MAYDAY-MAYDAY: Coalition Calls for New York State to Oppose LNG Port
Evoking the international call for maritime distress, 36 groups stood united today in opposition to a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) port proposed to be built off of Jones Beach, NY. The groups, from across New York and New Jersey, call on Gov. Cuomo to oppose the plan.
The proposal by Liberty Natural Gas (Liberty LNG), a corporation owned by a nameless bank account in the Cayman Islands, was submitted to the Maritime Administration, a sub-agency of the Department of Transportation.
The organizations, representing thousands of citizens, called on Gov. Cuomo to oppose the creation of Liberty LNG’s “Port Ambrose” project. The port would be near the entrance to the New York Harbor, in two active Coast Guard training areas, in the middle of a proposed offshore wind area and among several fishing areas and wildlife migration routes. The port, south of Jones Beach, NY and east of Monmouth Beach, NJ, would be a fossil fuel hub, connecting massive oceangoing LNG vessels to a natural gas pipeline located off of Atlantic Beach, NY.
Liberty LNG has a history proposing harmful industrial facilities in the region. In 2011, Liberty’s last project met opposition from New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Christie. In a letter sent to the Maritime Administration, Gov. Christie declared that the Liberty LNG project “would present unacceptable risks to [New Jersey’s] residents, natural resources, economy and security.”
Gov. Christie warned that the “project would create a heightened risk … including potential accidents or sabotage disrupting commerce in the Port of New York and New Jersey.” The project was officially blocked by Gov. Christie when he invoked federal Deepwater Port Act authority (allowing adjacent coastal states to approve or disapprove projects) in February 2011.
Now, more than two years later, Liberty LNG is back. Having shifted their proposed port a few miles to the northeast, Liberty LNG is declaring it a "new" application, despite the fact that the port is the same design, creates the same risks and has the same economic, environmental, social and national security drawbacks.
“LNG’s deep-water Port Ambrose project would pose an economic, security and environmental risk, while providing no benefits what so ever to New York taxpayers or businesses," said Nassau County Legislator David Denenberg. "The project would hurt our energy independence and promote foreign imports of natural gas. Therefore, for our environment, safety, economy and future, I call on New York State to follow New Jersey’s lead and reject this proposal.”
“At a time when our coastal communities shattered by Superstorm Sandy are trying to recover, Liberty LNG is skulking around behind closed doors planning this risky and harmful fossil fuel facility at our doorstep," said Cindy Zipf, executive director, Clean Ocean Action. "During Sandy, wave heights in the area of the proposed port were over 30 feet. As we restore our shore, our region will depend even more on the clean ocean economies. Gov. Christie said no early, loud and clear; Gov. Cuomo also needs to sink this project and the sooner the better.”
“The South Shore Audubon Society (SSAS) strongly opposes Liberty Natural Gas' attempt to place a LNG facility in New York waters south of Jones Beach. Liquefied natural gas, increasingly being produced and used as an export commodity, is just another fossil fuel that contributes to global warming, climate change and sea level rise,” said Jim Brown, president of the SSAS. He added, “We strongly urge Gov. Cuomo to veto this planned facility and to concentrate our state energy policy on advancing renewable energy and energy conservation as the best solutions to our energy needs.”
“Natural gas is a dirty fossil fuel and every step taken toward its expanded development in the region is a step away from a clean, sustainable energy future," added Alex Beauchamp, Northeast region director, Food & Water Watch. "Exporting domestic natural gas only increases the demand for fracking, the extreme drilling method that poses one of the gravest threats to clean water and environmental health in America today. Local residents shouldn't be forced to suffer the dangerous consequences of natural gas development here for the sake of export markets on the other side of the world.”
“We need a LNG port off our coast like we need another hurricane,” said Jeff Tittel, director of NJ Sierra Club. "We already have too many threats to our region from fracking and pipelines we should not be 'fossil fuelish' with our coast. We need clean energy instead to create jobs and protect our environment.”
“Gov. Cuomo, I ask you this: ‘Haven't our south shore communities suffered enough from Hurricane Sandy? How can you consider approving a LNG station right in the middle of the hurricane's path?’” said Claudia Borecky, president of the North and Central Merrick Civic Association. “Gov. Christie rejected this proposal because it was wrong for New Jersey. This project is wrong for New York as well. Gov. Cuomo must protect our waterways and our coastal communities and say ‘no’ to this LNG facility.”
“Storage of dangerous pollutants off the waters of one of the nation's most densely populated areas is reckless, especially in light of our raised awareness of our coastal vulnerabilities, post-Superstorm Sandy," added Kathleen Cunningham, chairwoman of Quiet Skies Coalition. "Chris Christie had it right for New Jersey. Let's make sure we get it right for New York.”
“Putting our oceans at risk by considering Liberty LNG's ‘Port Ambrose’ in New York's harbor is short sighted to say the least. It flies in the face of reason since what is needed now is a policy for transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. We do not need a risky LNG deep water port for the import or export of liquefied natural gas. The proposed ‘Port Ambrose’ will not provide permanent jobs for New York or New Jersey and will have detrimental environmental impacts to the ocean and the marine life,” concluded Suzanne Golas, director WATERSPIRIT.
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.