ALTERNATIVE POWER SUPPLY...OR BIG TARGET?
Or unreliable source, based upon fluctuating market conditions...Still in the, pardon the expression, FERC pipeline...and some worrying news, indeed!



http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7537242.stm
L.N.G. tanker in Louisiana, at top, from the NYTIMES;  at left immediately above, LNG proposal illustration for LIS, draft OK now officiall,at FERC;  Russian natural gas? News: NY region of Army Corps to be in charge of Broadwater-watch this application.

Governor of New York decides NOT to agree with FERC.  Broadwater appeals.


Broadwater Decision Pleases Congressional Delegation
Hartford Courant
By Christopher Keating on April 13, 2009 7:26 PM

Virtually the entire Connecticut Congressional Delegation stepped forward Monday to praise the decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce to uphold New York State's decision against Broadwater, a highly controversial floating terminal that had been planned for the middle of Long Island Sound - just over the Connecticut line in New York State.

In addition to Senators Christopher Dodd and Joseph Lieberman, U.S. Reps. Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, Jim Himes and Chris Murphy have fought against the LNG project.

"This is great news for the residents of Connecticut and New York," said Dodd. "This project should have been rejected long before it reached this point, but I am grateful that the Commerce Department recognized that the Long Island Sound is a treasure shared by the people of Connecticut and New York that should be preserved. I have been and will continue to strongly oppose the construction of this facility in Long Island Sound and I strongly urge Broadwater to stop pursuing the project."

"I have long opposed plans to dock the Broadwater re-gasification facility in the middle of Long Island Sound," said Lieberman. "Doing so would harm not only our wildlife and commercial fishing industry, but it would impede our first responders and hinder the recreational use of this precious and treasured estuary. I am relieved that the Commerce Department concluded that the project would do more harm than good. I concur strongly with their finding."



Nemesis to state resigns at FERC
Connecticut Post Staff
Updated: 01/12/2009 06:48:38 PM EST


Joseph Kelliher is not exactly a household name in Connecticut, but state residents have reason to cheer his decision to step down as head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Kelliher was the federal government champion of Broadwater, the monstrous liquefied natural gas platform proposed for Long Island Sound. More so, however, as head of FERC, Kelliher was an advocate for trampling on the rights and authority of states and local communities to control their destiny on energy issues.

Kelliher's resignation as chairman coincides with the Democratic takeover of the federal government on Jan. 20 and paves the way for President-elect Barack Obama to appoint a new chairman whom we trust will be more sensitive to the concerns of states and environmentalists.

Kelliher, whose appointment runs until 2012, will remain as a member of the commission, although a statement he issued in announcing his resignation even raises questions: "I will immediately begin to recuse myself from FERC business as I explore other career opportunities." So, why remain on the commission at all? To use the telephones and pick up a paycheck?

FERC's chairman has served the agency, which oversees power grid reliability and wholesale natural gas markets, since 2003 and since 2005 as chairman after performing a key role on Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force -- that of gathering energy industry advice for what became a controversial report that influenced federal agency decisions regarding energy issues for the past seven years.

Kelliher's pro-industry outlook carried over to his tenure on FERC where he actively promoted the Broadwater plan, while disregarding bipartisan opposition to it on both sides of Long Island Sound. The state also tangled with FERC on several pipelines planned under the Sound which benefitted New York at Connecticut's expense.

It's up to Obama, when he takes office, to find a more suitable chairman for FERC, certainly a chairman who will be more amendable to the concerns of states and their citizens who many times must bear the burdens of controversial energy projects.



Global Demand Squeezing Natural Gas Supply
NYTIMES
By CLIFFORD KRAUSS
Published: May 29, 2008

CAMERON PARISH, La. — The cost of a gallon of gas gets all the headlines, but the natural gas that will heat many American homes next winter is going up in price as fast or faster.

That fact makes the scene in the languid, alligator-infested marshland here in coastal Louisiana all the more remarkable.

Only a month after Cheniere Energy inaugurated its $1.4 billion liquefied natural gas terminal here, an empty supertanker sat in its berth with no place to go while workers painted empty storage tanks.

The nearly idle terminal is a monument to a stalled experiment, one that was supposed to import so much L.N.G. from around the world that homes would be heated and factories humming at bargain prices.

But now L.N.G. shipments to the United States are slowing to a trickle, and Cheniere and other companies have dropped plans to build more terminals.

A longstanding assumption of American energy policy has been that natural gas would be plentiful abroad, and therefore readily available for importation, as production falls off in North America, where many fields are tapped out.

But some experts are starting to question that idea, saying natural gas could be subject to the same explosion in overseas demand that has made oil so expensive.

As it is, the supertankers that were supposed to deliver cargoes of gas from Africa and the Middle East to the United States are taking them to places like Spain and Japan instead, pushing up gas prices and depleting the nation’s stockpiles as the hurricane season approaches.

“A few years ago people looked at L.N.G. as a solution to North America’s gas needs,” said Nikos Tsafos, an analyst with PCF Energy, a consulting firm. “But today we see that there is less L.N.G. around than people expected, and there is more competition for that L.N.G. from markets that are willing to pay more than the United States.”

Not long ago, Cheniere was a darling of Wall Street. It was widely praised for having the vision to plan four new liquefied gas terminals around the Gulf of Mexico to connect the country with supplies of natural gas from places like Nigeria and Egypt, gas once considered so worthless it was burned off.

Now the company’s stock price has sunk from $40 to just over $5 since last fall.

“The question that people ask is if L.N.G. doesn’t come to the United States for another year or two or three, what is going to happen to Cheniere,” acknowledged Charif Souki, the chief executive officer of the company.

While natural gas prices in the United States have spiked to over $11.80 per thousand cubic feet from $7.50 at the beginning of the year, the price that gas producers can draw in many other countries in the world is several dollars higher. All they need are terminals in producing countries that can chill natural gas to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit for shipping across oceans and terminals in consuming countries that can regasify cargoes.

Just about the only place where demand for L.N.G. seems not to be growing is the United States, an abrupt shift from expectations as little as one year ago.

The Sabine Pass terminal was part of an estimated $7 billion construction of eight new L.N.G. receiving terminals being built around the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast over the last five years to guarantee plentiful domestic supplies. With imports about 40 percent of the level of a year ago, and national receiving terminal capacity poised to double this year, the excess construction of import capacity has alarmed industry executives.

However the executives predict that it is only a matter of time before the white elephants begin to look like a more robust breed. They say American gas suppliers will eventually be willing to pay the higher world prices on the spot market, especially if a gas shortage ensues after a punishing hurricane season or frigid winter.

They also predict future American consumption of natural gas is poised to increase because of hardening opposition to building new coal-fired electricity generating plants and delays in new nuclear plants. “Over time, we will need to start importing more gas,” said Darcel L. Hulse, president of Sempra LNGE, a division of Sempra Energy, which is building receiving terminals in Mexico and Louisiana. “We will not have enough.”

That was the thinking that spurred the L.N.G. expansion in the United States in the first place. At the beginning of the decade, government officials and energy experts predicted a decline in domestic natural gas production as conventional fields on-shore and in the Gulf of Mexico declined. Companies like Cheniere, Sempra Energy and Exxon Mobil began snapping up coastal land and requesting regulatory approval for scores of terminals. Several other terminals were taken out of mothballs and expanded.

But recently domestic natural gas production has been stronger than expected and events abroad have drawn L.N.G. from the United States to countries that needed it more.

Last July an earthquake in Japan forced the closing of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, which in turn has forced Japanese utilities to import huge amounts of L.N.G.

World L.N.G. supplies grew even more scarce because of a persistent drought in Spain that has crimped that country’s hydroelectric capacity, forcing the Spanish to increase L.N.G. imports.

Prices in Asia and Europe have soared, as producers have sold more supply on the spot market where prices are higher than those in traditional long term contracts.

World demand for natural gas has grown about 2.6 percent a year over the last decade, but in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa it has averaged 7 percent over the same period, according to a recent UBS report. Growth in the developing world is expected to be supported in the years ahead by a construction boom in refineries and power and petrochemical plants.

Supplies of L.N.G. are going to grow in the next few years, but experts say they will not be enough to satisfy the growing demand. Liquefaction plant projects that prepare the gas for shipping in producing nations like Nigeria and Russia are being delayed and even shelved because of political turbulence, cost overruns and increasing domestic demand for gas in their own countries. Production in one major terminal in Indonesia is sliding because of a declining field, and production in another in Norway is facing mechanical difficulties.

With L.N.G. providing only about 3 percent of total American natural gas consumption in recent years, the fall in L.N.G. imports has made few headlines. But some experts say those responsible for importing gas are making a mistake by not buying more L.N.G. at current prices.

They warn that the failure to import more L.N.G. is leaving natural gas reserves precariously low should the country be hit by a harsh hurricane season or cold winter. They say low L.N.G. imports have helped push American natural prices higher, just not high enough to match the prices of Europe and Asia whose ability to produce and store gas is far inferior to the United States.

Andrew D. Grams, head of North American power and gas trading at Deutsche Bank, said the United States may eventually pay dearly for not importing more L.N.G. now. He calculated that given the reduced L.N.G. imports and expected energy use through the summer, the country will have only 3.1 trillion cubic feet of gas in storage at the end of October — almost 1 trillion cubic feet below full storage.

“Under a normal scenario, that’s just barely enough to get through winter,” Mr. Grams said. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that we may not get enough L.N.G. supply in the United States unless our pricing structure becomes more competitive with the rest of the world.”

Natural gas, unlike oil, is still a regional commodity and its price is only loosely connected to world oil benchmark prices. But L.N.G. has tied regional markets closer, and the arc of natural gas prices appears to be following close behind oil in recent months because of tightening L.N.G. supplies.

The same increases in the prices of steel and other materials and shortages in labor that are making to more expensive to explore for oil are making L.N.G. development more costly too. Meanwhile, countries that produce oil and gas like Libya and Algeria are replacing their oil-powered electricity plants with natural gas-burning plants. That way, they are able to export more oil, which costs less to ship than L.N.G.

“The value of gas to you is what people are willing to pay for the oil you are exporting,” said Don Hertzmark, a consultant who has advised several oil companies on L.N.G. projects. “At that point, the gas is worth a lot of money.”

Nevertheless hopes for L.N.G. still survive here. The secretary of energy, Samuel W. Bodman, and a Cajun zydeco band came last month to celebrate the opening of the Sabine Pass terminal, and a tanker delivered L.N.G. from Nigeria for testing purposes.

Workers are testing generators and painting and building five huge storage tanks, each capable of providing a full day’s supply of gas for Louisiana. Tugboat crews are practicing for any future cargo arrivals.

“I know the L.N.G. will come and we’ll make a profit on this,” said Darron Granger, a Cheniere senior vice president. “I just can’t say when.”


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.


Bill Would Give States Power Over LNG Sites; One terminal has been proposed for Long Island Sound 
DAY
Published on 4/9/2008 

Portland, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, backed by influential peers, introduced a bill try to recover state authority for licensing and siting liquefied natural gas terminals from federal energy regulators.

The Oregon Democrat was backed by presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as well as Connecticut Sens. Christopher Dodd and Joe Lieberman.

Wyden wants to repeal a section of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that transferred state authority for licensing LNG terminals to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Three of the terminals are in various planning stages in Oregon, two on the lower Columbia River and one near Coos Bay. Another has been approved for Long Island Sound, which affects New York and Connecticut.

In 2005, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein tried to give governors the power to veto, or attach conditions to, FERC's decisions on terminal sitings, but her effort failed.

“We're going to have a better chance,” Wyden said. “A measure we warned about has gone into effect, and the harmful consequences are even greater than imagined. Senators are seeing that this is a byproduct of a Bush energy bill that has many flaws.”

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski has threatened to withhold state permits and go to court if FERC doesn't protect state interests.

The terminals receive supercooled gas from massive ships, which store it in huge tanks, then warm it back into a gas for shipment to market via pipeline.

Each project in Oregon could import far more gas than Oregonians use and include pipelines through forests, vineyards and farms.

FERC also is considering an application for a high-capacity pipeline that would carry gas from basins in the Wyoming Rockies to southern Oregon.

Backers of the LNG projects maintain that imported gas will dampen price increases when Canadian and domestic gas fields decline, and refer to LNG's excellent safety record.

Neither Kulongoski nor Wyden has expressed outright opposition to a terminal in Oregon. But state agencies have complained that FERCs draft environmental review of the Bradwood Landing terminal on the Columbia River was seriously flawed.

