With the fate of a controversial liquefied natural gas terminal off the Jersey coast still undetermined, lawmakers and environmentalists yesterday renewed calls for Gov. Chris Christie to block the project.
The Port Ambrose project -- a slightly modified version of which wasby Christie -- could be decided by the end of the year. Opponents are banking on a veto from the New Jersey governor or from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to kill the proposal.
Developed by Liberty Natural Gas, the U.S. Coast Guard and Maritime Administration put the terminal on hold on earlier this year with a final environmental impact statement expected sometime this month. It will be followed by a final public hearing, probably in mid-November.
If approved, the project would be located more than 28 miles off the Jersey coast and about 18 miles off of Long Beach, NY. The deepwater port would be serviced by LNG tankers that wouldinto a liquid and pump it ashore, primarily to New York City and Long Island markets, according to the company’s website.
The project has spurred wide opposition from many, who argue the region does not need to import natural gas because of vast new supplies of the fuel discovered in Pennsylvania and neighboring states. Critics also say the project will increase dependence on fossil fuels contributing to climate change.
“No new jobs, no new energy revenue, and no new energy resources for the state,’’ said Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth), one of the leading critics of the project in the Legislature. “There’s no demand for this product.’’
Beck and others at a press conference held in Sea Bright, said they were confident that Christie would veto the project, citing the governor’s past veto and repeated opposition to LNG projects off the coast.
“With the stroke of a pen, (he) can put the final nail in the coffin to sink the project,’’ said Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action. Christie has 45 days to veto the project once the public hearing is concluded. If no action is taken by him or Cuomo, the project could move forward.
Liberty Natural Gas officials did not respond to a call to the company's office in New Jersey.
Besides environmental concerns, some argued the project, if approved, would be an inviting target for terrorists because of the explosive nature of LNG, as well as being vulnerable to extreme weather, such as Hurricane Sandy.
“If we have another storm, it’s a bomb waiting to go off,’’ said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.
“This is not the answer and we need to keep these dirty fossil fuels in the ground to avoid a climate catastrophe,’’ said John Weber, regional manager for the Mid-Atlantic Surfrider Foundation.