of the monument area.

That there's going to be a renewed battle in 2005 is a clear disappointment to the Connecticut delegation, which had seemed so close and so clever this year in pushing the Long Island Stewardship Act, a broad program to preserve open space and give the public more opportunity to use the Sound and its adjacent areas.

It would set up a special panel to advise the Environmental Protection Agency. Public and private "stakeholders" would be involved, and they would help identify important ecological lands and the best ways for the public to enjoy the area.

Lieberman, aware of the concerns of Pombo and like-minded members of Congress, had a special section written explaining in detail how the program was strictly voluntary.

If anyone wanted to have his land involved - perhaps by selling it or having it protected from development - they could seek money from a special fund. The act would have authorized $25 million a year for this fund for the next seven years. It also would have authorized another $40 million a year for other Sound-related programs.

The bill's first hurdle this year was the Senate, where James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, was not enthusiastic.

Lieberman, though, used his power as a senator to put a "hold," or indefinite delay, on a favorite Inhofe water resources bill. Move my Long Island measure smoothly, Lieberman signaled, and I'll let your bill go.

Inhofe agreed, and the Long Island measure sailed through the Senate in October with no dissent.

House supporters had hoped to use their tactic, and angled to get the bill taken up under a special procedure used for non-controversial legislation such as naming post offices.

Such measures are dubbed "suspensions," and are usually considered in bunches with minimal debate. They bypass the usual committee hearings, and require a two-thirds House vote for passage.

Shays said the tactic was considered because "it was in his [Pombo's] committee, and he didn't do anything."

Pombo learned about the effort and blocked it. "Because this bill is so expensive, and covers an area that involves state, local and federal rules and regulations, the chairman felt it would be impossible to green-light the bill," Kennedy said.

Reminded that a House version of the bill had been around since July, thus providing time for hearings and study, Kennedy said Long Island Sound was not a top priority for Pombo, who was trying to fashion a major energy bill.

Anyway, he wanted to make sure no property rights were being compromised, and he thought the cost seemed high.

"That money," Kennedy said, "is something that raises eyebrows right away."

So now the Long Island Sound project faces an indefinite delay - and its chances may have even been hurt by the local lawmakers' effort to rush the bill through.

"I don't know if what they did hurts," Kennedy said, "but it doesn't help."


Energy Proposal Raises Alarms;  Coalition Fighting L.I. Sound Project
December 5, 2004
By WILLIAM WEIR, Courant Staff Writer

Opposition has been growing steadily in the weeks since the announcement of a plan to build a liquefied natural gas terminal - 1,200 feet long and up to 100 feet high - that would float 11 miles off the Branford shore.

"I just don't understand where these companies get the idea that the Sound is for sale," said Barbara Gordon, president of the Connecticut Seafood Council. "It's a monstrosity. Next they'll be renting out condos in the middle of the Sound."

Gordon recently helped form the Long Island Sound Action Coalition, a group of environmentalists, fishermen and residents, to fight the project proposed by Broadwater Energy, a joint venture of TransCanada Corp. and the Royal Dutch/Shell Group.

But Broadwater Energy officials say the public still has much to learn about the project and the company will hold two informational meetings on the project this week. The meetings are open to the public and will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday and 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Omni Hotel in New Haven.

The proposal is the latest example of the tricky balancing act between serving the needs of an energy-deficient region and addressing environmental concerns. Environmentalists are still smarting from the 2002 installation of the Cross Sound cable that runs from New Haven to Long Island and continue to fight the pending Islander East plan for a 22.6-mile natural gas pipeline under Long Island Sound. After Broadwater Energy's plan was introduced last month, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal declared Long Island Sound "a dumping ground for misguided energy projects."

For easier storage and transport, the natural gas is liquefied by being cooled to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit. Later, it is warmed up at the terminal and returned to gaseous form. As planned by Broadwater Energy, the $700 million terminal would use a 25-mile-long pipeline to bring the gas to the existing Iroquois Natural Gas pipeline.

Liquefied natural gas, or LNG, has become an increasingly popular option. There are nine other LNG proposals throughout New England and New York.

Broadwater Energy officials say the facility would resemble a large ship and supply 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day - enough to supply energy for 4 million homes. It would be ready for use in 2010.

Because the terminal would be in New York waters, Connecticut will have little input in the regulatory process, which is in its early stages at the New York state and federal levels. But Blumenthal said he and other Connecticut state officials will closely watch the process and continue to ask questions.

Opponents say the project is unprecedented and Broadwater Energy has provided little information regarding the project's potential environmental impact and what safety precautions would be in place. Leah Lopez of Save the Sound, a program of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, said the company has yet to address the possibility of an explosion, let alone what visual and noise impacts it would have on the area.

Others say they will wait and see. Though she said she's "very concerned" about the proposal, Branford resident Kiki Kennedy said she is keeping an open mind. She will go to the informational meetings this week and "continue to gather information with scientists and other environmentalists."

