2009-02-20 / Top Stories

3 LNG Terminals Slated For Area Waters

By Howard Schwach

This artist's rendition of the shoreline showing the general locations of the three proposed LNG facilities.  This artist's rendition of the shoreline showing the general locations of the three proposed LNG facilities. Not one, but three liquid natural gas terminal facilities are planned for area waters, one as close as 16 miles from Rockaway's shoreline; the other two slightly farther away.

The first, as reported in The Wave two weeks ago, is planned by Atlantic Sea Island Group. That plan would place a massive sea island just 16 miles off the Far Rockaway shoreline.

The second proposal, funded by Liberty Natural Gas, would place a fully-submerged gas turret anchored to the ocean floor 15 miles off Sandy Hook, which can be seen from Rockaway.

The third proposal, funded by Exxon Mobil in partnership with Russian LNG giant Gazpron, will place a floating LNG terminal about 30 miles off the coast of Long Beach, our eastern neighbor. The terminal, anchored in approximately 150 feet of water, would be similar to the island terminal planned by Atlantic Sea Island.

And, while the Atlantic Sea Island proposal would run pipelines to Long Beach and Rockaway, the others would run the pipelines from the facility to the shore into New Jersey venues.

This cartoon from the Clean Ocean Action organization presents the case against approving the LNG terminals off the New York and New Jersey coasts. This cartoon from the Clean Ocean Action organization presents the case against approving the LNG terminals off the New York and New Jersey coasts. While the Liberty proposal would call for the LNG to be converted back to a gaseous state onboard the tankers, the other two call for the process to be done at the terminal, just prior to pushing the gas through the shoreline pipelines.

Experts say that the LNG is much more prone to explosion in its gaseous state.

A number of east coast environmental groups are gearing up to fight the three proposals.

Broad Channel resident Dan Mundy, who heads the local Ecowatcher group, says that his group will work with others to defeat the proposals because they present a grave danger to the marine environment.

"These islands would cause irrevocable harm to our ocean environment," Mundy said. "It would do great damage to local fish, crab and lobster population, there would be huge exclusion areas set up around it which would in effect make a large portion of our ocean waters off limits."

He added that LNG is not a clean fuel for a number of reasons.

"It is stored at temperatures of minus 260 degrees as it is transported as a liquid and then returned to a gaseous form in order to pipe it ashore. This process is recognized as creating a large carbon footprint and is compared by many as similar to coal," he argues.

Clean Ocean Action, a group that is fighting the three proposals, says that they are dependent on foreign energy providers; they will cause a rise in greenhouse gas emissions, cause pollution and habitat destruction; and will close off ocean areas to fishing and other recreations use.

"LNG is the wrong choice," a spokesperson for the organization said. "LNG is grossly more polluting than domestic natural gas and will eventually lead to higher energy bills."

The activist groups are looking to elected officials on the federal level to give Rockaway a voice in the process and perhaps even stop the process until more is known about its impact on the ocean environment and the peninsula.

Congressman Anthony Weiner, who represents Rockaway in the House of Representatives, said this week that he was going to get involved in the question of whether or not a massive island housing a Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) terminal should be built less than 20 miles off the peninsula's beachfront.

"This is too important an issue to permit only hearings to the east and west of Rockaway," Weiner told The Wave on Wednesday. "If we are going to make an informed decision, we need to hear from the federal agencies and the Atlantic Sea Island Group [the proposed developer of the terminal]. I will use my seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee to ensure that New York City residents are not ignored in this process."

Weiner said that he will use his position as a member of the House of Representative's Energy Subcommittee to insure that hearings are held on the proposals.

The next step in the process for the plan's approval is for the United States Coast Guard to work on a Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS), which should detail all the problems that the plan might bring.

After public hearings on the DEIS and comments from activist groups, a final Environmental Impact Statement is drawn up and approved by the federal government.

If all of the issues are addressed, the plan will be approved and construction can begin.

If not, then the developers have to modify their plans to satisfy the government that the facilities will not negatively impact either local residents or the environment.

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