The Saint Croix Courier

St. Stephen, NB

2007 Sep 18

LNG opponents celebrate as developer withdraws


ST. STEPHEN — Representatives of Save Passamaquoddy Bay, the group opposing the establishment of liquefied natural gas terminals in Maine, say they are happy but not surprised that a developer has withdrawn his project proposal temporarily from the state permitting process.

"We're very happy that the waste of the public's time and resources on a project that was always doomed to failure may come to an end, and we can all get on to more realistic and appropriate economic and quality of life enhancing efforts," said Linda Godfrey, Coordinator of Save Passamaquoddy Bay.

"The Down East LNG developer failed to do his due diligence from day one — Passamaquoddy Bay is not an appropriate place for LNG proposals."

Downeast LNG officials announced last week that the company had notified the Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) of its desire to withdraw its permit applications to build an LNG import terminal and pipeline in Washington County.

However, the company said it expects to file new applications by the end of the year.

"We are taking this step to ensure that a complete record, including critical information from the Maine Department of Marine Resources and data from additional studies, is before the BEP as it considers our application," said company founder and president Dean Girdis.

"Goliath has announced that he has suffered a deadly blow."

Save Passamaquoddy Bay

"It is in our best interest, as well as that of the local residents and the State of Maine, to ensure that our applications include this information. Filing new applications is the best way to accomplish this."

Girdis said several issues were unresolved at the conclusion of BEP hearings on the initial applications this past July. In addition, Girdis said that Downeast LNG continues to work with the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge about the proposed route of its pipeline that [would] connect the terminal to the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline at Baileyville.

"The BEP has suggested to us that re-filing is the only way to ensure that complete comments from all of the appropriate state agencies can be included in the record," Girdis said. "This should not impact our proposed construction schedule. We are continuing to work on all other permit applications and will work diligently to ensure that the Board has a complete record upon which to base its decision."

Meanwhile, Save Passamaquoddy Bay continues to insist that Downeast LNG's proposal violates the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO) standards for LNG terminal siting.

Godfrey said this latest claim by Girdis that the company is looking forward to presenting a more complete case doesn't hold water. "The public is smarter than that," she said.

She said a "significant reality" is that within the last week "Canada has again said absolutely 'No' to LNG tankers transiting through Head Harbour Passage."

Head Harbour is the only route available for large ships into Passamaquoddy Bay. Several federal cabinet ministers reiterated last week Canada's opposition to LNG ships traveling that body of water.

"If the developers can't get in the door, they don't get in — period. Canada is a sovereign nation speaking directly to the United States on this matter. The developer mocks Canada's position, and defies Canada's right to decide on this issue, at Downeast LNG's peril," said Godfrey.

Godfrey's statement went on to describe the situation as a "David and Goliath story" in which "Goliath has announced that he has suffered a deadly blow."

"This action to withdraw proves it. There is only one possible choice left, and that is for Goliath to find another location for his proposal. The technology he has proposed is old technology, at best. The state of the art is offshore, non-intrusive operations. That's where Downeast LNG and its developer peers, who are looking at Split Rock and Devil's Head, should go — offshore.

"There are complicated legal issues involved in what happens next. Save Passamaquoddy Bay is pursuing all ways that will stop the costs to private citizens and Maine taxpayers, and end these projects in Passamaquoddy Bay," she said.

"We are bolstered in our resolve, and clear about our commitment to keep Passamaquoddy Bay free of this proposed industrialization," the statement concluded.


© 2007 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.

The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB