monobuoy and a submerged line to carry it ashore is a reasonable
compromise" in the controversy over the proposal to locate an
L.N.G. terminal upriver, he said during a talk on Mar. 7 at the
University of Delaware's Academy of Lifelong Learning.
only would Delaware authorities not oppose such an arrangement,
but "we would be happy" if the liquid were pumped to a facility
in southern Delaware to be converted back into gas for
transshipment. But, he said in response to a question from the
audience, "it would probably go ashore in New Jersey where the
existing high-capacity pipelines are."
said, however, that a more likely scenario is that the dispute
over whether a unit of British Petroleum should be allowed to
build a terminal and conversion facility at Crown Landing, near
Paulsboro, N.J., will be decided by Federal Energy Regulatory
that the need for more natural gas "is unquestionable, both
regionally and nationally, ... we'll see natural gas facilities
imposed on us at the federal level," he said.
Landing is just not a good place for it," he added, while
indicating that there is little that Delaware could do in the
event the federal commission rules in favor of the company's
proposal. "That's how our federal system works. ... We'll have a
lot of comments to make (about such a ruling), but, as good
Americans, we'll abide by the law," he said.
has ruled that the B.P. proposal violates the Delaware Coastal
Zone Act. It calls for the pier where the ships would dock to be
located in Delaware water. The pier would extend into the river
and it has long been established that Delaware's eastern
boundary is the New Jersey shoreline. "The trouble is that most
people in Jersey don't know about that," he said.
is not the case in Delaware Bay, where the boundary runs down a
north-south axis at its middle. In all likelihood, he said, a
monobuoy there would be in Jersey water "where we'd have no
jurisdiction," he said.
said he made his Coastal Zone ruling on the basis that B.P.'s
planned operation is clearly a transfer of a bulk product and
not manufacturing. As such, it is specifically banned by the
state law, he said. "We have to call it what it is," he said.
company has appealed Hughes's decision to the Coastal Zone
Industrial Control Board, a state review agency.
Viewing the controversy as a public safety issue, Hughes
acknowledged in his talk at the academy that refineries along
the river "do a lot of things beyond adding nitrogen and [an
odor-producing chemical]," which is what B.P. would do at
Paulsboro to make the gas a commercial product. Moreover, he
added, the ships that would bring it up the river in
concentrated and supercooled liquid form "are extremely safe."
that context he indicated that invoking the Coastal Zone Act
could be considered contrary to a recognized public interest not
only in having more fuel but having an environmentally
preferable fuel. A B.P. facility nearby could, for instance,
make it economically feasible for the Conectiv
electricity-generating plant at Edgemoor to convert to using
cleaner burning natural gas instead of coal. The electricity
plant is "a pretty substantial contributor to our industrial
pollution," he said.
"Whether it makes any sense or not, it's Delaware law [and] I'm
responsible for upholding the laws of the state of Delaware,"
Hughes said. "I'm a pretty flexible guy, but not on that."
more, he added, the Coastal Zone Act -- which was enacted in the
early 1970s at the height of the environmental movement in order
to thwart further expansion of the oil and petrochemical
industries along the Delaware River and is considered to be
landmark environmental legislation -- holds special prominence
for Delawareans, he said. "It's a law you don't food with if you
have any sense at all of [political] longevity," he said.
said that the state Department of Natural Resources &
Environmental Control will strongly oppose any effort to
compromise that Coastal Zone Act. If the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission were to 'trump' the state law in this
instance, it would not negate the law, he said. It would merely
be a declaration that "the nation's need [for gas] is greater
than a local or regional law."
he said he recognizes a potential public safety issue in having
the fuel transported up the river, he said that has to be viewed
in relative terms. "What happens if a 747 plows into an L.N.G.
tanker" differs from what would be expected in normal day-to-day
movement of the ships.
the idea of importing the gas is not necessarily objectionable.
"The basic concept is a good idea," he said.
said that he has been in contact with Chesapeake Utilities,
which is considering laying a pipeline under Chesapeake Bay to
carry natural gas from Cove Point on the western shore in
Maryland to link to an existing pipeline at Seaford, Del. "We've
told them that, when it comes to Delaware permitting, we'll help
you out," he said.
another topic raised during the question period after his talk,
Hughes indicated that he would favor taking a new look at
Delaware's ban on 'trash-to-steam' incineration in light of new
technology which has come about since the ban was imposed by law
several years ago.
can't have [a combination of] no recycling, a freeze on Cherry
Island [Landfill] height, refusing to site [a new landfill], and
a ban on incineration," he said. "There is such a thing as
technological improvement. America is starving for energy and
filling its landfills with trash."