What is Save Passamaquoddy Bay / Canada doing about the LNG issue?

Our group is pressing Ottawa to pass a regulation under the Canada Shipping Act which bans LNG tankers from Head Harbour Passage. Until this happens, we are preparing to participate in the FERC approval process to that Canadian voices are heard loud and clear. We have also persuaded the Province of New Brunswick to participate as well. This is a lengthy and costly process that requires legal representation and a thorough critique of documents that will run thousands of pages in length. Should FERC approve one or both sites, we will appeal this decision to the United States Court of Appeal.

Prime Minister Harper has already said he opposes LNG tankers in Head Harbour Passage. Why isn’t that enough?

All three levels of government have stated their opposition to LNG in Passamaquoddy Bay. But the developers are still spending millions on studies and lawyers to get their terminals approved by the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) http://www.ferc.gov

Until Ottawa takes concrete action to assert our sovereignty over Head Harbour Passage, the developers will not go away.

Why don’t we want LNG here?

Here are a few of the many reasons:

  • An accident resulting in a leak of LNG from a tanker or an on-land storage tank would pose serious fire risks to surrounding communities, including the possibility of severe thermal radiation burns.
  • Legally mandated and enforced “exclusion zones” mean fishermen, fish farmers, tour-boat operators, ferries, ships going to and from Bayside, and recreational boaters would have to give LNG tankers up to two kilometers clearance.  This could last from several hours to days, depending on weather.  If both terminals are approved, there would be over 500 tanker transits in and out of the bay every year.
  • US security requirements for LNG tankers include gunboat escorts en route to terminals; putting US Coast Guard and possibly private armed boats in Canadian waters.
  • Local Canadian and American communities will incur huge costs to meet the safety and security requirements for this industry.
  • Our environment and quality of life will deteriorate and livelihoods based on fishing, aquaculture and tourism will be lost if heavy industry locates in this region.
  • We take all the risks and receive no benefits.  Two-thirds of the population and two-thirds of the water within the area affected by these terminals are Canadian.

What is LNG and what happens at an LNG terminal?

LNG is a natural gas super-cooled to a liquid state which takes up 1/600th the volume of the original gas. This allows it to be transported in tankers from Africa, the Middle East, and Russia. LNG tankers are immense, averaging 1000 feet in length (new ones even longer), and built like thermos bottles to keep the gas in liquid form. Once at a destination terminal in Maine, the LNG would be piped off the ship and stored on land in huge tanks. It would then be turned back into a gas and transferred to a pipeline for transport to large US markets.

What’s At Issue?

Two American companies plan to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals along the Maine shore in Passamaquoddy Bay. Oklahoma-based Quoddy Bay LNG has picked a site near Eastport, at Split Rock on the Pleasant Point Indian Reservation (Sipayik) directly across from Fairhaven, Deer Island. Downeast LNG, based in Washington D.C., has purchased land for an LNG terminal at Mill Cove in Robbinston, directly across from St. Andrews. (There are no details yet on a third proposal further up the river). To access any of these sites, LNG supertankers would have to pass through Head Harbour Passage, the narrow Canadian channel between Campobello and Deer Island.