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Gov. Cuomo Vetoes Port Ambrose Liquefied Natural Gas Project
New York Gov. Cuomo announced today that he has officially vetoed the Port Ambrose Liquefied Natural Gas project amid an outcry from environmental groups and surrounding coastal communities. The project was proposed by Liberty Natural Gas off the shores of New York and New Jersey.
Watch his announcement here:
The deep-water docking station would have been built just 19 miles off of the shores of Long Island and would have allowed Liberty Natural Gas "to inject natural gas into the New York-area pipeline, which could lower home heating bills there, among the most expensive in the nation," according to the Associated Press (AP). The company has been trying to obtain approval for the project for years from the federal Maritime Administration, but federal regulations required the governors of New York and New Jersey to sign off on the project, and since Cuomo refused to, the project has now been denied, explained the AP.
“My administration carefully reviewed this project from all angles, and we have determined that the security and economic risks far outweigh any potential benefits,” Cuomo told the AP this morning. “Superstorm Sandy taught us how quickly things can go from bad to worse when major infrastructure fails—and the potential for disaster with this project during extreme weather or amid other security risks is simply unacceptable.”
In a letter sent to the federal Maritime Administration, Cuomo said there were "too many unanswered questions on security on Port Ambrose," including how the project would deal with potential superstorms, which are increasing in frequency because of climate change.
Environmental groups praised the decision. "Port Ambrose would have threatened coastal communities in Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island with the risk of catastrophic spills and explosions and endanger treasured marine ecosystems," said the environmental group Catskill Mountainkeeper, which fought to stop the project.
Many in the surrounding community were opposed to the project, citing fears that the pipeline could become a "target for terrorists or could develop leaks off the shores," reported News12 Long Island. “This is terribly dangerous,” New York area resident Jessica Roff told the AP. “It’s volatile. It’s dangerous. It’s a terrorist threat.”
Earlier this year, Cuomo banned fracking in New York. New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said that after years of exhaustive research, fracking "poses significant adverse impacts to land, air, water, natural resources and potential significant public health impacts that cannot be adequately mitigated."
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The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
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Last week we received positive news on the border wall's imminent construction in an Arizona wildlife refuge. The Trump administration delayed construction of the wall through about 60 miles of federal wildlife preserves.
It's become a familiar story with the Trump administration: Scientists write a report that shows the administration's policies will cause environmental damage, then the administration buries the report and fires the scientists.