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New liquid gas port proposed for Long Island coast, bashed by Queens elected officials

Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder

A proposal to build a massive natural gas terminal, called Port Ambrose, just 17 miles off the southern shore of Long Island was met by angry opposition from hundreds of residents from Queens and surrounding counties last week during a public hearing near Kennedy Airport.

“Our families in southern Queens and Rockaway have been devastated by Superstorm Sandy and have seen first-hand what torturing our environment can do to us if we don’t take the proper precautions for the future,” Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder said. “Approving Port Ambrose and bringing dangerous liquefied natural gas to our communities is simply unacceptable.”

The facility, proposed by Liberty Natural Gas, would create a deep water terminal where liquefied natural gas would be imported by supertankers. The new site would receive the shipments, vaporize the gas, and deliver it through underwater pipelines to the coast with a capacity of about 400 million cubic feet of gas a day, according to a report in Capital New York.

The facility would be approximately 17 nautical miles away from Jones Beach and 28 nautical miles from Sandy Hook in New Jersey.

Photo courtesy of Liberty Natural Gas
Photo courtesy of Liberty Natural Gas

Liberty Natural Gas believes that the recent Environmental Impact Study released on the project is a good step forward for them and will help them continue on with the project.

“We are confident that once all the facts about the minimal impacts and many benefits that Port Ambrose will bring to the New York region become known, the public will support the project,” said Roger Whelan, chief executive officer at the company. “We are proud to already have the support of both business and labor leaders, fishermen, as well as others across the region.”

He also went on to say that if the new port is built, it will lead to “800 good paying jobs, investment of $90 million in the local economy and will help to reduce and stabilize energy prices for New York consumers during peak winter and summer months.”

According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commision, LNG facilities can be used to both import and export natural gas — leading some critics to say it would only encourage the use of fracking to produce domestic gas supplies for export. The port could also be used to store gas that could be tapped for periods of peak usage.

Photo courtesy of Liberty Natural Gas
Photo courtesy of Liberty Natural Gas

The public hearing was held in Jamaica, near Kennedy Airport, on Jan. 7. More than 500 people showed up, according to Capital New York. It was one of two public hearings on the proposal held by the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Maritime Administration, the federal agencies tasked with reviewing the potential environmental and community impacts posed by the project.

The federal government has extended the comment period on the proposal from 60 to 90 days, according to Capital New York. After this and another comment period, which will take place later this year, Gov. Cuomo will have the option to veto the project. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey will also have an option to veto.

Goldfeder, along with other elected officials voiced their concern about safety risks posed to residents on the coast by the presence of the deep-water gas port and the “highly combustible liquefied natural gas it would store.”

“The bottom line is that LNG is unsafe,” concluded Goldfeder. “It’s unsafe for the ocean, it’s unsafe for environment, and, quite frankly, it’s unsafe for the tens of thousands of families in southern Queens and Rockaway.”

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