LNG proponent banks on 'innocent passage'Published Saturday June 6th, 2009
ST. STEPHEN - Canada will allow liquefied natural gas tankers through Head Harbour Passage, Downeast LNG founder and president Dean Girdis is predicting.
Opponents of three proposals to build LNG terminals on the Maine side of Passamaquoddy Bay take heart from the Canadian government's stance that it will not allow tankers through the strait between Deer Island and Campobello Island.
However, Canada has no legal grounds to stop "innocent passage" by commercial shipping and will, in the end, co-operate with the United States Coast Guard to get LNG tankers safely through Canadian territorial waters into the bay, Girdis said.
"Assuming there's no major impact identified €¦ I don't believe the Canadian government will stand in the way," he said.
Foes say that Canadian opposition will stop the LNG projects even as they move toward American regulatory approval.
Girdis relies on the opinion of Prof. Ted McDorman of the University of Victoria, who concludes that a right of innocent passage exists through this strait regardless of the cargo the vessel carries.
Robert Godfrey of Eastport, Maine, researcher and webmaster with Save Passamaquoddy Bay Three Nation Alliance, says the United States cannot make a legal claim for innocent passage until it ratifies the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
"It's just posturing," he said, referring to Girdis' statements. Godfrey does not believe his nation and Canada will go to war over LNG tankers in Head Harbour Passage. Neither does Girdis, but he sees a different outcome than Godfrey.
While Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson, MP for New Brunswick Southwest, says Canada will not bend, Girdis says it will.