Long Beach Councilwoman Eileen Goggin, a Democrat, said she “approached the project with serious trepidation and concern,” citing worries about how Port Ambrose would affect the environment, the region’s security and economy, people’s health and safety, and the potential for gas explosions and tanker accidents.
Nassau County Legislator Dave Denenberg, a Democrat from Merrick, demanded that more details about Port Ambrose be provided, that the public comment period on the project be extended to 120 days and that more public hearings be held.
State Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, a Democrat, said the majority of his constituents were against Port Ambrose’s construction. State Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder said he opposed the project on a number of grounds.
Ray Ellmer, a former commissioner with Long Beach’s Zoning Board of Appeals, called Port Ambrose a “homeland security issue.”
“These are tankers three and a half [times the size] of football fields … off Long Beach, a residential island,” Ellmer said.
Representatives of several environmental groups, including an attorney for Clean Ocean Action; Cindy Zipf, COA’s executive director; and Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, voiced their opposition to Port Ambrose, whose proposed location overlaps slightly with a planned offshore wind farm that has been under discussion in New York for years. They and others characterized the natural gas that would arrive at Port Ambrose as a dirty, foreign fossil fuel.
Many speakers also said they did not believe Liberty’s promises that Port Ambrose would be used only for natural-gas imports, and they argued that once it is built, Liberty could use it for exports, driving domestic demand for hydrofracking, a burgeoning and controversial form of natural-gas drilling.
“A port is a port, and it’s going to serve the market,” said Bruce Ferguson of Catskills Citizens for Safe Energy. “If there’s no market for imports, it’s going to be used for exports.”
With one exception, the only speakers who expressed support for Port Ambrose identified themselves as officials and members of unions that might be expected to work on the project.