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Stamford Advocate (Connecticut): EPA chief seeks balance between environment, economy

By Richard Lee
Assistant Business Editor
Published July 15 2006

EXTRACT: The nation must follow a similar philosophy when addressing its need for energy, including projects like the Broadwater plan, proposed by TransCanada Corp. and Shell Oil to develop a floating liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound, Johnson said yesterday.

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When President Bush gave Stephen Johnson the task of administering the Environmental Protection Agency, the assignment came with a caveat.

Bush told the 25-year veteran of the agency that he should strike a balance between accelerating EPA efforts to improve the environment while not affecting economic growth.

The nation must follow a similar philosophy when addressing its need for energy, including projects like the Broadwater plan, proposed by TransCanada Corp. and Shell Oil to develop a floating liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound, Johnson said yesterday.

The EPA administrator was in Stamford speaking to about two dozen participants in the Business Council of Fairfield County’s Leadership Fairfield County program yesterday at Stamford’s Water Pollution Control Authority.

The plant recently underwent a $105 million upgrade and has been the beneficiary of EPA assistance.

Though not specifically addressing the Broadwater plan, Johnson said the EPA plays a role in an environmental assessment of the project.

“As a nation, we need to come to grips on how we are going to meet our energy needs,” he said, adding that liquefied natural gas is one option.

Johnson reminded the group that Hurricane Katrina shut down energy production for a time when it slammed into southern Louisiana.

When Norwalk resident Tom Kies, president of the Norwalk Seaport Association and regional manager for Connecticut programs at MetroPool, asked a question, Johnson responded by saying that it is imperative that any project be done in a safe and environmentally conscious manner.

“I’d like to see a stronger stance by the EPA,” Kies said.

Raj Mehta, chief creative officer of IJM Interactive in Fairfield, another member of the leadership group, said the Broadwater project bears watching.

“I hope there are individuals in government that are looking into the health impact,” said Mehta, who was buoyed by Johnson’s comments about the state of the environment.

“He gives a sense that things are improving. It gives us some hope,” Mehta said.

In its 35 years, the EPA has succeeded in dramatically improving the environment, Johnson said.

“There were rivers that were so bad they caught on fire. Air pollution has been reduced by 51 percent,” Johnson said.

Earlier in the morning, Johnson and council members discussed EPA initiatives involving brownfields, Long Island Sound, traffic congestion, air quality and the EPA’s Energy Star partnership with the council, a pilot program to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings.

“We consider it (Stamford) to be a national model,” said Robert Varney, administrator of the EPA’s Region 1. “We encourage other business groups to follow the lead of Fairfield County.”

Through Johnson’s initiative, the EPA is introducing a water efficiency program similar to its EnergyStar effort.
 
Copyright © 2006, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.

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