Speeches by the governor of New Jersey don’t usually get a lot of attention on this side of the Hudson, especially those made at routine events like Earth Day celebrations. But Gov. Chris Christie’s remarks Thursday at such an event might be of great interest to anyone who lives on the South Shore of Nassau County.
Standing on a beach in Sea Bright with the Atlantic Ocean behind him, the governor reiterated his opposition to the three liquid natural gas facilities proposed off his state’s coast. They include one that would be on a man-made island to be constructed 19 miles east of the N.J. coast — an Island that, it so happens, would also be off Long Island’s coast — 13.5 miles south of Long Beach — proposed by Manhattan-based Atlantic Sea Island Group.
As you'd expect, environmentalists applauded his remarks. “This is one of the most important regional environmental decisions for our ocean, waves, and beaches in recent history,” Chris Wade, former Chair of the New York City Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation who worked on this issue for years, said in a press release.
The same press release quotes Katie Lawrence, chair of the Surfrider’s Central Long Island chapter as saying, “This is such great news for Nassau County and all Long Island beaches.”
Atlantic Sea Island Group is seeking permissions from the U.S. Maritime Administration to begin construction of the Island — permission that company officials have said could come next year. An environmental impact statement is well along in preparation under the direction of the Coast Guard.
Gary Lewi, spokesman for the project, said in reaction to Christie’s remarks, “We’re looking forward to an opportunity to brief the governor and his cabinet regarding the economic and environmental benefits of this project.”
Christie’s opposition to the project is significant; federal law gives him, as the governor of an “adjacent coast state” the right to veto it.
Here, according to a press release from the governor’s office, is what he said about LNG: "New Jersey's energy future lies in utilizing and encouraging the development of new, innovative technology in the renewable energy industry. And though natural gas is a critical piece of our state's energy strategy, I remain unconvinced of the need and efficacy of these facilities, or their ability to lower prices for consumers. As a result, it remains unclear as to why our state should assume the environmental risks associated with these projects when the trade-off is weak at best.” The governor also reaffirmed his concern about offshore oil drilling in the mid-Atlantic as far north as Delaware.
Environmentalists argue that liquid natural facilities are not needed — that there is plenty of domestic natural gas and no reason to import it.
New York Gov. Paterson has not taken a position on Atlantic Sea Island but a state energy plan prepared at his direction says, “The State should take specific steps to encourage investment in natural gas infrastructure, including LNG facilities.” It says elsewhere, “While it would be preferable not to depend upon imported energy supplies...avoidance of additional gas imports may not be sustainable in the long run [and] having the flexibility to be able to accept LNG imports could... serve to put downward pressure on prices in the future, particularly during periods of high demand.”
However, Paterson strongly opposed and ultimately killed the proposed Broadwater Energy gas platform in Long Island Sound.
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