"I'm very concerned that this could be the first part of the industrialization of the Sound," said Kennedy, a member of Stop the Pipeline, a group that formed in opposition to the Islander East gas pipeline plan.

Though there are four other LNG facilities in the United States - in Boston, Maryland, Georgia and Louisiana - Kennedy said she fears Long Island Sound will be a guinea pig for the first offshore LNG facility.

But John Hritcko, spokesman for Broadwater Energy, said the technology plan's main components have been used extensively in current offshore and onshore operations.

"All of this is existing technology, so there's nothing new in terms of concept - it just hasn't been done on the LNG side," he said.

He also said the distance between the facility and any populated areas is so great that there are no risks to communities on the shore. And the design of the floating facility would minimize contact with the sea floor and avoid impact on the near-shore environment.

Though liquefied natural gas is used in numerous locations, Hritcko said, very little is known about the technology. That's the purpose of this week's informational meetings. It is still early in the regulatory process, he said, and his company intends to present more scientific analysis to alleviate concerns about safety and environment.

Ultimately, he said, the project could be environmentally beneficial by providing a substantial supply of clean-burning natural gas.

Though Broadwater Energy officials have said the project would have little effect on commercial fishing, some in the lobster industry said the terminal would kill off an already battered fishery.

Since 1999, the Sound's lobsters have been dying off for reasons still being investigated. But Nick Crismale, president of the Connecticut Commercial Lobsterman's Association, said the latest research offers hope that the industry can be revived. But the terminal would be located exactly where the fishery stands its best chance of revival, he said.

"I think it's worst idea they could ever imagine - it's like putting an atomic bomb in the Long Island Sound," he said. "You want to put it right over the primary spot where the lobsters are trying to come back to live. It's going to put us out of business."



Pipeline Rejection Sheds Light on LNG Options
Westport NEWS
By DON CASCIATO
Article Launched: 12/22/2006 09:16:45 AM EST

News Analysis--During the past year, much of the environmental coverage on TV and in state newspapers has focused on Broadwater Energy's proposal to build a large platform in Long Island Sound for the importing of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG).

Many conservationists and Connecticut residents are opposed to the facility, which would be located about 9 miles off the coast of Riverhead, N.Y., and about 11 miles from the nearest Connecticut shoreline -- if it gains approval.

That is considered a big "if" by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and many other LNG terminal foes on both sides of the Sound. Nonetheless they expect a difficult battle whether they win or lose.

In another development involving the use of Long Island Sound, the state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced this week that it had issued a new denial of a Water Quality Certificate for Islander East Co.'s bid for a pipeline approval. The state agency concluded that the proposed route would damage water quality, fragile natural resources and prime shellfish beds for clams and oysters.

It isn't a sure thing that rejection of the Islander East project sets the stage for rejecting Broadwater's LNG terminal request. But, much of the same
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logic could apply to the Broadwater plan.

Comparing Two Projects

For example, natural soils and sediment that create a habitat for commercially valuable oysters and clams, as well as other aquatic life, could be permanently replaced with gravel material along a 37-foot-wide, 1.1-mile trench if the Islander East pipeline had been approved, according to DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy

"This dramatic change in the composition of the bottom of Long Island Sound would have a devastating impact on shellfish and aquatic life -- and Islander East has presented no credible evidence of the ability of the Sound to restore itself," she said.

The same environmental fears have been voiced about the LNG terminal and are expected to surface again as the Broadwater plan is reviewed. It might be difficult to reject one project but give an OK to another one that could cause similar damage.

In effect, McCarthy's pipeline rejection has provided possible language for rejecting the Broadwater terminal. Three other major concerns of DEP include:

A total of 3,723 acres along the bottom of the Sound, including sensitive shellfish areas -- would be damaged from the scraping of anchors or their cables used to hold barges in place while work is under way.

A total of 587 acres of shellfish beds would be damaged with uncertain prospects for recovery. This includes 240 acres of Branford's town shellfish beds and 347 acres of state beds. Although this might not apply to the LNG terminal, there has been little publicity about what is on the floor of the Sound at the proposed LNG site.

Shellfish, shellfish habitat and overall water quality will be damaged by both disturbed sediment and materials used in lubrication for drilling that will be released into the water and ultimately settle on the surrounding seafloor. There is certainly a chance that a larger project could damage the area -- both during the construction phase and afterwards if the LNG forces win the day.

Serious Consideration

"The Islander East proposal required DEP experts to give serious consideration to an issue not many people often think about: the future health and well being of the bottom of Long Island Sound," said the DEP commissioner.

"While the bottom of the Sound may be out of sight, we cannot allow it to be out of mind. The unique geological and biological characteristics of the bottom of the Sound -- especially in the area around the Thimble Islands near Branford -- make it a special place for marine life and the breeding and harvesting of shellfish. It is unacceptable to trade away unique natural attributes like this for an improperly sited [Islander East] energy project."

