Monday, January 29, 2007

No to Broadwater, but Yes to What?

Currently, Broadwater Energy is attempting to build a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) platform in Long Island Sound, about 10 or 11 miles from the Connecticut coast on one side and 9 to 10 miles from the New York coast on the other. This platform would be, according to Long Island Business News, 1200 feet long and eight stories high. Various distance-to-the-horizon calculators I tried on the web show that something that is 85 feet high can be seen for about 11 miles, so I guess if you were to stand on the beach, you could just see the structure.

Tanker ships would come into Long Island Sound, and the liquid natural gas would be heated into gas, where it would flow into a pipeline, and be used primarily by electricity generation facilities in New York City and on Long Island, but some gas would evidently also flow to Connecticut.

This has of course made the NIMBYites all upset. Well, they're not really NIMBYites, since this platform would be 11 miles away in the middle of the water. I don't really know if their objections are valid or not, as I'm not a maritime expert, energy expert, or anything. But one thing I've noticed is that while just about every politician seems to be against this, none of them has ever said what they might be for. However, every single one of them feels the need to say that something has to be done.

Let's take a look:

State Senator Judith Freedman (R-Westport): "No one is disputing the need for more, and more reliable, sources of energy. But in seeking better energy, we cannot lose sight of the need to protect our environment, the public's safety, and the best interests of Connecticut's citizens. The outcome of this project will affect Connecticut for years to come. FERC has a moral obligation to listen to what we have to say about it." (Source: Redding Pilot, January 29, 2007).

US Senators Dodd and Lieberman, as well as Representatives DeLauro, Larson, Murphy and Courtney (all Democrats) wrote a joint letter to FERC, and said, "While we understand and appreciate our nation's and this region's need for additional energy resources, we do not believe that the Broadwater project is the best way to meet these needs." (Source: Greenwich Post, January 23, 2007).

In a Press Release, US Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-New Haven) said, "“Let me be clear, I do not believe that the Broadwater proposal is the right answer to addressing our region’s energy needs. Yes, there is clearly a need for additional energy infrastructure in New York , Connecticut , and the New England Region. However, it cannot come at the cost of one of our region’s and this nation's most precious natural resources." (Source: US House of Representatives, January 16, 2007).

State Rep. Tom Drew (D - Fairfield) said, "We should not even be considering something this extreme until the U.S. government has a realistic plan to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. This isn't necessary and approving it will cause irreversible damage for generations to come." (Source: Westport News, January 19, 2007). I wonder if Rep. Drew would favor more nuclear power plants? Or if he'd be ok with a windmill farm in the sound? Or on land in his town?

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, which is opposed to the platform, said, "People don't just place a high value on Long Island Sound. They place the highest value on it. We want more energy. . . . but we want an energy plan that doesn't destroy what we love." (Source: Newsday, January 11, 2007)

Lonnie Reed, a Branford RTM member, said, "We oppose Broadwater not because we are anti-energy haters but because we are convinced we can get natural gas in a cleaner, safer way." (Source: New Haven Independent, January 9, 2007). There was no mention of what this cleaner, safer way might be in the article.

One of the reasons politicians cite for the opposition to Broadwater is that the terminal is not needed, as pipelines could bring in whatever natural gas was needed. Since Broadwater Energy's parent companies, TransCanada and Shell, are probably not in the business of building unnecessary infrastructure, I'm inclined to believe that it is needed. Otherwise, Shell and Transcanada are going to have some serious explaining to do to their shareholders, since this terminal is going to cost about $1 billion to build. Some of the opposition to Broadwater says that there are other terminals under construction that could handle the distribution. Again, if that's the case, why is Broadwater prepared to spend $1 billion?

A lot of politicians said this would "industrialize" the sound. Aren't commercial fishermen industrializing the sound? What about commercial ships that bring stuff into the sound?

Some would say it would be an eyesore. Well, you'd hardly be able to see if from land, so I guess it'd be an eyesore for boaters. Are boaters that sensitive? What if they see a barge or a cargo ship with the containers not symmetrically stacked? Do they have an equally bad reaction?

The safety issue seems a bit odd. This facility would be 10 miles from anything, with water in all directions. Even if it blew up, it couldn't hurt anyone on shore. Some have said terrorists would target it. Seems like a pretty poor project to target.

Some of the opposition points seem to have some merit, like who is going to bear the costs. But to those who are opposed to the project, give some realistic proposals for how we're going to get more energy. Hoping that congress is going to wean us off fossil fuels isn't a realistic proposal. If existing pipelines or LNG platforms under construction elsewhere are going to solve the problem, why in the world is Broadwater spending $1 billion to build an LNG platform? Broadwater is only going to build the platform if they think it'll be used, because if it isn't going to be used, they'll never get their investment back.

Connecticut has the highest electric costs of any state except Hawaii. We need a realistic proposal to get more energy here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

CT has the highest electric rates in the continental United states becuase the legislature and guv rubber stamped deregualtion legislation prepared for them by the utilty companies. New York's costs are lower than CT's. And the bulk of the market to be served by Broadwater would be New York City not CT. Additionally, it's absurd to give the Broadwater consortium permanent anchorage in the Sound.