Most of Oregon's political leaders say FERC hasn't met two requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act: demonstrating a public need for the facility and fully analyzing alternatives.

FERC has declined to analyze the cumulative impact of the proposed terminals and pipeline projects, or determine which facility, if any, would best serve the states need.

FERC Chairman Joe Kelliher said the agency intends to ensure that each proposal is environmentally sound and consistent with safety requirements, then let the market decide which one gets built.

State leaders said they'll fight that approach. Kulongoski asked Attorney General Hardy Myers to research the state's legal authority to withhold necessary permits under state clean air, clean water and coastal zone management acts if FERC does not address his concerns.

Wyden said Monday that he considered the FERC process no process at all.

“It's not going to address the issue of supply; it doesn't address the environmental issues. ... We have a huge array of proposals pending, bringing in far more gas than we could ever use, yet the federal agency won't even address the threshold questions,” Wyden said.

FERC is working on a biological assessment and final environmental review of the Bradwood Landing terminal, which it could deliver early this summer.

NorthernStar Natural Gas, backer of Bradwood, said the 2005 transfer of regulatory oversight from state to federal authorities has already delayed its application.

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.


Rell: LNG Task Force Report 'Scathing Indictment'  - Broadwater Claims The Study Is Flawed, Governor 'Vitriolic'
DAY 
Published on 3/13/2008

The task force created by Gov. M. Jodi Rell to evaluate the floating liquefied natural gas terminal proposed by Broadwater Energy for Long Island Sound has written a “scathing indictment” of the project in its final report.

Rell said in a news release Wednesday that the report concludes that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's environmental-impact statement on the project, which favors its approval, is deeply flawed. The task force, which Rell formed 21/2 years ago, reviewed the report and other documents, conducted public hearings and heard expert testimony from scientists.

“My panel has reached three major conclusions,” Rell said. “FERC never performed a serious analysis of the potential environmental consequences; FERC undertook an absurdly limited review of the alternatives to Broadwater; and the alternatives will likely be meeting the energy needs of both Connecticut and New York before the Broadwater project is ever completed and on line.”

In a written response, John Hritcko Jr., a senior vice president and regional project director for Broadwater Energy LLC described Rell's statement at “vitriolic and factually flawed.”

Hritcko said the company had not had an opportunity to read the task force report but noted “with grave concern ... that the governor's press release appears to base it's findings on a report bought and paid for by a Broadwater opposition group rather than referring to the state's own 2007 Energy Plan developed by the Connecticut Energy Advisory Board that recommends the development of natural gas transmission and storage projects, including LNG import terminals.”

Hritcko also states that the Rell press release “is replete with emotionally charged rhetoric that adds nothing to the debate about the high cost of energy ... .”

The proposed terminal would be located in New York waters of the Sound, and key decisions on permits will be made by New York state and FERC. Connecticut officials opposed to the project are registering their opposition with their counterparts in New York and at FERC in hopes that the permits will ultimately be denied.

Rell said she plans to call incoming New York Gov. David A. Paterson “as soon as possible” to discuss her strong opposition to the project and encourage him to take the same position.

State Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, co-chairman of the task force, said FERC and Broadwater have not demonstrated a real need for what would be the world's largest floating LNG terminal in the Sound, “one of our nation's most precious and environmentally fragile natural resources.”

“The work of the task force has exposed an unsettling truth,” he said, “that the Broadwater project has always been more about corporate greed than about real energy solutions.”

Scientists' testimony and other information gathered by the task force revealed numerous faults in FERC's environmental analysis, such as the use of old data and outdated maps with incorrect information on the locations of shellfish beds and lobstering grounds, and wrong data on bird feeding and breeding areas, the task force report said.

“FERC's analysis was wrong and purposely misleading,” the report said. “FERC starts with the answer and then frames the question.”

Among its other conclusions:

•FERC set an artificial level of natural gas need of 1 billion cubic feet per day, far higher than actual demand.

•FERC eliminated from consideration any other project that could not increase supply to the region by as much as 1 billion cubic feet per day.

•FERC's analysis failed to consider the effects on ongoing capacity upgrades to numerous other gas pipelines and LNG facilities serving the region. The task force concluded that the planned increase of 400 million cubic feet per day to the Iroquois pipeline would be more than enough to meet demand, even without other planned improvement.

•FERC's analysis completely ignored another LNG project planned in New Jersey that would be closer to New York and serve more areas than Broadwater.


Gas terminal gains support
Stamford ADVOCATE
By Brian Lockhart
Published December 2 2007

Roger Daskam, owner of Grand Prix Service auto repair in Stamford, does not understand the opposition to Broadwater Energy's plan to locate a liquefied natural gas terminal in the middle of Long Island Sound.

"There's enough Sound out there," Daskam said. "Basically, I view these guys that are trying to block it, like the attorney general, as obstructionists."

Grand Prix Service is among the 500-plus state businesses that signed letters supporting construction of the 1,200-foot-long, 180-foot-wide floating terminal, Broadwater said last week.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which last November issued a report stating the project would have limited environmental impact, is expected to release its final decision in a few weeks.  The platform would be built 10 miles south of New Haven in New York waters, leaving much of the permitting decisions to that state. But it faces possible legal challenges from Connecticut officials. 

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a Greenwich resident, has called the project "an unacceptable security danger, an environmental atrocity and an aesthetic monstrosity."

It also has been opposed by Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a bipartisan coalition of legislators from shoreline municipalities and the state's congressional delegation.  Chris Senecal, who is handling public affairs for Broadwater, said letters seeking support were sent to Connecticut businesses in May and June.

"All contact . . . was done through the mail - which typically has a fairly low rate of return," Senecal said. "So it is actually quite impressive that so many people responded."

Fifty-seven of the businesses are in lower Fairfield County. Among the several business owners reached by The Advocate, some maintained their support, others are having a change of heart and still others did not recall receiving Broadwater's letters.

"I never signed a petition for anything," said Sharon Goldstein, owner of Depot Liquors in Westport. "I don't even know what's going on" with the gas platform project.

Joseph Dostal, owner of Seabrook Paper in Norwalk, said he sided with Broadwater even though he is aware there are concerns about the gas platform's effect on safety and the environment.

"At this point, I assume that all the people that take care of the permitting process are going to do the right thing in that regard," Dostal said.

Another business that has gotten behind Broadwater is 95 New Canaan Ave. LLC, the real estate management company owned by Rick Giordano.  Giordano, a Republican, unsuccessfully tried to unseat Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, in the November 2006 election. McDonald was one of 15 area lawmakers who submitted their own petition in January opposing Broadwater.

"I think we need to have the platform," Giordano said. "If you want to keep people here, you're going to need to find ways to control the expense of what it costs to live here. . . . This is something they can put into place relatively quickly to give us relief and lower our utility costs. It's more than we've been getting from our legislators."

The letter Broadwater urged Giordano and others to sign reads: "As a business owner here in Connecticut, I pay some of the highest energy prices of any consumers in the United States. By bringing in a large volume of natural gas, Broadwater would help me save on my energy bills and stabilize energy prices for this region."

But in 2006, a commission appointed by Rell to study the terminal's effect on Connecticut concluded the project has no identifiable market - a finding disputed by Broadwater.  John Barricelli, owner of SoNo Baking Company in South Norwalk, said he favors low energy costs but did not recall signing a petition supporting Broadwater's proposal.

"If anybody asked me directly, 'Are you in favor of an offshore natural gas platform in Long Island Sound?' I'd say no," Barricelli said.

Anne Cheng, owner of Stamford-based Computer Explorers technology education company, signed onto the Broadwater project hoping it would help the environment by weaning Connecticut off of oil.

"I signed that petition because I try to be as 'green' as I can," said Cheng, who uses natural gas at home.

Olga Ziapoutzis, who owns the Post Road Diner in Norwalk, said it is possible a former business partner signed the petition. The diner is now owned solely by Ziapoutzis and her husband.

"I don't think it's a very good idea," Ziapoutzis said of the floating natural gas terminal.

Martin Mezza, who operates the UPS Store on Westport Avenue in Norwalk, said he might have signed Broadwater's letter out of frustration with his current gas and electric suppliers.

"Sometimes . . . you sign things and maybe don't read them carefully," Mezza said. "If it's going to hurt the environment, I don't want any part of it. But I want other suppliers in this area."

J.C. Woodward, co-owner of The Clockery, a clock shop in Norwalk, said he has misgivings about signing a letter supporting Broadwater.

"I've since received mailings from the other side and they're just as convincing," Woodward said.

Woodward said Broadwater in its letter never mentioned the possibility the security zone surrounding the floating platform could extend more than a mile in either direction, taking away recreational and commercial boating space.

Broadwater's letter stated: "The Sound is an important body of water, however we must remember it is a mixed-use body of water important to local and international commerce and trade."

Woodward likened it to taking parts of Long Island Sound through eminent domain.

"The idea of allocating public resources for private interests . . . rubs me the wrong way," he said.


LNG plant should give Sound a wide berth
CT POST
CHARLES WALSH column
Article Last Updated: 05/29/2007 08:49:20 AM EDT


If you are like me (and I know that is asking a lot), you want to jam your fingers into your alimentary canals and hum the national anthem whenever you hear somebody start talking about the Broadwater floating gas terminal that Shell Oil and Trans Canada Corp. want to put in the middle of Long Island Sound.

You just know the person or persons doing the talking are either rabidly for, or rabidly against, the idea of permanently anchoring a 1,200-foot-long factory ship 14 miles off Branford. As such, they give a one-sided, fact-selective view of the project's advantages or disadvantages, skillfully leaving out mitigating factors that might bolster the other side's position. When they are done you find yourself more confused than when they started. You had precisely the same positive reaction a week ago when someone from the other side delivered their spiel.

The dilemma that spins in your head is this: we need the energy.

The country's not getting any smaller, but does the dang plant have to be in Long Island Sound, which god knows has seen its share of pollution and abuse already? Is their no totally unbiased expert somewhere who can give us the straight scoop on this project?  The answer to the latter question is: maybe, but, don't bank on it.  At some point here we are all going to make up our own mind.

In fact, even after the yards of newspaper copy (TV news is hopeless on a big subject like this) devoted to Broadwater, it is safe to say most people in Connecticut
do not know what the plant actually does. So here is a brief, hopefully helpful, explanation that aims to do that:

There's this big tanker ship coming from Africa, see. It is full of LNG, liquid natural gas (gas that has been pumped up from the earth and frozen to minus - degrees) bound for the rich US of A where the world's most energy guzzling population is fairly champing at the bit to start heating their homes, powering their power plant and run their factories with it.

Well the problem is nobody wants these humongous ships docking in their heavily populated cities to offload their rather unstable cargo. So the solution is to put the factory that warms the liquid gas until it turns back into gaseous gas as far from population centers as possible; someplace like the Gobi Desert or, way out at sea; in Connecticut's case, way out in Long Island Sound. The gaseous gas is then pumped from the factory ship to the mainland.

There are really only two points of contention in this process:

l How safe is it?

l How much damage will the factory ship and the tankers do to the fragile ecology of Long Island Sound?

It is the heat and sparks generated by the partisans on both sides of these questions that trigger the desire to do the finger-in-ears-while-humming thing.  One thing to know is that we are not alone in this state of gaseous indecision. Many such gas plants — not all using the Broadwater-type technology — are proposed along the U.S. coastline.

Two are proposed off Gloucester, Mass. These are just submerged pipeline heads into which the tankers unload the LNG. It is transported to the mainland where the warming factor converts it to gaseous gas again. This system is considered safer because it does not require two ships docking at sea. Still, the opposition is heavy.

A LNG terminal in Savannah, Ga.'s, Savannah River that has been running since 2001 has had a couple of scary accidents and is still the topic of fierce safety debate.

Four waterborne LNG plants are proposed for California. Well, just three now, since Gov. Schwarzenegger last week said "sayonara, baby" to one proposed for 14 miles off Malibu. (Wouldn't want to spoil the star's views.)

One voice often heard in opposition to the Broadwater plant is that of Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. His arguments seem more bravado than substance, more aimed at making him the people's hero than shedding any real light on the issue.

To me the big sticking point is how those giant LNG-loaded tankers are going to get through "The Race," the one-mile-wide opening at the eastern end of Long Island Sound. Noted for its turbulence, and, except for a few months, loaded with fishing boats and other commercial traffic, the Race is really a giant submerged waterfall where the Sound's waters pour over a cliff into the deep Atlantic.

