Face Facts: Broadwater's Environmental Impact Statement Needs to Be Done Over
What other conclusion can one come to after reading the written submissions by responsible government agencies and scientists (click here and then enter "Broadwater" in the 'text search' box, near the bottom)? The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, and the Connecticut LNG Task Force all make compelling arguments that there’s simply not enough information, and the analysis is not rigorous enough, in the draft environmental impact statement, to decide whether the environmental impacts of the project outweigh the benefits. A supplemental impact statement is needed, without question. Here, for example, is what the National Marine Fisheries Service says:
NMFS notes the proposed safety zones that would be established around the FSRU [shorthand for the LNG terminal] and any tankers coming to deliver LNG would at least temporarily exclude traditional commercial and recreational uses of LIS. Commercial and recreational vessels would be prohibited from entering the permanent safety zone surrounding the FSRU and in the moving envelope surrounding approaching tankers. NMFS believes the safety zones are likely to displace commercial and recreational fishermen, particularly those operating in the eastern basin of LIS that rely on trawling or use of fixed gear. This displacement has the potential to create an economic and social hardship for a number of fishermen. While the eastern basin and its offshore approaches would not be subjected to the permanent closure contemplated around the FSRU, lobstermen and other fishermen effectively would have to cease operations and move away to avoid a safety zone whenever a LNG tanker approached. As indicated in the DEIS, LNG deliveries would occur on a very regular basis. This could disrupt some fishing operations to the point that they could no longer effectively tend their gear. The DEIS does not adequately assess the loss of access and economic impacts on commercial and recreational fisheries, particularly in the eastern basin and its approach. Similarly, the collateral losses that would accrue in both Connecticut and New York should recreational boating access become disrupted for the life of this project should be evaluated.
Keep in mind that the National Marine Fisheries Service is not composed of a bunch of crazy environmentalists. It’s a branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and when it says that legitimate commerce might be disrupted, it’s worth listening to, particularly because Broadwater seems to have abandoned its argument that the LNG terminal will have no environmental impact in favor of an argument that it’s worth proceeding with the project because it will save consumers money, namely $400 a year. See this New London Day story, for example.
But what kind of a tradeoff is that? The project will damage the Sound and it will damage a part of the Sound’s economy, but it will save us $400 a year.
Who is convinced by that?