Christie vetoes offshore natural gas project

Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a plan Tuesday for a project 16 miles off the coast of Asbury Park to receive vessels transporting liquid natural gas into the United States.

The decision will prevent Liberty Natural Gas from conducting so-called “regassification” of liquid natural gas for transport onshore.

The project also envisioned  construction of a 9.2-mile onshore pipeline from Linden to Perth Amboy, and 44 miles of submerged pipeline designed to transport up to 2.4 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas from the deepwater port to shore. 

In a release, Christie said, “”Offshore LNG poses unacceptable risks to the State’s residents, natural resources, economy and security.  We must ensure that our 126 miles of shoreline remain an economic driver for tourism and that our fishing and shellfish industries remain healthy and productive now and for future generations.”

As envisioned by the company, the project would have carriers deliver liquid natural gas, convert it on-board into natural gas, and then deliver it via a submerged pipeline to a new pipeline at Perth Amboy.

The gas would then be delivered to systems serving New Jersey and New York. The company stated the project would not have required port structures, would not interfere with marine life, and would not be located near high-volume fishing locations.

Roger Whelan, president of Liberty Natural Gas, said Tuesday afternoon that their proposed project is just at the beginning of a lengthy process of public hearings and discussions that may last more than a year and a half.

He said that they have been sensitive to environmental concerns, and have stated their intent to construct an artificial reef.

“It’s unusual for a (veto) letter of this type to be issued so early in the process,’’ Whelan said. “Clearly, it is a strong marker to us that we have our work cut out for us.”

Jeff Tittel, N.J. Sierra Club chapter director, applauded the governor’s decision, saying the offshore project would undercut development of renewable energy.

“We think this is the wrong project in the wrong place,’’ Tittel said. “We have enough natural gas that we don’t need to bring in any imports.”

Assemblyman John McKeon (D-27) of Essex also cheered the decision.

McKeon, lead sponsor of an Assembly resolution opposing the project, said, “This is a monumental victory for our residents, marine life and all of our natural resources. The potential environmental hazards that could be unleashed by a project of this magnitude would be nothing short of cataclysmic.”

The U.S. Coast Guard and Maritime Administration is still scheduled to hold a series of public hearings into the project Tuesday through Thursday at several locations in New Jersey and New York. 

Christie vetoes offshore natural gas project