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Offshore energy in New York: Forum tonight to discuss Port Ambrose project

What will horizon look like if Port Ambrose project goes forward?
What will horizon look like if Port Ambrose project goes forward?
Mark Butkus

With natural gas prices in the Northeast at an all time high and temperatures at an all time low you would think that a plan to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) port off of Jones Beach would be met with much applause. A forum tonight on the future of offshore energy in New York City is sure to get tempers flaring, blood boiling and the discussion will certainly be heated.

Officially known as the Port Ambrose project, the proposed $300 million transfer station to be be built by Liberty Natural Gas would be situated 17 miles offshore from Long Island. Once completed the deep water port would receive re-gasified LNG at the rate of 400 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. The natural gas would then be transferred via a 22 mile sub-sea pipeline to New York City.

At the only public hearing into the project in Long Island this past summer Liberty Natural Gas CEO Roger Whelan stated that, “We will bring down natural gas prices. We will help convert from fuel oil to natural gas because no one can afford to pay what you have to pay in January, February and March,”

Critics such as Clean Ocean Action argue that, "the port would discharge 3.5 million gallons of chemically-treated seawater used for pipe tests, generate significant underwater noise pollution, and dredge up over 20 miles of seafloor." New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the original plan in 2011 as the potential risks to fishing and tourism outweighed the benefits.

The revised and renamed Port Ambrose proposal is currently making its way through environmental impact studies and more public hearings. The first public forum in New York City is to be held tonight at Rutgers Presbyterian Church on the Upper West Side at 6:30 pm.

Presentations will be made by Sean Dixon of Clean Ocean Action on the LNG port, David Alicea of Sierra Club on wind energy and the offshore wind farm, and Al Appleton, former Commissioner of NYC Department of Environmental Protection, on sustainable energy policy.