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Downeast LNG Seeks OK for Gas Import-Export Facility on Passamaquoddy Bay

Downeast LNG is submitting new environmental reports to a federal agency for review, as part of a plan to build a liquified natural gas import-export terminal on the shores of Passamaquoddy Bay.  The company announced it would be adding an export component to its proposed facility last summer.

Downeast opponents of an LNG terminal say the facility is still unnecessary and is unlikely to ever be built.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or FERC issued an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) last May on Downeast LNG’s initial proposal for an import-only gas terminal. The following month the firm announced it would add the export component, as part of a new plan to build a $2 billion facility capable of liquefying two million tons of natural gas a year.

"There's a series of draft reports that you file and we're initiating that this week," says Rob Wyatt, who oversees environment and permitting at Downeast LNG.

Wyatt says the reports, being sent to FERC for review, highlight the design changes to the facility and how those changes would affect the surrounding environment. Wyatt says adding an export capacity to the project will increase air emissions, "but there's also some reduction in emissions that were going to be generated during the regasification process."

Wyatt says the firm is currently analyzing the air quality numbers for the project. He adds that shifting to an import-export model is not expected to create any additional environmental impacts.

But one longtime opponent of the project takes issue with this view. "To liquefy natural gas requires using some volatile substances like propane," says Robery Godfrey, of the group Save Passamaquoddy Bay. "There would be considerably more dangerous substances on site."

Godfrey says Save Passamaquoddy Bay will continue fighting a project the group believes is poorly located and ultimately unnecessary, especially in light of the huge surge in domestic energy production in the U.S.

Correction: This story originally indicated that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, had approved  Downeast LNG's initial idea for an import-only gas terminal last May.  Rather, FERC  issued an Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, in May for the proposed facility.