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Protest over fracking, offshore gas terminal in Long Beach

Attendees listen to speakers during the rally as

Attendees listen to speakers during the rally as the community and organizations join Food & Water Watch's Rally against hydrofracking and the proposal to build a liquefied natural gas ("LNG") terminal off Long Island shoresheld on the Long Beach boardwalk, Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. Credit: Steve Pfost

About 200 protesters concerned about potential environmental impacts gathered on the Long Beach boardwalk Saturday to oppose fracking and a planned natural gas terminal 19 miles offshore.

The critics also say the proposed Port Ambrose poses a safety risk because it would be exposed to powerful storms.

One demonstrator, Karen Miller of Woodbury said she doesn't want her generation to fail the next one by furthering dependence on fossil fuels instead of fostering "green" power.

"We want our Earth to be as beautiful for them as it is for us," she said.

Martha Feguson of Port Washington called gas-extracting fracking an environmental "time bomb," but noted that some residents upstate, where the drilling would occur, view it as an economic boon.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has postponed approving or rejecting fracking -- also known as hydraulic fracturing -- pending health and environment studies that are underway.

Leaders of the Long Beach protest, joined by a dozen surfers who braved the waves to show their support, scoffed at the port developer's statements that the proposed port south of Jones Beach will handle only gas imports, not exports.

"It's a bait and switch," Eric Weltman, senior organizer with the Washington-based nonprofit Food & Water Watch, said after the rally.

Weltman said it's easy to obtain federal approval to export gas as an approved importer, and the fuel commands higher prices abroad.

Liberty Natural Gas, which wants to build the deepwater port for liquefied natural gas, has not sought export approval. The company says fuel from its Port Ambrose operation would reduce the region's high fuel prices.

Roger Whelan, Liberty's chief executive, said representatives of business, labor and the fishing industry support the plan for the terminal.

"These leaders realize that this project will provide 800 good-paying jobs, invest over $90 million into the local economy and will help reduce and stabilize energy prices for New York consumers during the peak winter and summer months while utilizing state-of-the-art environmental technologies," he said in an email Friday.

Port Ambrose could open in 2018, the company said.

The U.S. Coast Guard now is reviewing plans for the New York port, which would have two submerged buoys, with the fuel flowing from tankers into a new 22-mile pipeline.

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