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Mayor objects to Maine LNG terminals
Published Thursday April 15th, 2010
ST. ANDREWS - Maine should treat its neighbour better, St. Andrews Mayor John Craig says in a letter to state Gov. John Baldacci.
St. Andrews Mayor John Craig says local emergency services don't have the resources to respond to an LNG accident.
The mayor wrote to the governor this week to stress the town's opposition to proposed liquefied natural gas terminals on the Maine side of Passamaquoddy Bay. The tankers supplying the terminals would have to pass through the Canadian waters of Head Harbour Passage - between Deer Island and Campobello Island - placing undue responsibility on local emergency services, Craig said.
"As they have told us, the LNG proponents have no legal responsibility for the supply of emergency services in the event of an accident," the mayor said in the letter.
"The emergency services in this area of New Brunswick have neither the resources nor the training to even begin to respond to an LNG incident. To consider imposing this risk on those who cannot protect themselves is not the right way to be a good neighbour."
Craig wrote the letter as a result of Baldacci's Jan. 29 letter urging the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to expedite the approval process for the Downeast LNG project - one of two remaining proposals for LNG terminals in Washington County, Maine.
To Craig, this breaks a promise by the governor not to intervene in the approval process for the Downeast LNG and Calais LNG proposals.
Craig, running as an independent candidate in the Sept. 27 provincial election, challenges the governor's statement that he speaks on behalf of the people of Maine on the LNG issue.
"There are a lot of people in Maine who are not in favour of it," Craig said in an interview.
"He's broken his word that he would personally stay out of the process," Craig said in the interview. Baldacci "doesn't speak for everyone in Maine," he said.
The FERC appears to be delaying approval of Downeast LNG's application due to concern that the United States Department of Transportation's regulations concerning modelling of LNG spills might no longer be appropriate, Baldacci said in his letter.
The governor demands the same treatment for Downeast LNG as the commission gave to a project in Oregon, issuing a final environmental impact statement despite the modelling concerns.
The proponents continue to push the Maine proposals through the American regulatory process despite the stance by the Canadian government that it will not allow LNG tankers to traverse Head Harbour Passage.
Proponents argue that international shipping has the right of innocent passage through this Canadian passage to reach American shores.
Supporters of the American projects accuse Canada of using environmental concerns to prevent competition to the LNG terminal in Saint John.
Craig, like other opponents on both sides of the border, doesn't buy this.
"This type of development in the proposed locations will have a significant negative impact on the fishery, aquaculture and tourism which are the economic basis for our town," his letter states.
"We are a resort town, not unlike Camden, Rockport or Kennebunkport. The attraction of this town to summer residents and tourists depends on the natural environment and a feeling of safety and security.
"The safety and security of the citizens of Saint Andrews, Charlotte County and the Province of New Brunswick would be placed in a most precarious position with an LNG development so close to the international border."
Downeast LNG would locate its terminal at Robbinston, directly across from St. Andrews. Calais LNG would locate farther upriver across from the Canadian port of Bayside.
Proponents say the projects provide desperately needed work in a poor region of the United States. Opponents say the projects would threaten more economic activity than they would create.
Media Credit: photo creation by Art MacKay from web sources. Base photo is Bangor Daily News.