PERRY (AP) – Seven communities up and down the New England coast have been asked to host a new liquefied natural gas terminal, and all have said no. So far, the only community to show support is a tribal reservation in eastern Maine.

Some members of the Passamaquoddy Indian tribe at Point Pleasant see the project as a potential economic boon.

But the idea is triggering concern from environmentalists, who fear new LNG terminals needed for an energy-strapped region could follow the path of least resistance instead of being built where they are most needed.

“We want the right amount of gas to be delivered to the right place or places,” Philip Warburg, president of the Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental advocacy group, told the Boston Globe.

A poorly sited terminal, the group argues, could end up hurting local economies or causing safety and environmental problems.

In a recent congressional hearing, Warburg called for federal regulators to assess the need for LNG in New England and to develop a master plan to determine how many plants there should be and where they should go.

Sprawling over acres, LNG terminals receive enormous amounts of supercooled natural gas from tankers, convert it from liquid to vapor, and feed it to the pipelines that bring it to power plants and homes.

Currently only four exist in the United States, including one in Everett, Mass., that has served as a lightning rod for controversy over the possibility of terrorist attacks and catastrophic accidents.

Analysts estimate New England has the demand and pipeline capacity to support two new large terminals or several smaller ones, and companies are racing to be the first to be permitted.

The Passamaquoddy tribe’s interest is a rare note of welcome in the fierce debate over new LNG plants.

An ongoing door-to-door survey of the Passamaquoddy Point Pleasant members shows more than 60 percent are in favor of LNG, said tribal state Rep. Fred Moore III, who proposed the idea.

Any decision to build a $300 million plant would depend on support from Point Pleasant’s 1,600 members and interest from a gas company – a likely scenario if the tribe gives its assent.

Quoddy Bay LLC, made up of an Oklahoma businessman and two partners, is acting as a broker for an interested energy company that the firm declined to identify.

If a terminal is built, Moore says, it will provide $2 million a year for new housing and another $2 million a year to help start small businesses. Plus, each resident would receive about $1,000 a year in cash payments.

There will be even more money if the tribe becomes a partner in the gas company’s terminal, making as much as $20 million a year with no corporate business tax to pay.

“This is not about LNG so much as it’s about the future of our tribe,” Moore said.

AP-ES-07-05-04 1436EDT

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