2010-05-07 / Top Stories

LNG Process Continues Despite Gov's Speech

By Howard Schwach

The U.S. Coast Guard is continuing its environmental impact statement process in regard to the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) man-made island planned for 15 miles off the coast of Rockaway despite a recent speech by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in which he says that he would veto the project.

“The governor’s speech did not constitute an official action on his part,” said Mark Prescott, the chief of deepwater ports for the Coast Guard. “We can’t treat that as more than an intention until he officially notifies the Maritime Administration by letter that, based on what he has seen, he will not approve any of the offshore plans.”

Prescott told The Wave that New Jersey is, in fact, considered an adjacent coastal state for purposes of the planned LNG facility, as is New York.

Under federal law, that means that either of the two governors can veto the plan.

“The approval of the plan requires that the governors of the adjacent coastal states, in this case, New York and New Jersey, approve, or are presumed to have approved the deepwater port proposal,” Yvette Fields, a spokesperson for the Maritime Administration, said.

Governor David Paterson of New York remains mum on the subject, and his office did not return calls for comment.

Prescott said that draft copies of the environmental impact statement have been released to the governors and to other officials and agencies.

He said this week that he had received “a number of concerns that have to be addressed,” and that getting further information might take “months, rather than weeks or years.”

On Earth Day, Christie said, “The future of our shore, the future of our children to enjoy our beaches in the same way that I got to enjoy them is more important than any project involving Liquefied Natural Gas. That’s why I am confident in announcing that decision on Earth Day and it is a decision that I will stand by every day that I am Governor of the State of New Jersey.”

The planned sea island off Rockaway’s shoreline is about nine times the size of Giants Stadium. It will be built in 60 feet of water using clean fill and other environmentally friendly materials, its proponents say.

It is reportedly the first LNG terminal in the United States that will be built on an island rather than on a floating platform.

Officials from Atlantic Sea Island say that the facility will be barely visible from the beachfront.

The company’s website says that the proposed terminal will be “constructed far from population centers, to serve as an LNG receiving, storage and regasification terminal [for tankers coming from foreign ports] that will supply the New York/Long Island and metropolitan region’s evergrowing need for natural gas.”

The facility will be able to handle two LNG tankers at a time and would have four 180,000-cubic meter tanks for LNG. Each day, company officials say, the terminal could receive and store a maximum of 2,000,000,000-cubic meters of LNG and then transmit that gas to companies in the northeast region.

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