Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Friday, March 27, 2009

Broadwater Appeal Decision is About Three Weeks Away and I'm Not That Worried Although Some Political Pressure Wouldn't Be a Bad Idea

"Multiple" anonymous sources told the Long Island Business News the other day that there was a good chance the feds will overturn New York decision to reject Broadwater's proposal to put a liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound. The deadline for a decision is April 15.

The New London Day reports (here) that the Broadwater suits are making the rounds of newspaper editorial boards and "displayed a disconcerting air of confidence during their visit" to New London. There's also a news story about the visit here.

Make of this what you will. I don't put much credence in the Business News story -- "multiple" sources might mean two people, and since we don't know who they are it's hard to say if we should believe them. Part of the evidence for the conjecture is that the Commerce Department is questioning New York State officials, wanting to know why they rejected Broadwater if FERC and the Coast Guard said it would be safe.

Asking questions means nothing, of course; it would be odd if no questions were asked. On the other hand, the state's extensive reasoning for rejecting Broadwater had nothing to do with safety. Here's what the state said:

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.If the feds wanted to know why New York rejected Broadwater, all they'd have to do was read the decision, which I'm sure they did. From that point of view, the Business News story makes little sense.

Of course the Business News story could be nonsense and still be right. The feds have to say yes or no, so there's a 50-50 chance that they could overturn New York's decision.

I also think the disconcerting air of confidence on the part of the Broadwater people means little. It's an act. I don't think word has gotten out to them that they're going to win; if it had, it would have gotten out to others, including environmentalists and officials in New York and Connecticut, and we would have been an eruption of conern by now.

Still, it might not be a bad idea to get some political pressure applied in the right places. Christopher Dodd, Chuck Schumer, Rosa DeLauro, Tim Bishop -- someone ought to be urging those folks to make a couple of phone calls.

12:35 p.m. -- David Reich-Hale, the reporter who wrote yesterday's Long Island Business News story, is now saying this, on his blog:

Yesterday, LIBN reported that many business leaders and high-ranking government officials believed the Department of Commerce would reverse Gov. Paterson’s rejection of the Shell Oil/TransCanada LNG.

It's possible that he spoke to many business leaders and high-ranking government officials, but that's not what he reported yesterday. Read it again (here) and you'll see he says next to nothing about who his "multiple" sources are. He said two of them had "strong connections to the state and federal government" and one had "no ties to Shell but with plenty of ties to officials in DC and Albany" (it sounds to me like there are only two sources there).

The only reason I care, by the way, is that he's asking us to believe him but offering very few reasons to actually do so, beyond "I said so."


Friday, March 20, 2009

Thimble Dolphins

Apparently there have been dolphins near the Thimble Islands lately, according to this post in a Shore Publishing blog. The photo was snapped by Mike Infantino, captain of the Sea Mist.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Farmer in Chief?

Can we credit the decision by the Obamas to plant a vegetable garden at the White House to Michael Pollan's Times piece in October, called "Farmer in Chief"? I say yes, and I say it's good news.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

No Bats

Our experience with bats hasn't been uniformly wonderful (see here and here for details) but we love to see them flying back and forth above our deck when we're eating outside on warm summer evenings. The news then that 90 percent of the region's bats may have died over the winter is a real bummer.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Looking for Alewives

This email I received the other day is mainly about the South Shore of Long Island but, if I had time and it was closer, it would make for interesting volunteer work:

"Volunteers are needed to participate in an observational survey of alewife (a.k.a. river herring) spawning migrations in the rivers and creeks of Long Island. 

"Fishes that split their life cycle between marine and freshwater ecosystems provide many important economic and ecological benefits. Many of these `diadromous' species are fishing targets, either as food fish, baitfish, or sport fish. Perhaps more importantly, many are key forage fish, feeding larger predators further up the food chain such as striped bass, bluefish, ospreys, and marine mammals. Among the most common of these species is the alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus), a species of herring native to our region. Alewives, like all diadromous species, are threatened by impacts to freshwater habitats, including blockage of migratory pathways, habitat degradation, and declining water quality.

"Little is known about the current status of alewife spawning runs in the creeks and rivers on Long Island and collectively provide a vast area of critical spawning, feeding and nursery habitats. Documenting these spawning runs is an important step in understanding diadromous fish habitat use, and for guiding future projects to restore their populations on Long Island. This study was initiated in 2006 in the South Shore Estuary Reserve and we are looking to expand our coverage area this year to include tributaries to Long Island Sound. 

"The South Shore Estuary Reserve and Seatuck Environmental Association are seeking volunteers to watch for alewives during their upcoming spawning season, April 1 to May 31. Individuals from observer teams will take turns looking for alewives for just 15 minutes a day in a river or stream near them. Volunteer training workshops will be held on March 17th and March 22nd. 

More information on the survey and links to past reports can be found on the South Shore Estuary Reserve Website (http://www.estuary.cog.ny.us/council-priorities/living-resources/alewife_survey/alewife_survey.htm )

"Interested in helping? 


Brian Kelder

Fisheries Scientist

Environmental Defense Fund Puleston Fellow 

Seatuck Environmental Association
Phone: 631.626.1269

Email: bkelder@seatuck.org 

Conecticut, by the way, had helped build 44 passageways on blocked rivers for alewives and blueback herring. The most successful seems to be on the Mianus River, where Greenwich has been getting counts of upwards of 90,000 fish climbing their ladder.

I've never seen alewives referred to as diadromous rather than anadromous, by the way, as Mr. Kelderdid in his email.

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Sound Summit Predicts a Long, Hard Effort to Clean Up the Sound

There's a good, short summary of yesterday's Long Island Sound Citizens Summit, which was in Bridgeport (I couldn't make it, unfortunately), in the Hartford Courant.

In short, the situation facing the Sound is both daunting and ongoing, sort of like the rest of our problems now. Here's the first paragraph:

In the long term, protecting Long Island Sound will take lots of money, more low-impact housing, mass transit systems, effective sewage treatment facilities and individual efforts, such as installing rain barrels to collect runoff from home roofs.

And then there's this, from Senator Christopher Dodd:

"This is not a battle that's ever permanently won," Dodd said.

The truth of what Dodd said is that it was true 10 years ago and 20 years ago and 30 years ago and on and on.


Monday, March 02, 2009

The Feds Will Have to Decide on Broadwater's Appeal Soon

When Gov. David Paterson and the New York Department of State released their comprehensive and highly rational decision last April to deny Broadwater its permit to build a big LNG facility in Long Island Sound, it set off a timetable for the U.S. Department of Commerce to either agree or disagree (here's a post about last year's decision and there's more if you scroll through my posts of April 2008).

As Newsday reports, here, the deadline is approaching. As I wrote here, I don't think there's much chance of the decision being overturned, but you never know. I also wrote here that even if Commerce overturned the decision, New York still had the right to say no, although I have to admit I might have been speculating a little.


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