An energy company is looking to export natural gas to Europe from Downeast Maine, changing the scope of a project that has been in the works for over a decade.
The proposal to build a liquefied natural gas import facility in Robbinston has been around since 2004.
This summer, Downeast LNG, the company behind it, said it will seek federal approval to ship gas out instead of take it in.
The original planned called for ships from other countries docking and offloading gas to the United States.
Then, last spring, Downeast LNG decided it would be more economical to export gas because a large supply close of it is close by in New York and Pennsylvania.
According to the project’s website, the facility could provide more than 1,000construction jobs during construction and 130 jobs after.
Activists like Robert Godfrey from Save Passamaquoddy Bay think projects like this aren’t worth the risk. They said it will disrupt ferry service, fishing and tourism that are vital to the existing economy in Washington County.
Godfrey also believes that even if the plan gets federal approval, the energy company will not succeed and will never get U.S. Coast Guard approval to bring ships into the bay.
“They have put money down on a longshot project that they have never anticipated succeeding at,” said Godfrey “They have about the same amount of probability now or less than they did when they started.”
The company said it has followed all permitting requirements thus far and will have discussions with concerned stakeholders as time goes on.
“Anything you do, if you want to build a hot dog stand you engage people like your community and your neighbors to talk about the project and see if there’s any issues,” said Girdis. “You have to do stakeholder engagement.”
Patrick Woodcock, director of the Governor’s Energy Office, has been having regular discussions with Downeast LNG about the project for years.
He told NEWS CENTER the LePage administration supports energy projects that create jobs in Maine, but they’re not endorsing the gas facility just yet.
That’s because the company hasn’t shown that there won’t be a negative price impact for gas consumers during the winter if Downeast LNG is using much of the state’s natural gas pipeline capacity.