August 27 is the last day to weigh in on Port Dolphin.
The U.S. Coast Guard, one of several agencies considering approval
of the port, published an environmental impact statement last month
listing its expected impacts on boaters, marine life and underwater
sand reserves used for beach renourishment on Anna Maria Island
and Longboat Key.
Comments have been posted and are being accepted at www.regulations.gov
regarding the proposed natural gas port, which would be built 28
miles from Anna Maria Island in the Gulf of Mexico, converting liquefied
natural gas to gas at submersible buoys offshore and transporting
it through a new 42-mile-long pipeline that would come ashore at
Those in favor
Supporters of the project, including energy and maritime representatives,
cite benefits including a positive economic impact and meeting a
rising demand for a clean, alternative energy source.
Port Manatee Commerce Center favors the project, writing that “Port
Dolphin is the best solution to bring additional natural gas to the
southwest coast of Florida while at the same time protecting the
area’s natural and living resources. The Port Dolphin project will
also create jobs and provide an immediate economic stimulus to Port
Manatee and related businesses.”
Associated Industries of Florida, representing employers and businesses,
also supports the project, writing, “This deepwater port project
will particularly have a major impact on the economy of west central
Florida, the maritime community serving Port Manatee and the Port
of Tampa, and will supply a much needed new source of clean energy
Other proponents of the project, including state Rep. Ronald Reagan,
used the identical language to describe their support.
Sea Sub Systems Inc., a commercial diving business based
in Indian Rocks Beach, supports the project because “Many businesses
in West Central Florida are struggling in these difficult economic
times, and Port Dolphin will provide a real economic boost when we
need it,” wrote Operations Director Rob LaMaire. “Port Dolphin will
offer employment and benefits during construction and during the
life of the project.”
Tampa-based Hellenic Ship Supply also supports the project, citing
Port Dolphin’s parent company, Hoegh LNG, as “…among the most efficient,
courteous and respectable of ship owners in a long-established relationship
developed over more than 15 years,” Alexander Korakis wrote.
Critics express concern about the project’s potential environmental
impacts on navigation, fisheries and beach renourishment.
Among those opposed is Joneen Neilsen of Bradenton.
“Florida beaches are worth their weight in gold,” she wrote. “Already
they suffer from pollution caused by shipping and toxic substances
off Port Manatee. If government would like to create jobs, put solar
panels on every house in Florida. That would create jobs and provide
plenty of energy. It would be a better use of resources.”
Leslie Swackhamer, a Bradenton native who has spent summers at
a family beach cottage on Anna Maria Island all her life, wrote,
“The water is clear, the sand white, marine mammals are plentiful,
the air is clean. This special island of Anna Maria is a haven for
sea turtles and marine mammals - I see manatees and dolphins every
day when I am here. Sport fishing is fantastic. That is why people
live here and visit. Tourism is the main industry. There are few
places of such natural beauty. Any ‘minor’ impact is unacceptable.”
Pete Gross of Holmes Beach questioned the project’s promised financial
“Nowhere are the specifics detailed – it is all smoke,” he wrote.
In addition, he pointed out that while the company proposed to
provide renourishment sand before pipeline construction, “We require
a compatible sand source forever, not one time only.”
“I believe that the only people who really stand to benefit from
this gas terminal are companies who are only answerable to their
stockholders and have little or no stake in the future of their developments
other than commercial,” wrote Morgan Rothe of Sarasota.
ManaSota-88 weighs in
Conservation and environmental protection group ManaSota-88 recommends
disapproval of the port application.
“Port Dolphin has not adequately demonstrated avoidance or mitigation
of the adverse environmental impacts resulting from the project construction
and operation,” Director Glenn Compton wrote.
The group anticipates impacts on water quality from construction,
pipe laying, cooling water discharges, accidental spills and routine
operations, he wrote.
“Unavoidable adverse impacts are expected on threatened and endangered
marine mammals, including sea turtles, fish and migratory birds,”
Compton wrote, adding that the Coast Guard’s environmental impact
statement predicts that 22 acres of the sea floor would not recover.
The port also would impact fishing and the habitats that support
marine life, he wrote.
Gov. Charlie Crist is scheduled to make a decision on whether to
allow the port to be built by Sept. 11, followed by an Oct. 26 deadline
for the U.S. Maritime Administration’s decision.
To comment on the project, go to www.regulations.gov, click on
“Submit a Comment” and enter 2007-28532 as the keyword.