In the Bush era when citizen protests go unheard in Washington, it is truly remarkable that the Broadwater LNG project failed. Federal regulators had, as usual, ignored citizen protests and ruled in favor of mega-business interests. But Broadwater lost locally and regionally. You only had to be at Sunken Meadow last week when Governor Patterson nixed the project to see that just about every state, county and local politician was there to support what they clearly saw as a popular decision.
News stories gave short shrift to the reasoning behind the decision, which was a finding by the New York Secretary of State that Broadwater was inconsistent with the state's coastal zone management plan. That finding said the project violated 6 state policies, including "sustainable use of living marine resources" and fostering a pattern of development in the Sound that "enhances community character" and "preserves open space," among other things.
Nevertheless, the decision was political, and proponents see the loss as another case of NIMBY-ism. John Hritcko, Jr., Broadwater VP, told me just before the decision last week that "with any energy infrastructure project--whether LNG, a pipeline or a windmill--you're going to have trouble siting it." And it's true that some of the local politicos as well as Adrienne Esposito, director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, spoke favorably about another LNG project that would involve construction of an artificial island in the Atlantic Ocean off the New Jersey/New York coasts. But environmental groups in New Jersey have serious concerns about that project as well.
So what was the political calculus behind the Governor's decision? Why was the opposition successful in the face of Broadwater's intensive, professionally managed campaign for approval? I'd like to invite everyone who cared about Broadwater to offer their own ideas about why it failed. If not NIMBY, then what? How was the opposition able to kill Broadwater?