Insanity Island Project Dead in the Water

Coalition Elated by Company’s Decision

Recently, the US Coast Guard and the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration formally acknowledged Atlantic Sea Island Group (ASIG)’s withdrawal of their permit application to construct “Safe Harbor Energy,” and closed the file on the project which was a massive man-made island in the Atlantic Ocean to import foreign liquefied natural gas (LNG). The federal agencies were responding to a letter sent by ASIG who chose to withdraw their proposal due to “existing market conditions; the current ‘climate’ regarding offshore development in the aftermath of the recent Gulf incident; and the prevailing uncertainty with respect to both the US and global economy.”

Now that ASIG has officially withdrawn their application, two LNG projects applications off the New York and New Jersey coast remain pending: Excalibur’s Liberty Natural Gas off Asbury Park , and ExxonMobil’s Blue Ocean Energy, off Sea Girt.

“ASIG is making the right decision and we can’t wait for this project to sink,” said Cindy Zipf , Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action, the group coordinating the grass-roots opposition, a campaign of over 80 organizations, to the LNG island. “It is a great victory for the ocean, our energy independence, and the power of the people. Clean Ocean Action is calling on the other two projects to follow ASIG’s lead,” Zipf added, “be kind to your investors and the United States of America , withdraw these projects.”

“This is a victory for common sense,” said Bob Bennekamper, a citizen activist that has worked for 3 years gathering thousands of signatures and informing the public about these proposals. “When elected officials stand together in a bi-partisan cause good things happen.”

According to Sean Dixon, Coastal Policy Attorney with Clean Ocean Action, “the project is dead in the water. The Board of Directors for the ASIG project must have recognized that the court of public opinion was turning against destructive, dirty, and dangerous uses of treasured US waters such as the NY/NJ Bight.” With our nation facing new economic challenges and environmental disasters each year, Dixon adds, “constructing a port that brings in a dirty gas to a market already saturated with the fuel would cost taxpayers huge sums of money for port security, safety oversight, and lost revenues from fisheries, recreational ocean uses, and tourism; money that we just don’t have.”

“The fishing community of lower NY commends the hard work that this coalition has done for almost three years. I am ecstatic that the Atlantic Sea Island Group project has been abandoned because it was truly insane, especially from a fisherman’s point of view- being built on spawning grounds and a major fishing location. Unfortunately there are two other LNG projects looming in the wings and we should not let our guard down. This should not be a Trojan horse,” said John Malizia , President of the Staten Island Tuna Club, Fishermen’s Conservation Association NY Chapter, and NY Sport Fishing Federation Director.

“Hopefully ASIG has seen the folly of their ways and maybe now will get involved in a renewable energy project,” stated Richard Lee, Surfrider Foundation and Surfers Environmental Alliance member and citizen activist.

“Despite the continuing bad news about the catastrophic Gulf oil spill, we are delighted to hear that Atlantic Sea Island Group has pulled the plug on their man-made LNG island. One down, two more to go. Hopefully the other fossil fools will also admit to being on the wrong side of energy progress and invest in clean energy alternatives,” stated Captain Jim Lovgren , member of the Fishermen’s Dock Cooperative Board of Directors.

Rockaway resident and citizen activist Mike O’Toole remarked, “Governor Patterson should have put a stop to this nightmare long ago, for any of a number of reasons. Thanks to the [ New York State ] elected officials who opposed this early on: Assemblywoman Pheffer, Councilman Ulrich & Nassau Legislature Denenberg. Remain vigilant!”

“The news is wonderful because it provides one important step towards making our ocean and all its wonderful sea creatures safe and healthy. The passing of the Atlantic Sea Island Group should provide a warning light to other people who want to industrialize our ocean with short-term, dirty and destructive fossil fuel nightmare projects. People in New Jersey love the ocean and will work tirelessly to make sure the Jersey Shore is not used as an experimental ‘guinea pig’ for the profit of private corporations,” said Joseph Reynolds, Co-Chair of the Bayshore Regional Watershed Council.

“It looks like common sense and an organized environmental resistance has killed the LNG island proposal. This was an ill-conceived and dangerous project that only highlights how corporate interests will still seek to reap profit at the price of irreplaceable natural resources if they are not opposed,” said Dan Mundy, Jr., Vice President of Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers.

“At a time when our country should be abandoning the use of fossil fuels, the news that ASIG is withdrawing their LNG man-made island proposal is being met with absolute delight. We need to turn our money and attention toward clean renewable energy such as wind, solar, passive geothermal and more,” said Ann I. Aurelio, Vice Chair of the Sierra Club, LI Group, “We must rise to the challenge and bring our energy generation into the 21st Century.”

“I am ecstatic to hear that this project is dead. I believe we are living in the beginning of a new era. We were successful in squelching the first of three LNG projects off our shores. Hopefully, this is the end of the industrialization of our ocean. I am proud to be a part of a united coalition among New Jersey , New York City , Nassau and Suffolk who worked tirelessly in defeating this LNG facility,” said Claudia Borecky , Co-Chair of Legislator Denenberg’s Taskforce Against the LNG Island. “Without their love of our ocean, love of our country and love of our planet, this island would have been built. I believe Margaret Mead said it best, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Background:

ASIG’s Safe Harbor application was announced in August, 2007. Due to its massive size and concept, the proposal was dubbed “ Insanity Island ” by environmental, fishing, energy independence, and national security groups. Under the Deepwater Port Act, the State of New York was authorized to review the project application and concur with any federal decisions. In 2008, New Jersey requested and received “ Adjacent Coastal State ” status, a procedural step required in order for New Jersey to be given the same level of input as New York . . On Earth Day, New Jersey Governor Christie announced he would oppose all LNG projects and, if licenses were granted under the Deepwater Port Act he would use his “ Adjacent Coastal State ” veto authority to stop the projects from moving forward.

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