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Con: Offshore terminals are easy terrorist targets and floating environmental disasters

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Wayne Madsen
April 26, 2008
EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer is addressing the question, Should Congress ban floating liquid natural gas terminals in the ocean off New England and the mid-Atlantic states?

New York Gov. David Paterson wisely rejected plans to locate a huge liquefied natural gas (LNG) barge in the waters off Long Island.


The LNG floating terminal was spearheaded by Shell Oil and Broadwater Energy and does little to move America away from dependence on fossil fuels. Paterson said the proposed mega-barge would “scar” Long Island Sound, and environmental groups such as Save the Sound rallied to block the so-called Broadwater LNG complex.


The energy industry argues that LNG produces lower carbon emissions than oil or coal, but this factoid is a placebo designed to keep America’s energy infrastructure wedded to the fossil fuel industry.


Non-carbon-based green technology solutions—solar, wind, bio-fuels—are the only answer to halting the carbon fuel vicious cycle that is threatening the Earth’s climate with disastrous results.


Although LNG produces fewer carbon emissions than its dirtier alternatives, the extraction and conversion process from gaseous to liquid and back to gaseous form directly contributes to carbon-dioxide emissions.


Placing a 28-story tall LNG barge the size of four football fields in Long Island Sound not only incurred the wrath of New York’s governor but also the state of Connecticut, whose attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, vowed to sue to block the project. Connecticut argued that exclusion zones established around the Broadwater barge would severely affect Connecticut waterways and adversely affect fishing and recreational boating.


In addition to needlessly contributing more carbon to the atmosphere, LNG is extremely volatile. An LNG explosion in Long Island Sound during a weekend would turn recreational boats that plow the waters into crispy hulks.


New York Assemblywoman Ginny Fields summed up opposition to the Broadwater facility in stating the proposed barge has “the potential of industrializing the LIS (Long Island Sound), and it would prohibit recreational pursuits of Long Islanders within a large radius around it.”


Connecticut’s Republican Gov. Jodi Rell has questioned a favorable environmental impact statement on the Broadwater barge issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. She questioned how “any reasonable person or government agency” could conclude the LNG barge would have a limited adverse impact on the environment.


LNG barges are also attractive targets for terrorists. Last year, federal prosecutors charged a New York ring with planning to blow up fuel lines leading to John F. Kennedy International Airport. An attack on a super-tanker off-loading LNG at a barge off New York or New Jersey would have disastrous effects.


Delaware successfully sued New Jersey over a plan to build a four-mile long LNG terminal on the Delaware River. Delaware claimed that New Jersey was not permitted to build such a terminal as the Delaware River and its riverbed are part of Delaware. The Supreme Court ruled in Delaware’s favor, with even pro-business Chief Justice John Roberts siding with Delaware in opposition to the LNG terminal. Baltimore County is fighting a similar attempt by AES to build a huge LNG facility at the old Bethlehem Steel Sparrows Point shipyard.


Even the floating LNG terminals that are being proposed for sites 20 miles offshore are clearly bad for the environment and public safety. On this point, the Democratic governor of New York and the Republican governor of Connecticut are in agreement. A carbon fuel alternative such as LNG is not the answer to creating “green energy” sources. Solar, wind, tidal and bio-fuels are the only answer to shifting the world away from destructive greenhouse gases.


New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are leading the way on this vital issue. Every American who cares about our fragile planet owes them a tremendous debt of gratitude.


Wayne Madsen is a contributing writer to the progressive Online Journal (www.onlinejournal.com). Readers may write to him c/o National Press Club, Front Desk, 529 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20045.

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