January 11, 2006

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today filed comments calling on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to rescind its order keeping secret vital engineering and other information about the proposed Broadwater natural gas storage facility or reject the project.

Joining Blumenthal at the announcement were the co-chairs of the Long Island Sound LNG Task Force, state Sen. Leonard A. Fasano (R-North Haven) and state Sen. Andrea L. Stillman (D-Waterford).

Blumenthal, Fasano and Stillman said that FERC’s decision to keep secret vital information about the proposed gigantic floating natural gas storage facility in Long Island Sound undermines the state’s ability to fully assess the project. Connecticut citizens need full access to all aspects of the proposal to assure its safety, they said.

Blumenthal added that FERC’s decision to keep secret large parts of the proposal demonstrates that the project is inherently dangerous and should be rejected.

“If key details cannot be disclosed – for fear of helping potential terrorists – the risk of terrorism should doom this project in this location,” Blumenthal wrote. “The project can be fully and fairly vetted only with the full public disclosure of all essential safety information. The secrecy order is sweeping and significantly impairs the ability of Connecticut residents to have an effective voice in the process. This project is too risky and too significant to be permitted on the untested and unchallengeable claims of the applicant. At best the designation of this information as secret is vastly overbroad – an abuse of discretion and power.

“Secrecy will not disarm terrorists. It will only disadvantage the public. It will not guarantee safety and security. It will disable efforts to accurately and accountably evaluate the risks. Secrecy spawns distrust. Concealment signals danger.

“Broadwater’s backers have promised they would be open, honest and forthcoming. They have broken that promise – seeking secrecy – even before filing their formal application with FERC,” Blumenthal added.

“Our goal as a task force continues to be to explore all the potential ramifications the LNG facility may have on the state of Connecticut. Obviously, public safety and security are among these concerns,” Fasano said. “Broadwater Energy has repeatedly stated that this project presents minimal security risks to the state and its citizens. However, the revelation that some information about the safety of the project has been deemed ‘secret’ by the federal government is troubling and may indicate that Broadwater has been somewhat disingenuous in its statements. For the task force to complete its work and accurately report both the advantages and disadvantages of this project for Connecticut, we need full disclosure on all relevant issues, including, of course, public safety and security.”

“I share the Attorney General’s concern and position on the secrecy surrounding this project,” Stillman said. “As the co-chair of the Public Safety and Security Committee, it certainly raises a red flag about the safety of the Broadwater LNG terminal. It makes me wonder if other issues are being kept secret.”

The FERC has said it will allow officials to examine the secret documents, but only if they pledge not to discuss the information in public. Blumenthal called that condition unacceptable.

“Disclosure to my office is useless or worse if it means muzzling and censoring what we can say to the public, preventing us from providing meaningful and informed assurances to the public about the project’s safety,” Blumenthal said. “As a matter of public policy, key information must not be secret.”

Suffolk County has filed similar objections with FERC. Blumenthal has written to Suffolk County supporting its filing and offering to work together to oppose the project.