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Long Beach residents oppose natural gas port project

Brooklyn resident Patrick Robins, who is with the

Brooklyn resident Patrick Robins, who is with the Sane Energy Project, makes signs during a pre-rally meeting about the LNG Port at Long Beach Library in Long Beach, Jan. 3, 2015. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Long Beach opponents of a proposed offshore natural gas port called on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to stop it as they prepared Saturday for a hearing this week.

The U.S. Maritime Administration will be taking public comments on the draft environmental impact statement for the Port Ambrose project Wednesday night in Jamaica, Queens.

"I have real safety concerns," said Assemb.-elect Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) at a meeting of about three dozen people at Long Beach's public library. "Having tankers pulling up at an increased rate, having pipelines and gas right in front of our shore, we bear the brunt of any catastrophe."

New Jersey-based Liberty Natural Gas LLC has applied to the federal government for a license to build a deepwater port off the coasts of New York and New Jersey to deliver natural gas to the region. The floating port, about 16 miles southeast of Jones Beach, would receive liquefied natural gas from ships; it would flow to land via pipelines on the ocean floor.

The Maritime Administration and Coast Guard published the draft environmental impact statement on Dec. 12.

In a news release last month, Liberty Natural Gas chief executive Roger Whelan said the report "confirms that our proposal constitutes no significant environmental or security risk to the region."

Whelan said the project will boost the local economy, create jobs and help stabilize energy prices.

The Long Beach City Council has asked Cuomo to veto the project. The regulatory process gives Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie an opportunity to reject the proposal at a later stage.

A Cuomo spokesman had no comment Saturday.

City Councilman Len Torres said he was concerned that the port poses serious environmental risks. "After going through Sandy and after trying to rebuild our city, after it's taken so much, now we're facing a man-made possible catastrophe," he said.

One of the protest organizers, George Povall, 45, a construction supervisor from Point Lookout, said he's not convinced that residents would be safe if there were an accident or terrorist attack at the port.

"My top concern is the continued lack of responsibility in something like this where they cannot guarantee they're not going to screw it up," he said.

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