2010-07-30 / Front Page

LNG Isle Dead In The Water

By Howard Schwach
The proposal to build a man-made island that would host Liquefied Natural Gas tankers and holding tanks only 15 miles off the Rockaway shoreline is officially dead in the water, at least for the foreseeable future, due largely to the current economic climate and the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

This Google Map shows the proposed LNG Island off the shore of both Rockaway and Long Beach. The plan died when its creators pulled their federal permit request. This Google Map shows the proposed LNG Island off the shore of both Rockaway and Long Beach. The plan died when its creators pulled their federal permit request. On Tuesday, the US Coast Guard and the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration formally acknowledged that the Atlantic Sea Island Group (ASIG) withdrew its permit application to construct the man-made LNG Island, a move that closed the federal agencies’ files on the project.

The federal agencies’ announcement was in response to a letter sent by officials of ASIG, which chose to withdraw its proposal due to “existing market conditions; the current ‘climate’ regarding offshore development in the aftermath of the recent Gulf incident; and the prevailing uncertainty with respect to both the US and global economy.”

In its letter to Mark Prescott, the Commandant of the Coast Guard’s Deepwater Ports Standards Division, the company’s partners wrote, “This announcement when weighed with existing market conditions; the current climate regarding offshore development in the aftermath of the recent Gulf incident; and the prevailing uncertainty with respect to both the US and global economy has led the Board of Directors to a careful determination that it is prudent, given the collective uncertainty, that the project and attendant license application be temporarily suspended.”

The letter said that the application might be reinstated, “when the issues identified above are resolved.”

The reaction to the suspension of the license application was swift.

Congressman Anthony Weiner, who held a number of town hall meetings in Rockaway about the LNG Island said, “There was no need to squander resources reviewing a proposal that was dead the moment Governor Christie announced his opposition. At the end of the day, there were just far too many unanswered ques- tions about the environmental and financial costs of this deal. I’m glad that it’s behind us.”

“ASIG is making the right decision and we can’t wait for this project to sink,” said Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, the group coordinating the grass-roots opposition, a campaign of more than 80 organizations, including a number in Rockaway and Broad Channel, to the LNG island. “It is a great victory for the ocean, our energy independence, and the power of the people.”

According to Sean Dixon, Coastal Policy Attorney with Clean Ocean Action, “the project is dead in the water. The Board of Directors for the ASIG project must have recognized that the court of public opinion was turning against destructive, dirty, and dangerous uses of treasured US waters such as the NY/NJ Bight.”

With our nation facing new economic challenges and environmental disasters each year, Dixon adds, “constructing a port that brings in a dirty gas to a market already saturated with the fuel would cost taxpayers huge sums of money for port security, safety oversight, and lost revenues from fisheries, recreational ocean uses, and tourism; money that we just don’t have.”

Rockaway resident and citizen activist Mike O’Toole remarked, “Governor Paterson should have put a stop to this nightmare long ago, for any of a number of reasons. Thanks to the [New York State] elected officials who opposed this early on: Assemblywoman Pheffer, Councilman Ulrich and Nassau Legislator Denenberg. Remain vigilant!”

“It looks like common sense and an organized environmental resistance has killed the LNG island proposal. This was an ill-conceived and dangerous project that only highlights how corporate interests will still seek to reap profit at the price of irreplaceable natural resources if they are not opposed,” said Dan Mundy Jr., vice president of Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers.

ASIG’s Safe Harbor application was announced in August, 2007. Due to its massive size and concept, the proposal was dubbed “Insanity Island” by environmental, fishing, energy independence, and national security groups. Under the Deepwater Port Act, the State of New York was authorized to review the project application and concur with any federal decisions.

In 2008, New Jersey requested and received “Adjacent Coastal State” status, a procedural step required in order for New Jersey to be given the same level of input as New York. .

On Earth Day, New Jersey Governor Christie announced he would oppose all LNG projects and, if licenses were granted under the Deepwater Port Act he would use his “Adjacent Coastal State” veto authority to stop the projects from moving forward.

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