The DEP decision noted that the most damaging impacts of the project would occur between the Branford shore and the area where waters of the Sound are less than 20 feet deep. This is the result of construction techniques required in shallower waters and the presence of shellfish beds and habitat in this location.

The DEP decision said that Islander East would likely be able to avoid the most disruptive installation techniques and have less impact on water quality and coastal resources if the pipeline were proposed in a location where deeper waters are closer to shore.

The DEP concluded that the proposed pipeline project was "inconsistent" with the state's Water Quality Standards. DEP said state and federal law directs the agency to enforce these standards to safeguard existing uses of the Sound and the levels of water quality.

Although McCarthy is against the pipeline at its proposed location, she emphasized the agency is not opposed to the construction of a natural gas pipeline across Long Island Sound.

"Islander East just insists on putting it in the wrong place," she said. "We can clearly strike a better balance than this between obtaining the energy we need and protecting the quality of our environment. The route along the Thimble Islands proposed by Islander East runs through some of the purest waters of the Sound and some of its most fragile and sensitive areas."

During hearings in the past several years regarding Broadwater's LNG proposal, officials of the company were asked about alternate sites by some of those attending the sessions. The critics suggested that Broadwater might be able to put the terminal elsewhere in the Sound. Company officials listened to the ideas but didn't indicate a desire or willingness to change the site.


OTHER L.I. Sound crossings...previously.

House extends freeze on Sound cables
By Tobin A. Coleman - Stamford ADVOCATE Staff Writer
May 16, 2003
HARTFORD -- The state House of Representatives yesterday approved a bill that would extend a moratorium on new electric and communication
cables, and gas pipelines across Long Island Sound.  The measure already had passed the Senate, but a technical amendment added by the House requires the measure return to the Senate for another vote.  The House vote was 135-7.

At a news conference yesterday, Gov. John Rowland said he would probably sign the extension, if there are no legal concerns. Among possible legal problems is the announced bankruptcy of NRG Energy Inc., which owns and operates power plants in Connecticut. One of its plants is the Norwalk Harbor electric generator on Manresa Island.  The Legislature last year approved the moratorium, which stopped new approvals of projects in the Sound and of overland electric cables including a proposed 22-mile Bethel-to-Norwalk line.  The extension would cover only projects in the Sound.

An agreement was reached on the Bethel-to- Norwalk project last month that would bury most of the cable and avoid most of the 135-foot towers in the original proposal. The city of Norwalk, not included in the agreement, is still in discussion with Northeast Utilities.  A task force operating under the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic has been conducting studies involving
cross-Sound electric, gas and telecommunications projects.

The studies have sought to determine the least environmentally damaging alternatives for the transmission lines while providing for the state's long-term energy and communications needs.  The studies are due June 3, one day before the end of the legislative session.  Bill sponsors said the one-year extension was needed because the Legislature needs time to review the reports and decide whether laws need to be changed to reflect the results of the studies before the moratorium is lifted.  There were about a dozen utility projects proposed last year to cross the Sound, adding new gas, electricity and communications lines between Connecticut and Long Island, N.Y.

Moratorium advocates have questioned the need for many of the proposed projects, saying the utilities simply want to sell power to Long Island, where they can charge higher prices than in Connecticut. The projects do little to help an electric-transmission bottleneck in lower Fairfield County because Long Island has few generating facilities, moratorium proponents say.  If approved, the moratorium extension could delay even further the powering up of the Cross-Sound Cable Co. electric line from New Haven to Long Island.

The controversial cable was installed last year. But cable operators TransEnergie and the Long Island Power Authority were unable to bury it deep enough in seven places to satisfy its permit with the state Department of Environmental Protection.  The moratorium blocks the DEP from acting on applications for the cables and the agency has taken the view that it also cannot act on requests for modifications to existing permits. The companies have requested a modification to their permit to allow electrification of the cable. That issue is in court.

But if the DEP view is upheld and the moratorium is extended, the earliest Cross Sound Cable Co. could energize the cable would be June 3, 2004, when the extended moratorium would expire.  State Rep. Robert Duff, D-Norwalk, vice chairman of the Energy and Technology Committee, said the extension will allow the state to put plans in place to protect the environment while providing for energy needs.  "It shows their commitment to Long Island Sound and that they'll do everything to protect our environment," Duff said of the overwhelming House vote.

State Rep. Donald Sherer, R-Stamford, also the Stamford harbormaster, said many projects have caused environmental damage to the Sound and the moratorium should continue "until we have a comprehensive plan." 



From the Connecticut POST...Friday, April 12, 2002 - 12:00:00 AM MST
Moratorium veto expected from Rowland;  But new order would put hold on future lines
By KEN DIXON
HARTFORD -- Gov. John G. Rowland will veto a controversial bill aimed at blocking an imminent high-voltage cable under Long Island Sound.

