Yesterday, environmental groups including Clean Ocean Action, Food & Water Watch and Edison Wetlands Association blasted the offshore Port Ambrose Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility at a press conference just before the public hearing at the New Jersey Expo and Convention Center in Edison, NJ. The groups cited reasons to reject this project including, threats to tourism, commerce and the marine environment, the connection to hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, the deficiencies in the application and the fact that an identical project was vetoed by Gov. Christie. Hundreds of citizens attended and spoke out against the project at the public hearing as well, with momentum building in opposition to Port Ambrose following last night’s public hearing in Long Beach, NY.
“I am proud that so many residents came and spoke out yesterday. I repeat my demand that the public be provided more information, more time for comment, more hearings and more opportunity to be heard,” stated Nassau County Legislator David Denenberg (D-Merrick). “This project has security, economic, commercial and environmental concerns that must be discussed and dealt with before closing off public comment and moving to the next step,” stated Mr. Denenberg.
The Port Ambrose LNG facility has been proposed off the coast of Long Branch, NJ, and 17 nautical miles south of Jones Beach, NY. The project is the same proposal that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed. The only difference is the name. The project, if licensed, would allow both exports and imports of natural gas, resulting in accelerated hydro-fracking in the region and higher energy costs.
While the application is for an import facility, existing Department of Energy approvals have authorized up to 40 percent of our domestically-produced natural gas to be exported to certain nations around the world, and more approvals are in the pipeline for exports to the rest of the globe. Opponents of the project say any LNG facility will be for both import and export and it will create demand for fracking, via exports.
“This proposed LNG facility has the capability to destroy our Garden State. New Jersey is one the most densely populated areas in the country and our Jersey Shore generates millions of dollars through summer recreation alone,” said Dana Patterson, Edison Wetlands Association’s program supervisor. “Our communities must not be put at risk so a precarious facility can operate for pure profit without consideration for our water quality, diverse sea life, thriving fisheries or health and safety of our residents,” she explained.
“The last thing our still suffering Sandy damaged New Jersey Shore needs is an LNG export facility. We know the process of fracking to extract the gas destined for export risks our drinking water, air and ocean as it is not even regulated,” said ocean advocate and paddler Margo Pellegrino. “With this proposed terminal we increase this risk to our own drinking water and ocean, our own health, and pay more for our own ‘home grown’ energy as prices skyrocket with European demand for our dirty fuel. To say the idea of such a facility anywhere on the East Coast, but especially here in this most trafficked of all waterways is a ‘bad idea’ is an extreme understatement,” added Pellegrino.
"Port Ambrose would require a massive investment in dirty fossil fuels and fracking at a time when the threat of climate change demands we switch to truly clean energy," said Matt Smith, an organizer with Food & Water Watch, a consumer advocacy organization. "In this post-Superstorm Sandy era, New Jersey residents are saying no to fossil fuels, no to fracking and no to this ill-concieved hazard to our air, water and climate," stated Smith.
“Liberty Natural Gas, an unknown and well-connected foreign company is using their significant money, lobbyists and influence to bring this floating disaster to our region. By holding this hearing in Edison, NJ, the Maritime Administration is trying to ignore the Jersey Shore, which is why we are hosting a 'Citizens' Hearing' tomorrow in Sea Bright, NJ,” explained Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action. “Citizen’s voices unable to get to Edison can come and testify and the comments will be officially submitted for the record,” said Zipf.
The citizens’ hearing, organized by Clean Ocean Action, is tonight in Sea Bright, NJ, at the Sea Bright Public Beach, 1099 Ocean Ave., Sea Bright, NJ 07760. There will be an informational open house from 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. and the hearing will be from 6 - 8 p.m. Comments made at this hearing will be submitted to the federal government.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS BELOW: Do you feel misled upon learning the plans to export LNG since officials have long claimed that fracking for natural gas will create energy independence?
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Today, 130 environmental and public advocacy groups sent a letter to the Maritime Administration asking that the public be given more time to consider and comment on a propose liquefied natural gas (LNG) port that would be constructed in the waters off Long Island and the Jersey Shore. After the application was announced on June 14, the project sponsor subsequently released 1,500 pages of a 4,000+ page application that federal agencies have found to be still incomplete in more than 150 specific areas. Despite the length, technical complexity and incomplete nature of the material, the public is required to read, analyze and meaningfully comment on the application by July 23.
