Since the Port Ambrose project continues to come under attack from local environmental groups (many who are from New Jersey, not New York) and grandstanding politicians who are chasing local news coverage, we felt it was important to set the record straight and explain why we need this project and why it is the right fit for New York.
For starters, those of us who live in downstate New York continue to pay outrageous prices for energy to heat our businesses, homes, hospitals and schools. In fact, we pay more for natural gas than any other place in the United States during peak winter months.
This is because of wicked fluctuations in natural gas prices during our harsh winters and serious infrastructure constraints. When you hear the cynics and critics say there isn’t a need for the Port Ambrose project, show them your energy bills from the past two winters. The need for Port Ambrose is very real indeed.
LIPA and PSEG continue to raise energy prices, which has left New York downstate consumers feeling the pinch. Last October, PSEG raised the power supply charge by nearly 27 percent, saying the increase was based upon the rising cost of natural gas.
PSEG Long Island increased electric bills on consumers seven times in 2014, again citing the high cost of natural gas. This trend will only continue unless something changes. We don’t need political rhetoric or fundraising politics, we need solutions, and Port Ambrose is a reasonable solution.
Port Ambrose was designed to deliver natural gas in the peak winter - and perhaps summer - months. It will bring natural gas to downstate New York from far offshore with a hi-tech, state-of-the-art, safe and proven delivery system. A similar system has been working this winter off shore Boston and has dramatically driven down natural gas prices in that region.
A study conducted by ICF International concluded that Port Ambrose would reduce energy costs to consumers by $325 million annually while delivering cleaner burning natural gas to the New York region. That’s real money; money in your pocket and money in our local economy.
So if Port Ambrose is such a great solution, then why is it under attack from some environmental groups and elected officials? Sadly, the answer is politics.
For nearly five years many of these groups have waged a relentless misinformation campaign about the project. They offer no reasonable or realistic solutions, they simply oppose any and all energy projects while misleading communities throughout our region. Don’t fall into that trap for it is a maze that leads to no solutions and significantly higher energy costs for you the ratepayer.
The truth is that despite all the fear-mongering and bad information, the Port Ambrose project has been intensely scrutinized by real experts for years. The U.S. Maritime Administration and U.S. Coast Guard recently issued a 1,817-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that demonstrated the clear need and minimal environmental and safety impacts of the Port Ambrose natural gas supply project.
The DEIS is the result of an in-depth, multi-year review of the project by six federal government agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries.
This study is important because its findings run counter to the narrative created by critics who have spread information that is just flat wrong for years. In a legitimate debate, facts and information should matter. The facts and the information in this case, are in favor of Port Ambrose.
The list of things the critics have said about Port Ambrose that is factually wrong is too long for this op-ed. Now, with the DEIS, the truth is finally beginning to see the light of day.
On top of delivering cleaner, cheaper energy during peak demand times, Port Ambrose will deliver other benefits to the New York region as well. Port Ambrose will generate over 800 construction-related jobs, which is why it has strong labor union support, pump over $90 million in goods and services in our local economy, which is why it has strong small business support, and have an annual operating budget of $20 million on permanent and contract service jobs, as well as generate tax revenue for the State of New York.
The critics have it all wrong. We need less of the sneer, smear and fear political rhetoric and more results. Port Ambrose is a giant step in the right direction in solving New York’s energy challenges.
Jerry Kremer is president of the NY AREA, a diverse coalition of New York business organizations, labor unions, independent energy experts, and community and environmental leaders.