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Environmental groups renew calls to block offshore gas pipeline

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Environmental advocates have filed documents with the federal government protesting a controversial plan for a liquefied natural gas facility off the coast of Sandy Hook.

The filing today by the Sierra Club of New Jersey is the latest piece of opposition to the proposal by Liberty Natural Gas, which faced resistance for a similar project that was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie in 2011. The company has again applied to the U.S. Maritime Administration and the Coast Guard, seeking approval for a deepwater port that would accept liquefied natural gas through shipments and then convert it for distribution in New York.

The Sierra Club today submitted comments to the Maritime Administration, according to a news release. In a prepared statement, state director Jeff Tittel said, “New Jersey needs a (liquefied natural gas) facility like we need another hurricane,” citing concerns over emissions, safety and an overabundance of natural gas in the region.

The so-called Port Ambrose project would be constructed east of Monmouth County, accepting shipments from areas like the Caribbean. Once liquefied gas is received and converted, it would be channeled through a new pipeline built under the ocean floor and carried to New York City and Long Island, N.Y., according to a project website.

In a prepared statement, Liberty Natural Gas CEO Roger Whelan said Port Ambrose “is a small-scale natural gas import project designed to provide additional natural gas supplies to the region during the winter and summer months, which are the periods of peak demand.” He added that the project is designed to alleviate major price spikes in the winter months and would lead to an estimated $325 million in annual cost savings for consumers.

According to a website for the project, this version also is different from the 2010 proposal. Liberty Natural Gas took feedback from state and federal officials. Among other changes, the concept has been scaled back and redesigned to be located completely offshore and connect to an existing offshore pipeline.

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