TRENTON – Senators took a stand against a proposed offshore liquefied natural gas proposal Thursday.
While offshore wind power supporters were making their case for alternative energy on the first floor of the Statehouse, on the third floor of the annex at the same time the Senate Environment Committee approved a resolution urging officials to take steps to prevent what they fear would be an environmental risk at no benefit to the economy.
SR120, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Beck, (R-11), Red Bank, urges federal and state officials to prevent the construction of the proposed Port Ambrose deepwater liquefied natural gas terminal off the coast of New Jersey.
As Beck pointed out, they have no jurisdiction as legislators, but are relying on the governors of New Jersey and New York to take a stand.
Gov. Chris Christie has stopped this project once already. He invoked the authority granted to the governors of adjacent coastal states and vetoed the project in 2011.
But now it is back. Liberty Natural Gas LLC has submitted an application to the federal Maritime Administration and to the United States Coast Guard, seeking approval for the construction of a deepwater LNG terminal.
Beck raised the warning cry today.
She said this underwater pipeline would be in excess of 20 miles, chemical wastewater could be dumped into the ocean, and there is no economic need.
“There is a facility up in Boston that has not received an import in three years or more,’’ Beck said. “The construction of this billion-dollar operation really is questionable, as there is no market for it.’’
Nancy Hedinger of the N.J. League of Women Voters pointed out that the proposed site also has been identified as a wind power site, “totally conflicting uses for that area.’’
The proposed port would be constructed in federal waters, 19 miles from the coast of Jones Beach, N.Y., and 24 miles from the coast of Long Branch, and would allow for the delivery of natural gas to the state of New York.
But the port would be near fishing grounds and scallop beds within the New Jersey/New York Clean Ocean Zone, which has unique characteristics that are dependent upon a clean marine environment, Beck’s resolution states.
It would also be near the large Ambrose shipping channel, which provides vessels access to the Port of New York and New Jersey – the busiest shipping port on the East Coast.
The Port Ambrose terminal could hurt the environment of coastal and marine systems, and could dramatically affect shipping patterns, interfere with port traffic, and increase the risk of shipping accidents, according to the resolution.
Beck said that although Port Ambrose may create jobs, reduce energy costs, and increase energy security, it would not provide any benefit to New Jersey. Furthermore, Beck’s resolution says, the project is at odds with the Obama Administration’s goal of promoting increased offshore wind energy production and is also inconsistent with the Christie Administration’s stated position on LNG facilities, which is that they are “not the right answer for New Jersey’s needs.”
“This is an unnecessary, detrimental project for our coastline,’’ Beck said, adding it is not just her district constituents who oppose it but inland residents also have concerns. The measure passed 4-0.