The men who regularly pilot ships through the area say it's a cinch, but to me it looks like an accident waiting to happen.

It is more than reason enough to find another place to put the floating LNG factory.


Study: LNG Tanker Blast And Fire Could Be Intense Enough To Burn Victims A Mile Away 
DAY
By H. Josef Hebert , Associated Press Writer  
Published on 3/15/2007
 
Washington — Fire from a terrorism attack against a tanker ship carrying liquefied natural gas could ignite so fiercely it would burn people one mile away, according to a congressional study.  It examined terror risks on the nation's waterways and concluded that further research is needed to understand the consequences of such a remarkable inferno.

The study by the Government Accountability Office was expected to be released Wednesday. It urged the Energy Department to perform new research on the risks from a major fire or gas release in terror attacks or natural disasters on such tanker ships.

Lawmakers said the latest GAO study coincides with projected increases of 400 percent in liquified natural gas imports over the next 10 years, as energy companies await federal approval on 32 applications to build new terminals in 10 states and five offshore areas. New tanker ships being launched are nearly twice as large as many current tankers, lawmakers said.

“Although LNG tankers have not been subject to a catastrophic accident or attack, we need to ensure regulators are making decisions with a large enough margin of safety to account for the threats in a post-9/11 environment,” said Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. His committee plans oversight hearings on the subject.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said such natural gas shipments have an excellent safety record. He noted tankers have operated nearly 50 years without a major spill, and said mandatory “protection zones” around such tankers are believed to be adequate. Still, he described further research on the risks as “only prudent.”

The GAO report examined six unclassified studies about the effects of a major spill and fire aboard a double-hulled tanker carrying liquified natural gas. Congressional investigators said most experts believe fierce heat from the intense fire — not explosions — are likely the biggest threat to citizens.

Most experts interviewed by investigators agreed such a fire could burn people's skin roughly one mile away, depending on variables that include the amount of gas released, size of the tanker breach and winds, the GAO report said.

The safety issue is important because there has been a rush of proposed applications for new LNG terminals, sometimes at locations where tanker will travel close to populated areas. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved 13 applications.

A half-dozen facilities have been proposed in the Northeast, often in urban areas. Among them is a 1,200-foot long, 180-foot wide offshore terminal that Broadwater Energy wants to build in Long Island Sound 10 miles south of New Haven, Conn., and nine miles from Wading River, N.Y.

The need for more LNG terminals reflects a widespread view that there is not enough domestic natural gas to meet future demand, so the demand for LNG imports will grow. LNG is natural gas that has been supercooled to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit, reducing its volume so it can be transported in a tanker.

 

LNG Tanker-Traffic Concerns Lodged;  Ferry Service, Lobstermen: Broadwater Plan Would Create Problems In The Race 
DAY
By Judy Benson , Day Staff Writer  
Published on 2/3/2007          

 
Cross Sound Ferry and two Noank lobstermen who fish in The Race are concerned that locating a floating natural gas terminal in the middle of Long Island Sound could severely hamper their operations.

In separate letters to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission over the past two weeks, the vice president of the New London-based ferry company and the two lobstermen said problems for their operations would be created not by the terminal itself, but by the tankers that would ply The Race regularly to supply it.

The terminal, proposed by the Shell Oil-TransCanada Corp. partnership called Broadwater Energy, would be anchored in the middle of the Sound about halfway between Branford and the Long Island town of Riverhead. The Race is the narrow entry to The Sound at its eastern end and is known for strong currents and frequent heavy fog.

In his letter, Cross Sound Vice President Adam Wronowski called The Race a “navigational choke point.”

Broadwater's application for permits for the terminal and a 22-mile pipeline are pending with FERC and other governmental agencies. The letters from Cross Sound Ferry and the two lobstermen are among dozens FERC received by a Jan. 23 deadline it had set for comments on its draft report on the projected environmental impacts of the Broadwater project.

The draft report is being revised over the next two to three months into a final version that would include a recommendation to the FERC board about whether the project should be approved. The draft version concluded that the project would have minimal environmental impacts and would fill a need for new natural gas supplies in the region.

The project has, however, encountered strong opposition on both the New York and Connecticut sides of the Sound. While most of the opposition has centered on the impacts of the terminal and the pipeline, the three letters from the ferry company and the lobstermen focus on impacts from the tankers particular to the eastern Sound.

All three letters said regular LNG tanker traffic through The Race, already the busiest part of the Sound, would pose problems because the tankers would have a Coast Guard-imposed security zone around them. That would restrict other vessels using The Race for periods of time. The no-entry zone around the tankers would be two miles ahead, one mile behind and four-tenths of a mile on each side. According to the Coast Guard, a tanker traveling at about 12 knots would take about 15 minutes to pass any point. They could move through The Race and still allow for about 1/4 mile on each side for other traffic, according to a Coast Guard report.

Wronowski, in his letter, said ferry schedules would be severely disrupted if a ferry had to wait for an LNG tanker to pass or change course to stay out of the security zone.

“The delay of one vessel has a snowball effect on the entire fleet, negatively impacting thousands of travelers and interstate commerce in general,” he wrote. “Our high-speed ferry service from New London to Block Island will be especially susceptible to delays.”

Cross Sound's eight regular ferries and its one high-speed ferry carry about 500,000 vehicles and 1.4 million passengers annually between New London, Long Island and Block Island.

“Our high-speed ferry does not have reserve power (speed) to make up for lost time, and its schedule does not allow for delays,” he said. “Delaying this ferry 15 or 30 minutes would disrupt an entire day's schedule ...”

He added that Cross Sound's vessels would frequently intersect with the LNG tanker security zones, and that delays would in turn “produce dissatisfied customers who would choose alternative means of travel in the future.”

Wronowski asked that the Coast Guard and FERC, if it approves the project, provide an exception allowing ferries to travel within the LNG tanker security zones even as other vessels are barred.

Both lobstermen who wrote to FERC, George Main and John Whittaker, said that having access to The Race at slack tide is essential, because that is the only time they can service their traps and other gear. Lobstermen traditionally establish informal territories among themselves, staking out a particular area for their traps and staying out of areas used by other lobstermen.

Slack tide is the time when tidal currents approach a balance.

Main said his son, George Main II, is also a lobstermen in The Race, and that their fishing time would be curtailed if they had to miss a slack tide to stay out of the way of an LNG tanker and its security zone.



Request For More LNG Hearings Rejected
DAY
By Frank Eltman, Associated Writer 
Published on 1/26/2007
   
Garden City, N.Y. — The federal agency reviewing whether to allow a liquefied natural gas terminal to be built in the middle of Long Island Sound has turned down a request to hold more public hearings on the proposal, a Long Island-based congressman said Thursday.

Rep. Timothy Bishop, a Democrat who represents eastern Long Island, had asked for the additional hearings after hundreds of people were left outside a Jan. 11 session in Shoreham because the auditorium was too small.

Broadwater Energy — a consortium of Shell Oil and TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. — is seeking FERC permission to build the $700 million terminal about nine miles off Wading River, N.Y., and 10 miles south of New Haven, Conn.

Bishop, who opposes the LNG plant, said Thursday that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would not hold additional hearings, but still welcomes written submissions on the plan.

“We urge folks to get their comments in as soon as possible,” said FERC spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen.

Bishop said the impact of the project “is too important for our community to quietly sit back.”

“By fast tracking this process, FERC is demonstrating that when it comes to security, the environment and the management of the Sound, all efforts seem designed to accommodate Broadwater, rather than the other way around,” he said.

Natural gas is shipped in massive refrigerated tankers after being cooled and condensed into a liquid referred to as liquefied natural gas. Under the Broadwater proposal, LNG tankers would dock at the terminal, and the fuel would be warmed up to a gas. It would then be pumped through an existing underwater pipeline system that serves Long Island and Connecticut.

Broadwater officials say the terminal is needed to meet the growing demand for natural gas. They cite the New York State Energy Plan, which projects a 37 percent growth in statewide natural gas use by 2021; Connecticut forecasts the use of natural gas for electric generation will hit 47 percent by 2008.

About half of the gas from the proposed terminal would go to New York City. Between 25 and 30 percent is targeted for Long Island, and the rest would go to Connecticut.

A Coast Guard security analysis last year said additional measures would be needed to “responsibly manage risks to navigation safety and security risks” associated with the project.

Susannah Pierce, a Broadwater spokeswoman, insists the security concerns are being exaggerated. “Even in a worst-case scenario, any impact would be very localized. Only the facility would be impacted.”

In addition to federal approval, Broadwater also will need permits from New York state.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer has said he is awaiting a report next month from the New York Department of State, which regulates coastlines, before taking a position on the proposal. 


Governor's Task Force Needs 'All These Basic Questions Answered' - Broadwater questions panel's representation
DAY
By Judy Benson
Published on 1/24/2007
 
Hartford — The governor's task force on a proposal for a floating natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound said a federal environmental impact report on the project is seriously flawed, containing incomplete and incorrect science on safety, environmental and other aspects.

The Long Island Sound LNG Task Force, headed by state Sens. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, and Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, submitted a 48-page analysis of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission environmental report Tuesday and released it to the media at a Capitol news conference.

“We're saying, 'Stop.' We need to have all these basic questions answered,” Stillman said.

The task force comments say that FERC based its conclusions about the hazard of liquefied natural gas spills on open water on a study that was found inadequate by a bipartisan congressional analysis. FERC, the task force says, failed to acknowledge the congressional analysis and that further study is needed that would factor in the structure of LNG carriers, wave action, currents and the possible size of spills.

“We believe there should be more computer modeling before any determination is made,” Fasano said.

The task force also called attention to the FERC report's lack of information on three new liquefied natural gas terminals approved in Massachusetts and eastern Canada that will bring new supply to Connecticut and New York. These supplies, the task force said, will be available sooner than Broadwater and pose far less environmental risk than locating a terminal in a protected estuary such as Long Island Sound.

Stillman also cited concerns raised by the U.S. Department of the Interior that the 5 million gallons of ballast and cooling water used daily by the terminal and tankers could kill millions of fish eggs and larvae, and possibly affect endangered birds. She said the report failed to consider the safety implications of having regular traffic of LNG tankers in the vicinity of the Millstone Power Station in Waterford.

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced during the news conference that in addition to submitting comments to FERC Tuesday, his office also sent comments to New York state authorities who will determine if the terminal is consistent with coastal protection laws.

“New York can say no, and it should,” Blumenthal said.

Gary Hale, spokesman for Broadwater, faulted the task force for having no representatives of electricity consumers, private industry, utilities or the natural gas industry among its members, and failed to recognize the need for lower electricity rates that an increase in natural gas supplies from Broadwater could bring.

He added that Broadwater remains willing to meet all safety and security requirements the U.S. Coast Guard and FERC deem necessary.

 

DEP Faults Federal Analysis Of Broadwater LNG Impact; State officials: FERC report comes up short
DAY
By Judy Benson
Published on 1/24/2007

Hartford — The state Department of Environmental Protection has told a federal regulatory agency that it has not substantiated its conclusion that a floating natural gas terminal could be located in Long Island Sound safely and with little harm to the environment, and has called on it to do more extensive analysis on the legal, aesthetic and wildlife impacts.
The DEP's comments were submitted Tuesday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency considering whether to approve Broadwater Energy's plan to park a liquefied natural gas terminal in New York state waters 10.5 miles south of the Connecticut shoreline and nine miles north of the Long Island shoreline.

Also filing comments Tuesday critical of FERC's analysis of the Broadwater project were Gov. M. Jodi Rell's LNG Task Force and state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. Both told FERC its report failed to address key legal, safety and environmental issues and should be redone.

The analysis, now in draft form, is slated to be finalized over the next three to four months and will become the basis for a FERC decision on whether Broadwater, a Shell Oil-TransCanada Corp. partnership, receives approval for the first-of-its-kind floating LNG terminal. Broadwater officials said Tuesday that a delay in completion of the final FERC report would be bad news for Connecticut electricity consumers, because it would stall a project that has the potential to lower energy costs and help the state's economy.

“Working families are paying the price for opposition to good projects,” said Broadwater spokesman Gary Hale.

