Residents Oppose Port Ambrose LNG Project Near NYC

by Duane Nichols on January 25, 2015

Say No to Port Ambrose LNG Project

Fracktivists Fight Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal Near NYC

From an Article by Ben Adler,, January 23, 2015

New York state’s fracking fight has moved offshore. And now the key players include not just New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo but also New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

New York’s famously dedicated anti-fracking activists, who last year helped push Cuomo to ban the practice entirely, have teamed up with coastal conservation groups to stop a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal from being built 19 miles off the coast of Long Island and only 30 miles from New York Harbor, the nautical entry point at the heart of New York City. Environmentalists and residents of nearby communities, who have formed the No LNG Coalition to coordinate opposition to the project, fear gas leaks from the terminal could cause vapor clouds, fires, explosions, and damage to the ocean ecosystem. They also point out that it would be a ripe potential target for terrorists.

Liberty Natural Gas says the facility, called Port Ambrose, would be used for importing LNG drilled in Trinidad and Tobago. Given the plentiful supply of natural gas from the fracking boom in the nearby Marcellus Shale, and the added costs of freezing natural gas to liquefy and ship it, opponents are skeptical. They believe that Liberty’s real plan is to liquefy and export natural gas drilled in North America.

And activists fear that a new export terminal would increase the pressure for more gas drilling. So, even though they mostly hail from upstate, where there are natural gas deposits underground, the fracktivists have joined the fight against Port Ambrose. “Most people do not believe that this is going to remain an import terminal and any potential for export leads to fracking,” says Jessica Roff, downstate regional organizer for New Yorkers Against Fracking.

And even if that fracking isn’t in New York state, that doesn’t mean it has no effect on New Yorkers. Fracking is rampant in neighboring Pennsylvania, and pollution doesn’t recognize state boundaries. “[Pennsylvania] is where we get a lot of our food from,” observes Roff. “It’s right on our border, close to us. Our food is connected, our waterways are connected. If the facility is built, New York is still getting fracked.”

“The whole fight [against Port Ambrose] has been energized by the fracking movement in the last few years,” says John Weber, Mid-Atlantic regional manager for the Surfrider Foundation, an advocacy group that focuses on the health of oceans and coastal ecosystems.

Liberty denies that it intends to use the terminal for export. Its CEO told the Associated Press, “This will never be an export project. … It’s crazy to try to export gas from that location; it would be the most expensive gas on the planet.” The project as currently proposed would also not have the permits or cooling technology for LNG exportation. But local activists also worry that approval of Port Ambrose would set a precedent that could lead to approval of LNG export terminals in the same area.

And fracktivists oppose building any major fossil fuel infrastructure because they are committed to the broader fight against climate change. Why, they wonder, would we invest in exporting or importing natural gas, when we should instead be building clean energy capacity? “

The communities most at risk from this terminal are also among the most vulnerable to climate change. The nearest towns and neighborhoods are Long Beach on Long Island and the Rockaways in New York City. Both were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy’s epic storm surge. Homes were flooded, many were damaged beyond repair, and a downed power line in the Breezy Point neighborhood of the Rockaway peninsula caused a massive fire. “These are places that were deeply affected by Sandy and are still trying to recuperate,” notes Roff, who was active in Occupy Sandy.

Under federal law, the governors of “adjacent states” — in this case New Jersey, which is only 29 miles from the site, as well as New York — can veto the project. Activists in both states are focused heavily on building grassroots pressure on their governors. They’re getting the word out in potentially affected communities through local volunteers who post fliers and bring neighbors to town-hall meetings. Meanwhile, groups — including local social-justice groups like the Long Island Progressive Coalition, as well as anti-fracking and coastal conservation organizations — are asking everyone on their email lists to sign online petitions and email their governor.

Surprisingly, it is the Republican, Christie, who has been more opposed to offshore LNG terminals in the past. In 2011, Christie vetoed a very similar project also proposed by Liberty, which would have been even closer to the Jersey Shore. “I take very seriously our obligation to protect the environmental health of our coastal waters,” Christie said at the time. “Offshore LNG poses unacceptable risks to the State’s residents, natural resources, economy and security.” He talked up the need to instead “promote sustainable energy.”

