Proposed offshore gas facility called 'threat' to Nassau's South Shore
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More than 100 Long Island residents, activists and elected officials rallied in Long Beach on Saturday to urge Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to ban fracking in the state and express fears over plans to put a natural gas transfer station south of Jones Beach.
The crowd gathered on the Long Beach boardwalk to denounce the public safety, economic, environmental and climate-related threats they said the facility 19 miles offshore would pose to Long Islanders.
"It certainly is a threat to our health and existence here in Long Beach," Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) said.
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The rally was part of the Food & Water Watch's "Global Frackdown," a day of anti-fracking protests in 250 locations in more than 25 countries.
Cuomo has repeatedly delayed a decision on fracking. He has said his decision will be based on science and is being reviewed by the environmental and health commissioners.
In a statement Saturday, Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said a decision on the natural gas project "will be based upon the facts and science and is pending a review by the . . . and the state health department."
The U.S. Maritime Administration, the Coast Guard, and New York's and New Jersey's governors must approve the plan, which requires a federal license.
Liberty Natural Gas, part of an investment fund based in the Cayman Islands, would build a $300 million system consisting of two buoys, two pipelines and a 22-mile main for its project, called Port Ambrose.
The main would link to an existing natural-gas pipeline system that serves Long Island and New York City. A tanker would carry up to 3.75 billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas, mostly from the Caribbean, and turn it into a gas before pumping it through the buoys, according to the plan.
"Let's put an end to it," Nassau Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick) said. "Let's say no to Port Ambrose. Let's say no to fracking."
Liberty Natural Gas CEO Roger Whelan said the company is working to address safety and environmental issues. The project will undergo an environmental impact study, he said. "We are confident that this extensive federal review will show that the project has minimal impacts to the environment and significant benefits to the region, including saving energy consumers money, creating 600 good paying jobs and investing over $90 million into the local economy," Whelan said in a statement.
But opponents worry about gas explosions and tanker accidents, saying it's too close to Nassau County's South Shore, which was hit hard by superstorm Sandy.
"It seems particularly egregious to talk about an energy facility off from Long Beach," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "Who knows better than Long Beach, the reality of climate change impacts? No one knows better."
At the protest, Eric Weltman, senior organizer for the Washington, D.C.-based Food & Water Watch, said, "There are safe alternatives for natural gas, but there is no alternative to water."