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Source: Long Island Business News

Broadwater reversal possible


Posted: March 28, 2009
Originally Published: March 27, 2009

The U.S. Department of Commerce has until April 13 to overturn Gov. David Paterson’s rejection of Broadwater, the liquid natural gas terminal pitched off the coast of Wading River in Long Island Sound - and multiple sources said there’s at least a 50 percent chance that the agency would do just that.

And one person with no ties to Shell but with plenty of ties to officials in DC and Albany predicted “there’s a 90 percent chance this gets turned. I’d bet on it.”

Broadwater is a joint venture of Shell and TransCanada.

Sources said the Commerce Department is questioning why Paterson turned down the LNG, when it was deemed to be safe by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

New York’s governor rejected Broadwater on April 10, less than one month after he replaced Eliot Spitzer, who left in mid-March amid a prostitution scandal that continues to haunt him today. Spitzer’s demise also continues to haunt supporters of the LNG, because many believe Spitzer had decided to support the project.

The Department of Commerce could ask for a two-week extension, though that’s not likely.

If Commerce decides to uphold Paterson’s ruling, Broadwater still has the right to sue in federal court.

It’s also important to note that a reversal doesn’t guarantee Broadwater gets built. Shell and TransCanada would need to negotiate distribution terms with various municipalities on both sides of the pond. And Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will certainly make noise, as will Long Island’s environmentalists.

"Attorney General [Andrew] Cuomo and Blumenthal will team up and keep this in court forever," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment in Farmingdale. "Broadwater is arrogant enough to think New York and Connecticut don’t matter. Also, I think this is a public relations stunt, in which they’ve started this rumor. It’s a last, desperate effort to promote the plan."

Finally, if Commerce brings Broadwater back to life, Paterson would have a chance to appeal, or he could accept the position, explaining to anti-Broadwater groups that he needs to focus on New York’s economic crisis.

But two sources with strong connections to the state and federal government said Gov. Paterson will fight any reversal.

"If anything, Paterson would fight it to improve his numbers. He could stand on the sound and you will all cover it. It could help him," one source said.

Both thought Connecticut’s attorney general would exhaust his legal options.