The DEP's comments, signed by Commissioner Gina McCarthy, point out that 40 acres of the no-entry security zone that would be established around the LNG terminal would be in Connecticut waters, and that the submerged lands of the Sound are held by New York and Connecticut as a public trust. Creating the security zone would, in effect, constitute “a taking of our property,” the report said, adding that Connecticut should at least have the power to determine whether the project would be in keeping with its coastal zone management laws. FERC, however, has said Broadwater is only obligated to comply with New York coastal laws.

The DEP also said FERC failed to consider new sources of natural gas coming into the region from Massachusetts and elsewhere in its conclusion that the Broadwater project would meet a need. It called FERC's need analysis “fundamentally flawed, if not disingenuous” because it reviewed each alternative “in isolation” rather than considering how several projects taken together would stack up against Broadwater.

“The displacement of recreational and commercial uses of the project area is a significant impact on the project,” the DEP said. “Access to areas traditionally used by the public, as well as the quality of the experience, would be diminished by the additional large-vessel traffic and associated security zone through the Race and eastern Long Island Sound.”

The DEP also said:

•Effects of the terminal on migrating songbirds and red, hoary and silver-haired bats should be considered. FERC should also examine the possibility that during construction of the mooring tower for the terminal and the 22-mile pipeline, food supplies for sea turtles and marine mammals would be disrupted.

•The impacts on endangered and threatened species such as Atlantic sturgeon, rainbow smelt, roseate terns and piping plovers have not been thoroughly analyzed.

•Further research is needed to determine the best method for constructing the 22-mile pipeline and the pipeline route to do the least damage to the marine habitat. More study is also needed of the effects of the increased water temperature around the pipeline. The DEP report notes that lobsters are very sensitive to small increases in water temperature.

•Copper-based anti-fouling paint that would be used on the terminal would leach 27.8 pounds of toxic copper daily, and should not be used.

•If the project is approved, FERC should require that Broadwater only enter into contracts with suppliers who use tankers that meet air emissions regulations. Broadwater, according to the DEP, has said the carriers are not under its control.

•Emissions from the terminal should be considered in FERC's analysis before making its decision, not later.

•Health risks to the public from an LNG spill that depletes oxygen supply must be evaluated.

•Impacts on commercial and recreational fishing for lobsters and other species were not adequately addressed.

The DEP comments most extensively on the visual impact the Broadwater project would have, saying FERC has downplayed its importance. The terminal, because of its size — the equivalent of four football fields in length — its nighttime lighting, mooring tower and regular activity of LNG tankers and security boats around its perimeter, would be like nothing else currently in the Sound, according to the DEP.

“By virtue of its size, mass, scale, lighting and location,” the DEP said, “the Broadwater facility will constitute a permanent, unique and unprecedented visual intrusion which will serve as a constant reminder that 950 acres of formerly open public waters and submerged lands have been occupied for a private industrial use.”

“We urge FERC to appreciate that there is more going on here than NIMBYism,” the DEP concludes, referring to the strong public opposition to the project in both states. “Degrading the visual quality of Long Island Sound undermines an essential part of the identity and sense of place now enjoyed by millions of citizens of two states. If Broadwater is built, part of our heritage will be irretrievably lost.”


Group Criticizes LNG Environmental Report
DAY
By Judy Benson
Published on 1/23/2007

Hartford - The governor’s task force on a proposal for a floating natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound is calling on federal regulators to extensively redo its environmental impact report on the project, saying it found the assessment failed to consider several key aspects.

The Long Island Sound LNG Task Force, headed by state Sens. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, and Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, submitted a 48-page analysis of the environmental report to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today, FERC’s deadline for comments, and released it to the media at a Capitol news conference.

The FERC report concluded that the Broadwater Energy terminal and tankers that would supply it with liquefied natural gas would have minimal environmental impacts, that safety, security and environmental effect could be satisfactorily minimized, and that it would fill a need for natural gas in the New York and Connecticut. The draft report is the basis for a final report, expected to be completed in three to four months, that will recommend whether FERC should approve the project.

The task force comments say that FERC based its conclusions about the hazard of natural gas spills on open water on a study that was found inadequate by a Congressional analysis. FERC, the task force says, failed to acknowledge the Congressional analysis and that further study is needed that would factor in the structure of LNG carriers, wave action, currents and the possible size of spills.

“We believe there should be more computer modeling before any determination is made,” said Fasano.

The task force also called attention to the FERC report’s lack of information on three new liquefied natural gas terminals approved in Massachusetts and eastern Canada that will bring new supply to Connecticut and New York. These supplies, the task force said, will be available sooner than Broadwater and pose far less environmental risk than locating a terminal in a protected estuary such as Long Island Sound.

Stillman also cited concerns raised by the U.S. Department of the Interior the 5 million gallons of ballast and cooling water used daily by the terminal and tankers could kills millions of fish eggs and larvae, and possible impacts on two endangered birds, the roseate tern and the piping plover. She said the report failed to consider the safety implications of having regular traffic of LNG tankers in the vicinity of the Millstone nuclear power station in Waterford. 

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced during the news conference that in addition to submitting comments to FERC today, his office also sent comments to New York state authorities who will determine if the terminal is consistent coastal protection laws.

“New York can say no and it should,” Blumenthal said.

After the news conference, Broadwater officials said the task force failed to recognize the needs of consumers for lower electricity rates. Bringing a new supply of natural gas to the region, company officials say, could lower ratepayers’ bills by about $400 per year.

“The real losers will be the ratepayers of Connecticut,” said Broadwater spokesman Gary Hale.


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.



Scientists Cite Flaws In LNG Assessment; Finding Of Minimal Impact On Sound 'poorly researched'
DAY
By Judy Benson
Published on 12/8/2006
 

Four scientists who specialize in the geology, biology and ecology of Long Island Sound told a state panel Thursday that the federal analysis of how a floating liquefied natural gas terminal would affect the Sound is seriously flawed.

“This document was poorly researched,” said Peter Auster, science director for the National Undersea Research Center at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus in Groton. “The authors glossed over the issues to conclude that it would have minimal impact.”

Auster joined retired state geologist Ralph Lewis, University of New Haven biology professor Roman Zajac and Lance Stewart, associate professor at UConn's Department of Natural Resources and a commissioner for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council, in criticizing the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed Broadwater project.

The impact statement was prepared by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is considering Broadwater's applications for permits to place a first-of-its-kind LNG terminal in the middle of the Sound to supply natural gas to New York and Connecticut.

The FERC report was released Nov. 23. The commission is taking comments on the draft report until Jan. 23. The report was favorable to the Broadwater plan.

In preparation for submitting comments, the LNG Task Force of state legislators set up by Gov. M. Jodi Rell asked the four scientists to review the FERC report. State Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, co-chairwoman of the task force, said the scientists' comments confirmed panel members' assessment of the report.

“They used words like sloppy, and inconsistent, and that it was a cursory review,” she said. “The committee already felt that the report didn't provide clear justification” for its conclusions that the LNG terminal would have minimal impact on the estuary. The scientists' analysis would be sent to FERC as part of the task force's comments on the project, Stillman said. The task force, however, does not have any special standing with the federal agency, so its input may have little influence over FERC's decision.

Lewis, the state geologist, told the committee that the report does not reflect an understanding of the floor of the Sound. He said Broadwater may have to drill much deeper through layers of sediment and clay to reach bedrock than the report anticipates. The drilling would be needed to construct the yoke mooring system that would hold the terminal in place and the 22 miles of pipeline that would connect it to an existing undersea gas line.

Zajac faulted the report for relying on video footage of the portion of the Sound where the terminal would be located. The video footage is unclear and cannot be used to draw conclusions about the marine life throughout the Sound, because different areas of the Sound provide different habitats for different creatures.

“So what you're saying is that we're not comparing apples to apples, or oranges to oranges?” Stillman asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

He also faulted the report for lack of data to back up many of its statements, and for not addressing issues such as the effect noise from the terminal would have on fish and other creatures.

Stewart called the draft report “the most elementary I've ever seen.” He said he is most concerned about the heat that would be generated by the terminal, because subtle rises in water temperature can have negative impacts on fish, lobsters and other marine creatures. An analysis of that issue was absent from the FERC report, he said.

State Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Gina McCarthy also addressed the panel. According to Stillman, McCarthy said her staff is working to complete its analysis and is frustrated that FERC has not responded to letters from Rell, her office and state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal requesting that Connecticut's input be considered in the decision.

The terminal would be located in New York waters of the Sound, about 10 miles south of Branford.


Gas Plant: Decision Ahead;   Federal Regulator Says Agency's Review Is Limited To Safety
By DAVID FUNKHOUSER, Courant Staff Writer
December 4, 2006
 
As chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Joseph T. Kelliher wants to make a few things clear about his agency's review of a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound.

"I think our general approach on LNG isn't very widely understood," Kelliher said.

That comment goes to the heart of the war environmentalists and others are fighting over the proposal from Broadwater Energy to moor the gas plant, a vessel four football fields long, about 9 miles off long Island and 11 miles from Branford.

The Courant sat down with Kelliher in his Washington, D.C., office recently to talk about Broadwater and his agency's recent draft environmental impact statement on the project. That statement has drawn a harsh response from the project's opponents.

Kelliher, 45, a white-haired yet boyish-looking lawyer, has spent his career focused on energy issues - first as a lobbyist, then as a congressional counsel and a policy adviser in the current Bush administration, where he helped develop the national energy policy.

His agency has authority over several aspects of the nation's energy infrastructure, including where it might be appropriate - and safe - to build terminals for importing liquefied natural gas - the super-cooled and condensed form of natural gas that makes it easier to ship.

The five-member commission is likely to vote on Broadwater's proposal next year.

Kelliher first emphasized that the agency will make its decision based on safety and not on need.

"There seems to be a perception on the outside that we are actually balancing need vs. safety," he said. "That's completely untrue. ... When the commission looks at an LNG facility, we are not an economic regulator, we are a safety regulator, pure and simple."

Nonetheless, FERC's environmental report and other agency literature make clear that the agency believes such projects are needed, especially in the Northeast. Energy demand in the region is rising faster than generation capacity and the ability of the infrastructure to deliver that power.

Natural gas, a relatively clean fuel, provides nearly a quarter of the energy consumed in the United States. While most of our natural gas comes from U.S. and Canadian sources, domestic production has peaked, and the Department of Energy projects the supply will not keep pace with our consumption. Imported liquefied natural gas will be crucial to meeting growing demand, energy analysts say.

FERC has in recent years approved 16 new or expanded liquefied natural gas facilities from Fall River, Mass., to Corpus Christi, Texas. Canadian authorities have approved three facilities, two on the East Coast. Dozens of other projects are in the works.

Kelliher pointed out that FERC earlier this year rejected a liquefied natural gas project in Providence. "It obviously was needed," he said. "But it didn't meet our safety standards."

FERC has set 79 conditions it says Broadwater will have to meet for the project to go ahead - including measures to ensure safety and reduce environmental impact. If those are met, FERC says, Broadwater's facility can be operated safely and with minimal impact.

The plant would be permanently moored to a tower embedded in the sea floor. Two or three tankers a week would offload liquefied natural gas, which would be heated and pumped into a new 25-mile pipeline plugged into the Iroquois natural gas pipe that runs across the Sound between Connecticut and New York.

Broadwater's opponents have declared FERC's environmental report "fiction."

"FERC couldn't find one small problem with this facility," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment in New York. "So to me, clearly FERC is simply a cheerleader for natural gas infrastructure at any cost, and that's what this [report] reflects."

Groups such as the Citizens Campaign and the Connecticut Fund for the Environment have 60 days to comment on the report, which came out Nov. 17 on a timetable set by FERC. The agency will hold several public meetings, probably in January. After that, the agency will prepare a final environmental impact statement and bring the matter to a vote.

Esposito said her group would like more time to digest the report. State Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, co-chairman of Connecticut's Long Island Sound LNG Task Force, said his panel would ask FERC to extend the comment period to the end of March.

Broadwater's opponents have been critical of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which they say expanded FERC's authority at the expense of the states.

That, Kelliher said, is another misperception. The law did give FERC the authority to approve the siting of liquefied natural gas terminals. But, he said, "the state role in reviewing LNG import facilities is undiminished. ... There's more than one decision-maker. If we disapprove a project, it can't be built, but we're not the only body that has to approve an LNG facility."

The Broadwater terminal and its pipeline would sit in New York waters, and that state will have to issue several permits. One is an easement for the use of public land.

