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Second Hearing Wednesday On Natural Gas Plan For NY-NJ Coast

Hearing Tuesday In Long Beach Drew Largely Negative Reaction
A natural gas company wants to build a gas transfer station 17 miles off the coast of Long Island's South Shore. (Photo: Handout)

A natural gas company wants to build a gas transfer station 17 miles off the coast of Long Island’s South Shore. (Photo: Handout)

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EDISON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A hearing will be held Wednesday in Edison on a proposal to build a liquefied natural gas terminal off the New Jersey/New York coast.

Liberty Natural Gas has applied to federal authorities for permission to build a port in the ocean 17 miles off Jones Beach on Long Island and 24 miles off Long Branch, N.J.

Gov. Chris Christie vetoed an earlier proposal for a similar facility.

An initial hearing Tuesday night in Long Beach drew a largely negative reaction. Critics say the proposed port is too close to the shore and worry about gas explosions and tanker accidents.

“The bottom line is that we need certainty and the only thing I’m certain of is that this project is no good,” state Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder said.

“Imported LNG is not the sustainable, clean energy policy that New York and Long Island has been working (on) for over the last decade,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the New York-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment. She noted that a proposal for a wind energy farm in the same vicinity was a preferred option.

Other advocates for the environment said the proposal carries with it too many possible complications.

“Oh man, where to begin? There’s environmental problems, there’s public safety problems, there’s commerce disruption problems,” New Jersey Clean Ocean Action Coastal Policy attorney Sean Dixon told WCBS 880′s Levon Putney.

Dixon added the port could wind up costing local residents in the long run.

“It really goes beyond the environmental questions as well. I mean, this could lead to natural gas exports quite easily and that’s going to have huge impact on local shale gas production, really drive up the cost of energy for consumers,” Dixon told Putney. “And when that’s done, natural gas prices around here are going to soar and fracking is going to rise because energy companies can sell natural gas overseas four to six times more than they can here in the U.S.”

Dixon said Liberty Natural Gas would only need written federal permission to switch their proposed Port Ambrose terminal to exports.

Among those backing the project were several union members, one of whom was jeered when he addressed the hearing, which was conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Transportation Department’s Maritime Administration.

Liberty Natural CEO Roger Whelan claimed the project will provide 600 jobs and inject $90 million into the regional economy. He also said the project will bring down natural gas prices.

“We will help convert from fuel oil to natural gas because no one can afford to pay what you have to pay in January, February and March,” Whelan said. “It’s a very safe, proven technology already in use in Boston since 2008.”

Liquefied natural gas would be shipped to the site in vessels capable of converting it back into gas form. They would connect to the facility of submerged buoys and transfer the gas into an existing 22-mile long pipeline serving Long Island and New York City.

Liberty Natural Gas says the new plan is completely off shore and little, if anything, will be visible from land.

Approval is needed from the U.S. Maritime Administration, the Coast Guard and the governors of New York and New Jersey.

Govs. Christie and Cuomo both have veto power and could kill the proposal at any time, Putney reported.

Dixon said he expects another veto from Christie “and the question just is whether Gov. Cuomo gets there first.”

This is the second attempt at placing an LNG terminal off the Port of New York.

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