Isle of Bad Ideas
So there's a plan to build an actual island of the New Jersey and New York coasts?
Hmmm, that sounds pretty good a Tavarua-like man-made isle at the mouth of New York Harbor? Just imagine east swell wrapping around it. How about riding west swell when the Jersey Shore is flat, or taking your boat out for warm Gulf Stream waves and then a night out in NYC?
Well stop imagining, because you won't be riding any fantasy island wave.
The Atlantic Sea Island Group is interested in building the industrial island just 13 miles south of Long Beach, New York and 19 miles east of Sea Bright, New Jersey, as an importation facility for liquified natural gas (LNG.)
Sorry, the Navistar won't be running trips out of Coney Island anytime soon.
The private investment group is looking for government approval to build a land mass in the midst of the ocean yes, our ocean, the ultimate public domain. And they are doing so with the purpose of profiting off the import of a foreign fossil fuel, and at a risk to the sea in which we surf. Not to mention it's the first open ocean island to ever be built, susceptible to every nor'easter and hurricane in the Mid Atlantic. It's called, ironically, Safe Harbor Energy.
Tuesday, January 27th, and Thursday, January 29th, saw public hearings in New Jersey and New York, held by the Coast Guard and US Maritime Administration, the neutral party to ultimately grant or deny permission.
On Tuesday, Sandy Hook-based Clean Ocean Action and the local Surfrider Chapter rented a conference room at the Sheraton where the hearing was held. There, they rallied the many groups with the common environmental impact of stopping "Insanity Island," as its been dubbed.
The groups feel that a 140-acre island will not only be detrimental to marine life, but also counters a movement towards renewable energy sources.
"We're hear to make it loud and clear that Insanity Island is a no starter," announced Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of COA, "and show that it only perpetuates an addiction to yet another fossil fuel."
Once the proceedings started, one speaker asked how many people in the room were for the projects. The four folks representing the investors raised their hands. The other near 500 surfers, environmentalist, divers, fishermen, and concerned citizen in attendance were against it. Thursday's outcome was similar, as 400 protestors packed a smaller venue.
Greg Loudermilk, Public Safety and Security Director of ASIG, claims that many environmental concerns are falsely based. For instance, the island will only take up 116 acres of the sea floor, and he explains that there are already many man-made islands in the world. The examples he gave included Disneyland in Japan and the Palm Islands of Dubai (though neither is open ocean.)
He also claims that core locks used for the foundation will actually provide a habitat for marine life.
"What's ironic is that this 116-acre island is proposed to be built right on top of Cholera Banks," rebuts David Byer, Water Policy Attorney for COA, "The only natural occurring reef system off New Jersey and New York, and they're going to destroy that."
So, if those rumored cloudbreaks off Long Branch are real, they won't be for long.
Furthermore, once the tankers unload the gas, they have to replace the weight with millions of gallons of seawater for ballast.
"If it does attract fish, it's going to attract them to their demise. The tankers suck up all the sea life, killing them or bringing them to another part of the world where they're an invasive species," Byers adds.
There are two more proposals for LNG import factilities. And while the momentum may seem on the side of surfers and ocean advocates, this is far from over. And this isn't just a NY/NJ issue. I'm sure there were many surfers there who helped support the Trestles Campaign.