The final decision on Port Ambrose, a natural gas facility slated for ocean waters off the coast of Long Island, has now moved to the desks of Governors Christie and Cuomo.
By December 21, the two governors must decide if they will approve, veto, or modify the project. If either governor vetoes, the project will not proceed; if neither acts, it will move forward as designed.
The Port Ambrose facility, which consists of a series of pipelines and underwater buoys, is sited roughly 18 miles south of Long Island and 28 miles east of New Jersey. If built, large ships carrying liquified natural gas would dock at the station where the product would be re-gasified and shipped, via underwater pipeline, to the New York mainland.
Despite intense public interest surrounding the project, the governors have remained surprisingly silent on their decision.
In October, Cuomo spoke briefly to a reporter from Capital New York about Port Ambrose; it was the first time he had spoken at any length about it.
“The question now goes to the states, New Jersey and New York,” Cuomo said. “There are a lot of serious questions that would have to be answered before approval certainly, because it does bring up a number of obvious security and safety issues.”
Governor Christie has been even more tightlipped, leaving only his past actions from which to draw conclusions.
In 2011, Christie opposed an alternate deepwater natural gas port sited 16 miles off the coast of Asbury Park.
That same year, Christie told an environmental group that he did not believe there was an economic need for liquified natural gas facilities that could come close to balancing environmental risks.
“My opposition to this will continue for as long as I’m governor,” he said.
An Ongoing Battle
Opponents of the project say it poses significant security and environmental threats to the region. It is also sited for the same location as the proposed Long Island-New York City Offshore Wind Project.
Opinions differ over exactly how much the port would encroach on the wind farm area. According to a March, 2015 letter by the New York Power Authority, the total wind farm area lost to Port Ambrose would be “a minimum of 13 percent and could be as much 20 percent.”
Supporters of the Port Ambrose project say it will provide needed natural gas supply to areas that have experienced shortages and price volatility.
Federal regulators released the final Environmental Impact Statement in October of this year, and four days of public hearings followed in early November. Written comments from the public will be accepted through November 30.