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FERC Continues To Process Downeast LNG's Terminal Application Despite Canada's Opposition - Jun. 22, 2013

Despite local and across the border opposition, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is continuing to process Downeast LNG's application for their proposed LNG terminal in Robbinston, Maine.

In a letter to Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff responded to Doer's letter to FERC reiterating the Canadian government's opposition to the proposed Downeast LNG import terminal.

Wellinghoff stated that FERC was under a legal obligation to process Downeast LNG's application, and explained that if FERC finds the project to be in the public interest, FERC would want the project to proceed in a timely manner.

"I appreciate your thoughts about this project and recognize that Canada has concerns relating to liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker passage through its waters. However, please note that the Commission has a legal obligation to continue processing the Downeast LNG Project application so that all the issues can be properly documented before the Commission makes a decision on the proposal. Ifthe Commission finds that approval ofthe project is in the public interest, we would want to ensure that the project proceeds in a timely manner," wrote Wellinghoff.

The Chairman's letter goes on to state that "the Commission continues to encourage the participation of Canadian stakeholders in our process to assist the Commission staff with their analyses of the environmental, security, safety, and navigational effects of the project."

"The Commission staff is currently preparing the final EIS for the Downcast LNG Project to meet our responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act. Please know that you are on our mailing list to receive a copy ofthe final EIS when it is issued," Wellinghoff wrote.  

Save Passamaquoddy Bay, a group long opposed to Downeast LNG and others now off the table fired back at  Chairman Wellinghoff's claims that FERC is legally obligated to complete Downeast LNG permit application processing.

Robert Godfrey of Save Passamaquoddy Bay asserted that exactly the opposite is true: "FERC is legally obligated to cease application permitting since Downeast LNG has no legal or practical ability to receive the LNG required for the project. The Downeast LNG project is a literal impossibility."

In their letter to FERC, Godfrey stated, "On 2007 April 5 the US Department of State, under then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, knowingly made the untrue claim that LNG ships transiting to proposed terminals in Passamaquoddy Bay have an irrevocable right of innocent passage through Canada's Head Harbour Passage and Canadian waters in Passamaquoddy Bay. Since the US is not a party to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that codifies innocent passage for members of the treaty, the US has no such right. Even under customary maritime law the US claim of innocent passage is indefensible. The innocent passage claim is out-and-out fraud."

US Coast Guard Chief of International and Maritime Law RADM Charles Michel has publicly admitted that the US has no legal standing in this matter; that the US has no legal recourse, Godfrey wrote.

Godfrey went on to say, "FERC does have an obligation  --- but not an obligation to continue permit processing. FERC's obligation is to blow the whistle on the Department of State's wrongdoing and to correct its own participation in that wrongdoing; to cease Downeast LNG permit application processing."

Downeast LNG is the last of three proposals to build an LNG terminal in Passamaquoddy Bay. Both Quoddy Bay LNG and Calais LNG are no longer in the picture.  

Downeast LNG proposes to build their LNG import terminal at Mill Cove in Robbinston, Maine, across from St. Andrews, New Brunswick.

According to the Downeast LNG website, the proposed facility will consist of two storage tanks, a re-gasification plant, a pier to receive LNG carriers, and a natural gas pipeline that will connect the facility to the existing pipeline that runs from Nova Scotia, Canada, through Maine.

Story: Tom McLaughlin WQDY-WALZ  news@wqdy.fm