Monday, October 23, 2006

Joe Lieberman, Friend of Broadwater?

Was a vote for the federal energy bill earlier this year a vote for the Broadwater liquefied natural gas terminal? Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has joined Ned Lamont and Bobby Kennedy Jr. in saying, yes, it was. Blumenthal said it and tried to stay out of the Lamont Joe Lieberman Senate race, but Kennedy and Lamont assert that the vote shows the Joe is a friend of Broadwater.

The Lieberman campaign’s spokeswoman, Tammy Sun, continues to say that the energy bill gives the states the final say on energy projects. It should be noted that she is absolutely the only one to say that.

Everyone else says the bill clearly sends appeal of state decisions to the federal government and the federal courts.

Just as I think there are reasons above and beyond the Foley scandal that Republicans should lose control of Congress next month, there are reasons above and beyond Broadwater and the energy bill that Lieberman should lose next month. But the truth is, it doesn’t matter to me why they lose, as long as they do.

2 Comments:

Blogger Nancy Swett said...

So what's the answer, do you know? Who gets final say?

9:05 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

My understanding was that under Pat Wood, former energy secretary, FERC was given the power to "fast track" LNG permits because of prolonged bottlenecks in the application process. All the sudden you saw maps of the US coastline with about 200 applications, in various degrees of approval (e.g., Freeport TX approved, Broadwater - application on file).

This gave most of the power to FERC but it did have to consult with sister agencies such as EPA, Homeland Security, Fish and Wildlife, and so forth.

Now here's where it gets complicated. Agencies like EPA and such are required to consult with the states, such as under the Clean Air Act (general conformity) and Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA).

For example, if a project was over 25 tons a year of oxides of nitrogen emitted into the air, such as from heater boilers, diesel engines, and ship motors, the project would trigger General Conformity and require further review. In theory this would bring in the states.

But under "regulatory flexibility" the technical provisions of Conformity were watered down. In other words, one could drive a proverbial Mack Truck right through the process. To appeal any approval, like other protests of federal actions, would require going to Federal Appeals Court.

States rarely do this because of its great expense and pro-business attitute. Thus the question is mixed at best. If a provision of the application violated part of an approved State Plan, such as for Conformity or CZMA, the states would wn the day. For more practical reasons, however, the Fed controls the entire process and can do exactly what it wants.

In fact, one could make a case that environmental rganizations like Blue Water Action (sp) bring more litigation power to the issue than the states ever would.
/Sam

11:55 AM  

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