NEW YORK (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo will reject a proposal to build a liquefied natural gas terminal in the waters off New York and New Jersey amid an outcry from residents of some coastal communities that it could endanger the environment and be a target for terrorists.
The deep-water docking station known as Port Ambrose was to be built 19 miles off Jones Beach on Long Island and 29 miles off Long Brach, New Jersey. Liberty Natural Gas LLC, the company vying to develop Port Ambrose, said the port would allow it to inject natural gas into the New York-area pipeline, which could lower home heating bills there, among the most expensive in the nation.
The company had been trying for years to obtain approval from the federal Maritime Administration to operate the facility. But federal regulations require the governors of the neighboring states — New York and New Jersey — to approve the project. According to the regulations, either governor could object to the proposal, forcing the agency to deny Liberty's application.
"My administration carefully reviewed this project from all angles, and we have determined that the security and economic risks far outweigh any potential benefits," Cuomo said in a statement given to The Associated Press on Thursday morning. "Superstorm Sandy taught us how quickly things can go from bad to worse when major infrastructure fails - and the potential for disaster with this project during extreme weather or amid other security risks is simply unacceptable."
Cuomo will formally announce his opposition Thursday at an event on Long Beach, on Long Island.
Environmentalists had been urging Cuomo to take immediate action to veto the project. This year, groups protested in front of a Broadway show the governor was attending, and another protest was planned for Thursday night at a Cuomo fundraiser. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a similar version of the proposal in 2011 and vowed to continue opposing the project for as long as he served as governor.
Liberty contends that because long-haul pipelines originate in the Gulf of Mexico and western Canada, most of the country's natural gas supply is used up before it makes its way to the New York metropolitan area in the winter months, driving up prices.
But environmentalists have decried the project as hazardous and unnecessary.
"This is terribly dangerous," said Jessica Roff, an environmentalist who traveled from Brooklyn to attend a public hearing on Long Island last week. "It's volatile. It's dangerous. It's a terrorist threat."
Liberty's president, Roger Whelan, has maintained that many of the people opposing the project are misguided and acting out of fear. He argues that a federal environmental study on the proposal discounts any thought the port presents any type of safety risk.
A message left with Liberty was not immediately returned Thursday morning.