Taking a pass on gas

The proposal for an offshore gas processing plant that environmental watchdogs warned could blow the entire borough off the face of the earth has been killed by an unlikely savior — New Jersey.

The controversial plan for a gas terminal and pipelines near the shores of Coney Island needed to be approved by the governors of both the Empire and Garden states to move forward — and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the plan last Tuesday, saying that the project could hurt the state’s tourism and fishing industries.

Brooklynites worried about the possible annihilation of the shoreline were cheered the decision — even if they could not care less about the economic impacts across the harbor.

“We’re thrilled that it’s been defeated,” said Brighton Beach resident Ida Sanoff, who chairs the Natural Resources Protective Association, a local marine conservation group. “Off-shore liquid natural gas terminals would put the entire Brooklyn shoreline at risk.”

Liberty Natural Gas had wanted to build a gas port 16 miles off the coast of New Jersey that would unload liquefied natural gas from ships, bring it back to gas form, then transport it to land through more than 44 miles of underwater pipes. The system could fuel five million homes in New Jersey, but possibly at Brooklyn’s expense — a portion of the pipeline would have been fewer than 10 miles from the borough’s coast, and some said it would pollute the ocean, kill marine life, omit foul odors and, at worse, explode.

“It could blow with the force of 55 atomic bombs,” Sanoff said.

Coney Island’s Community Board 13 passed a resolution last year opposing the creation of a liquefied natural gas facility off the coast of the People’s Playground, and its members are now thrilled that Jersey has saved the day.

“It’s a great relief,” said District Manager Chuck Reichenthal. “It’s one less thing we have to worry about.”

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D–Midwood) was also wary of the project’s environmental impact and had planned a public hearing with the Coast Guard and Maritime Association on the Rockaway Peninsula, which turned out to be the same evening that Christie rejected the proposal.

“I apologize for any inconvenience, and unfortunately the hearing is off, but, fortunately, so is the proposal,” Weiner said on his website.

But the dozen or so people who showed up to the suddenly moot meeting at Beach Channel High School in Far Rockaway didn’t mind when Weiner’s reps greeted them with the news of the cancellation.

“I’m just glad the gas facility isn’t happening,” said Barbara Reiche of Queens, a neighboring borough. “It could have blown us off the face of the earth.”

Liberty Natural Gas was the last of three companies whose plan for an offshore gas processing terminal remained on the table. Two other corporations — Exxon-Mobile and Atlantic Sea Group — withdrew similar proposals that had bee submitted last year.

But in the face of opposition, Liberty Natural Gas still asserts that they would take all the necessary safety precautions to prevent any explosions and environmental hazards.

“The Liberty project poses no harm to the environment and natural resources of New Jersey or New York, and enhances the security of the region by providing additional reliable, competitive, clean natural gas to the region,” said company spokesman Roger Whelan.

The company also vows to fight the veto by pressing its case with the United States Maritime Administration, the federal agency that issues licenses for liquefied natural gas facilities. But state governors have the final say, according to federal law.

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