Save the Sound and the Long Island communities of Huntington, Brookhaven and East Hampton on Friday called on New York to reject the easement. They contend that turning over a swath of the Sound for private industrial use sets a bad precedent. And, environmentalists say, Broadwater is a step in the wrong direction after 20 years and at least a billion dollars spent cleaning up the Sound.

Should any agencies deny Broadwater a permit, the project, which Broadwater would like to start construction on next year, is likely to wind up in federal appeals court.  Some energy analysts project that a couple of liquefied natural gas terminals would fulfill the Northeast's needs. So why approve more?

"FERC authorization doesn't guarantee that a project gets built," Kelliher responded. He said the energy market will determine how many facilities can be supported.

Opponents say a combination of conservation, alternative energy projects and increased efficiency should be able to handle the region's growing demands. Kelliher and the FERC report disagree.

"You need a multi-pronged approach, and conservation has got to be one of those prongs," Kelliher said. But the impact of conservation is hard to measure, and "you are going to need to assure an adequate supply."

Kelliher made a final point: There is a connection between energy infrastructure and what we pay for energy.

"I'm not trying to say that all energy infrastructure that's ever proposed should always be built," he said. "But there should be a recognition that there is a balance between those two things - and that attempts to block all energy development will have the very predictable and probably inevitable outcome of raising prices."

LNG Firm Agrees To Pay $23.5 Million For Impact
DAY
By Associated Press
Published on 12/3/2006

 
Boston (AP) — Developers of one of two liquefied natural gas terminals proposed offshore from Gloucester have agreed to pay $23.5 million in fishing and environmental impact compensation, according to a published report.

The Boston Globe reported Saturday that the deal, common on major infrastructure construction projects, was reached Friday between Texas-based Excelerate Energy and the state, giving it environmental approval from the state. Excelerate proposes to build its Northeast Gateway terminal 13 miles off Gloucester.

Gov. Mitt Romney still must give final approval of the Excelerate Energy project, and has until Dec. 26 to make a decision.

Observers expect a similar agreement to be reached on the Neptune project proposed about 10 miles off Gloucester by the company that owns the Distrigas LNG terminal in Everett. That project is expected to get a final environmental decision from the state in about two weeks, and Romney's final decision is due by Jan. 2.

Another proposal calls for building an LNG terminal on Boston Harbor's Outer Brewster Island.

The projects have gained the interest of public officials balancing energy needs and safety concerns about land-based terminals in populated areas. Supporters of the offshore projects say they might eliminate the need for a Fall River terminal opposed by officials in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island. But opponents say the projects, which involve underwater pipelines, could cause permanent environmental damage.

Texas-based Excelerate had predicted just $2.5 million in damage to fishermen over the 25-year life of its project, and minimal effect on marine life. But after months of negotiations with state officials, the company agreed to pay $8 million to New England fishermen for the loss of fishing grounds.

The agreement also calls for Excelerate to pay about $7 million for the use of public waters, $4 million to for impacts on marine habitats and resources that may be disturbed, and $4 million prevent harm to whales and other marine mammals, the Globe reported.

“If you look at the balance between the need for reliable energy and minimizing the impacts on the environment, this is a good outcome,” said Environmental Affairs Secretary Robert W. Golledge Jr.

The fishermen's compensation package includes a $6.3 million payment to help start a Gloucester nonprofit that would pay local fishermen who want to quit the business a fee to use their fishing permits and allotted fishing days. The nonprofit would lease the permits to other fishermen. The rest of the $8 million would compensate commercial lobstermen and be administered by the Massachusetts Lobstermen's association.

“We'd prefer they take their money and go away,” said Bernie Feeney, president of the lobstermen's association, who told the Globe he only learned of the deal on Friday. He said a recent gas line built under Massachusetts Bay caused permanent changes to the sea floor that disturbed lobsters.

“We lost areas forever there, and we're worried about it happening again,” he said.

 

Lawmakers Expect Boost In LNG Fight; New England Democrats to have more leverage
DAY
By ANDREW MIGA, Associated Press Writer

Nov 26, 2006


WASHINGTON (AP) -- New England lawmakers say the Democratic takeover of Congress should strengthen their hand as they press federal regulators for a regional approach to siting liquefied natural gas terminals.

Proposed LNG facilities in Massachusetts and in Long Island Sound between Connecticut and New York have been controversial, stoking concerns about public safety and the environment.

Because key Democrats from New England will be assuming more powerful roles in the new Congress, advocates for a regional LNG strategy expect to have more leverage in persuading federal officials to scrap the current project-by-project review of proposed facilities - and to start looking at the proposals from a broader perspective before giving approval.

The congressmen contend too many LNG proposals are in the approval pipeline while environmental and safety concerns take a back seat, and that not all of the projects are needed to meet the region's growing energy needs.
 
"The seismic shift in Congress holds great promise for finally advancing a thoughtful regional approach on the siting of LNG terminals," said Sue Reid, a staff attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation. "This should put an end to the 'LNG-derby,' a first-come first-served disaster that fails to take into account the relative environmental or public safety merit of LNG projects."

The Suez Distrigas facility in Everett, Mass., is New England's only LNG terminal. There are nine pending or proposed LNG terminal projects in New England, Reid said, including the Weaver's Cove Energy terminal in Fall River, Mass. Though Weaver's Cove has won Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval, it is embroiled in legal challenges.

Some energy analysts have predicted that by 2010 there won't be enough natural gas supply to keep up with the region's energy needs.

U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., who will be the second-ranking Democrat on the Rules Committee, a powerful panel that controls the flow of legislation on the House floor, said New England lawmakers are eager to renew their push for a regional strategy when the new Congress meets next year.

"We are going to have sympathetic committee chairmen and chairwomen who are not going to just do whatever the industry wants them to do," he said. "That's been a problem in the past. We'll have more opportunity to legislate smartly on this issue."

Lawmakers want a more comprehensive approach by regulators that factors in the region's overall energy needs before deciding which projects should be approved. The lawmakers complain that government regulators, who focus on safety and environmental factors, have been reluctant to play the role of regional decision-makers.

There are several proposed projects in the Northeast, including plans to build LNG facilities in the waters off Gloucester, Mass., and on an island in Boston Harbor.

Officials at Broadwater Energy, which wants to build a giant floating LNG terminal in Long Island Sound, warn that a regional approach won't work.

"The problem is, you end up with an endless loop of proposals," said company senior vice president John Hritcko. "People will protect their own turf. ... They like the project so long as it's not in their area."

Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who is in line for the Homeland Security panel chairmanship, opposes Broadwater and considers himself a "strong supporter" of a regional siting approach.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who will also become a key Senate committee chairman in the new Congress, is among those pushing for a regional strategy.

"The senator is hopeful that the (Bush) administration will be more willing to consider a regional approach to siting these facilities," said Kennedy spokeswoman Melissa Wagoner.

New England lawmakers who met with Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman last year to urge his agency to adopt a regionwide strategy said he seemed receptive to the idea, but made no promises.

Legislation may be needed to force federal regulators to take a stronger regional approach, McGovern said.

"We met Secretary Bodman and he seemed open to it at the time," said McGovern. "Basically, he said that's not his mandate. You know what, we'll make it his mandate. There needs to be some rhyme or reason as to where these things are located."

An Energy Department spokesman said officials there were looking forward to working with both parties in the new Congress.

"The department continues to believe that having more access to natural gas is better than having less, especially for the people of the Northeast," said Energy Department spokesman Craig Stevens. "Energy is a bipartisan issue and we look forward to working with members of both parties to ensure that Americans have access to the energy that they need."

McGovern and several other lawmakers from Massachusetts and Rhode Island are fighting the proposed Weaver's Cove terminal. They consider it a public safety threat because of its proximity to city residents. A terrorist strike or accident could be devastating, they warn.

"We don't think a regional approach is the answer," said James Grasso, a Weaver's Cove spokesman. "What will really determine if the project will go or not is the marketplace."

A prolonged stretch of cold weather could also sway lawmakers, added Grasso.

"If we have a cold winter and the Democrats start getting complaints from constituents about high gas prices, they may respond to that," Grasso said.

Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., however, predicted the incoming Democratic majority on Capitol Hill will transform energy policy.

"The LNG debate in New England is just the latest example of how the Republican-controlled Congress has let the industry dominate this debate," he said. "With this approach, there are too many important factors left out of the decision process, such as local safety issues and the effects of other projects already in development, as is the case in Canada."


The Energy Conundrum; What Broadwater and rising electric rates in Connecticut have to do with each other.
DAY editorial
Published on 11/21/2006
 
Not to anyone's surprise, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has concluded that a proposed floating liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound would not damage the environment and would fill a critical need for energy in New York and Connecticut. Just as predictably, critics in the state, including Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, have vowed to fight on against this project.

The opposition to the Broadwater project is as vocal as the anger that is gathering in the state over past and future increases in electric rates. Unfortunately, Connecticut's policy makers prefer not to connect the two, the high cost of energy in the state and the need for new sources of energy. Connecticut, for all intents and purposes, has no workable energy policy, and to add to the problem, neither does the federal government.

The Broadwater project is but another emblem of this conundrum, a monstrosity that would add to the manmade clutter in Long Island Sound. Broadwater, a partnership of energy companies, makes a reasonable case that with its LNG terminal 10 miles offshore from Connecticut, it can supply cleaner-burning fuel than coal and oil at a lower cost to energy consumers and to the environment than the market status quo. The project would ameliorate the threat to air quality posed by the state's “Sooty Six” generating plants and pave the way for cleaner, less expensive energy generation in the state. As for those who say there are alternatives to add to the supply of natural gas, Broadwater responds that those alternatives would have similar environmental impacts in other parts of the Northeast.

All of what the company says is true, just as it is true that the LNG project would further despoil Long Island Sound. And Broadwater points out that whatever damage its terminal would cause doesn't compare with the pollution that comes from inadequately treated sewage from shoreline development. That's true, also.

Projects like Broadwater are the price communities pay for an unfettered appetite for energy and sources of energy largely limited to fossil fuels. There is also a nuclear option, but rest assured, the opposition to Broadwater is nothing compared to what could be expected if someone came along with a proposal to build another nuclear power plant.

Connecticut has made it clear it doesn't want this ugly LNG intrusion on one of its most precious natural resources. But then it must decide, what are the alternatives? And those measures that impose similar burdens in other places don't count.

Upward-moving electric rates and energy projects like Broadwater are part of the price we all pay for our energy gluttony and for a bankrupt energy policy. The political community tries to separate the issues, holding out the hope that the public can continue to have unlimited energy without any increase in costs to their household budgets or to the environment.

The trouble is we keep believing them.


Little impact seen from Gazprom plan not to ship gas to US
Last Update: 12:00 PM ET Oct 12, 2006
(This article was originally published Wednesday.)
 
HOUSTON (MarketWatch) -- OAO Gazprom's (GSPBEX.RS) decision to send natural gas from Russia's Shtokman field to Europe via pipeline rather than liquefy it and ship it to the U.S., won't affect the medium-term prospects of the North American regasification business, analysts and industry officials say.

Most liquefied natural gas cargoes are currently directed to European ports where they enjoy higher prices than in the U.S. However, as Europe develops more gas storage capacity and more liquefaction projects come on line in Equatorial Guinea, Norway and other countries over the next three years, more LNG will be available for U.S. markets.

On Monday, Russian energy giant Gazprom said it plans to develop the $20 billion Shtokman project on its own, and send its natural gas production to Europe via pipeline instead of North America via LNG shipments, as the company had previously said.

LNG from the massive Shtokman project, which is not scheduled to come on line until early into the next decade, would only be vital to the U.S. if the Alaska Arctic natural gas pipeline projected for 2015 doesn't come through, or if demand skyrockets, said John Perry, an analyst with John S. Herold, a Norwalk, Conn.-based energy consulting firm.
 
At the same time, the U.S. is likely to consume more gas than it can produce or import from neighboring Canada. Owners of North American regasifying terminals see themselves as "the gap filler," said Perry.

Most of the LNG supply that could end up on North American shores is likely to come from projects currently under development in West Africa, Trinidad, the Middle East and Norway, scheduled to come on line before the end of the decade.

"I don't think there'll be a problem to get gas for our capacity there," said Total S.A. (TOT) spokesman Paul Floren. The French energy giant owns regasification capacity in Mexico's Altamira terminal and another facility in Sabine Pass, La.

Price Gap

Russia's decision to supply Europe over North America underscores the fact that the U.S. must compete with the rest of the world to bring LNG to its shores. So far, its performance has been unimpressive.