Calling the legislation to create a one-year moratorium on all cross-Sound utility lines flawed, Rowland spokesman Chris Cooper said the veto will come soon.  But the governor may give lawmakers -- considering the wisdom of a veto override -- a reason for not doing so this morning.  At 10:30 a.m. in the Bethel Municipal Center, Rowland will announce an executive order to halt state approvals of all power lines, allowing eight months to study the environmental effects of additional power and gas lines throughout the state, both above ground and underwater.  The order, however, would not affect construction of a Cross Sound Cable Co. line from New Haven to Brookhaven, N.Y.

Rowland said the moratorium legislation may violate Cross Sound's constitutional rights and could expose the state to a judgment of up to $60 million if the company won a court challenge.

Meanwhile, in a rare move, U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., called from Washington for the General Assembly to override Rowland's veto.  "I am disappointed that Gov. Rowland wants to rush approval of new energy lines across Long Island Sound before we have a full understanding of the environmental impacts of all of the proposed projects," Lieberman said.

Some Democratic leaders vowed to attempt a veto override, requiring two-thirds majority votes in both the House and Senate. The Democratic margin in the House is 100 to 51; in the Senate it's 21 to 15.  A Rowland veto would allow Cross Sound Cable -- a subsidiary of Canada-based TransEnergie US, to move ahead with its 24-mile ditch about 6 feet under the Sound's seabed.

It also will force the General Assembly to put its convictions on the line, after resounding bipartisan support for the moratorium bill. It passed the Senate 31 to 2 Wednesday and the House 138 to 11 last week.  "The question is whether Republicans have the backbone to stand up to their governor," said Senate Majority Leader George C. Jepsen, D-Stamford. Charging that Rowland has a record of favoring corporate interests, Jepsen is pushing for an override.

"The pattern is clear on coming down on the side of energy over the interests of consumers and the environment," Jepsen said.

Rowland's executive order is expected to create a task force to study energy needs and environmental considerations. It would temporarily halt projects like Northeast Utilities' planned overhead electrical transmission line from Norwalk to Bethel, the site of today's appearance by the governor.

The task force would have until Jan. 1 to finish its study.

Rita Bowlby, vice president of TransEnergie US, said Thursday the company is relieved at Rowland's promised veto.  "I am highly gratified that the governor has given such serious consideration and has seen the value of looking at the issues that protect the state and provide public benefit for [power] reliability," she said.  Bowlby said that when the Siting Council rejected the cable plan last year, the company worked hard to address concerns before resubmitting the proposal, which also was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Protection.

"This will get Rowland through the election cycle," said Jepsen, who is campaigning for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination to run against the governor, who is expected to seek a third four-year term.

Sen. Donald E. Williams, Jr., D-Killingly, co-chairman of the Environment Committee, said Rowland's executive order may be "too little, too late," because it lets the Cross Sound project move forward. The cable-laying could begin late this month or early in May.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Thursday he "deeply regrets" Rowland's planned veto. "This was a measure that had overwhelming support in the Legislature and the public," he said.  Blumenthal's planned challenge of the Cross Sound plan before the state appellate court was delayed Thursday, when his office was informed that the proper venue for a challenge is the state Supreme Court. The attorney general vowed to pursue the case.  Republicans who supported the moratorium bill stressed that they would have to read Rowland's veto message and scrutinize his executive order.

The governor issued a handful of vetoes since taking office in 1995, most notably last year's veto of a bill to clean up old power plants in Bridgeport, Milford, New Haven, Norwalk, Montville and Middletown known as the Sooty Six.

Sen. John McKinney, R-Fairfield, who also supported the moratorium, took a wait-and-see attitude toward Rowland's announced veto. "The executive order is a very important piece of the puzzle for me," he said. "It was probably a lot easier for lawmakers to pass this, because we didn't have to worry about the potential of an expensive lawsuit."

McKinney said that he, like many southwestern Connecticut lawmakers, are concerned about underwater Sound crossings, as well as the planned overhead transmission line from Norwalk to Bethel. A proposal to create a moratorium on overhead electric lines died this year in committee.  Another gubernatorial candidate, former Democratic Comptroller Bill Curry, said Thursday the Legislature should override the veto. He called Rowland's executive order "a public relations ploy."

"He offers this moratorium for a moment on projects that aren't going forward to distract the public while he pushes through the one he wants -- the cross-sound cable project," Curry said.

The gubernatorial veto cannot officially take place until later this month, after legislative lawyers present Rowland with the bill's legal language. Then he has five days to act.



Judge Denies Motion To Block Cable Construction
12:10 PM EDT,April 9, 2002 - Associated Press

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. -- A Superior Court judge Tuesday denied a request to block construction of an electric power line across Long Island Sound.
Judge Carl Schuman ruled against a motion filed by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and the city of New Haven while they appeal the Connecticut Siting Council's approval of the plan.

