The Environment

Liquid natural gas hearing turns heated

Dozens decry proposed port for LNG


A private company controlled by a multi-billion-dollar Canadian hedge fund is seeking approval to build a liquefied natural gas station in the Atlantic Ocean 17 nautical miles southeast of Jones Beach. If built, a pipeline extending from the station would have to hook up to an existing pipeline 2.2 miles south of Atlantic Beach.

Hundreds of people attended a meeting at the Allegria Hotel on Tuesday. Roughly 40 people spoke, most of whom opposed the project. Many in the audience cheered when the project’s detractors made critical points, and jeered at times when its few supporters spoke.

The proposed station, Port Ambrose, is similar in many respects to one the same company, Liberty Natural Gas LLC, sought permission in 2010 to build 16 miles off the coast of New Jersey, before New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the project. Both Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have veto power over the current proposal, though their representatives said that Liberty’s application had not yet made it to their desks.

Eunice Huang, a spokeswoman for Cuomo, said that the governor’s office is monitoring Liberty’s application, but otherwise did not yet have a comment on it.

Larry Ragonese, press director for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said that Christie’s opinion about Port Ambrose has not changed since he vetoed the proposal in 2011. “What he said on the record at the time hasn’t changed,” Ragonese said. “We haven’t had a change of heart.”

Christie’s veto letter stated that the project “would present unacceptable and substantial risks to [New Jersey’s] residents, natural resources, economy and security.”

Liberty’s lack of transparency over the Port Ambrose project was one of many complaints that dozens of speakers made at the hearing. It was one of two public hearings announced in a legal notice about Liberty’s application published in the Federal Register on June 24. The second was to take place on Wednesday in Edison, N.J., after press time.

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