Thursday, April 17, 2008

Commerce Secretary's 2003 Rejection of Gas Pipeline Appeal for Hudson River Doesn't Bode Well For Broadwater

A couple of times in the past, while I was speculating on how the New York Department of State would rule on Broadwater's proposal to put an LNG terminal in Long Island Sound, I cited previous department decisions, specifically rejections of a housing development for Davids Island and of a natural gas pipeline that was to run under the Hudson from Rockland to Westchester County.

I didn't follow that Millennium Pipeline case very closely, but Denise Civiletti went back and found out what happened when Millennium appealed the Department of State's decision to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, as Broadwater now has the right to do.

The precedent isn't good for Broadwater. The Secretary of Commerce rejected Millenium's appeal on grounds that seem as if they'd apply to Broadwater's appeal, and the courts then upheld the secretary's decision. Here's what Civiletti wrote, in the Suffolk Times:

Under federal law, Broadwater has 30 days to appeal to the U.S. secretary of commerce to override N.Y. state's April 10 ruling that the project is inconsistent with the state's coastal zone management policy.

The secretary of commerce, Carlos Gutierrez, can override the state's consistency ruling if he determines that the Broadwater plan is "consistent with the objectives of the CZMA," or if the project is "necessary in the interest of national security."

In 2003, the commerce secretary rejected the consistency appeal of Millennium Pipeline Company, whose plans, like Broadwater's, had been found inconsistent with New York's coastal management policies by the New York secretary of state. The secretary of commerce refused to override the state's determination, ruling that a project is consistent with the objectives of the CZMA only if it furthers the national interest articulated by Congress in a significant way, and if the national interest outweighs the activities' adverse coastal effects, and there is no reasonable alternative available. "A negative finding for any of the three elements will preclude [the] project from being consistent with the objectives of the CZMA," the commerce secretary wrote. In the Millennium case, he found that there was a reasonable alternative to the proposed project. He also refused to allow the project on the grounds of "national security," saying the record must show that "a specific impairment of a national security interest would result if [the] project were not permitted to go forward as proposed." General statements that the project is important to the national interest are not enough, he ruled.

The commerce secretary's Millennium ruling was upheld by the federal district court in Washington, D.C., in 2006.


Blogger Sam said...

Well unless the Executive Office and the POTUS pulls a stunt - and I wouldn't put it past such a lame duck administration - things should work as you say.

But being in the marine planning business, I can say that advanced offshore floating rigs and spars with mooring hookups for tankers is the way to go. It's just more expensive.

Look at what Broadwater wanted - basically a floating barge for a terminal, cheap, which cannot be done offshore in the Atlantic.

The fact was that State waters really messed them up. If they went one foot more than 3 miles off Long Island in the Atlantic they'd be free and clear, in federal waters. They would be building it by now. -sam

10:37 PM  

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