Blumenthal said Tuesday he would appeal to the state Supreme Court.

"Allowing construction of the line to move forward while our appeal is pending will cause severe, irreversible harm to New Haven Harbor and Long Island Sound," Blumenthal said.  A hearing on the Siting Council appeal is June 7.

Cross Sound Cable Co., a Westborough, Mass.-based division of Hydro-Quebec, plans to install the 24-mile high voltage cable between New Haven and Brookhaven, N.Y. The Siting Council approved the project in January.

The state Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on legislation that would put a moratorium on all utility projects in Long Island Sound pending a comprehensive environmental study. 



Saturday, January 04, 2003 - 3:41:01 AM MST - CT POST
Sound cable still not at proper depth;  Cross-Sound asks to turn on power DEP still says cable not deep enough
By KEN DIXON Dixon.connpost@snet.net

HARTFORD

Even though the Cross-Sound Cable Co. hasn't reached the required depth in New Haven Harbor for its controversial high-voltage underwater electrical cable, the firm on Friday asked the Connecticut Siting Council for permission to turn on the power.

Despite a negative ruling from the state Department of Environmental Protection, Cross-Sound Cable cited a recent letter from the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers as the reason why it should be given permission to energize the line to Brookhaven, N.Y.  But a DEP official said Friday that its Dec. 24 ruling against the cable going online stands.

And Sen. George L. Gunther, R-Stratford, the Legislature's chief cable opponent, renewed a call for an investigation into how the cable ever won
approval in 2000.  In a Friday interview, Gunther blasted federal and state officials, including New York's U.S. Senate delegation, for working behind the scenes to provide cheap electricity to Long Island at the expense of Connecticut's environment.

Cross-Sound said the company, a subsidiary of Hydro-Quebec, will continue to develop plans to properly submerge the cable to 48 feet below
mean low water if operation of the line is approved.

In a two-page request to the Siting Council, the company claimed that the average depth of the cable is more than 50 feet below mean low water, while the correct depth along the 24-mile line was not met along only a small portion of the joint Hydro-Quebec and United Illumination Co. project.  In a Dec. 30 letter to Cross-Sound, Col. Thomas L. Koning, the district engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers, said that after consulting with the National Marine Fisheries Service, it was determined that there will be no short-term environmental harm or threat to navigation with the cable in its current location.

"Since you [Cross-Sound] are working in good faith to reach the required burial depth, the Corps of Engineers has no objections to you operating the cable at this time," Koning said.

Company officials said the project has satisfied nearly all of state officials' requirements and concerns.  Charles H. Evans, director of Long Island Sound Programs for the DEP, said Friday that Cross-Sound's permit cannot be extended into operating the cable until the correct depth is
reached along hundreds of feet of New Haven Harbor. Last month his unit rejected a plan to dredge so-called soft areas of the harbor.  A larger issue is a 600-foot stretch of rock elsewhere in the harbor. Cross-Sound is still devising plans on how to reach the mandated depth there.

Cross-Sound disagrees with DEP's assertion that the cable may not legally operate without being in full compliance with the DEP burial depth requirement of at least 48 feet for the entire cable route. The company believes the Siting Council has exclusive jurisdiction over the operation of electric cables, even though the DEP has oversight on dredging permits and related waterborne activities, Cross-Sound said.

The Siting Council will meet on the issue Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in its New Britain headquarters, about the time Gov. John G. Rowland is sworn in for a third term. Gunther believes the hearing was scheduled so the council could quietly approve Cross-Sound's request.

"That the Army Corps of Engineers came in at this point and said it should activate it stimulates more questions than answers," Gunther said. He charged that for decades state and federal officials alike have known the shallow nature of the harbor should have precluded cable development.

"Didn't we have state and federal observers on the boat when Cross-Sound did the original work last spring?" Gunther asked. He said both the Siting Council and Army Corps "went in the tank" to move the Cross-Sound project along.

"It's unbelievable that they can sit there and justify what Cross-Sound did," Gunther said.



Thursday, March 21, 2002 - 12:00:00 AM MST
Court asked to cut Sound cable;  Blumenthal will file to overturn OK
By KEN DIXON - dixon.connpost@snet.net

HARTFORD -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved a controversial electric line from New Haven Harbor to Long Island on Wednesday, prompting Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to seek a last-ditch injunction to halt it.

Blumenthal will fight the project in New Britain Superior Court, but an executive for the Canada-based corporation that's pushing the project anticipates that cable-laying will occur on time next month.  The attorney general's staff will file for an injunction today. Blumenthal, during an
afternoon news conference, called the Corps of Engineers' decision a disappointment.

"It's anti-consumer and anti-environment," Blumenthal said. "To our consumers and environment it will be lasting damage to a finite resource, which is Long Island Sound."