But Christie may take a different view now. He is running for president, spending much of his time traveling the country, often on the taxpayers’ dime. (With an eye toward Iowa and its legions of pig farmers, he recently vetoed a popular bipartisan measure to ban tortuously small pig crates.) Activists worry that Christie will allow the Port Ambrose project to move forward because he is trying to appeal to the GOP’s rabidly pro-fossil fuel national primary voters and donors. In preparation for this run, he has been moving steadily rightward on the environment and he avoids mentioning even the possibility that rising sea levels exacerbated Hurricane Sandy.

“I think Port Ambrose will be held hostage to [Christie’s] national ambition,” says Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Christie in 2010 was a different Christie. Christie now wants to be supported by the Tea Party/Koch brothers wing” of the Republican Party.

Currently, the federal Maritime Administration’s environmental impact statement on Port Ambrose is going through the public-comment phase of the review process. The project’s opponents are sending in comments and turning out to the official public hearings to voice their complaints. There were more than 500 attendees at a hearing on Jan. 7 in Queens. More than 60 people testified against the Port Ambrose proposal, while only 7 testified for it, according to Robbins — and there were still people waiting to speak when the hearing ended at 11 p.m. The Long Beach City Council unanimously sent a letter to Cuomo opposing the project, and the city provided transportation for concerned citizens to get to the hearing.

After the comment period ends and a final EIS is issued this spring, Cuomo and Christie will have a 45-day period in which to issue a veto. National environmental organizations like the Natural Resources Defense Council are joining state and local groups in sounding the alarm against the project. The fracking boom may have given the fossil fuel industry new legs, but it has also emboldened a new generation of activists, and they’re ready to fight.

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Ambrose Project 3/27/15 March 29, 2015 at 2:08 pm

Port Ambrose Decision Delayed, Feds “Stop the Clock” | NY Environment Report

By Emily Manley, New York Environmental Report, March 27, 2015

The application for Port Ambrose, a deepwater port and gas pipeline off the coast of Long Island, has been delayed by federal agencies.

In a letter posted March 24, the Coast Guard and the federal Maritime Administration “stopped the clock” in evaluating the plan, noting that they lacked the information necessary to complete development of the final Environmental Impact Statement.

The agencies cited four reasons for their delay:

1. During the comment period, more than 10,000 public comments were received; more time is required to review and respond to this input.
2. This month, the Army Corps of Engineers began requiring pipelines to be buried 15 feet deep instead of 7 feet, a new rule that will have to be analyzed for the final environmental impact report.
3. The Environmental Protection Agency must still review the project’s conformity to the Clean Air Act.
4. “Financial responsibility data” from Liberty Natural Gas is due on March 30th, and regulators would like time to analyze this information.

The letter did not specify how long the delay could last. This is the second timeline suspension since Liberty’s proposal was published in June 2013.

Bi-Partisan Opposition

The Port Ambrose project would pump liquified natural gas from 900-foot ships through 26-miles of sub-ocean pipeline into the existing natural gas system to serve Long Island.

The port has faced massive public and governmental opposition, especially in recent months. In New York, 52 bi-partisan legislators signed a letter against the proposed plan, urging a veto. In New Jersey, a resolution against the facility has been introduced in both the Senate and Assembly.

On April 1, the New York City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection and the Committee on Waterfronts will hold a hearing on Resolution #549, which calls on Governor Cuomo to veto Port Ambrose. Under federal law, a veto from either Cuomo or Christie will kill the plan.

Statements Released

Clean Ocean Action, a broad-based coalition of 125 groups, has been a leader in the fight against Port Ambrose. Upon learning of the federal delay, Executive Director Cindy Zipf released the following statement:

“The power of the people, over 60,000 and growing have spoken in strong opposition and overwhelmed the process for the first time. Port Ambrose LNG facility is treading water for now, but the ship isn’t sunk yet. We need all hands on deck and to keep up the pressure. Resolutions need to be passed, petitions signed urging both Governors to veto this dangerous proposal when the application is final. It is clear we have Liberty Natural Gas on the run, but the fight is not over and we will continue to fight until the ship has officially sunk.”

Liberty’s chief executive, Roger Whelan, said stopping the clock is a normal part of the process. “We support the Coast Guard’s efforts to conduct an extensive and thorough federal review and are confident the results will show the Port Ambrose project will have minimal impact on the environment,” he said in a statement.


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