The LNG business is divided into two distinct geographical regions, the Atlantic Basin and the Pacific Basin. For most purposes, gas-producing nations in the Atlantic such as Trinidad, Egypt, Nigeria and Algeria will ship their gas to North America and Europe, said Stacy Durbin Nieuwoudt, an energy analyst with Pickering Energy Partners in Houston.
 
This year, at least two cargoes headed for an LNG terminal in Lake Charles, La., were diverted midway from the U.S. to Europe where the gas fetched higher prices.  Europe's lack of storage capacity, as well as the euro's strength in relation to the dollar, has made the LNG market there more lucrative.

U.S. demand for LNG may grow to 3 billion cubic feet a day in the next three years, a 30% increase from 2006, said Herold's Perry. By 2010, U.S. demand is projected to rise to between 4 billion and 5 billion cubic feet a day of imported gas. The strengthened demand will level the playing field with Europe, he said.

Gas storage improvements in Europe may help reduce prices there, just as it does in the U.S., where storage facilities can hold 15% to 17% of the nation's annual consumption, said Perry.  In the long term, Russia's decision to send Shtokman's gas riches to Europe may be positive for the U.S., said Pickering Energy's Nieuwoudt.

"As Russian production floats via pipeline to Europe, that leaves more gas (in the Atlantic Basin) free to ship to the U.S.," she said.
 
While there seem to be enough LNG projects to keep U.S. terminals supplied in the near future, Shtokman LNG could be useful if the Alaska Artic Natural Gas Pipeline doesn't materialize, said Perry.
 
The pipeline, which could bring between 4 billion and 5 billion cubic feet a day of gas into the lower-48 states by 2015, would keep U.S. demand at a manageable 6 billion to 8 billion cubic feet per day.
 
"If we're going to start pushing 10 or more billion cubic feet a day, Shtokman would have been helpful," said Perry.


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.


Broadwater Foes Brace for Conflicts Over LNG Terminal
By DON CASCIATO, Westport NEWS
August 18, 2006
 
At a time of year when state residents as well as vacationers enjoy Long Island Sound, representatives from Save the Sound met with Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in New Haven earlier this week to scope out a Broadwater Energy strategy for the months ahead.

The Broadwater company was formed by TransCanada Corp. and Shell to deal with expected future energy shortages threatening the Long Island Sound region of New York and Connecticut by installing a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Long Island Sound

Blumenthal said that he is "determined" to block the proposal by using "every possible avenue of attack in both federal and state agencies."

The battle lines were drawn several years ago and the attorney general frequently voices his opposition when he speaks to community groups such as Westport's Y's Men.
"As the Coast Guard and the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) proceed, we are planning a full-scale frontal offensive to document the disastrous flaws inherent in a project that would impair aquatic life, water quality, shipping, recreation and security in Long Island Sound," said Blumenthal after the Tuesday meeting.

"Of the scores of new liquefied natural gas facilities proposed in the United States, this one provides the least benefit compared to the harm it will do. We will go to court if necessary to stop it."

Major Legal Issues

Leah Schmalz, director of legislative and legal affairs for Save the Sound, a program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, added: "Because Long Island Sound belongs to the residents of New York and Connecticut, the proposal continues to raise important legal issues concerning the rights of the citizens of both states.

"Not only are there a variety of ways to assure adequate gas and energy supplies for New England, there are common sense approaches that do not require the industrialization of a large portion of the Sound."

State Rep. Joe Mioli (R-136), who represents most of Westport, attended the Tuesday meeting held in the district office of U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro. However, Mioli did not issue a statement after the meeting.

Others attending included representatives from the offices of U.S. Senators Joe Lieberman and Chris Dodd as well as U.S. Reps Christopher Shays and John B. Larson.

In addition, state senators Len Fusano, Bill Finch, George "Doc" Gunther, Edward Meyer, Gayle Slossberg, Andrea L. Stillman attended, along with state representatives Richard Roy, John J.Ryan and Patricia M. Widlitz.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays (R-4) and his Democratic Party challenger, Diane Farrell, are both opposed to creation of a huge facility larger than a cruise ship in the waters of Long Island Sound.

Safety Questions

Some critics have raised safety issues, but Broadwater officials disagree.

Last August, a hearing in Stamford focused on the project and opponents of the plans to build a floating LNG terminal in Long Island Sound said the site of Broadwater's facility would be placed on the New York side of the Sound because Connecticut regulations are more stringent.

The accusation was disputed by Broadwater Senior Vice President and Regional Project Director John Hritcko Jr. However, his office is in Riverhead, N.Y., and not in Connecticut.

Report Card

In another recent development, Save the Sound has released its annual environmental report card titled "Long Island Sound Municipal Environmental Progress Report, June 2006."

Results in the report are mixed with only two out of 74 municipalities receiving grades of "very good" overall. Most municipalities don't have strong programs to address polluted runoff, according to Robin Kriesberg, Save the Sound's interim director of Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship.

"By far the biggest obstacles to implementing effective stormwater management and smart growth practices is the lack of available funding,"said Kriesberg "The Municipal Progress Report shows how future success in these areas depends on the use of innovative funding sources and techniques. Increased awareness of the impact that stormwater has on nearby waters and quality of life will continue to help inspire the level of commitment needed to make greater strides in addressing this pollution that is keeping us from fully enjoying our local rivers, streams and coastlines."

The report is a followup to the Long Island Sound Municipal Report Card of 1998 and provides an update on local municipal practices like sewage operation and maintenance, stormwater runoff control, open space preservation, wetlands protection and beach water quality monitoring programs all of which have an impact upon the health of Long Island Sound.

The Municipal Environmental Progress Report is based on answers by the municipalities to survey questions on stormwater permit implementation and smart growth practices. It is designed to help guide local governments as they strive to identify and protect critical local natural resources.
 

Broadwater Energy Seeks Permission to Build Projects Related To LNG Plan
DAY
By Judy Benson
Published on 12/9/2006

 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has received an application from Broadwater Energy for construction projects related to its plan for an offshore liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound.

The application is to construct the yoke mooring system that would be used to anchor the LNG barge in the middle of the Sound, in New York waters about 10 miles south of Branford. Broadwater is also seeking the Army Corp's permission to construct an undersea pipeline to carry the natural gas from the barge to a main pipeline in the western end of the Sound, and to place fill in the Sound.

Broadwater, a partnership of Shell Oil and TransCanada Pipeline, is seeking its main permits for the facility from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Army Corps regulates the construction of the proposed structures and placement of fill.

The Army Corps said it is seeking comments from the public, federal, state and local agencies and other officials about Broadwater's application. Its decision will be based on the project's impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, the environment and other public interest factors, the Army Corps said in an announcement about the application.

FERC will conduct meetings on Broadwater's application jointly with the Army Corps in January. Dates have not yet been announced.

For information about the application, call Russell Smith at 917-790-8519 or log on to the New York District Corps of Engineers Web site at www.nan.usace.army.mil.


UConn hosts forum on Sound gas float
By HAROLD F. COBIN, Hour Correspondent
June 9, 2006

STAMFORD — Based on the issue of whether or not to locate a liquefied natural gas platform in the middle of Long Island Sound, representatives of parties both for and against the project Thursday night debated whether the demand for natural gas in the Connecticut/New York metropolitan area will soon exceed supply or remain sufficient through implementation of energy conservation programs.

Sponsored by SoundWaters, a Stamford organization that provides educational programs about the Sound, the debate featured Ezra D. Hausman of Synapse Energy Economics of Cambridge, Mass., challenging Joel M. Rinebold, a consultant for Broadwater, a collaboration between the Shell Oil Company and TransCanada to build and install the liquefied natural gas platform.

Rinebold argued the demand for natural gas in this area to generate electricity is growing sharply, while Hausman said new supplies of gas from Canada, combined with improvements in energy efficiency, will mitigate the need for the Broadwater project.

Saying the demand for natural gas in the area has grown 25 percent over the last 10 years, Rinebold said if new supplies are not brought in soon, "we're going to be sitting in the dark."

Hausman said transporting gas through a pipeline is cheaper than shipping it in liquefied form. As well, he said, the availability of liquefied gas is extremely tight.

There is "enormous potential" in conservation, said Hausman, and energy efficiency pays off year after year.

The liquefied natural gas, or LNG, would be transported from overseas in ships, and piped into the platform where it would be warmed back into a gas.

Broadwater says the platform, called a floating storage and regasification unit, would be approximately 1,200 feet long and 180 feet wide. It says the deck would rise between 75 and 100 feet above the water line.

It would require Broadwater to install 22 miles of pipeline from the platform to existing gas transmission pipeline that runs beneath the Sound.

The proposed site is about 9 miles off the closest New York shoreline and about 11 miles from the closest shoreline in Connecticut.

The forum was held at the University of Connecticut's downtown campus.

Broadwater wants to have the platform installed and operating by 2010.


Firm Revises Plan For Sound Gas Plant
January 31, 2006
By DAVID FUNKHOUSER, Courant Staff Writer

Broadwater Energy on Monday formally applied for federal approval to build a floating liquefied natural gas plant in Long Island Sound, triggering a fresh review that could lead to a final decision on the controversial proposal in a year or more.  The company, whose application was made to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, hopes the plant will begin operating in late 2010. The company says the plant would pump more than a billion cubic feet of gas per day, enough to supply the needs of 4 million customers in New York and Connecticut.

The proposed facility, which would be moored in New York waters halfway between Long Island and Connecticut, faces competition from a slew of other proposals to build liquefied natural gas terminals along the East Coast.  FERC approved a project in Fall River, Mass., a week and a half ago. And last week, a Manhattan-based group proposed building a terminal on a $1 billion man-made island 13.5 miles south of Long Island.

"The Broadwater project provides a safe and efficient way to deliver a major new supply of natural gas directly into this growing market," John Hritcko Jr., Broadwater Energy's senior vice president, said in a statement.

FERC has been reviewing the proposal for more than a year. With the new filing, the process starts all over again, and it could be another year and a half before the commissioners make their decision, said FERC spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen. She said FERC would hold more public hearings and take in other public comment along the way.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal criticized the Broadwater filing Monday.

"Our state's pressing energy needs cannot be met by this misguided and monstrous project - which presents a clear and present danger to our security and environment," he said. "This proposal is virtually unchanged from its inception, and there are less dangerous, more effective means to meet energy needs."

The Broadwater terminal would serve tankers bringing liquefied natural gas from overseas. The company argues that it will provide an important new resource for an energy system that will soon be overwhelmed by rising demand.  The plant would store the super-cooled liquid, convert it back to gas and pump it through a new underwater pipeline into the existing system. The facility, which would float about 11 miles offshore from Branford, would be aboutthe length of four football fields and sit as high as 100 feet above the water's surface.

Broadwater insists the plant would use "proven technology" to ensure public safety and avoid adverse impacts on the environment.

Opponents argue no such plant has ever been built and insist the project poses unnecessary risks. They say the plant and the two or three liquefied natural gas carriers a week that serve it would require broad security zones that would disrupt commercial and recreational activities on the Sound.

The U.S. Coast Guard is studying the plant's safety and security issues.

Broadwater says it has altered its plans to lessen the visual impact and moved the proposed plant and pipeline in response to concerns from fishermen and other marine users. The company says the plant's mooring is designed to withstand wind and wave conditions beyond any ever experienced in Long Island Sound.

"I think they've been trying to address every possible criticism in the formal application," said Lonnie Reed, a Branford town meeting member who has spoken out against Broadwater. "I'll be eager to see how they've addressed all the issues."

Broadwater has "a lot worse problems than the enmity of the communities along the shores," she added. "They've got some serious competition coming in." She noted that energy companies are already building tankers that can process liquefied natural gas on board and send it directly into pipelines.

Broadwater's application will be available on the FERC website at www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/elibrary.asp. A project update is available from Broadwater at www.broadwaterenergy.com or by calling 1-800-798-6379. 


Gas Plant Faces Issue of Secrecy
NYTIMES
January 8, 2006

By JOHN RATHER
AS a host of safety questions have been raised about Broadwater Energy's plan to build an immense floating liquefied natural gas plant in the middle of the Long Island Sound, its message to elected officials and the public has been consistent: Wait until the facts are in before making up your mind.

Now some of those facts are in, but the public may never get to hear them. Lawyers for Suffolk County say that crucial safety information about the plant has been stamped "secret" by the federal government, under regulations adopted after the Sept. 11 terror attacks that were intended to thwart sabotage of energy facilities. Connecticut's attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, the state's leading opponent of Broadwater, said he supported Suffolk County's stance against the plant.

