Broadwater decision near

A final federal government decision on the still-kicking Broadwater Energy proposal for a liquid natural gas plant in Long Island Sound could come any time now. Meanwhile, the controversy over another proposal for a liquid natural gas facility, on a man-made island south of Long Beach, is heating up.

The final federal decision, due April 13 from the U.S. Department of Commerce, is on whether to overturn New York State’s veto of the Broadwater project. If the department upholds Gov. David A. Paterson’s April veto, Broadwater’s only recourse would be to go to a federal court, said the company’s senior vice president, John Hritcko Jr. “We’ll re-evaluate then,” he said.

Federal law permits one more delay by Commerce, from April 13 to April 28.

In December, Commerce in effect tossed the matter to the Obama administration, pushing back from Dec. 15 to Feb. 13 the closing of the time period during which it would accept material related to the decision.

Technically, New York’s refusal on April 10, 2008, came in the form of a determination by the state Department of State that the project is not consistent with New York’s Coastal Zone Management Program, which is administered by the State Department under a structure provided for by the federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972. The Commerce Department administers that act.

“It’s like a never-ending nightmare,” said Broadwater opponent Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “It feels like we had the funeral but are not able to bury the body.”

Broadwater is a joint venture of TransCanada and Shell US Gas and Power.Get the Biz Briefing newsletter!

The latest LI business news in your inbox Monday through Friday.

Meanwhile, the Long Beach City Council has written a protest letter to Paterson opposing the other pending gas project, the proposed construction by the private Atlantic Sea Island Group of Manhattan of a terminal and processing plant on a 60.5-acre island that would be built 13.5 miles south of Long Island and 19 miles east of the Jersey shore.

A spokesman for the project’s backers contended in an e-mail Friday that the project “merits approval and construction,” based on its environmental safety, the region’s energy needs and its “ability to create thousands of jobs in the middle of a recession.”

Either Paterson or New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine can veto the project, even if the U.S. Maritime Administration approves it. Atlantic Sea Island can appeal a rejection by either state to the Department of Commerce.