Thursday, April 10, 2008

NY nixes LNG platform; focus shifts to NJ

Environmentalists, fishermen, boaters and others who for months have been fighting a proposal to build a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal nine miles off the coast of Long Island breathed a sigh of relief today when Governor David Paterson gave the project his official thumbs down. (Newsday story and video)

John Hritcko, senior vice president and regional project director of Houston-based Broadwater Energy said the project isn't necessarily dead, since its backers, Shell Oil and the TransCanada Corporation, might appeal the decision to the federal Commerce Department and, failing that, could go to court.

Despite the potential for appeals, the governor's decision takes the project off the front burner and shifts attention to New Jersey where two other developers are proposing separate off-shore LNG projects.

The first, "Safe Harbor Energy," comes from Atlantic Sea Island Group (ASIG), a group of private investors who propose to build a man-made island for a LNG facility 13 miles off Long Beach, NY, and 19 miles off Sea Bright, NJ.

The second, "Blue Ocean Energy," is ExxonMobil's plan for a floating LNG terminal located 30 miles off Long Island and 20 miles east of New Jersey. (Video)

It will be interesting to see how the lessons of Broadwater are applied in New Jersey, both by the developers and project opponents.

In New York and Connecticut, environmental opponents won the support of key politicians (most notably Connecticut's governor and attorney general), bloggers, newspaper columnists and editorial boards (including the New York Times).

Broadwater tried to counter with a survey that claimed to find widespread public support for its project. But this came late in the game, long after the court of public opinion had clearly rendered an unfavorable opinion.

In New Jersey, ExxonMobil and ASIG have been quietly pursuing federal approval for their projects and so far have not mounted any noticeable public relations campaigns.

Opposition likely will be lead by Clean Ocean Action, a Jersey shore environmental organization which hasn't wasted any time is using its web site and a "fact sheet" to educate its members and supporters about the alleged shortcomings of both projects.

We'll be watching the action from shore and brining you periodic updates. Let the PR games begin!

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