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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

E. Haven joins fight against Broadwater; Broadwater fights back

Check out the Elm City poll, above, on this issue

By Gregory B. Hladky
Capitol Bureau Chief
HARTFORD
— East Haven Mayor April Capone Almon joined Connecticut state officials Monday to condemn the controversial Broadwater liquefied natural gas project for Long Island Sound and urge New York to block it.
Capone Almon, a Democrat, said her greatest concerns about the project are that neither the U.S. Coast Guard nor local firefighters and police have the equipment or manpower necessary to deal with such a facility or to respond to a major LNG disaster.
“We do not have the resources to protect this site,” she said, explaining that East Haven is the Connecticut community closest to the proposed mid-Sound facility.
The bipartisan group also blasted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for its recent preliminary finding that the project wouldn’t have any significant environmental impact on the Sound or any major public danger.
“In our view, it (the FERC environmental impact statement) just doesn’t go far enough,” said state Sen. Leonard A. Fasano, R-North Haven, co-chairman of a state task force set up to review the LNG project.
Fasano insisted that studies show there “are not enough Coast Guard boats to protect this LNG facility.”
“FERC, when it gets to a tough issue, it side-steps,” added Fasano.
“We all know Connecticut is going to get very little benefit from this,” said state Sen. Andrea L. Stillman, D-Waterford. She and other speakers at Monday’s news conference said New York officials must be made aware that there are other, better alternatives to the Broadwater project.
But in response to the criticisms levied against the project Monday, John Hritcko, senior vice president and regional project director for Broadwater Energy, said politics are at work.
“At a time when the people of Connecticut face enormous energy challenges, it is irresponsible for legislators to be playing politics with the state’s energy future. The Broadwater project has been found to be the best solution to reducing regional energy costs in an environmentally responsible manner,” Hritcko said in a statement.
The $700 million Broadwater plan calls for anchoring a floating facility about the size of the Queen Mary II about 10.5 miles off East Haven and nine miles from the Long Island shore. Project officials insist it would be safe, clean and provide New York and Connecticut with a badly needed new source of energy.
Broadwater officials in recent weeks have been running a media campaign, promising the project could save a consumer $300 a year in energy costs.
Since the project is entirely within New York waters, it does need a series of approvals and permits from New York state agencies. One key approval is expected from the New York Department of State in 60 days.
FERC could give its final ruling on the project at any time, said state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, but a FERC spokesman said Monday that an immediate federal decision is unlikely.
Blumenthal said he anticipates that FERC will give its approval to the Broadwater project. Blumenthal said his intention is to immediately ask federal officials to reconsider its action and he plans to file suit in the courts if FERC refuses.
“If the law’s enforced, Broadwater will never be built,” Blumenthal said.
Gregory B. Hladky can be contacted at ghladky@nhregister.com or (860) 524-0719.

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