Legal wrangling over the safety information is one of several issues Broadwater faces as it prepares to ask the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to go ahead with the project. The application first planned for mid-2005, is expected to be filed late this month or early next month.

In Connecticut, a task force on liquefied natural gas appointed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell is nearly ready to send her its report on the advantages and disadvantages of the plant for Connecticut, but members said they were having difficulty discerning whether the Broadwater gas would benefit the state.  Ms. Rell has said that Connecticut should have review power and a veto over the project even though it would be located in New York waters. Broadwater says Connecticut has no jurisdiction.

"Governor Rell is mindful of the potential security issues and risks surrounding this proposal, but she is equally concerned that the public has access to as much information as possible before final decisions are made," said Judd Everhart, director of communications for the governor.

Richard Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society in Riverhead and coordinator for the Anti-Broadwater Coalition, which has members in Connecticut and on Long Island, said Broadwater had been less than forthcoming about details of the project. "Part of our complaint all along has been that Broadwater is long on promotion and short on information," he said.

Suffolk County's lawyers are demanding that the commission halt all proceedings related to Broadwater's proposal because the commission and state agencies "are unable to disclose certain information necessary to make the statutory determination required to authorize the project" as safe and in the public interest.  Because of the secrecy constraints, the lawyers argued in a letter to the commission dated Dec. 8 that there could never be a full public airing of how the $700 million plant, which would be 1,200 feet long and 180 feet wide, would be designed to withstand hurricanes, surging tides, accidents or attacks.

Broadwater contends that the secrecy poses no obstacle to approving the plant. In its reply to the county's claims, the company's lawyers said that while the classified data must be kept from the public, state officials directly involved in project reviews could have full access to it if they sign nondisclosure agreements.  Company officials said the approval process was as open as it could be under the circumstances.

"There is absolutely nothing secret about this," said John Hritcko, senior vice president of Broadwater, in an interview on Tuesday. "Every major infrastructure project has to abide by this process."

A spokeswoman for the commission, Tamara Young-Allen, said on Tuesday that the commission was still considering the matter and had not yet ruled on the county's request.

The document at issue, "Environmental Resource Report 13, Engineering and Design Material," is being withheld from public view by the commission because of a rule it adopted in 2003 limiting public disclosures about liquefied natural gas plants, refineries, pipelines and other energy infrastructure.  In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Mr. Blumenthal said, "The broad and sweeping secrecy of this information because it is necessary for security proves the point that security and safety are at risk in this project."

"It is powerful evidence of the susceptibility to terrorist attack and proves that the public interest is greatly endangered," he added.  Mr. Blumenthal said that was all the more reason why the project was inappropriate for a crowded waterway in a highly populated area.

"If they need this much secrecy, security must be really be at risk and they should put the facility somewhere else," he said.  He also said that his office did not want information about the project if it required signing a nondisclosure agreement. "We would rather not have the information if it means muzzling and censuring what we can say to the public," he said.

Broadwater, a partnership of Shell and the TransCanada Corporation, wants to build the plant in New York waters, 9 miles off of Shoreham, N.Y., and 11 miles from Branford, and put it in service by 2010. It would receive imported liquefied gas from three or four tankers a week, warm it back to a gaseous state and feed it, at a rate of about one billion cubic feet a day, into an existing cross-sound gas pipeline owned by the Iroquois Gas Transmission System.

A new 22-mile pipeline would connect the plant to the Iroquois line, which runs from Waddington, in upstate New York, through Connecticut, under the Sound between Milford and Northport, N.Y., and ends in Commack, N.Y. An existing extension branches off at Northport and runs under the sound to the Bronx. Gas can be delivered to customers anywhere along the pipelines.

Proponents say the plant would deliver badly needed new supplies and help stabilize energy costs in the region. Opponents, including many elected officials in Connecticut and on Long Island, say the project would industrialize the sound and pose major hazards to people and the environment on both shores.

"The people of Suffolk County cannot be expected to take on faith Broadwater's assertions that their safety and other concerns have been addressed in classified documents," said the county's Dec. 8 letter to the commission, signed by Charlotte Biblow, its lawyer. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission "has determined that the engineering and design information about proposed new L.N.G. terminals, such as Broadwater, would be useful to terrorists or saboteurs because incapacity or destruction of an L.N.G. terminal would 'negatively' impact public health and safety," she wrote. "This fact alone shows that the Broadwater project can not be found safe or in the public interest."

The letter also asserted that Broadwater had offered no analysis of how the plant would survive "catastrophic winds, waves and high water caused by natural disasters."

Mr. Hritcko said it was "absolutely not the case" that the need for secrecy meant that the Broadwater plant would be inherently unsafe. He noted that water treatment plants are covered by a similar rule, "but that doesn't mean they are any more dangerous."

Broadwater's response, signed by Brett A. Snyder, a Washington lawyer, said that if the commission accepts the county's argument, "the nation would be denied all new sources of energy."

William J. Lindsay, the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, said the county remained opposed to the project. The county executive, Steve Levy, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday that Suffolk should not be left in the dark.  But Broadwater picked up support from the New York City Council, which adopted a resolution on Dec. 21 describing the project in favorable terms, saying the gas it would deliver would be vital to the city, and calling for a review of the proposal.

In Connecticut, State Senator Leonard Fasano, a Republican from North Haven and chairman of Governor Rell's task force on the project, said government-ordered secrecy about aspects of it made him suspect it might be a more attractive target for terrorists than the commission and Broadwater are acknowledging. "They want to keep it out of the public eye because it very well may be a terrorist target," he said.

Mr. Fasano said Connecticut had a strong case for seeking jurisdiction over the project despite its location just within New York waters.

"The jury is still out on whether or not we have a regulatory interest in it," he said.

"The more I hear about this project, the more I am convinced the door is not closed on that issue," he said.

"The supply barges may have to go through Connecticut," Mr. Fasano said, referring to tankers carrying liquefied natural gas, "and I'm not convinced that the pipeline isn't going to have impacts in Connecticut."

He said the task force report would comment on these issues, on the environmental and visual impact of the project, and on "the fact that this would be the first time that a significant portion of Long Island Sound would be allowed to be controlled by a business entity."

Broadwater also has to deal with Iroquois's concerns about the proposed underwater pipeline connection. Among them are questions about whether operating problems at the Broadwater plant would shut down the Iroquois pipeline and interrupt its flow of gas, and questions about how to make imported gas compatible with the North American gas now carried in the pipeline.

But both Broadwater and Iroquois officials expect these and other technical questions to be resolved.


A Dispute Underscores the New Power of Gas
New York TIMES
By SIMON ROMERO

Published: January 3, 2006

HOUSTON, Jan. 2 - The dispute between Russia and Ukraine over natural gas supplies has implications for the fast-evolving international trade in natural gas.  While Gazprom, Russia's state-controlled energy behemoth, said on Monday that it would resume pipeline shipments of natural gas across Ukraine to customers in Europe, its ability to rattle nerves during the European winter served as a reminder of the growing influence of countries rich in natural gas reserves.

Global demand for natural gas, which is generally cleaner-burning than other fossil fuels, is soaring.

Governments in gas-rich countries and international energy companies are racing to meet that demand with ambitious projects to transport natural gas to industrialized countries by pipeline or in tankers. The global oil market developed along similar lines decades ago, laying bare the risks in the United States and Europe of relying on imported oil from politically unpredictable countries.

"This further underlies the need for greater diversity of supply and more storage capacity for natural gas," said Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. "Gas-importing countries will recognize the need to build in buffers."

At first glance, this newly robust international natural gas market would appear to put Russia in a strong bargaining position. Russia has the largest natural gas reserves, with 1,700 trillion cubic feet of the fuel, or 27 percent of the world's total, according to BP, the British oil and gas giant. Just two other countries rival Russia in natural gas reserves, Iran, with 971 trillion cubic feet, and Qatar, with 910 trillion cubic feet.

But analysts say concern over creating too much dependence on Russian gas - or natural gas from any one country, for that matter - may propel large gas-consuming nations to consider importing the fuel from a variety of sources or switching to other fuels for heat and electricity.  For instance, Finland, which shares a border with Russia, is moving ahead with plans to build the world's largest nuclear reactor, a move that would lessen its reliance on imported Russian natural gas.

The concentration of European natural gas imports from Russia may be why the threat of cutting off gas exports across the Ukraine evoked cold war-era fears, when the United States fretted about Europe's reliance on Russian gas. In fact, Russia, which has long viewed itself as a stable energy supplier to Europe, put energy security at the top of the agenda of the Group of 8, the club for the world's large developed economies. Russia assumed the chairmanship of the group this week.

A more contemporary concern is related to the dispute's impact on large gas-exporting projects in Russia and elsewhere. Gazprom, for instance, has been aggressively promoting projects to export Russian natural gas to the United States. In a move that focuses attention on the scramble for natural resources in Arctic areas, Gazprom has ambitious plans to develop the Shtokman field, a large natural gas field in the Barents Sea, and sell that fuel in American markets.

Two American energy companies, Chevron and ConocoPhillips, have been have been listed by Gazprom as possible partners in the Shtokman project, along with Total of France and Norsk Hydro and Statoil of Norway. Gazprom has also reached an agreement with Sempra Energy of San Diego to import Russian natural gas to markets in California and northern Mexico. Gazprom is believed to need the technical expertise and financial assistance of foreign partners to help develop the field.

Still, concerns in the United States about becoming reliant on imported natural gas from Russia are probably premature. The United States imports much of its natural gas from Canada by pipeline and is expected to increase tanker imports of the fuel soon from countries like Qatar, Egypt and Angola. Russia, despite the potential of its gas reserves, is also still struggling to lift its energy industry to Western standards.

"Russia is reminding people that they're the powerhouse of natural gas resources, but it's a false promise," said Amy Myers Jaffe, associate director of the energy program at Rice University. "They don't have their sector organized enough."

Indeed, the most immediate lesson of Russia's dispute with Ukraine may be that Russia and other natural gas producers are trying with varying degrees of success to raise the prices they charge for natural gas. This trend, which involves gas shipped by pipeline as well as in tankers, has to do with rising demand for the fuel in Britain, southern Europe and the United States.

Customers for natural gas in Europe have outbid buyers in the United States in recent weeks for cargoes of liquefied natural gas, illustrating the fierce competition for supplies even as natural gas prices in the United States flirted with records after the damage from last year's hurricanes to natural gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

Until recently, the complexity and expense of cooling and condensing natural gas to a liquid so it can be transported in ships was an obstacle to the emergence of a vibrant market for liquefied natural gas. Signaling a shift in this market, though, a tanker of liquefied gas from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, the closest supplier of the fuel to the United States, was rerouted to Britain last month after its producer received a more attractive bid for its cargo despite relatively high transportation costs.

Still, whether exporters transport their gas in tankers or pipelines, it has long proved difficult for gas-rich countries to exert lasting leverage over importing nations. In one example from the early 1980's, Algeria briefly cut off supplies to Italy over a pipeline across the Mediterranean Sea. That effort soon backfired on Algeria, however, costing it billions of dollars in lost export revenue.



Afloat In The Sound: 
Proposed liquefied natural gas terminal would be first of its kind in the nation
By JUDY BENSON
Health/Science/Environment Reporter
Published on 11/6/2005

Editor's note: In the first of a three-part series, The Day looks at the proposal for a liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound. Today's story explains the natural gas industry, specifics of the proposal and reaction to it. The next two installments will look at environmental and safety issues and how the LNG proposal has brought together the two sides of the Sound.

Icy white amid the concrete factory, tawny warehouses and railroad tracks that share this industrial neighborhood along the Providence River, the 25-million-gallon tank tended to by Tony LaRusso and his 11-man crew holds in its belly an up-and-comer of the energy world.

Inside, frigid beyond the tundras of bleakest Antarctica, this fuel known as LNG, or liquefied natural gas, awaits the coming winter, when its heat-generating powers will be kindled to help keep Rhode Island warm.

The minus 260-degree Fahrenheit LNG will be fed through burners to thaw it back into its original gaseous state when it was extracted from the earth in Trinidad, Tobago, Algeria, or one of the other methane-rich nations. Then KeySpan Corp., the plant's owner, will pipe the vapor into the conduits that feed hungry power plants and home furnaces. Super-cooling natural gas into liquid condenses its volume 600 times, making transport over long distances financially and logistically practical.

