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Thu, Jan 18, 2007

Connecticut AG Demands No-Fly Zone For Proposed LNG Terminal

Claims FAA Has 'Ignored' Airborne Threats To Floating Facility

In a letter to the FAA Monday, Connecticut's Attorney General Richard Blumenthal Monday demanded the agency establish a no-fly zone around a proposed natural gas terminal to be established in the middle of Long Island Sound. Blumenthal says the agency has "completely ignored" threats from the air to the facility.

Called the Broadwater proposal, a consortium of energy companies has offered plans to build a 1,200 foot long floating liquefied natural gas terminal in the center of Long Island Sound. The facility would supply enough gas to heat 4 million homes.

The proposal's backers say the terminal is needed to meet a projected 37 percent growth in natural gas use across the region by 2021. Connecticut forecasts it will use LNG for 47 percent of its electrical generation needs next year.

Naturally, the plan has drawn its share of criticism -- not the least of which is those who fear the floating behemoth would be "an obvious target" for terrorists... or so they say.

Blumenthal's letter to the FAA demands it establish a permanent no-fly zone for the facility like that established around the nation's capitol, although its not entirely clear what data he's drawing from on which to base such a demand -- especially as he claims the studies completed to date have not considered the threat from the air to the planned facility.

But according to the Connecticut Post, John Hritko Jr., senior vice president of Broadwater, said Blumenthal has his facts wrong. He says a Coast Guard study included in the draft proposal did, in fact, consider air security.

Hritko said no-fly zones are not in place at the Millstone or Indian Point nuclear plants, and quoted the draft document as stating: "the FAA generally does not establish no-fly zones around energy facilities such as oil or petroleum product storage tank areas, oil platforms or nuclear plants."

Air traffic in the region is frequently directed over the sound to keep it away from populated areas. Blumenthal said creating a no-fly zone over the sound would raise pollution, security and quality-of-life concerns for those over which flights would be re-directed. If you can't have the facility without a no-fly zone, but a no-fly zone would create an untenable air traffic situation, one wonders just what Blumenthal's goal is. From his bleak outlook, it doesn't seem likely he's looking for a way to keep the facility "safe" from a "terrorist attack."

Indeed, in a press conference announcing his demands to the FAA Blumenthal said, "To be very blunt, we're opening a new front in the battle against Broadwater."

FMI: www.tfr.faa.gov, www.faa.gov

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