LNG Terminal One Step Closer

The potential LNG port facility in the Long Island Sound looks like it is getting closer and closer to coming to reality.

Broadwater Energy's proposal to construct a liquefied natural gas terminal in the middle of Long Island Sound came a step closer to reality Nov. 17. That is when the federal government released a long-awaited draft environmental impact statement that gave encouraging news to the company and dealt a blow to opponents.

The 800-page report, issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, concluded that the project's impact on the environment should be minimal if the company follows certain recommendations. FERC has the ultimate authority to approve or deny the proposal, so while its conclusions are not final, they are certainly significant. Many hurdles remain. But the scales are beginning to tilt in the L.N.G. terminal's favor.

As New York looks to clean up and diversify it's energy supply portfolio, nothing may be more important than establishing a secure link to the world's more isolated supplies of natural gas. Natural gas burns cleaner than oil and much cleaner than coal, but as North American natural gas supplies become less certain it is important for the New York to look beyond the continental network of pipelines. There is currently 3,000 trillion cubic feet of stranded natural gas around the world which is enough to produce 300 billion barrels of fuel. And that's only stranded reserves. There are another 3,200 trillion barrels that are not considered to be stranded.

Obviously, conservation planning ideas should come first, but but opening New York to receive the world's reserves of stranded gas reserves at a time when future energy supplies are uncertain. This is certainly a better source of energy environmentally than just building more coal fired power plants.

  Guys, I'm from Galveston, Texas, a small city of 60,000 people located 50 miles S.E. of downtown Houston. A couple of years ago BP after possibly a few judicious bribes announced that they were going to build a LNG terminal on Pelican Island, across the Galveston Harbor from downtown Galveston, about 3 miles north of the center of the city on leased land from our port authority meeting in a secret session. It was opposed by most of our city for various reasons-not enough money, the warming of the gas would kill fish, too close to population areas-then God intervened and BP's sloppy maintainence caused two large explosions at their refinery on the mainland. They folded their tents like the Arabs and silently slipped away.
  Texas is different from NY, a rather obvious conclusion. We have two completed LNG facilities within 100 miles, and several more planned. But, if I lived near NYC I would question why the LNG plant is not being located in Federal waters offshore the largest gas consuming area, probably the refinery complex in New Jersey, or even rely on the gas being transmitted through the old interstate system from the LNG facilities offshore in the Gulf Coast Area.
In case you missed this previous article, it has some background on Broadwater:http://nyc.theoildrum.com/story/2006/6/8/115927/4371.

It includes a link to an excellent blog (Sphere) that is following the environmental consequences of Broadwater.

I'll provide my understanding of the Broadwater project to try and address your questions. My info comes from following it locally.

Broadwater claims that Long Island Sound is preferable to any ocean sites because the impact from bad weather, including potential hurricanes, is less.

I can't say how the gas demand of the NJ refineries compares to other uses, but you should know that power plants around here burn either oil or gas, with the newer plants burning gas exclusively. It's the preferred fuel environmentally.

Broadwater's argument regarding existing pipeline capacity is that it is constrained and that we're at the end of the pipeline. Broadwater claims that delivering gas directly to the end of the pipeline is a big benefit. Some of the anti-Broadwater folks are focusing on LNG facilities that might be built in Canada, the gas from which could be supplied via upsizing (if that's the right word) the Maritimes pipeline.

I'm not passing judgement, at least from an energy perspective, just passing along the arguments. I understand from postings here that using gas for power generation is not considered by some (many?) to be the best use for gas.

Having watched this thread sit idle for almost two weeks, I'm thinking that the issue of LNG in Long Island Sound is of no interest to anyone here and/or everyone thinks it's a great idea.

As I read the post on Bloomberg's sustainability endeavor, the focus on what happens within the boundaries of NYC is a big concern. I'm not seeing the same concern or much of an acknowledgement of how much NYC's footprint extends outside its boundaries. The focus seems to be NYC as an the point of input or an output only. The fact that NYS requires hundreds of square miles of watershed in upstate to be "sustainable" doesn't seem to be part of the equation. Likewise, energy infrastructure near and far to NYS will help make it

Here is a project (Broadwater LNG) that will physically make off limits a portion of Long Island Sound by virtue of the permanent security buffer that will surround it. The waters of Long Island Sound belong to the people. They are held in public trust by NYS and it's possible that a portion of LIS will be alienated by NYS or NYS will be forced by the federal government to alienate it. The prospect of alienation of public waters is very disturbing to many Long Islanders and should be of concern to all NYers, including city residents.

My comment here is not meant to single out NYC. There is a significant lack of awareness or concern on LI for how much Long Island's needs are met by off-island resources. Long Island is running undersea cables to power plants in NJ or further west to meet its needs. Gas pipelines are being run through farmland and neighborhoods in PA and NJ to deliver gas to LI.

We can all expect to have our energy resources move closer to us in the future, be it via distributed generation or on-site solar, wind or fuel cells. A floating LNG terminal in Long Island Sound could be considered as another example of that transition. But whether one considers Broadwater or good or bad thing, I would hope that it at least gets consideration.

