New York Governor David A. Paterson is expected to finally decide the fate this week of a hotly-contested proposal to build a liquefied natural gas terminal on the Long Island Sound.
Leading up to the governor’s decision on the proposed Broadwater LNG, expected to be made public on Thursday or Friday, the governor’s office was mum this week on Mr. Paterson’s position on the proposal. Lawmakers opposed to Broadwater noted that Mr. Paterson would meet Friday’s deadline for a decision and is not expected to ask for an extension—as his predecessors have done on earlier occasions.
Meanwhile, Broadwater officials remained optimistic that Mr. Paterson, who took office three weeks ago, will sign off on the project if a review by the state’s Department of State determines the project meets with New York’s coastal zone management plan.
The proposal must receive the go-ahead from the governor before it can move forward in the planning process. It received final federal permits last month following a positive review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The management plan governs how private entities can use the state’s coastal resources, including the Long Island Sound. Environmentalists warn that if Broadwater is approved, it would industrialize the sound and be a detriment to Long Island estuaries.
The Broadwater project calls for a 1,215-foot-long floating gas barge to be constructed, operated and moored nine miles off the coast of Wading River. Broadwater officials have contended that the project is necessary in order for New York City, Long Island and Connecticut to meet current and future energy needs, while opponents state that the sound is the wrong place for the terminal because of environmental and safety concerns. They believe that the facility would be better suited for a location farther off the coast and away from the dense populations of Connecticut and Long Island.
Mr. Paterson will make a statement after the State Department releases its review of the project on Thursday or Friday, according to Michael Whyland, a spokesman for the governor’s office.
“There should be some news this week,” Mr. Whyland said, declining to comment further.
Mr. Paterson suggested at a press conference in Albany when first taking office that he may need additional time to review the project, though New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said this week he is not expecting that to be the case.
“My expectation is there will be a decision and it won’t be an extension,” Mr. Thiele said. “I am confident if this is based on the merits and not on politics, it will be denied.”
Broadwater Energy’s senior vice president and regional project director, John Hritcko, said officials from Broadwater—a joint venture of Shell Oil and TransCanada Pipelines—have made the argument that the facility is consistent with the coastal policies of the state and local communities.
“Broadwater is confident that the New York State Department of State will find the project consistent with the coastal zone policies of the state,” Mr. Hritcko said in an e-mail. “We believe that Governor Paterson will act in the best interest of the people of New York.”
Lobbyists on both sides of the issue have been a constant presence in Albany as they argued their positions on Broadwater.
On Tuesday, Broadwater released a poll by Whitman Insight Strategies stating that 68 percent of Long Islanders approved of the project. The poll of 1,000 people was conducted between February and March and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.
Meanwhile, the Citizens Campaign for the Environment—a Farmingdale-based environmental group opposed to Broadwater—released a web video on YouTube calling for community members to call state officials and voice their opposition to the project.
U.S. Representative Tim Bishop and Citizens Campaign for the Environment Executive Director Adrienne Esposito both argued this week that the poll results were “biased” and at odds with another poll jointly conducted by Hofstra University and News 12 in February and March.
The Hofstra-News 12 poll found 41 percent opposed the project while 37 percent supported the project. The poll results were released several days prior to a roundtable discussion of the project at Brookhaven Town Hall last month.
“You have an independent entity that comes up with reasonable results and a biased entity that comes up with biased results,” Ms. Esposito said. “The … poll is an old style political ploy to create an image that suits the marketer.”
Mr. Bishop also called the Broadwater poll “clearly biased” and “at odds with the thousands of conversations I’ve had with constituents across Long Island.”
“Half-truths and number games will not provide Long Islanders with real energy solutions, and neither will Broadwater,” Mr. Bishop said in a statement.
Broadwater officials defended the poll’s legitimacy.
“From the day we first announced the Broadwater proposal, local activists from the North Shore of the East End of Long Island have voiced their opposition. This is the district represented by Congressman Bishop,” Mr. Hritcko said in an e-mail. “Broadwater, on the other hand, has engaged with communities throughout the entire island and the region and the recent poll conducted by a reputable firm more accurately reflects what Broadwater has been hearing from Long Islanders.”
In the event of an approval, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell have said that they will appeal the decision.