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Date of Issue: September 02, 2009

Port Dolphin deadline extended

For the record

Details of Port Dolphin Energy LLC plans for a deepwater port in the Gulf of Mexico and a pipeline into Tampa Bay are online at www.regulations.gov. The docket number is USCG-2007-28532.
The public also can post comments regarding the plan on the Web site until Sept. 11.
People with questions about the document or the process can call Ray Martin of the Coast Guard at 202–372–1449, or e-mail raymond.w.martin@uscg.mil.


A deadline for public comment on a proposed natural gas pipeline and deepwater port was extended to Sept. 11.


The deadline had been Aug. 27 for people to respond to the federal government’s environmental impact statement on the Port Dolphin Energy LLC project, which involves a deepwater natural gas port about 28 miles off the coast of Anna Maria Island in the Gulf of Mexico.
The government cited errors in the EIS as the reason for extending the comment period.
While the public comment deadline was changed, the government did not push back the deadline for Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to weigh in on the project. That date remains Sept. 11.
Port Dolphin plans to have ships carrying liquefied natural gas from other areas anchor next to buoys at the deepwater port, where the liquefied natural gas would be converted into gas and fed into a pipeline running from the deepwater port into Tampa Bay to Port Manatee. The pipeline would continue several miles inland, where it would connect with other gas pipelines.
Since March 2007, the Port Dolphin application has been under review by federal agencies, in cooperation with Florida departments. The principal reviewer is the U.S. Coast Guard.
In mid-July, the Maritime Administration and the Coast Guard released a final environmental impact statement that explores whether the project impacts air quality, cultural and historic resources, fish habitat, threatened or endangered species, navigation and transportation and land use.
At a public hearing in late July on the EIS, a number of people spoke in favor of the project, focusing on its economic significance and its addition to the energy supply in south Florida.
In the weeks since the hearing, a number of comments have been filed online at www.regulations.gov, most of them supporting the project or not objecting to the plan.
Glenn Compton of the environmental group Manasota-88 posted one of the most recent statements on the project, calling for disapproval.
“Disapproval of the preferred pipeline route is the type of relief appropriate for ManaSota-88 to request on behalf of its members,” Compton wrote. “A large number of ManaSota-88’s members own real property and reside in Manatee County and will be substantially adversely affected if the proposed deepwater port license Application is accepted.…
“ManaSota-88 has reviewed the final environmental impact statement … and continues to recommend the no action alternative. Under the no action alternative, the maritime administrator should deny and disapprove the project under the Deepwater Port Act.”
Manasota-88 maintains:
• Port Dolphin failed to adequately address adverse impact from construction and operation or safety and operational issues associated with the onshore, pipeline route.
• Construction, pipe-laying, cooling water discharges, accidental spill and routine offshore operations will increase water pollutants and turbidity.
• Unavoidable adverse impacts are expected on threatened and endangered marine mammals, including sea turtles, fish and migratory birds.
“There will be significant unpermittable foreseeable adverse cumulative impacts on water quality, conservation and protection of fish and wildlife resulting from the project,” Compton said. “Long-term, adverse, cumulative impacts on biological resources, including marine mammals, benthic communities, migratory birds, sea turtles, fisheries resources … are expected with operation of the port.”
He concluded, “ManaSota-88 finds the adverse cumulative impacts associated with the project unacceptable.”
The Maritime Administration is scheduled to release its decision on the Port Dolphin project Oct. 26.