Attendees at the event, held in a tent on the municipal beach, viewed information displays about the project. Below, a rendering of the transfer system. (Photo above by Colby Wilson. Click to enlarge)


An all-too familiar storm is brewing on the Jersey Shore, as local environmentalists are turning up the heat on Governor Chris Christie to block a liquefied natural gas (LNG) port from being built just miles away from Sea Bright.

Dozens took their frustrations to the Sea Bright beach Thursday night at a “citizen public hearing” held by Sandy Hook-based Clean Ocean Action. At issue: an LNG ocean-transfer terminal, dubbed Port Ambrose. An applicant called Liberty Natural Gas applied last month for federal permits to build the deepwater port 24 miles east of Long Branch in 103 feet of water.

The terminal, handling gas chilled to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit, would be in different location than one proposed in 2010 and later nixed a year later by Christie.

“Make no mistake, it is déjà vu. You were here before, and this was happening before,” said Clean Ocean Action executive director Cindy Zipf.

Back in 2010, the ocean advocacy group that Zipf started 30 years ago went head-to-head with Liberty Natural Gas and its supporters. In 2011 Christie invoked his authority under the federal Deepwater Port Act and vetoed the operation, preventing the LNG pipeline from being constructed just 16 miles off the coast of Asbury Park.

“Offshore LNG poses unacceptable risks to the state’s residents, natural resources, economy and security,” Christie stated at the time of the veto.

According to Clean Ocean Action coastal policy attorney Sean Dixon, the only difference in the latest proposal is the location and the name.

“It’s the same project, and there are all the same reasons to stop it,” he said. “It’s just as dangerous.”

The Port Ambrose project has become a lightning rod for bipartisan criticism, with officials from all sides taking issue with the proposal, including 11th-district state Senator Jennifer Beck of Red Bank.

“The next time the senate meets, I will introduce a resolution that calls on both New York and New Jersey to oppose the LNG facility,” Beck said.

Congressman Frank Pallone called on Christie to again veto the the project, and urged the public to continue to be diligent.

“There are always going to be people out there who want to take advantage of the ocean,” Pallone said.

Opponents cite potentially harmful environmental impacts if the project is built, including the discharge of chemically treated water used in testing the pipeline that would connect the terminal to a land-based facility on Long Island.

The port would be built in between two shipping lanes into and out of New York, and in the vicinity of an offshore wind energy area proposed by the state of New York, Dixon said.

Liberty LNG has stated that the project is only intended to be an import facility, but Dixon said nothing could be further from the truth. Critics argue that the facility would be the nearest to the Marcellus Shale, Pennsylvania’s coveted gas reserve, and that exporting would be inevitable.

Surfer Scott Thompson of Rumson called on elected officials to stop the project.

“They’re asking us to sacrifice our ocean,” Thompson said of LNG. “I ask Governor Christie to use the power of his pen to say no.”

If approved, the project could be commissioned by December of 2015.