New Brunswick

Downeast LNG terminal proposal in Maine dismissed

The application to build a LNG terminal in Robbinston, Maine, opposite St. Andrews, has been dismissed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the United States.

Proposal that was initiated 10 years ago dismissed by U.S. regulator due to lack of progress

Downeast LNG had been trying to develop a liquefied natural gas export terminal at Robbinston, Maine, for the last 10 years but it was recently dismissed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the United States. (PR NEWSWIRE)

The application to build a LNG terminal in Robbinston, Maine, opposite St. Andrews, has been dismissed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the United States.

This proposal was the last of three separate Maine LNG plans to be dismissed and marks the end of 10 years of preparations by Downeast LNG, the group responsible for the proposal.

The order stated "There has been essentially no progress at all toward completion of an application in the past nine months, and Downeast has presented nothing to persuade us that its situation is likely to change in the immediate future."

Save Passamaquoddy Bay Canada co-chair Jessie Davies said that the group was thrilled to hear the news, although they had been expecting it.

You look at the markets for natural gas and you realize it wasn't financially feasible.- Jessie Davies, Save Passamaquoddy Bay Canada

"We weren't totally surprised because we'd been in touch with energy consultants and the province, and you look at the markets for natural gas and you realize it wasn't financially feasible," she said.

The suspicion was supported by the fact that in May, after 10 years of work, Downeast LNG put the project up for sale, leading activist groups to believe the company had run out of money.

Also, the Canadian government had banned LNG tankers from entering Head Harbour Passage, the only way for large ships to get into Passamaquoddy Bay.

Economic cost vs. benefit

Davies can see Maine from St. Andrews and the LNG plant would have been visible to residents of the town.

"Really, for us, there wasn't any gain and the whole ecology of the bay and the environmental health, would have been at risk.

"It's all about protecting a bay that we find it's very fragile ecologically. It's really the basis of the economy down here, whether it's fisheries, or aquaculture, or tourism."

It's all about protecting a bay that we find it's very fragile ecologically, it's really the basis of the economy down here, whether it's fisheries, or aquaculture, or tourism.- Jessie Davies, Save Passamaquoddy Bay Canada

Robert Godfrey is the researcher and webmaster for Save Passamaquoddy Bay 3-Nation Alliance. He believes that the economic benefits of the project, even in the U.S., would not outweigh the risks.

"There would have been an economic cost greater than benefit to doing those projects," he said. "It would have brought those [corporate] people money, but very little to the surrounding area, and a lot of infrastructure and ongoing security expenses to the communities in the area."

The end of an era

Th proposal is the final LNG proposal to be dismissed by FERC. In 2008, the first LNG project, Quoddy Bay LNG was dismissed  and then in 2012, Calais LNG was dismissed as well. 

The proposal was dismissed without prejudice, meaning they can resubmit, but both activist groups think that is unlikely to happen.

Downeast LNG did not respond to CBC's requests for an interview.