Pols criticize L. I. Sound plan

Prominent Connecticut politicians held a press conference at New Haven’s Omni Hotel Monday to voice their opposition to the Broadwater Project, the proposed construction of an energy terminal and natural gas pipeline in the Long Island Sound.

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr., state Representative Pat Widlitz and environment activists decried the terminal, envisioned as an enormous offshore facility resembling a ship roughly the size of the Queen Mary II. They argued the project could be an environmental disaster for the sound and a possible safety hazard for shoreline residents.

“All the evidence is that this has the makings of an environmental monstrosity,” Blumenthal said. “Imagine gazing out on the Sound on a clear summer’s day and seeing a project this size, which will not offer any benefit until 2010.”

Blumenthal vowed to fight the Broadwater proposal in all applicable agencies and regulatory commissions.

“We’re prepared to fight if necessary in state agencies, the Army Corps of Engineers and all appropriate bodies,” Blumenthal said. “Conveniently for the proposal, no Connecticut state agency will have jurisdiction, but we have an interest in protecting Connecticut citizens.”

DeStefano said the Broadwater Project should be seen as the latest failure of the energy industry to consider local needs when proposing intrusive initiatives.

“This is the latest installment of a Russian roulette energy policy in the Sound,” DeStefano said.

Last month, Shell and Trans Canada jointly announced their plans for the project, a proposal designed to solve the natural gas shortage in the Northeast by mooring a liquefied natural gas import terminal in the middle of the Long Island Sound.

According to plans, the facility could receive and store imported liquefied natural gas while sending out approximately one billion cubic feet of natural gas a day, thus potentially providing the Northeast with a secure source of energy for 30 years or more.

Broadwater regional project manager John Hritcko said the project would serve to benefit both Connecticut and New York residents without causing undue pollution or noise in the sound.

“We discount the notion that this project is leading to the further industrialization of the sound,” Hritcko said. “From day one, part of the benefit of the sound has been commercial.”

Before beginning physical work on the proposed facility, however, Broadwater would need a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and from 14 other local and national organizations. Though stressing the need for further analysis, company representatives said preliminary findings indicated that the facility’s effect on sightlines, as well as noise and pollution levels, would be minimal.

“Environment has been a part of this project from day one,” Broadwater spokeswoman Amy Kelley said. “Along with our own assessments, there are other companies working with Broadwater to ensure that environment is at the front of our minds and to make sure that any possible environmental impact is mitigated.”

Broadwater is currently engaged in a public relations tour, fostering dialogue with shoreline communities. On Monday and Tuesday of this week, Broadwater held open information sessions in a ballroom of the Omni Hotel on Temple Street.

Since the announcement of the Broadwater plan, local residents and Connecticut politicians have strongly objected to the proposal, fearing environmental damage even though the facility will technically be located in New York waters.

The Connecticut Fund for the Environment has organized an information tour in Connecticut shoreline towns shadowing Broadwater’s own campaign. The group scheduled Monday’s press conference in the lobby of the Omni Hotel to run simultaneous to a Broadwater information session held in the mezzanine.

The press conference speakers called for compromise and discourse with Broadwater but criticized the project as the newest attempt to industrialize the sound.

“While I’m broad-minded about Broadwater, this project gives grounds for deep, profound concerns,” Kiki Kennedy, a member of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment’s board of directors, said.

Widlitz warned the project could serve as a dangerous precedent, giving energy industry demands precedence over environmental concerns.

“The momentum is going in the wrong direction,” Widlitz said. “We need to take a stand and work with New York to make balanced, reasonable decisions.”

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