At stake, he said, are the harbor and Long Island Sound, as well as electric prices for consumers. "The threat is imminent, real, immediate because construction will start on April 1 unless the court helps us save Long Island Sound," Blumenthal said.

He wants an injunction to force the courts to probe the appropriateness of the state Siting Council's approval of the project, which would bury a 330-megawatt cable through the harbor, its neighboring shellfish beds and over to Brookhaven, N.Y.  Blumenthal said the Siting Council was wrong to approve the project this year, when it turned down an identical project last year. "We think the Siting Council reversed itself without any legal or factual justification and we believe the court ought to compel the Siting Council to obey the law," Blumenthal said.

His staff will maintain that the project will damage the harbor and threatens the navigation channel, despite claims from the Cross Sound Cable Co. that it will be buried at least 6 feet below the sea bed, even after a planned dredging of silt from the harbor.

"History shows with all of these cables is that the damage to the aquatic life and the ecosystems is inevitable, it's enduring and it's virtually irreparable," Blumenthal said.

But Rita Bowlby, vice president of TransEnergie, the parent firm of Cross Sound Cable, said the power line would be a state-of-the-art line. She anticipates that state courts will uphold the project.  "We feel that the AG had their day in court through the intervenor status at the Siting
Council and they did not make their case," Bowlby said. "It's a viable project which has benefits to Connecticut."  She said the cable would help enhance Connecticut's ability to receive power from New York state during an energy emergency. It would also create about $800,000 in additional tax revenue for the city of New Haven.

Bowlby said with the approval of the Corps of Engineers, there is no outstanding issue on the effects of the cable on the harbor.  "It will not interfere with navigation or future dredging," Bowlby said, adding that the cable-laying vessel is on its way to Connecticut.  Delaying the cable by as much as two months could kill off the viability of the project, company officials have said.

"This kind of project may need to be constructed so the company can earn money as swiftly as possible selling power to Long Island," Blumenthal said. "But that's not a condition that ought to drive Connecticut.  Blumenthal called on Gov. John G. Rowland to side with him in fighting the
transmission line.

Dean Pagani, spokesman for Rowland, who was out of state on business, said the governor believes the oversight process was thorough.

"They're the experts and they'll render their decisions," Pagani said.

Ken Dixon, who covers the Capitol, can be reached at (860) 549-4670.



FROM THE YALE DAILY NEWS...
Published Friday, January 18, 2002
Blumenthal's challenge to cross-sound cable rejected

The Connecticut Siting Council has rejected a request by state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to reconsider its approval of a plan to install electric cable across Long Island Sound.

Blumenthal said Thursday that he will continue to fight the proposal in the courts and with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The Cross-Sound Cable Company's 24-mile cable system would run from New Haven to Brookhaven, N.Y., and transport up to 330 megawatts of power in either direction.

"This decision is disappointing, but it is not the end of our case against the Cross Sound cable," Blumenthal said in a prepared statement. "The project remains anti-consumer and anti-environment.

"It promises to raise energy prices, harm the Long Island Sound environment, obstruct access and dredging in the New Haven Harbor and damage our state economy," he said.

The Siting Council, which approved the plan the first week of this month, voted unanimously Thursday to reject Blumenthal's request.

"There were no new facts," council Chairman Mortimer Gelston said. "We made our decision based on 13 hearings. We didn't think it was in the best
interest to reconsider."

The project still needs the approval of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

--Associated Press



Ferry Operator Sentenced For Dumping Sewage In Sound

Associated Press
6:19 PM EST, January 30, 2006

HARTFORD, Conn. -- The operations manager of a municipal ferry service was sentenced Monday to 30 days in prison and fined $10,000 for dumping raw sewage into Long Island Sound and the Thames River over four years.

Mark Easter, 54, of Bozrah, operated two ferries that provide service between New London and Fishers Island, N.Y. as part of the Fishers Island Ferry District, a department of the Town of Southhold, N.Y. The dumping occurred from 2000 to 2004, federal prosecutors said.

Easter was charged under the federal Clean Water Act. He agreed to a 30-day prison sentence under a plea deal.

"Hopefully, this prosecution and this sentence will send the message that the U.S. Attorneys Office and our federal law enforcement partners are serious about vigorously prosecuting crimes against the environment," said U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor. "Individuals who knowingly and willfully pollute our waters face the very real possibility of incarceration."

U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas P. Smith called Easter's behavior, "stupid, reprehensible and, for a man of the sea, absolutely shameful," according to prosecutors.

A telephone message was left for Hubert Santos, Easter's attorney.

Easter has not been suspended or fired from his job so far, authorities said.

A telephone message was left for Reynolds DuPont, chairman of the Fishers Island Ferry District Board of Commissioners.

The ferry service provides year-round trips from New London to Fishers Island, N.Y. for passengers and vehicles. There are about 20 round trips during peak season and one or two round trips offseason, Coast Guard officials said.

