11th Jul, 2007

Letter from Captain Garrity to FERC

The following is the text of a letter sent June 19, 2007 from Captain Garrity of the US Coast Guard to FERC. The letter lists further information required by the US Coast Guard before the Coast Guard can finish and submit the Waterway Suitability Reports on the Downeast LNG and Quoddy Bay LNG applications.

June 19, 2007

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Attn: Mr. Richard Hoffmann

888 First Street

Washington, DC 20426

Dear Mr. Hoffmann:

The Coast Guard requires additional information in order to fully assess the security and safety of liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels transiting to and from and mooring at the proposed Quoddy Bay and Downeast LNG facilities on the western shore of Passamaquoddy Bay in Washington County, Maine. In addition to meeting Coast Guard needs, I anticipate the Commission will find the described information to be essential to its decision-making process regarding both applications and siting proposals and will require such information prior to making a final decision on the applications.

For nearly two years the Coast Guard has worked closely with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on these two projects and during that time has greatly appreciated the willingness of your staff to work cooperatively in the review of required document submissions. The Coast Guard is well aware of the time guidelines your agency has put in place for the completion of governmental review and has worked diligently to keep those deadlines.

LNG vessels transiting to and from the proposed facilities will pass through the waters along and adjacent to the United States-Canada maritime boundary, including entry into Canadian waters while exercising the nonsuspendable right of innocent passage. The safety, security, and potential environmental impact of LNG vessels navigating these waters are of mutual interest to the United States and Canada. As such, the Department of State recently delivered a diplomatic note to Canadian officials urging their input on the maritime safety, security, and environmental issues involved. As you know, the diplomatic note followed earlier requests from the Commission to Canadian officials requesting similar input. To date, the Canadian agencies have not provided substantive input in response to the requests, creating an informational void regarding the review of those pertinent issues.

The Coast Guard believes that information on maritime safety, security, and environmental issues related to the described LNG vessel transits, including measures to address such issues, is essential to informing the Commission’s siting decisions. Similarly, we are of the position that the Commission and Coast Guard need to consider trans-boundary impacts, which require a fuller understanding of the Canadian position than we have currently.

As the proponents of these projects, the applicants should be required to demonstrate that the proposed facilities will be sited where they can be served by LNG vessels in a manner that meets all safety, security, and environmental interests. While the Coast Guard will continue to work with the State Department to gain Canadian cooperation in this process, the applicants have a responsibility to obtain and provide the necessary information regarding their site selection to permit the required safety, security, and environmental reviews to be completed. Therefore, we would ask that the developers obtain and provide as soon as possible the following documents/information:

• The prospective Canadian LNG study or some other suitable governmental articulation of Canadian issues upon which the Ambassador’s letter to FERC dated 14 February, 2007, was based. Such documentation will enable the Coast Guard to avoid having to construe by inference what those issues may include.

• Specific options to facilitate the safe and secure movement of LNG tankers through U.S. and Canadian waters should Canada remain committed to a policy of non-cooperation. Issues of particular interest are:

o Identification of suitable boarding locations to conduct all U. S. Government prearrival safety and security vessel examinations.

o Mechanisms to establish a formal-one-way vessel traffic scheme during LNG tanker movements, including mute adjustments and the anticipated role of Vessel Traffic Service (VTS). Other security options such as the use of private security assets in Canada and U.S. Governmental ship rider strategies should also be studied as ways of reducing risk.

o Methods to improve navigational safety, including upgrades to equipment (radar, closed circuit television (CCTV)), radio communications, VTS control, and pilot- suggested improvements to the existing bi-national aids to navigation system.

o Possible locations for establishing safe refuge/anchorage areas, especially in the event of an emergency, suitable for LNG tankers.

o Outlining in-transit and dockside emergency procedures, especially where transboundary or adverse Canadian impacts are anticipated, in the absence of any existing bilateral agreement or bi-national response plan.

o Detailing how marine near-shore terrorist threats and civil disobedience incidents, especially those originating from Canada, would be addressed.

o Identification of what additional security measures would be put in place at elevated MARSEC levels and whether coordination with Canada would be necessary to implement them.

o Explanation of what Emergency Response Plans would be developed with

Canada, including the activities that would be undertaken to (1) train and equip

Canadian first responders, (2) enhance crisis communication procedures with

Canada, and (3) develop protection strategies for the affected Canadian public and

natural environment.

o Compilation of anticipated legal issues with regard to fishermen equipment loss, special rights of Passamaquoddy fishermen, and liability resulting from accidents, attack, use of force, or any other trans-boundary concerns expressed to date.

The position of the Passaniaquoddy Tribe regarding its jurisdiction and role in incident response is not yet resolved. The Tribe has hired legal counsel to review and work with the Coast Guard to address germane issues. While we are at the beginning of those negotiations, future discussions with the Tribe will take time and may raise additional issues not yet identified.

Requiring the applicant to respond to the issues identified above will allow the Coast Guard to provide more informed recommendations regarding the suitability of the waterways at and near the proposed facilities. Further, as a cooperative agency in your environmental impact statement, we believe all of the information requested must also be properly assessed even in the upcoming Draft Administrative Environment Impact Statement. At this point, we hold the view that the applicant has not complied with 18 CFR 157.21(a) (2) (ii). Provision of the requested information will also help facilitate the assessment of the environmental impacts. Until the Coast Guard obtains the information requested above, we consider both applications incomplete and will not be able to finish and submit the Waterway Suitability Reports for either of the two projects.

Thank you in advance for your thoughtful review of these matters. Please feel free to contact me directly at (207) 741-5497 or by e-mail: Stephen.P.Garrity@uscg.mil.

Very respectfully,


Captain, U. S. Coast Guard

Commander, Sector Northern New England

Comments are closed.