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Date of Issue: June 03, 2009

LBK taps AMI to oppose pipeline route

The Port Dolphin pipeline route and potential sand resource impacts. Islander Image: Courtesy Longboat Key

Longboat Key officials are seeking to tap into Anna Maria Island and Manatee County clout as they challenge a proposal to run a gas pipeline through sand resources in Tampa Bay.

Longboat Key town manager Bruce St. Denis has appeared recently before Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach city commissions to build an alliance against Port Dolphin’s current route for a liquefied natural gas pipeline from the Gulf of Mexico into Tampa Bay.

Port Dolphin has proposed building a $1 billion floating port about 28 miles off the north shore of Anna Maria Island, feeding a pipeline into Tampa Bay to the mainland at Port Manatee. The company altered its proposed route last year to appease local officials who objected to its proximity to beach renourishment sources and Anna Maria Island, but has refused to alter its current proposal for Longboat Key.

St. Denis, at each meeting, stressed that Longboat Key is not opposing Port Dolphin’s project, but that there are concerns that the pipeline would make off-limits valuable sources of sand for beach renourishment.

“There is not as much sand out there as we all think there is,” St. Denis said.

That directly impacts Longboat Key, but could also impact Anna Maria Island, as communities compete for beach-quality sand, St. Denis stressed.

If Longboat Key lost potential sand because of the Port Dolphin project, “the next area for us to go into is where you are or down to Boca Grande,” he said.

St. Denis proposed a simple alternative for Port Dolphin — to run with an existing Gulf Stream pipeline.

“That doesn’t impact our future resources,” he told Anna Maria commissioners.

Earlier in May, St. Denis told the Bradenton Beach City Commission, “They agreed to move it once, but it is still … where we get our best sand. We want it to go further north.”

Officials in each of the Island cities showed interest in accepting Longboat Key’s request for help by writing letters for the federal record.

“I know the anguish that Longboat Key is going through right now,” Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford said May 28, after listening to St. Denis’ report.

Local officials were expected to take up the pipeline issue, as well as discuss beach renourishment, during a meeting at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 2, at the Manatee County Administrative Center, 1112 Manatee Ave., W., Bradenton.

Port Dolphin’s project still must get the approval of a number of state and federal agencies.

St. Denis said he was not optimistic about a realignment.

“We’re getting strong opposition from Port Dolphin and we don’t know why,” he said.

Representatives with Port Dolphin did not return The Islander’s calls.