A tip led to a Coast Guard investigation and on July 13, 2004 officers made an unannounced boarding of the two ferries, the Munnatawket and the Race Point. Coast Guard Captain Peter Boynton has said they found that the valves of the holding tanks of the on-board toilets were unlocked and open, a violation of federal law. The Munnatawket can carry more than 200 passengers and the Race Point has the capacity for 150 people, the Coast Guard said.

Easter initially told authorities he was not aware the valves were left open, but in federal court admitted they were opened on his direction.

Department of Environmental Commissioner Gina McCarthy said Easter's sentencing sends a strong message that Connecticut is serious about protecting its waters. DEP is working with the federal government to establish zones across Long Island Sound where treated sewage cannot be discharged. Raw sewage cannot be dumped anywhere.

"This is the best approach to safeguarding the waters of the Sound and the health of people who use the Sound for swimming, fishing and other recreational purposes," McCarthy said.



Runoff Control Scores Low Marks;   'Save The Sound' Says Towns Could Do More
August 21, 2006
By DAVID FUNKHOUSER, Courant Staff Writer

After 20 years of cleaning up industry and fixing sewage treatment plants, the effort to restore the health of Long Island Sound is shifting its focus, and your driveway is in its sights.

Storm-water runoff - the mixture of gunk ranging from waste oil and road salt to fertilizer and pesticides that washes into rivers, streams and the Sound - is a prime source of pollution. Because it comes from so many sources, such as highways, malls, driveways, roofs and other impermeable surfaces, it is hard to control.

"Across the United States, storm-water runoff is recognized as the primary reason that 40 percent of our water bodies do not meet water quality standards for fishing and swimming as defined under the Clean Water Act," reports Save the Sound, an environmental group.

Save the Sound recently issued a "report card" on what 74 municipalities in Connecticut and New York are doing to help clean up the Sound. And the marks are not good.

The group gave only two communities - Brookhaven and Smithtown, N.Y. - a grade of "very good" for addressing storm-water runoff, and said most municipalities do not have strong programs to control runoff.

The results of the survey are hard to interpret: Many communities simply did not reply, and not every town answered every question. What is clear is that efforts to control runoff are still mostly in the talking stages. And, the money to fix the problem just is not available.

There are some bright lights, including a program in Norwalk, cited in Save the Sound's report, that uses high-tech filters in catch basins to zap bacteria and filter out sediment and other materials.

"The largest problem here is street runoff," said Terry Backer, head of the Soundkeeper office in East Norwalk. "It contains every contaminant imaginable, from dog feces to heavy metals. We consider this a cutting-edge way of getting at this stuff."

Backer's office collaborated with the city, the Maritime Aquarium and the filter's manufacturer, Abtech Industries of Scottsdale, Ariz., to get the program going. The first filters were installed last fall and now are at work in nearly 300 of the city's 10,000 storm drains.

Backer said tests indicate the "Smart Sponge" filters, which drop into an ordinary catch basin and are easily maintained, are removing at least 75 percent of harmful bacteria from the water, along with thousands of pounds of contaminated sediment.

He plans to expand the program to other areas and hopes Norwalk will serve as a model for other communities.

The project has been funded by $500,000 in grants from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the state Department of Environmental Protection, the Fairfield County Community Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Both New York and Connecticut have cleaned up much of the industrial waste that used to flow into the Sound, and there are ongoing programs upgrading sewage treatment plants.

Now, the EPA is requiring communities to come up with plans to address runoff. The region around the Sound has grown rapidly, and all of the sprawling housing developments and malls add to the problem.

But, notes Save the Sound, most municipalities are unlikely to aggressively tackle the problem without a reliable source of funding.

"By far the biggest obstacle to implementing effective storm-water management and smart growth practices is the lack of available funding," said Robin Kriesberg, Save the Sound's interim director of Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship.

Some federal money is available. But programs have been cut back. In Connecticut, the state's annual contribution to Clean Water Act programs has yet to be approved, and environmental groups say the $50 million in proposed funding is crucial to keep the state on track for the long term.

Save the Sound's report noted that communities can take a variety of actions to improve their impact on the Sound, from simply cleaning streets and catch basins more frequently, to educating citizens about how their own personal habits can affect what winds up washing into the Sound.

Some communities are considering setting up storm-water utilities, which would collect fees from residents and businesses to pay for the cost of controlling runoff.

"The culture in the last 20 years has evolved that we can now continue to make good progress," Backer said. "Things are a lot better now than they were 30 or 40 years ago."

But Backer said that while solutions tend to be long term, the public needs to keep focused on the problem, and noted countries around the world are struggling with vast changes in the ocean environment.

"We're running out of tomorrows when it comes to our oceans," he said.

See the report at www.savethesound.org.


