Court rejects pipeline

Action by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday will force a proposed 50-mile natural gas pipeline to bridge New York and Connecticut without crossing the Long Island Sound.

The Court rejected an appeal yesterday afternoon from Islander East, an interstate natural gas pipeline project. The decision upheld the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection’s choice to deny environmental permits necessary for construction.

In a press release Monday morning, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 referred to the ruling as a triumph for environmental protection against a selfish corporation.

“This sweeping victory is the death knell for this hugely destructive project,” Blumenthal said in the release.

According to the Islander East Web site, the pipeline project would have contributed $10.7 million in right-of-way payments to local landowners and contribute to the local job market.

But environmental concerns overshadowed any potential benefits, Connecticut governor’s office Communications Director Dennis Schain said. The proposed route passed through Thimble Islands’ shellfish beds and other sensitive natural resources, he said.

“There are other places that the pipeline could conceivably pass through the Sound that would not be some kind of threat to natural resources,” he said.

Schain suggested environmentally friendly projects and a greater focus on conservation and renewable energy sources to counteract the potentially negative economic effects this ruling will have on Connecticut, where oil is used to fulfill half of the state’s primary energy requirements. In the next 20 years, the Connecticut Siting Council found that the state’s fuel mix for electric generation will depend on natural gas units instead of the currently popular oil-fired and nuclear units.

But in an interview Monday, Blumenthal said exploring alternative energy sources and routes for Islander East’s natural gas pipeline is dead: “There is no further appeal,” he said.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell reminded constituents in a Monday press release that this is an environmental victory against not only the pipeline, but also against the 2007 Broadwater proposal to develop a liquefied natural gas storage and re-gasification facility in the Sound.

“First Broadwater — now Islander East: With today’s Supreme Court announcement, we have succeeded in turning back two ill-conceived energy projects,” she said in the release.

Islander East first put forth the proposal in June 2001.

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