What's Next for Broadwater? Nothing. It's Dead, Even If Broadwater Wins An Appeal
Here's what I think is the truth: Broadwater is dead.
Why? Because even if the Broadwater people appeal to the federal government and win, they still need New York State's permission to use the waters of Long Island Sound and the land under the Sound.
We the people of New York State own the land and water on which Shell and TransCanada want to build the Broadwater LNG terminal. New York State, acting on our behalf, has total control over whether it wants to let Broadwater use that water and land.
If Governor David Paterson and the Secretary of State and the staff at the Department of State have determined that Broadwater is not in the best interest of New York, why would they let Broadwater use the Sound and its underwater land, even if the state's decision is reversed on appeal?
New York State's decision, announced yesterday, was based on its authority to oversee activities in the state's coastal zone. The state has that authority because the federal government gave it to the state, through the Coastal Zone Management Act, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce. So if Broadwater wants to overturn New York's decision, the Department of Commerce is the place to go.
Here's how the New York State Department of State describes it:
Unless the U.S. Secretary of Commerce overrides the Department of State (DOS) decision on appeal, pursuant to the CZMA, the decision means that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cannot approve construction of the project in LIS.
The Hartford Courant quoted Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal:
"They have a right to go to the secretary … and say that national energy priorities should override the coastal zone management determination made here by the governor," Blumenthal said.
Let's take the most cynical point of view. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of course has already approved Broadwater's proposal, saying it can go forward if it meets 80 conditions meant to guarantee safety and environmental protection. So let's say the Secretary of Commerce gets Broadwater's appeal and says, essentially, "The people at FERC think this is a worthwhile project and their opinion is good enough for me, so I'm overturning New York State's decision." I don't think that's out of the question at all. (This paragraph is corrected from an earlier version in which I mistakenly asserted that the Secretary of Commerce oversees FERC.)
Broadwater then has to come back to New York and ask for the right to use our land and water (Broadwater also needs permits from the state Department of Environmental Conservation).
Yesterday New York State laid out an articulate and compelling rationale for rejecting Broadwater, based on the following:
1. The Sound is not an industrial park.
2. Broadwater would set a precedent and lead to an unacceptable change in the Sound.
3. Broadwater would occupy public land and water for a private undustrial use.
4. Broadwater would damage the Sound ecologically.Broadwater can appeal New York State's coastal zone determination, and it can win on appeal. All that would mean is that New York State would have to formally issue a permit for use of the coastal zone. It would not force the state to give away our water and our land for a project that the state thinks is bad for New York.
Labels: Broadwater and New York State