Schooner Amistad Gets Back To Its African Past; Namesake Of Historic Spanish Ship Arrives 'Home' In Sierra Leone 
DAY
By David Collins     
Published on 12/8/2007  
  
  
THE SCHOONER AMISTAD was launched in Mystic seven years ago and hails from New Haven, the ship's official homeport.

But most everyone associated with the recreation of La Amistad, the ship commandeered by African captives in 1839 and discovered adrift off the coast of Connecticut, agrees that Sierra Leone, where the Africans were captured to begin with, is Amistad's spiritual place.  And on Friday the modern Amistad — like the captives of La Amistad, who were eventually exonerated by an American court and freed — made it home.

The schooner arrived in the port city of Freetown in Sierra Leone just after 8 a.m., the latest stop in a daunting, 14-month, 14,000-mile voyage along historic slave routes. Christened the Atlantic Freedom Tour, it began unofficially at the end of a winter overhaul at Mystic Seaport, where the ship was built.  The schooner, aided by surprisingly strong trade winds, actually arrived two days ahead of schedule. A rousing welcoming celebration Sunday is expected to draw thousands of people from around the country.

“It is awesome, totally, totally awesome,” Eliza Garfield, the ship's captain, said in a scratchy cell phone interview Friday night as the ship's crew enjoyed its first meal ashore. She said they've already been welcomed by cheering crowds and big smiles wherever they go.

“We've really had this feeling (in recent days) of coming home,” Garfield said. “I really felt today like she was bringing not just the spirit of their ancestors but something else to the living and breathing people of Sierra Leone. I feel like we've only begun to scratch the surface.”

Garfield said that, as the Amistad picked its way through some shallow waters off the African coast early Friday, the crew was greeted by the strange sight of fishing trawlers with no navigation lights but fires burning on deck. After dawn, they were awed by the sight of the majestic mountains of Sierra Leone.  In the harbor they were met by a tug carrying William Pinkney, the first captain of the Amistad who has returned to the command of the ship for parts of this voyage, as well as Quentin Snediker, the shipyard director at Mystic Seaport who was in charge of building the schooner.

“It was an incredibly exciting moment for me personally,” said Pinkney, who was the first African-American to sail solo around the world. “Joining me was Quentin Snediker, who built the boat in Mystic. We both knew, the moment the Amistad touched the water back in 2000, we knew in our hearts and minds that someday this could happen.”

Pinkney and Snediker are part of a group of about 30 officials and supporters of Amistad America, the nonprofit association that owns the 129-foot schooner, on hand to greet the crew. They were to be joined this weekend by even more Connecticut delegates, many from New Haven, which is a sister city to Freetown.

“This is a very historic event,” said Alfred Marder, head of the Amistad Committee, the organization that helped formulate the idea to build a teaching ship to tell the story of the Amistad. Marder left Friday afternoon with a delegation of 16 others going to Sierra Leone.

“What this is doing is bringing the story to the homeland of Sengbe Pieh (the captive leader known as Cinque) and the other captives,” Marder said. “The (people of Sierra Leone) have been most generous in their hospitality and have organized a very exciting welcome. The Amistad story has great meaning for them, and Sengbe Pieh is a national hero.”

Sierra Leone held a successful election in August and has a new government after 11 years of civil strife. Pinkney said that makes the visit of the Amistad especially poignant.

“It's incredible, the timing that has brought us here now,” he said.

Amistad left Halifax, Nova Scotia, in July. It had a very successful Atlantic crossing, with one stop in the Azores when the engineer broke a toe, and arrived in Falmouth, England, in early August. The ship had a long layover in Lisbon, Portugal, before taking up the leg toward Africa.  From Sierra Leone the schooner will make its way to Senegal, Cape Verde and the Caribbean before returning to Connecticut by summer.  On this last leg of the trip, the crew made good time with the strong trades, caught tuna that they cooked and ate, watched pilot whales frolic around the ship, and occasionally stopped for swim calls to escape the brutal heat.

On board, in addition to the professional crew, are students who are earning college credits and for whom daily classes are part of the shipboard routine. In the days leading up to the arrival in Sierra Leone, everyone on the ship read aloud biographies of the Amistad captives, some of whom had been taken into slavery to settle family debts or to placate a tribal king or leader.

“After such a beautiful day,” Garfield wrote in a blog transmitted from the ship by satellite phone earlier this week, “filled with the tastes, touches, sights, sounds and smells of this amazing patch of water eight and a half degrees above the equator and just 14 degrees west of so many other places, we will have to fire up Amistad's engines and begin our final last leg 'home.'

“Amistad will be bowing her head to the east, to the ancestors she has known only in the abstract, until now.”

Mike Moreland, the second mate, was also anticipating the arrival in his blog from sea.

“The rumor board has been whispering of big parties with local musicians and politicians, thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people and a week of open ship in the sweltering African heat with enough people to sink the ship at the dock,” he wrote. “It may not be easy, but then again, nothing worth doing usually is.”