Paterson to weigh merits of Broadwater

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted final approval to the proposed Broadwater liquefied natural gas terminal last week, moving the project from the federal arena and into state hands, as Governor David Paterson begins his first weeks in office.?The federal agency, in approving on March 20 permits for the construction and operation of the proposed 1,215-foot-long floating gas barge that will be moored nine miles off the coast of Wading River, said it was doing so to meet the current and future energy needs of New York City, Long Island and Connecticut.?The long-anticipated FERC decision—which drew the ire of environmentalists and local lawmakers opposed to the project—leaves final approval of the project to New York State officials. Three separate state agencies are finishing up separate reviews of different aspects of the project. ?Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton denounced FERC’s ruling in a prepared statement this week.?”While I recognize that Long Island faces energy supply challenges, I share the view of the many Long Islanders who have serious concerns about both the security risks and the environmental threats to the Long Island Sound posed by the project,” Ms. Clinton said. “I have raised these issues with FERC in the past, and do not believe that they have been adequately addressed.”?However, FERC Chairman Joseph T. Kelliher, defended the approval.?”Based on all available scientific facts, we approve the Broadwater project today, subject to rigorous conditions, because it can meet the projected energy needs for New York City, Long Island and Connecticut and can provide the service safely, securely and with limited adverse impact on the environment,” he said in a prepared statement.?The most significant state review of the proposal is being conducted by the Department of State, which will determine if it meets the state’s coastal zone management plan. ?The proposal was given an additional twist last week by the resignation of former Governor Eliot Spitzer and the swearing in of Mr. Paterson, who will now be the third governor considering the Broadwater project, and must sign off of the plan.?A decision by Mr. Paterson could come sometime after the state department finishes its review on April 11.?Mr. Paterson, like Mr. Spitzer, has been cryptic about his stance on Broadwater, leaving lobbyists on both sides to ponder what he will do. ?Last week at a press conference in Albany, Mr. Paterson hinted that he might need more time to review the project. ?Meanwhile, opponents agree that they will have another opportunity to have their voices heard.?”With the change in leadership in Albany, we have a renewed opportunity to express our opposition to Broadwater,” said Suffolk County Legislator Edward P. Romaine, a staunch opponent of the project. “Hopefully Governor Paterson is more interested in hearing from us than his predecessor was.”?In addition to the state department, the Department of Environmental Conservation is reviewing the project’s possible impact on air and water quality. The General Services department is examining how Broadwater may affect facilities on state land.?The State Department review will determine if a floating gas barge coincides with how local communities and the state want to use the Long Island Sound. ?The state review has had three time extensions, so departments could further examine the proposal.?Broadwater representatives have had periodic meetings with State Department officials, the most recent being last Tuesday, to discuss details of the project.?John Hritcko, senior vice president and regional director of Broadwater, said the talks have been “very open and cordial and certainly detail oriented.” He said that Broadwater—a joint venture of Shell Oil and TransCanada Pipelines—made the argument that the facility is consistent with costal policies of the state and local communities.?”We don’t know what is in Governor Paterson’s mind. We don’t know if he will agree with it or oppose it,” Mr. Hritcko said. “We are hopping he will make the right decision for the people of Long Island. It is consistent, it is good for the region.”?While Mr. Patterson said that he may need more time to review the project, Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, has asked for speedy decision without extensions.?Ms. Esposito said that she had met with the new governor and was “encouraged” by Mr. Paterson’s “knowledge and enthusiasm for renewable technology and sustainable energy solutions.”?”We think that [Mr. Paterson’s understanding of energy issues] bodes well for us rather than re-addicting us to foreign fossil fuels for the next 30 years, which Broadwater does,” Ms. Esposito said. ?”We would really prefer that we get this thing over with. There already have been three extensions,” Ms. Esposito added.?Though Broadwater officials are “still in discussions” with state officials, Mr. Hritcko said he felt that a “pretty solid case” had been made for approving the Broadwater project.?Mr. Paterson’s remarks at the press conference were not a formal request for an extension, cautioned Michael Whyland, a spokesman for the governor.?”All he said was he might need more time to review it,” Mr. Whyland said. “It is a complicated project and it would stand to reason that he would need more time.”?Mr. Whyland said the governor will be listening to the recommendations of government departments and not to lobbyists.?”I don’t think that Governor Paterson will be swayed by lobbyists,” Mr. Whyland said. “He is certainly capable of making an informed judgment without the help of lobbyists of either side.?”Governor Paterson’s position isn’t any different than Governor Spitzer’s,” he continued. “That is, he will wait for the State Department to finish its costal consistency review and then he will make his decision.”

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