LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A heated debate unfolded on Long Island on Tuesday night. At issue was a controversial plan to build a natural gas port off the South Shore, with a promise of jobs and lower energy costs.
The people would have none of it, CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.
It’s a futuristic looking underwater operation — a proposed natural gas transfer station 17 miles off Jones Beach and 24 miles off Long Branch, N.J. Liberty Natural Gas calls it “Port Ambrose” and says it will bring jobs and lower energy bills, CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
“We 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,” Liberty Natural CEO Roger Whelan said.
But critics say it too close to the shores of Long Island and New Jersey, and worry about gas explosions and tanker accidents.
“I think they’re in over their heads. We all live here, know what one big wave can change our lives forever. There is no way our ocean should be for sale,” said Larry Moriarty of the Surfrider Foundation.
The $300 million plan was debated at length Tuesday night at the Alegria Hotel in Long Beach, Long Island’s one public hearing on the divisive issue.
“How many people think this is a bad idea? You know what? I do!” resident Lisa Sherry said.
“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.
“The general public doesn’t have enough information, doesn’t even know about it, so I want more information, more time for public comment,” Nassau County Legislator Dave Denenberg (D-Bellmore) said.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the first version of the plan back in 2010, but liberty gas says it has redesigned. The new plan is completely off shore and little if anything will be visible from land.
Liquefied natural gas would be shipped from the Caribbean and then turned into gas at an underwater docking station, pumped through buoys into two pipelines that serve Long Island and New York City.
Critics predict it will evolve into a large export facility.
“The potential here can shut down shipping lanes, overtax first responders and really affect the commerce of the state, not to mention the citizens,” said Sean Dixon of Clean Ocean Action.
“It’s a very safe, proven technology already in use in Boston since 2008,” Whelan said in response.
No taxpayer money is needed, but approval is, from the U.S. Maritime Administration, the Coast Guard and the governors of New York and New Jersey.
The second hearing will be held Wednesday evening in Edison at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center.
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