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Friday, January 18, 2008

More news on Broadwater

Rell to Spitzer: Block Broadwater
Governor wants N.Y. to step up to the plate
By Gregory B. Hladky, Capitol Bureau Chief
HARTFORD — Gov. M. Jodi Rell appealed Thursday to New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer to block the $700 million Broadwater plan to build a liquefied natural gas facility in the middle of Long Island Sound.
“It is imperative that New York do what the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would not: Protect this irreplaceable natural treasure and preserve it for future generations,” said Rell.
The Broadwater project would be located about 11 miles off Branford and nine miles off Long Island, putting it entirely within New York waters and cutting Connecticut state agencies out of the approval process.
Spitzer, a Democrat who was sworn in as New York’s governor a year ago, has been noncommittal about the Broadwater project.
“The governor hasn’t actually received (Rell’s) letter yet,” said Spitzer spokesman Michael Whyland. He said Spitzer is reserving his opinion on the Broadwater project because “the (New York) Department of State still needs to complete its coastal zone review.”
John Hritcko, regional project director for Broadwater, dismissed Rell’s letter Thursday.
“During the past three years, Broadwater, FERC, the U.S. Coast Guard and the regulatory agencies reviewing the proposal have met with numerous stakeholders including the public, state agency and elected officials on both sides of the Sound, engaged in substantive discussions with Governor Rell’s LNG Task Force and actively solicited both verbal and written comments,” Hritcko said in a prepared statement.
“To now claim that Connecticut has been rebuffed or ignored because the facts do not support the governor’s unsubstantiated opposition view of Broadwater is disingenuous and costly for the people of New York and Connecticut who continue to pay some of the highest energy prices in the country,” Hritcko said.
Plans call for anchoring a floating platform the length of four football fields in the Sound. The facility would take on liquefied natural gas from oceangoing tankers, turn it into regular natural gas, and pump it through underwater pipelines 22 miles down the Sound to connect with an existing pipeline between Milford and Long Island.
Although Broadwater officials say Connecticut would receive some of the natural gas, Hritcko has been quoted as saying the project was designed to deliver the fuel to New York.
Rell, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and other Connecticut officials have joined many environmental groups in opposing the project.
There has also been widespread opposition to the project from environmental groups in New York and by many New York state officials. Broadwater spokesmen, however, say most Long Island businesses and many labor unions back the project.
FERC last week issued a ruling that the project would have no significant impact on the Long Island Sound environment. Blumenthal warned his office would file legal challenges of a final FERC approval of the project and sue New York state agencies if they were to OK the project.
“If New York fails to heed our opposition, we are prepared to take legal action that is appropriate and necessary,” Blumenthal said Thursday.
The LNG project will need permits from at least two New York agencies, the Office of General Services and the Department of Environmental Conservation.
In her letter to Spitzer, Rell cited a December Department of Environmental Conservation communication with Broadwater officials warning the project’s plans could have “significant adverse environmental impacts.”
“We took the DEC letter as a strong signal that New York is approaching Broadwater with its eyes wide open — unlike FERC,” Rell said.
“It could very well be that the fate of Long Island Sound will rest in the hands of the state of New York,” Rell said in her letter to Spitzer. “I am writing to urge you to do everything in your power to ensure that New York’s reviewing agencies take a long and thorough look at the proposed Broadwater project.”
“We also have a responsibility — despite FERC’s myopic approach — to develop regional energy policies that meet the needs of our respective states and to do so in a manner that does not involve the sacrifice of one of our crown jewels,” said Rell.
Gregory B. Hladky can be contacted at or (860) 524-0719.