YWC!LI Opposes the LNG ISLAND known as Safe Harbor Energy
Atlantic Sea Island Group’s “Safe Harbor Energy” project is a proposal to build a 60-acre island 13.5 miles off the shores of Long Beach and 23 miles outside the entrance to New York Harbor.. This island will encompass 116 acres of the ocean’s floor on the Cholera Bank and will be constructed upward in a pyramid-like landmass in approximately 60-70 feet deep federal waters. It will sit approximately 30 feet above sea level.
The purpose of this island is to serve as a depot for imported liquefied natural gas (LNG). The process involves liquefying natural gas so that 600 times the amount of gas can be shipped in tankers to this island depot. The LNG will be re-gasified and then piped 12.8 miles to an existing pipe that is already bringing natural gas from New Jersey to Long Island at Long Beach. The pipeline will need to be laid 12.8 miles four feet below the ocean’s floor to reach the existing pipeline.
This is the first of three proposals for LNG terminals being sought for this region of our eastern coastline. Currently, there are no LNG islands in the United States. Approval or rejection of this project lies solely at the discretion of the New York and New Jersey governors. An environmental impact study is currently underway.
HOW THE LNG ISLAND WILL AFFECT
LONG ISLAND, OUR COUNTRY AND THE PLANET
YWC!LI opposes the Atlantic Sea Island Group’s proposal for their Liquid Natural Gas Terminal because it would mean
1. INCREASING OUR DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN FUEL SOURCES:
- The existing pipeline is already used at its capacity. Bringing in another pipeline to meet the existing one will not bring in more natural gas, but will displace domestic natural gas with foreign gas.
- Russia and the Middle East together own two thirds of the world’s natural gas reserves. Russia is the world’s largest natural gas producer. Qatar is the world’s largest exporter of LNG. Asian and European buyers currently dominate the LNG market, a market that tends to be priced according to formulas based on oil prices. (LIPA Draft Electric Resource Plan 2009-2018, Section 5, page 24). (http://www.lipower.org/pdfs/company/projects/energyplan09/energyplan09-a.pdf)
- Importing LNG is not a necessity since the US has its own abundant supply of natural gas. 97% of what the U.S. needs comes from North American sources. 86% is produced by the U.S. itself; 11% comes from Canada. The remainder is predominantly from Egypt and Trinidad. This imported LNG accounts for only 3% of the U.S.’s natural gas supply and is expected to drop even further as new sources become readily available and more pipelines are developed. (Clean Ocean Action Special Report, Sept. 2008, Section II, pp. 3-5, Section VI, p.28). (See www.cleanoceanaction.org)
(Click on Issues and Campaigns, Offshore Energy, Liquefied Natural Gas, Special Report on LNG, Full Document.)
- There still remain vast areas of untapped natural gas in the U.S. For example, the Marcellus Shale formation, a vast underground layer of rock that stretches from New York to Ohio and West Virginia, is estimated to contain 50 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas.
(Barron’s, “A Million Acres of Pay dirt?” June 15, 2009, p. 25)
- According to the LIPA Draft Electric Resource Plan 2009-2018, the Marcellus Shale is particularly valuable to the Northeast and especially to the New York metro area for significantly increased natural gas
supplies, as well as substantially reduced prices (Section 5, p. 22).
This abundance of North American shale gas make it “unlikely that LNG will be a significant contributor to U.S. gas supply for some time.” (Section 5, p.24).
- Maintaining our independence also means keeping prices down and profits here. According to the LIPA Draft Electric Resource Plan 2009-2018, the U.S.’s ample supply should keep natural gas prices below oil prices “for the foreseeable future.” LNG imports actually declined in 2008, because of greater U.S. gas production and lower U.S. gas prices. (Section 5, p. 24). In fact, the U.S. already exports natural gas through pipelines to Canada and Mexico and, in the form of LNG, to Japan, as well, (Clean Ocean Action Report, Section II, p. 9.)
(See also Energy Information Administration statistics from the U.S. Department of Energy at http://www.eia.doe.gov).
- Because of new technology and the new sources of recoverable natural gas, as reported in Investor’s Business Daily (“Robust Market for Natural Gas…,” Aug. 11, 2009, p.1), it is estimated that “the U.S. now has a 100- year supply of the fuel,” an abundance that should guarantee keeping natural gas prices down. Interest in investing in domestic natural gas production, despite the depressed pricing, is stimulated by the tax advantages offered to businesses involved in the processing, transportation and storage of the fuel.
2. PLACING OUR NATIONAL SECURITY AT RISK:
- Importing LNG from countries such as Russia, Iran and Indonesia will create a world alliance among countries that import/export natural gas – similar to OPEC. Adverse business dealings with these countries may put our country’s security at risk. Countries such as Russia and Iran often use energy in power struggles, threatening nuclear weapons against the United States and Middle Eastern alliances or seizing land in regions that produce natural gas
3. ADDING MORE POLLUTION TO THE ENVIRONMENT AND
INCREASING THE DAMAGE OF GLOBAL WARMING:
- The energy used to convert natural gas to LNG by cooling it to minus 259 degrees F, to ship it overseas, and then to re-gasify it adds at least 20% more CO2 emissions than using domestic natural gas.
(Clean Ocean Action Special Report, Sept. 2008, Section IX, p. 37.)
4. UNDERMINING THE DEVELOPMENT OF SUSTAINABLE ENERGY SOURCES:
- Wind and solar energy research and development, for example, will likely be considered less critical, less urgent, less necessary.
5. DESTROYING THE ECOSYSTEM OF CHOLERA BANK:
- The Safe Harbor island will be anchored over Cholera Bank, part of the largest natural rock-bottom formation off the coast of New York/New Jersey. The hard bottom that forms the Cholera Bank is a rare formation along the south shore of Long Island. Most of the ocean floor in this region is comprised of sand, silt or mud. Therefore, this hard bottom area has a disproportionately high importance as the natural habitat and spawning ground for large numbers and numerous varieties of marine life.
- Also impacted are the recreational and commercial fishermen, who depend on the Cholera Bank for its vastly abundant source of fish. The loss of the Cholera Bank will represent a particular hardship because of the scarcity of other hard-bottom locations in the area.
(Document—“CCANY Policy – Natural Gas Plant Proposal Reaction,” February 9, 2009, submitted by Coastal Conservation Association New York to Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C.)
(See www.ccany.org/news/natgas-plant.shtml )
- The proposal for the Safe Harbor Energy Terminal shows that while the island itself measures approximately 60.6 acres on the surface of the ocean, the base of the structure covers approximately 116 acres on the ocean floor. It will be built something like a pyramid, extending from the ocean surface down to the ocean floor, filled in with sand and stone.
Safe Harbor Energy Terminal will effectively destroy the valuable Cholera Bank ecosystem it covers on the ocean floor.
6. SETTING A PRECEDENT FOR FUTURE NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY COASTAL LNG TERMINAL PROPOSALS:
- Already in line for approval are the proposals for Excalibur Energy’s “Liberty Natural Gas” Terminal and Exxon’s “Blue Ocean Energy” Terminal.