The Saint Croix Courier

St. Stephen, NB

2005 August 23

1,000 at anti-LNG rally


ST. ANDREWS - Over a thousand people from both sides of the border packed into the W.C. O’Neill Arena last night for a three-hour-long meeting to show opposition to any plans for liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Passamaquoddy Bay.

The public meeting, which was organized by the town of St. Andrews, had originally been arranged so town council and members of the public could hear from the two companies proposing LNG projects in the bay — Quoddy Bay LLC and Downeast LNG.

When both companies said they would not be attending — Downeast LNG due to a scheduling conflict and Quoddy Bay because of security concerns — it was decided to go ahead with what turned out to be an anti-LNG rally.

Mayor John Craig said the meeting was a joining of a three-nation alliance — the Passamaquoddy First Nation, the U.S., and Canada.

The mayor explained that both companies said they wanted to meet with town council and discuss their plans. He said council granted their wishes, and made plans to make sure everyone could hear their proposals.

“Our town spent thousands of dollars to accommodate them. Hundreds of hours were spent to organize this meeting. Both companies opted out after the date and the organizational plans were made. The first one citing scheduling problems, and the second one citing security concerns,” said Craig, and this was met with laughter from the audience.

Even though the companies were not there, he said they wanted people to hear both sides of the issue, so there were video presentations on the two proposals, which had been supplied by the proponents.

Quoddy Bay LLC is proposing a terminal on a 15-acre site at Split Rock on Pleasant Point tribal land, and LNG will be piped through an underwater pipeline to Mill Cove at Robbinston. The storage tanks would be located west of Route 1. The site will feature a half-mile-long pier with a pipeline that will bring gas ashore.

Downeast LNG proposes developing about 30 acres of an 80 acre site at Mill Cove in Robbinston. The company says that based on minimal environmental impact, community support and technical characteristics, they believe that the proposed site is the best available.

The terminal would include an estimated 4,350-foot-long pier with mooring dolphins for LNG ships. Distribution would be by pipeline to Maritime and North East’s pipeline at Baileyville.

The company said that from the Canadian side of the river there will be “limited viewing opportunities.”

Art MacKay, executive director of the St. Croix Estuary Project, then spoke about the economic and environmental impact the development would have on Passamaquoddy Bay. He said he has been speaking out against LNG in the bay for over a year but Monday night was really different.

“It’s been a long, hard road and there have been times when I, in particular, have been extremely discouraged by the way things were going. Tonight, for the first time, I feel heartened that we do, in fact, have a community that lives around this bay. A community that loves the bay as much as I do,” he said.

MacKay noted that Fundy Traffic have moved the traffic lanes in order to avoid right whales but the LNG tankers would have to go directly through the whale sanctuary to get to Head Harbour Passage.

Linda Godfrey of Save Passamaquoddy Bay, in Eastport, recounted some of the things that have been done since they very first heard 14 months ago about LNG possibly being in the area.

Godfrey recognized the people of Perry who said "no" to a terminal at Gleason Cove, as well as the people of Robbinston who are now facing a fight.

“I want to put any other developers on notice: Passamaquoddy Bay is not open to tankers, to piers, to tanks, to pipelines. Passamaquoddy Bay is not open north, south, east, or west for LNG development,” said Godfrey.

Charlie Atherton who lives in Sulphur, La., which is a town of about 20,000 south of an LNG facility at Lake Charles, said LNG is the lifeblood for industry just like water is the lifeblood to all living things.

“My experience has been that everywhere there is an abundance of natural gas there will be some industry follow and one industry builds on another.”

He said the issues are not only those of terrorism or possible explosions but also all the spin-off industries that natural gas brings with it.

“Wherever you have LNG and you combine that with a deep water port that really opens the door for bigger and better industries. You have all of these spin-offs that go with LNG.”

Within five miles of where he lives, Atherton said there are 26 major industries. After arriving in this part of the world for a visit, he said he realized the deafening sound he heard was silence — something he is not used to at home because there is always a constant background roar or noise.

Also, he said, they see the glow from the heavy industry 24 hours a day.

New Brunswick Southwest MP Greg Thompson said he did not think ever in the history of the town had so many people come together on an issue. He said he believed the government of Canada and the Prime Minister should simply say "no" to the passage of these ships through Head Harbour Passage, and this was greeted with applause.

The reasons why the Pittston oil refinery was turned down in 1976 still apply today, said Thompson, but in a more powerful way.

“What they are telling us is that the ships that would go through Canadian waters are subject to the right of innocent passage. We believe this passage is far from innocent and the government would be on very safe ground to simply say "no."

“I believe any legal authority in international law or marine law would agree it is not innocent passage and we have the right, as a sovereign nation, to simply say 'no,' and 'no' means 'no.'”

Among the politicians who attended the meeting was Liberal leader Shawn Graham, who said that they would be having a caucus meeting today and they would be sending letters stating their opposition to the LNG projects to both U.S. Ambassador Frank McKenna, former premier of New Brunswick, and Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew.

Also voicing their opposition to the projects were Minister of Family and Community Services Tony Huntjens, Charlotte MLA Rick Doucet, St. George Mayor Stan Smith, and Blacks Harbour Mayor Terry James.

Mayor Craig said they were sending a strong message to Ottawa that they do not want their way of life destroyed and are saying "no" to all proposals for LNG in the bay.

“'No' means 'no.' We need everyone to tell their politicians how they feel so Ottawa can stop this. We need your support and solidarity. We must stop these companies from destroying our way of life.”


© 2005 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.

The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB