Thursday, 4:30 PM
Romney approves two LNG gas ports off Gloucester
By Beth Daley, Globe Staff
Governor Mitt Romney today approved two offshore liquefied natural gas ports that have been proposed 7 and 13 miles off Gloucester, the last significant hurdle to construction of the facilities that would boost New England's gas supply by 20 percent.
Tankers would be docked to underwater buoys virtually around the clock and act as floating factories, turning supercooled liquid back into gas and pumping it through a series of pipes to New England homes and businesses.
The US Maritime Administration will issue a final decision by mid-February for the Northeast Gateway and Neptune projects, but in the three cases where a deep water port have been approved, the agency has followed the decision of the governor of an adjacent coastal state.
"These new terminals will allow us to safely expand gas supply without undue harm to the environment or to the fishing industry that is Gloucesterís lifeblood," said Romney.
More than a half-dozen LNG terminals have been proposed in New England to accommodate rising demand for energy, but all have been met with opposition because of fears of explosions from accidents or terrorism. The offshore terminals, while facing some opposition over threats to marine life and fishermenís livelihoods, have been seen as the lesser of two evils by some environmentalists and politicians who acknowledge the need for more energy. In addition, the companies building the offshore ports have agreed to pay a total of $16 million to offset economic harm to fishermen and lobstermen.
Excelerate, the developers of the Northeast Gateway project 13 miles southeast of Gloucester, has pledged to be in operation within a year. Suez, the developers of the Neptune project seven miles off the coast, say they wonít start construction for at least nine months. Suez owns New England's only currently operating LNG terminal, in Everett.