I'm surprised at the lack of interest as well. This is a major piece of NY State's energy future. I think the NIMBYs are out of cards for this one though CD. If Long Island says "No" to nuclear and wind power, then the choices are basically coal, oil or gas. Gas has the least CO2 production and burns fairly clean with less other pollutants. The off-shore LNG facility does not disturb the environment the way an onshore fossil fuel or nuke plant could.

And hey, I'm not saying we have major issues in planning for the future of energy. Obviously conservation efforts really need to be ramped up considerably.

And perhaps you can further elaborate on why the loss of that portion of the Long Island Sound will be so impactful. Does that mean fishing or pleasure vessels can't go there? That does not sound like a major loss to me. If anything, keeping those area off-limits might actually improve the replenishment of the fish stocks.


To elaborate on the security (buffer zone) issue, yes, there will be a no-go zone for any vessel (except the LNG tankers) that will, in theory, be enforced by the Coast Guard. The impact of this loss is in the eye of the beholder.

Putting principle aside for now, the physical loss would be equivalent to a private enterprise being granted exclusive and permanent use of one acre of Central Park (more or less in the middle of the park). This acre would be inaccessible to the public. There would also be weekly deliveries (say, by truck) to this secure acre of parkland that would require temporarily closing (for 15 to 30 minutes) the access road to and within the park over which the truck passed, including any roads or paths that crossed it, while the delivery vehicle transited the public portion of the park.

You may find giving up an acre of Central Park to be acceptable, you may not. Perhaps it depends on the public good, if any, provided by the private enterprise controlling the parcel. Let's say the purpose is to exploit a known reserve of oil under Central Park. Still OK? Let's give it a much more benign purpose: to install PV array (on the ground) to operate as a power plant. Still OK? Perhaps equally benign: a wind turbine (ignoring the issues of height, visibility, noise and potential bird strikes) in the middle of the fenced-in, one-acre parcel. I suspect that there are still people who wouldn't have a problem losing access to the one-acre parcel for the wind turbine.

It's still apples and oranges (LNG vs. wind turbine). We can bring them a little closer together by imaging that there is the potential for the turbine to throw ice during the winter. It's a very small probability that it will throw ice, but if the ice does get thrown, it will land well outside the security zone, in the area where the public can go. Or, the turbine could fall over, or throw a blade. Someone could get hurt or killed. The probability of any of these events happening is very low, but not impossible. Would people still be in favor of alienating this one acre of Central Park? Maybe.

Let's say people are still in favor of it. Here's where the principle comes in. We've now agreed to alienate an acre of Central Park. What happens when the next oil prospector, or PV plant operator or wind turbine builder comes along to say they want to try the same thing on another acre? Can you say "no", now that you've already allowed one private enterprise to do it? Did we look ahead when we made the first agreement and wrote it so that it would be the only private use allowed within Central Park and no others could follow? Would such an agreement be defensible if challenged legally? Would the fees paid to NYC by the first private enterprise make it more likely that future proposals would be approved?

You'll have to tell me if this makes any sense. It's the best way I could think of to illustrate why many folks on Long Island are upset that a very bad precedent could be established.

As to the potential environmental impacts, there a number of websites one can go to understand the arguments, pro and con, including FERC to get the DEIS. The idea of the buffer zone becoming a marine sanctuary is one that has occurred to me, too, although not one of sufficient benefit to overwhelmingly trump any bad impacts, IMO. If I haven't already beaten my Central Park analogy to death, let me extend it one more time. Consider how beautiful the grass would grow in that one-acre patch of Central Park because no one would be allowed to walk on it.

The analogy doesn't work for me. Central Park was a plot of land specifically set aside for people to get away from the city. People can walk to it from their homes and enjoy a wide range of activities. MILLIONS of people enjoy Central Park every year. The Long Island Sound is a vast strip of water that has many industrial uses - commercial fishing, shipping, etc. How many people currently use this piece of water? a few hundred? And how do they get there? obviously by boat, mostly motor boats and expensive sail boats. Are they inconvenienced? Yes. Do they have alternatives? YES.

I'm sorry, but your arguments leave me unconvinced. I would need a lot more information of the negative impacts. Specifically the defense of a few people on boats versus tens of millions that need new sources of energy supply seems to favor the interests of the vast majority over a priviledged few.

Well, I tried. My analogy was certainly imperfect and I can understand your response to it and how well (or not) it conveyed the potential impacts of Broadwater.

You are not the first person to note that Long Island Sound is already "industrialized" to a degree. As for the issue of the many vs. the few, that is one that weighs on me. That logic can work both ways and do some damage as well as good. The post on Bloomberg's sustainability project had a comment that referenced hydro power projects in Quebec. As I recall, a project was stopped because it would have flooded land occupied by indigenous people of Canada, even though it could have provided clean power for millions. Likewise, it is argued that ANWR could serve millions of people to the detriment of a very small minority of people (as well as some caribou). I'm not ready to concede those sites for the sake of the greater good just yet. I also think the issue of privilege clouds the argument as to whether something is worth preserving. Who has access to it shouldn't get too high of consideration.

Perhaps there's a another poster or a lurker out there who can make a better argument than I did. You will definitely find better arguments on the blog Sphere. I appreciate your posting the Broadwater item in the first place and I appreciate the opportunity to discuss it.


PS. I should acknowledge that the opposition to Broadwater isn't limited to those who live on LI. There are many folks in CT who are opposing Broadwater with just as much intensity.