“This LNG port will adversely impact the economies and ecologies depended upon by millions of Americans and the public deserves the opportunity to give it careful consideration,” said Sean Dixon, coastal policy attorney at Clean Ocean Action. Dixon noted that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed this proposal in 2011 (and reaffirmed it in 2012) because, according to the Governor’s original veto, it “would present unacceptable and substantial risks to the State’s residents, natural resources, economy and security … stifle investment in renewable energy technologies by increasing our reliance on foreign sources … [and] create a heightened risk in a densely developed region, including potential accidents or sabotage disrupting commerce in the Port of New York and New Jersey.” Dixon notes that “this application is for the same port that was wrong for the people and economies of New York and New Jersey last year, and the year before that; Liberty may be back, but nothing has changed.”
Bruce Ferguson of Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy is concerned that construction of an LNG terminal could lead to increased shale gas extraction, or “fracking.” “I’m well aware that the sponsor says that the proposed port will be used to import LNG from abroad, but there is nothing in the law that can prevent the sponsor, or a future owner of the port, from using it to ship fracked shale gas to Europe and Asia.” Ferguson also noted that the U.S. will soon become a net exporter of natural gas and that existing import facilities are being revamped to handle exports.
The Maritime Administration has scheduled just two public hearings on the proposal, the minimum allowed by law:
New York State
Tuesday, July 9
Open House: 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Hearing: 6 - 8 p.m.
80 West Broadway, Long Beach, NY
Wednesday, July 10
Open House: 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Hearing: 6 - 8 p.m.
NJ Convention and Exposition Center
97 Sunfield Avenue, Edison, NJ
Clean Ocean Action is also hosting a “citizens' hearing"—open to all—the next day, on July 11:
Thursday, July 11
Rally Against LNG: 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Hearing: 6 - 8 p.m.
Sea Bright, NJ, Public Beach
“Residents of the entire region have grave concerns over this proposed LNG port that could easily be converted to facilitate gas exports instead of imports. This likely conversion would increase demand throughout the Northeast for dangerous pipelines and fracking, and disrupt families' lives for hundreds of miles,” said Emily Wurth, water program director at Food & Water Watch. “Residents of many states deserve numerous public hearings to voice their concerns about this ill-advised plan.”
“We are affirming the request for additional public hearings and an extension for the public comment period for the 'Port Ambrose' project in the interest of the general public’s health, safety and the rights of the public to comment on this application; this port is a threat to the ocean, marine life, and ecosystems that sustain us all,” said Suzanne Golas, a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace and director of WATERSPIRIT. “As the Maritime Administration is charged with ‘meeting the country’s maritime commercial mobility while supporting the national security and protecting the environment,’ we find this request for additional public hearings and an extension for the public comment period clearly within the scope of the Maritime Administration’s responsibility to ensure comprehensive and adequate input from the general public while reviewing this application.”
Yesterday, Pennsylvania legislators passed a hydraulic fracturing (fracking) bill that will further limit environmental protections, lower drilling fees, handcuff local governments' zoning power for gas development and undermine public health.
Today, SB 246—a bill to ban hydraulic fracturing in New Jersey—goes before the New Jersey Senate Environment and Energy Committee.
Estimates peg the value of natural gas reserves buried within the Marcellus Shale underneath Pennsylvania and some of the state's immediate neighbors as high as one trillion dollars. With that kind of money at stake, the mostly unregulated extraction process called fracking that's necessary to unleash the gas has become the nation's most polarizing environmental and energy issue.
Look no further than the neighboring states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Fracking was brought to national attention back in 2008 through a sequence of mishaps involving gas wells set up by Cabot Oil and Gas in the small town of Dimock, Pa. In the winter of 2008, metals and methane linked to Cabot's wells were found in many area homes' drinking water. In 2009, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released a document citing dozens of infractions, including well-construction problems, diesel spills and fracking fluid spills. In September 2009, an estimated 8,000 gallons of fracturing fluid—manufactured by Halliburton—discharged into Stevens Creek and nearby wetlands.
