Plan for gas terminal off NJ, NY shores is revived

Firm revives plan for offshore gas terminal near NJ, NY coasts; Christie vetoed similar plan

Associated Press

A company that withdrew its plan to build a liquefied natural gas terminal off the New Jersey and New York shorelines has revived the project.

Liberty Natural Gas has applied to federal authorities for permission to build a port in the ocean 17 miles off Jones Beach, N.Y., and 24 miles off Long Branch, N.J. Notice of the application to the Maritime Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard was published Friday in the Federal Register.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the plan in 2011, saying it was too risky to the state's crucial tourism and fishing industries. The company withdrew the application but said it would move forward with a new one. The new proposal is called Port Ambrose.

"This is a bad science fiction movie," said Cindy Zipf, executive director of the Clean Ocean Action environmental group. "The Liberty Natural Gas tanker project was dead; Governor Christie vetoed this proposal in 2011. Liberty has crawled out of the grave to violate our ocean, citizens and shore economies at a time when New Jersey and New York are focused on restoring our shore from Superstorm Sandy.

"Liberty Natural Gas is trying to take advantage of our weakened state to jam this project through. It's hard to image a more deplorable corporate tactic. We may be down, but we will fight."

Zipf said the area where the project would go was right in the middle of some of Sandy's most violent waves during the Oct. 29 storm.

"There was a buoy out there and it clocked something like 30-foot waves," she said.

Roger Whelan, Liberty's CEO, said in a statement that the project will use "environmentally friendly, state-of-the-art gas transport and processing technologies identical to those already in use offshore Boston and approved for use offshore Tampa, Fla."

The company says the plan was changed to connect to an existing pipeline, avoids sensitive ecological areas, and has been scaled down from four buoys to two.

It also said the import-only facility would be built to withstand hurricane conditions, but also have the ability to disconnect from its buoy and pipeline and head out to sea to avoid a major storm.

Liberty said it will create 600 construction or long-term operational jobs, and increase the supply of natural gas to the region, particularly in peak winter and summer months.

Liquefied natural gas would be shipped to the site in vessels capable of converting it back into gas form. They would connect to the facility of submerged buoys and transfer the gas into an existing 22-mile long pipeline serving Long Island and New York City.

But environmentalists say it's the same plan nudged slightly away from its original location.

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Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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