Environmentalists urge Christie to veto liquid gas terminal
SEA BRIGHT, N.J. (AP) — Environmentalists and some elected officials are calling on the governors of New York and New Jersey to oppose a proposal for a liquefied natural gas import terminal off both states' coasts.
An application by Liberty Natural Gas to build the facility in federal waters 19 miles off Jones Beach, New York, and 29 miles off Long Branch, New Jersey, is due to be considered by federal regulators this fall. It can be vetoed by the governor of either state.
Environmentalists say it's a dangerous potential terrorist target and is unneeded given that the United States is awash in cheap, domestic natural gas, much of which is produced in the Marcellus Shale formation just west of New York.
Liberty says the project would bring additional natural gas into the New York area during times of peak demand, thereby lowering home-heating prices.
"After seven years of opposing this zombie-like proposal, the final battle begins," Cindy Zipf, executive director of the Clean Ocean Action environmental group, said at a news conference that was held Tuesday to urge New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to veto the project.
Business and labor groups support the plan, which was first proposed in 2008 and is projected to generate 800 construction jobs.
Christie, a Republican presidential candidate, vetoed the proposal in 2011, but it has since been altered and resubmitted. The activists are working with counterparts in New York to ask Gov. Andrew Cuomo to also oppose it.
Liberty's CEO Roger Whelan said the project, named Port Ambrose, poses no risk to the region.
"We are confident that when all the facts about the minimal impacts and many benefits that Port Ambrose would bring to the region become known, the public will support the project," he said. "We are proud to already have the support of both business and labor leaders, fishermen, as well as many others across the region."
The company said the $600 million privately funded project would bring liquefied natural gas to the terminal from Trinidad and Tobago in specially designed ships that would convert the liquefied fuel back into gaseous form and pump it through pipes connecting to the underwater Transcontinental Pipeline off Long Island. Liquefied natural gas is fuel that been chilled to minus 260 degrees, turning it into a liquid that is 1/600th the original volume of gas.
New Jersey state Sen. Jennifer Beck, a Republican, said the project makes no sense as an import facility, but suspects it will be used to export natural gas to other parts of the world, with no benefits to New Jersey. Liberty denies it would export gas.
Several speakers at the news conference also voiced fears of terrorism should the project be built.
"We don't need volatile natural gas coming in on tankers that are as long as the World Trade Center was high," Beck said.
"It is a bomb waiting to go off," added Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.
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