Three years later, residents of Dimock are still fighting for their right to clean water and still reliant upon organizations such as the EPA to deliver fresh drinking water—a responsibility Cabot Oil and Gas is now absolved from. By now, most people are familiar with the infamous images of flammable water pouring from their taps. To see a video, click here.
And that is only the beginning.
Even so, in a move that blatantly disregards the health and welfare of Pennsylvania citizens, Feb. 8 was a landmark day in Pennsylvania as the Pennsylvania Legislature—led by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett—passed a bill to institute an impact fee on Marcellus gas wells and limit the ability of municipalities to restrict gas drilling. In a mostly party-line split, the Republican-led House pushed the bill through on a vote of 101-90.
Next door, New Jersey citizens stand on the brink of banning fracking within state lines entirely as consideration of Senate Bill 246 goes before the New Jersey Senate Environment and Energy Committee on Feb. 9. New Jersey currently has placed a moratorium on fracking until January 2013.
Despite opposition from Republican Gov. Chris Christie and the American Petroleum Institute, SB 246 has garnered overwhelming public support with the help of Sens. Robert Gordon (D-38th District), Linda Greenstein (D-14th District) and Christopher Bateman (R-16th District).
While citizens of New Jersey are poised to celebrate, residents of Pennsylvania are witnessing just how powerful the oil and gas industry's lobbying arm really is.
According to MarcellusMoney.org, the drilling industry has contributed more than $3 million in political contributions to Pennsylvania lawmakers since 2001 and spent an additional $5 million in the capitol of Harrisburg in the past three years. Unfortunately, the money spent was vindicated yesterday.
The fight isn't over in New Jersey. Click here for more information on how you can reach out to New Jersey lawmakers today.
To learn more about fracking, visit EcoWatch's Fracking page for all the latest information—nationally and internationally.
Fueled by massive opposition to fracking, demonstrated by a recent 1,000 person rally outside of the New Jersey State House, the Assembly Environment Committee passed A-4231 [Connie Wagner (D-Bergen), Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer)], a bill that would ban the importation of fracking wastewater into New Jersey for transport or processing. This legislation aims to protect New Jersey residents from the residual impacts of fracking in Pennsylvania and other states.
Pennsylvania resident Shannon Pendelton testified about contamination of Neshaminy Creek as a result of approximately 40,0000 gallons of fracking wastewater being discharged into a local waterway after it was processed at a treatment facility. Neshaminy Creek provides drinking water to 17 municipalities with more than 300,000 residents.
“Our home in Pennsylvania is 3-plus hours away from the nearest fracking wells, yet our municipal water was exposed repeatedly to contaminated fracking wastewater that was being trucked into our community without any public knowledge," said Pendleton. We hope our misfortune will help other states and communities prohibit fracking to prevent contaminated wastewater from entering their drinking water. Please don’t expose New Jersey to this threat.”
It is difficult if not impossible to know which chemicals are present in fracking wastewater because federal law allows fracking companies to withhold the chemical composition as trade secrets. There are also concerns that radioactive elements in the Earth's crust such as radium, radon and barium are picked up by the fracking fluid underground and are present in the wastewater, increasing the risk of serious contamination. Beyond these toxins, fracking waste also contains high amounts of salts, which can be costly to remove, can adversely impact wildlife and harm public health.
“Every load of fracking wastewater contains a different toxic mix, making it nearly impossible for treatment facilities to verify that adequate treatment has taken place before being discharged into waterways,” said Jim Walsh of Food & Water Watch. “If a fracking wastewater truck has an accident, hazmat teams will not know how to handle waste that could be spilling onto our roads and into New Jersey waterways.”
In December, the New Jersey Legislature will have an opportunity to vote on this bill and other legislation that was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie that would have banned the practice of fracking in New Jersey.
“In the face of massive public opposition, Gov. Christie has been stonewalling efforts to protect the public from the very real dangers of fracking. By overriding the Governor’s veto and passing this wastewater legislation, the legislature can show leadership where the Governor has failed to do so,” said Walsh.
For more information, click here.
Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.