“It's like a giant Thermos bottle,” said LaRusso, the facility's plant manager, as he looked across a catwalk to the enormous tank, sunken in a large gravel-lined trench designed to catch the entire volume should a leak or spill occur. “It's got a three-foot wall of insulation inside.”

Some 120 miles to the southwest of Providence, in the middle of Long Island Sound, lies the spot that a different company has targeted for a much larger cousin of the Rhode Island site. If the Broadwater Energy proposal wins federal approval, by 2010 large LNG ships would begin carrying their fluid commodity halfway across the estuary to unload at a floating LNG processing and storage barge parked 11 miles off the Connecticut coast.

Broadwater, a partnership of the corporate energy giants Shell US Gas & Power and TransCanada PipeLine USA, would bring a new trade and a new industry into what is arguably the Northeast's most important waterway. While its proposal is unique in seeking to import and process LNG at an offshore site, Broadwater's plan is just one of more than two dozen for new or expanded LNG facilities all along both U.S. coasts, the Gulf of Mexico, Canada and the Bahamas. Among those currently under construction are a terminal in New Brunswick and a LNG storage tank for Yankee Gas in Waterbury.

“The surge in applications began in 2004,” said Tamara Young-Allen, spokeswoman for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which rules on LNG permit applications.

The spark, she said, was a June 2003 speech to Congress by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, in which he predicted that demand for natural gas would outstrip supplies unless new sources were added.

For years, more than 90 percent of the nation's natural gas supply came through pipeline networks directly from domestic and Canadian natural gas wells without need for cooling, liquefaction and re-vaporization, a process that uses up about 20 percent of the energy it produces.

Greenspan said that the aging North American wells would not be able to keep up, and he promoted expansion of the nation's LNG network. Although commercial applications of the basic chemistry of LNG — using extreme cold to convert the vapor to compact liquid — date to the 1940s, recent improvements cut the cost of getting LNG to market by up to 30 percent, according to Greenspan.

LNG's future became even more promising after passage of the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which clarified federal control over the regulatory process and gave companies financial incentives for equipment investments.

“The cheapest way to increase supply is with LNG imports,” said Young-Allen.

At the Providence site, LNG shipments arrive one chilly tanker truck at a time. The trucks have been filled at the sprawling LNG import terminal in Everett, Mass., where giant freezer ships from abroad have arrived after plying the waters of Boston Harbor. The 30-year-old Massachusetts site is one of the East Coast's three existing import terminals. Others are in Cove Point, Md., and Elba Island, Ga.

KeySpan wants to intensify the use of its Providence operations by bringing the foreign-flagged LNG ships directly to a dock that would be built at the facility. The company's plan would keep the tank filled constantly and tap the fuel on a regular basis. Since it was built in the 1970s, it has mainly been used to offset natural gas price and supply swings. But worldwide natural gas abundance, coupled with rising oil prices, growing global markets and relatively high natural gas prices, among other factors, have led many in the energy industry to believe LNG is the logical solution — if not always publicly popular — to helping meet one of the nation's basic needs into future decades.

“What makes LNG important now is the demand for energy,” said Mike Kirkwood, project manager overseeing KeySpan's expansion plans, currently scheduled for a rehearing after initial denial by federal regulators. “We need to get new facilities built, or we're not going to meet demand. Natural gas is a great fuel, so people want it.”

•••

In Connecticut, the Broadwater proposal has generated strong interest and opposition, matched by an equally intense reaction in New York state, particularly on Long Island.

Jurisdiction over the Sound is divided between the two states, and the location chosen for the Broadwater barge, in the widest part of the Sound south of Branford, would be just over the line on the New York side, about nine miles from the Long Island town of Riverhead.

Both FERC and the Coast Guard will assess impact on the Sound's current boating traffic and waterway safety and security. They have already received hundreds of letters from individuals, environmental, civic and boater groups, municipal governments and state-level officials opposing the Broadwater plan. Other LNG proposals elsewhere in New England, including one near Fall River, Mass., and another northeast of Bangor, Maine, are facing similar challenges.

Among Broadwater opponents, few say they object to LNG itself. Rather, it is the location that has raised hackles. Broadwater's plan is widely viewed as a threat to the environment, public safety and public access rights in what many consider a public waterway that should remain fully open.

“We have received over 1,000 letters, and all but one are opposed to the project,” said Coast Guard Lt. Commander Alan Blume of the agency's Sector Long Island Sound office in New Haven. “That's definitely a significant amount of input. This is clearly a proposal that resonates with the public as a whole.”

John Hritcko Jr., senior vice president for Broadwater, said the company spent two years scoping out sites before settling on the one in the middle of the Sound. Locations in the open Atlantic, as well as on-shore were considered, he said, but ultimately ruled out due to concerns about ocean storms and lack of suitable land at any of the ports on either the New York or the Connecticut side.

•••

Federal regulators who will review Broadwater's formal application have asked for information on how and why alternative locations were eliminated from consideration. The proposal is currently in the pre-application phase, a lead-in to the formal filing of a permit application with FERC, expected in late December or early 2006.

“Our objective was to bring in a large supply,” said Hritcko, referring to plans for the barge to hold the equivalent of 8 billion cubic feet of natural gas and add 1 billion cubit feet daily to existing distribution networks, or roughly one-quarter of the amount consumed in both states in 2000.

“We looked everywhere from the Canadian border to the mouth of the Delaware, anywhere you could tie into existing infrastructure. But there aren't many deep water ports where you could locate these things.”

Shell, a major purveyor of LNG gas worldwide, and TransCanada, a key player in gas pipelines in New York and New England, intend for their LNG facility to serve the New York metropolitan region. They also want a site that could tap into its existing pipeline network.

Broadwater says it would send about one-quarter of the LNG gas into Connecticut markets, and the rest would go south. The Northeast is considered the region in greatest need for LNG, because its geology doesn't allow for underground storage reserves like other parts of the country.

There are two major components to the Broadwater plan. One is the placement of the offshore barge that would serve as the shipping terminal and processing and storage plant. The other involves linking the barge to an existing undersea north-south pipeline that cuts across the Sound at Milford, 25 miles to the west of Broadwater's chosen site. This pipeline, owned by the Iroquois Gas Transmission System, carries gas from North American wells through Fairfield County and across the waterway to Long Island and New York City. Broadwater would lay a 25-mile stretch of new underwater pipeline from its barge to access the Iroquois conduit.

Environmentalists fear damage to the sea floor from the trenching that would have to be done for the new pipeline. More than a year of negotiations between Broadwater and Iroquois, which has its headquarters in Shelton, have yet to yield agreement on several key aspects of pipeline operations.

“This area of the Northeast corridor is highly populated,” Hritcko said, “and that's why you need the energy. You need more energy infrastructure. LNG isn't going to be the silver bullet, but it's an important piece of our energy development. Natural gas is a cleaner-burning fuel that is going to fill in where oil left off.

“We knew that making a proposal in this part of the country was going to engender a lot of interest. But what is your alternative? You have to weigh the benefits versus the impacts.”

•••

In the energy industry, there is public agreement that the Northeast, in particular, needs more natural gas supplies and that LNG is a good means to that end. But that doesn't necessarily put industry people on Broadwater's side.

KeySpan, one of the power companies serving the New York-Long Island area as well as the owners of the Providence LNG plant, has asked federal regulators to give it special status in the deliberations on Broadwater because of the possible impact on KeySpan customers. KeySpan is also the company behind the Islander East proposal for a new north-south gas pipeline across the Sound at Branford. It is currently being held up by a court challenge.

Carmen Fields, spokeswoman for KeySpan, characterized her company's interest in the Broadwater plan as routine.

“We are always interested in projects that could mean more natural gas supplies,” she said. “This would provide us access to the documents” Broadwater must file with FERC. While many of those documents are available to the public, some contain what the company considers proprietary information and may not otherwise be available to KeySpan.

In a Dec. 10 letter to FERC requesting intervener status — a legal term for a third party that enters a deliberation to protect itself — KeySpan noted that it has 1.7 million customers in New York City and Long Island and another 800,000 in New England, and that it uses the Iroquois pipeline for some of its fuel supply. KeySpan has “substantial interests which may be directly affected” by Broadwater's plan, the letter said.

“Unless permitted to intervene and participate fully,” company attorneys wrote, “...KeySpan...may be bound by and adversely affected by the commission's orders...without an opportunity to have its views heard and considered.”

One local consumer of LNG is Norwich Public Utilities. Although the municipal power company uses LNG as a supplemental fuel in generating power for its customers, the assistant general manager, John Bilda, shows no enthusiasm for what Broadwater wants to do.

Importing more LNG, Bilda believes, would not be beneficial in the long run.

According to the Northeast Gas Association, an industry trade group, about 17 percent of all the natural gas burned in the United States is imported, and more than 15 percent of that comes from Canada. By 2025, it expects 28 percent of natural gas used in this country would be imported, and most of that would be LNG.

“All this would just increase the country's dependence on foreign fuels,” Bilda said.

He thinks that warnings about future natural gas shortages are exaggerated and that increasing the availability of LNG might be counterproductive.

“This would just provide more volatility in the market,” he said. “This isn't a supply-and-demand issue. They just want to provide more of a supply for the market to sell.”

The Washington, D.C.-based American Gas Association, however, does foresee a need to increase natural gas supplies, based on projections that more power plants and the majority of new houses in the coming decades will burn natural gas.

Currently, natural gas produces about 40 percent of the energy consumed by homes, businesses and utilities in the Northeast, but federal studies estimate that will grow by about 2 percent annually.

“There's an enormous demand for it, because it's a cleaner burning fuel (than coal or oil),” said Peggy Laramie, spokeswoman for the association. “Production of natural gas in the U.S. is flat. We've got maturing wells, and a lot of restrictions” on developing new gas fields.

“If you want to get a lot of natural gas in quickly,” she said, “you need to bring it in on a ship. Federal governments and states and communities have some important choices to make. The challenge is to make grown-up decisions about how to meet demand in an environmentally responsible way.”

Laramie and other energy industry experts concede that all the currently proposed LNG terminals would be more than enough to meet projected demand. But various companies are all vying to be among the first to get through the permit process, build their terminals and secure contracts with utility companies to buy their fuel.

“Once the first one or two are approved, others will drop out,” said Tom Kiley, president and chief executive officer of the Northeast Gas Association. “There is a bit of a horserace going on between companies.”

•••

All LNG terminal proposals involve highly technical analyses of environmental, noise, air quality, safety, security and other impacts. Several governmental agencies, both at the state and federal levels, must provide information to FERC.

Broadwater's offshore location adds a layer of complexity to the process.

The Coast Guard, for example, must determine how LNG ships could get safely through The Race, the narrow opening at the eastern end of the Sound known for its strong currents. Virtually all traffic in and out of the Sound — including Navy submarines from the Groton base — enter through the 11/4-mile passage between Valiant Rock and Race Rock Light, which is popular with commercial and recreational fishermen, said the Coast Guard's Blume.

Broadwater anticipates bringing in two to three LNG ships per week. With a safety and security zone around each ship, Blume said, it might be necessary to close The Race to all other vessels for the 15 minutes it would take for an LNG carrier to pass. This scenario is one of many that the Coast Guard is considering in its assessment of the Broadwater plan. That evaluation will become one of the key factors in whether FERC agrees to give Broadwater the necessary permits.

The question the Coast Guard will answer for FERC, Blume said, comes down to this: “Can or cannot Long Island Sound accommodate LNG traffic?

“One option will be for us to say it's not a suitable waterway. Or we could say that it could, but this is what would need to happen, and what's the cost for making that happen? Would those costs go to the applicant, or the public? What would be the impact, and what would be gained?”

Dozens of individuals and groups — from ferry operators to lobstermen to commercial shippers — are being asked to weigh in with the Coast Guard.

Among these are Logistec USA, the company that operates Connecticut's three commercial ports in New London, New Haven and Bridgeport. Logistec is still evaluating the plan, said Darrald Atwood, the company's director of health and safety.

Another is Sound Pilots, the organization of New York and Connecticut marine pilots. Each time a large commercial vessel seeks to enter the Sound, it must contact one of the pilots to board the ship and drive it to port.

“We have no position on the environmental issues,” said Ken Warner, president of Sound Pilots. “But we see no problem with the LNG ships. We bring bigger ships in here now.”

www.ferc.gov; www.broadwaterenergy.com; dms.dot.gov