The Saint Croix Courier

St. Stephen, NB

2007 Sep 18


LNG R.I.P.? Not so fast

Opponents to liquefied natural gas developments on Maine's side of Passamaquoddy Bay would love to think the withdrawal of Downeast LNG's proposal is a death blow to the project. One down — one more developer to go.

But the reality, as the cautious celebration of the anti-LNG groups suggest, is that their years-long battle to keep Passamaquoddy Bay from becoming a natural gas hub is far from over.

Yes, Downeast LNG has pulled the plug on its proposal to develop a 320,000-cubic-metre LNG import terminal along with storage tanks, a regasification plant and a pier on a 32-hectare site at Robbinston, Me., across the bay from St. Andrews. Sort of.

Company founder and president Dean Girdis said the withdrawal is temporary, the project is still alive, and that the latest move is a move back to the drawing board, not a flush down the drain.

So, where do these controversial projects stand now?

Downeast LNG is taking a step back to, as the company states, compile additional data from the Maine Department of Marine Resources, including results of lobster surveys in Mill Cove, where Girdis plans to build the LNG plant. The company is also looking at a potential alternative pipeline route that would not pass through the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Calais.

Girdis said a new application will likely be filed by the end of the year, and the delays won't alter his construction schedule. His applications at the federal level remain intact and in process. This, he says, is a mere hiccup.

Meanwhile, Quoddy Bay LNG continues to steam ahead with its Pleasant Point LNG project, shrugging off Ottawa's claim that all the work is for nothing because Canada won't allow LNG tankers into the area.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper reiterated Ottawa's LNG opposition recently while his cabinet minister in the area, Greg Thompson, suggested Canada would take the strong measure of enacting legislation banning tankers from Head Harbour Passage — the only ship entry into Passamaquoddy Bay.

Save Passamaquoddy Bay, fighting to keep LNG out from bases in St. Andrews, [Calais], and Pleasant Point, sees Downeast LNG's withdrawal as a small victory, a morale boost, and a reason not to celebrate and ease up, but to press harder.

As much as they'd love to let themselves think so, Save Passamaquoddy Bay officials realize Downeast LNG's project isn't vapourized yet.

The story continues...


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

The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB