2007 Mar 6
By BARB RAYNER
ST.ANDREWS The recent developments in the fight against the establishment of two liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in Passamaquoddy Bay could be the beginning of the end for these proposed projects at least that's what town council is hoping.
Last month, Canada's Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Wilson, sent a letter to Joseph T. Kelliher, chairman of the Federal Energy RegulatoryCommission (FERC), stating that the government of Canada has decided it will not permit LNG tankers to pass through Head Harbour Passage.
Last week, New Brunswick submitted a motion to suspend the FERC review of the applications by Quoddy Bay LNG and Downeast LNG following the federal government's decision to deny the tankers permission to travel through Head Harbour Passage. They say that as a result of this ban, the two LNG terminals could not receive LNG vessels which would make them not viable.
At Monday night's town council meeting, Councillor David Welch said he was very proud to report that the recent trip made to Ottawa by representatives of Save Passamaquoddy Bay/Canada was very successful. Over a period of three days, he said, they met with many government officials, representatives of the Prime Minister's office, Minister of Veterans Affairs and MP for New Brunswick Southwest GregThompson, representatives from Transport Canada and Foreign Affairs, as well as MPs from both the government and opposition parties.
"Needless to say it was a very busy three days. We met with many people and if they didn't know about our plight down here they certainly do now.
"I can pretty well assure the public that right from the prime minister's own office down, the government is extremely engaged in this fight."
They left Ottawa in the midst of a snow storm and it was while they were on their way back with their cell phones turned off, said Councillor Welch, that Wilson made his announcement. They didn't find out until they landed in Halifax when they checked their messages, he said.
"It's very encouraging, of course. The media jumped all over it. The American media jumped all over it ... It certainly got their interest. I think they've known all along that 'no' means 'no,' but I think they kind of know that 'no' means 'no' now."
Councillor Welch referred to a radio interview in which a man from Pembroke spoke about how that community hopes to get on the gravy train with the development of the pipeline and he said one of the things it would possibly bring to Pembroke would be an electric co-generation plant.
"That just goes to show that all along what we have been saying that the philosophical cargo that comes in on these tankers will bring destruction to Passamaquoddy Bay by bringing industry here. It just proves the point that all along this is exactly what is going to happen. It is the thin end of the industrial wedge...
"This is how the American side feels this will be their saviour financially and what it will bring will be industry and it will bring ruination to this area.
"I applaud Michael Wilson and the Canadian government for what they 've done to date. The fight's not over... We're getting close to the end but we 're still working on it. We haven't heard back on what the province has done by their motion to dismiss."
Councillor Welch said they have not heard back from FERC because this has set them in a tailspin since the precedent has already been set inLong Beach, Cal., where a terminal developer was requested to show cause why FERC should continue to review a terminal application when a factor "essential for the project to go forward" was declined.
"I think FERC is thinking long and hard especially with the international implications. From our meeting in Ottawa, the feeling is that the Canada government feels that the American government would like this to go away, too, and they don't want to choose Passamaquoddy Bay as a place to butt heads over these types of issues."
Mayor John Craig said this was a very important issue and is, in fact, the number one issue facing the town. He thanked Councillor Welch for taking the time to go to Ottawa.
Councillor Welch said one of those in the delegation was Deer Island fishermen Dale Mitchell who was able to give a very unique perspective on how LNG would affect the fishery, the economic damage these tankers would bring, and the effect they would have on the economy.
Councillor Mike Craig commented on a letter he read in the newspaper the other day from Klaus Sonnenberg, of the Grand Manan Fishermen's Association, saying the organization should get on board about fighting LNG.
He said he didn't like comments made by Sonnenberg that it was not all about St. Andrews. Councillor Craig said he thought the town had probably put more money into this fight than any other community but they have never once said it is only about St. Andrews.
"We have always said it's about Charlotte County and the community and that should be pointed out," he said, and noted that this community has taken the fight against LNG seriously to the tune of $25,000, and if other communities would like to contribute it would be welcomed.
Councillor Mary Myers said Save Passamaquoddy Bay has done a tremendous amount of work and continue to work because this is not over yet.
'This is the beginning, we hope, of the end, but it is not over. It's also not too late for Grand Manan to be involved in it, and we have always included Grand Manan in our conversations with anyone we have spoken to....They are a big part of what's going on out there, and they will be impacted severely if it goes ahead, so they do need to get on board. "
© 2007 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.
The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB