Four Connecticut Scientists Tell State Panel that FERC Glossed Over Broadwater's Environmental Impacts
Even scientists can be biased of course but I’ve always listened closely when Ralph Lewis and Lance Stewart had something to say. Yesterday they and two others told the Connecticut task force that is looking into the Broadwater liquefied natural gas issue that the FERC environmental impact statement was poorly researched, reflects a lack of understanding of the Long Island Sound, draws unwarranted conclusions, and is so shallow as to be elementary.
Lewis (retired state geologist) and Stewart (associate professor at UConn's Department of Natural Resources and a commissioner for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council) were joined by Peter Auster (science director for UConn’s National Undersea Research Center) and Roman Zajac (University of New Haven biology professor). Judy Benson of the New London Day seems to have been the only reporter to cover the meeting.
Auster: “This document was poorly researched. The authors glossed over the issues to conclude that it would have minimal impact.”
Lewis, the state geologist, told the committee that the report does not reflect an understanding of the floor of the Sound. He said Broadwater may have to drill much deeper through layers of sediment and clay to reach bedrock than the report anticipates. The drilling would be needed to construct the yoke mooring system that would hold the terminal in place and the 22 miles of pipeline that would connect it to an existing undersea gas line.
Zajac faulted the report for relying on video footage of the portion of the Sound where the terminal would be located. The video footage is unclear and cannot be used to draw conclusions about the marine life throughout the Sound, because different areas of the Sound provide different habitats for different creatures….
He also faulted the report for lack of data to back up many of its statements, and for not addressing issues such as the effect noise from the terminal would have on fish and other creatures.
Stewart called the draft report “the most elementary I've ever seen.” He said he is most concerned about the heat that would be generated by the terminal, because subtle rises in water temperature can have negative impacts on fish, lobsters and other marine creatures. An analysis of that issue was absent from the FERC report, he said.
Public hearings on the EIS have been set for January: Tuesday, January 9th: Mitchell College, New London. Wednesday, January 10th: Smithtown West High School Auditorium (tentative). Thursday, January 11th: Wading River/Shoreham High School. Tuesday, January 16th: Branford High School.
11:15 a.m. update: It turns out that the New Haven Register covered the meeting too. I found the link through the Full Tilt Sailing Team blog, which was new to me until I saw it on Connecticut Weblogs.
12:30 p.m. update: Connecticut Network recorded the hearing. You can find it and watch it here, assuming you have the right software, which I apparently do not. Thanks to Leah Schmalz, who found it and send along the link.