Brunswick to seek intervener status at Maine LNG hearings


FREDERICTON, New Brunswick (AP) – The New Brunswick government is seeking intervener status at hearings into two controversial liquefied natural gas terminals on the Maine side of Passamaquoddy Bay.

The province’s Departmental of Intergovernmental Affairs has retained a U.S. law firm to handle the case, said a department spokeswoman.

“The government has provincial interests that it wants to make sure are part of the proceedings,” said Gisele Regimbal.

“As an intervener we will be going in and presenting those interests – the environmental, the safety and security, the economic interests – that we have with respect to these projects.”

Regimbal said the U.S. law firm, which she wouldn’t name, has experience in regulatory proceedings.

There has been a groundswell of opposition against two LNG terminals proposed in Maine that would require huge tankers to pass through Canadian waters at Head Harbor Passage.

Former Tory premier Bernard Lord urged Maine officials to block the proposals, and Ottawa has said it also opposes the projects.

During the last provincial election, Liberal Premier Shawn Graham pledged to hire U.S. legal counsel to seek intervener status.

Downeast LNG has a $500 million plant earmarked for Robbinston, Maine, while Quoddy Bay LNG is looking to build a terminal on the Passamaquoddy Tribe’s reservation at Pleasant Point.

As an intervener at the hearings, held by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the New Brunswick government would receive all documents tabled and would have an opportunity to present the province’s case.

“By being part of the process we can ensure New Brunswick’s interests can be represented throughout,” said Regimbal.

Janice Harvey, of Save Passamaquoddy Bay-Canada, said the province had to act.

“The opposition is so universal in New Brunswick that for the province not to be there to speak on behalf of its citizens and the communities, particularly around Passamaquoddy Bay and its approaches, would look very bad on the other side of the line,” Harvey said.

John Craig, mayor of St. Andrews, called the move a great symbolic gesture.

“It’s a big step, absolutely,” said Craig. “It is wonderful to see the province of New Brunswick helping out and fighting this battle against the industrialization of Passamaquoddy Bay.”

The review of the proposals could last up to 18 months, which the province says makes it difficult to estimate the costs of its legal bills.

AP-ES-01-15-07 0851EST