State Senator Carl L. Marcellino (R, Syosset), Chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, has introduced legislation which would require the Office of General Services (OGS) Commissioner to hold public hearings in affected communities before any underwater land lease for property one mile or more off shore would be signed. The legislation also would require the OGS Commissioner to perform an environmental impact statement regarding the lease, and additionally, to consult with the Department of Environmental Conservation as well as the Secretary of State and include their recommendations before granting any underwater lease.
The need for this legislation became apparent during a public hearing held regarding the Broadwater Energy proposal. Broadwater Energy has proposed to construct and operate a liquefied natural gas facility in Long Island Sound. This proposal would include the construction of a floating liquefied natural gas terminal which would be connected to the existing Iroquois natural gas pipeline.
"The issue of Broadwater has shown a spotlight on the lack of input New York State has in interstate energy proposals. During a public hearing on the Broadwater proposal, I was informed that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) feels it has complete purview over the siting and operation of this liquefied natural gas importation facility. This facility is being placed in New York State waters; New York State should have a say in this process. My legislation gives all our residents a voice," said Senator Marcellino.
Senator Marcellino’s bill improves current law by requiring at least two public hearings be held in communities directly impacted by the proposed lease. The bill also requires that a State sponsored environmental impact statement be done. The final component of the legislation requires that the OGS Commissioner incorporate any recommendations from the DEC Commissioner and the Secretary of State into any agreement before any leases are signed.
"This legislation is needed. If you would look at all the proposals before FERC right now, you would see facilities similar to the Broadwater proposal snaking up and down the Nation’s coastlines. What is scary is that FERC feels it can site and operate all these facilities and it doesn’t have to listen to the concerns of affected states. My legislation makes FERC have to listen. It is my hope that this legislation will show other states how to add their voice to the debate over how energy needs are met," continued Senator Marcellino.
"New York State has a long tradition of protecting the rights of its residents. This bill builds on this tradition. We are telling the federal government that New York State is not merely a rubber-stamp for the plans of federal agencies and multi-national corporations," concluded Senator Marcellino.