Gov. Charlie Crist approved a natural-gas pipeline project application Friday, Sept. 11 that affects Longboat Key’s beach-quality sand resources.
Port Dolphin’s proposed $1 billion natural-gas pipeline is slated to be situated 28 miles southwest of Tampa Bay near Anna Maria Island, right through the middle of sand to be used for the town’s future beach renourishments.
Town Manager Bruce St. Denis said that a memorandum of understanding reached between Port Dolphin, the Oslo, Norway,-based pipeline company, and the state reveals that the town must remove the affected sand in two of its permitted sand sites by June 2012.
“We are reasonably certain this can be accomplished,” said St. Denis, who was hoping Crist would extend the sand-removal timeline by an additional year.
However, if the town moves forward “with all deliberate speed but is not successful in removing sand by June of 2012,” Port Dolphin has agreed to either extend the town’s deadline by one year or reimburse the town for sand lost in those sites, within a 400-foot corrido,r at a cost of $15 per cubic yard, up to a limit of $5 million.
As it stands, the agreement stipulates that the town will be reimbursed for the actual cost of sand removed up to a limit of $5 million if it removes the sand by June 2012. And, the town will also be reimbursed for the cost of permitting the sand removal up to $500,000.
The news means that the town’s beach-wide renourishment project could be accelerated by one year and could begin in November 2012.
“This could make it less expensive to perform our beach project a year ahead of schedule,” St. Denis said.
In Crist’s Sept. 11 letter to the acting administrator of Maritime Administration, in Washington, D.C., Crist states that the factors in making his decision included Florida’s energy needs and the need for alternate natural-gas supplies for the state.
The project, Crist noted, is capable of delivering 400 million standard cubic feet of natural gas per day and would eventually be capable of bringing 800 million standard cubic feet of natural gas per day.
Crist’s approval letter notes that Port Dolphin now has five business days to execute the memorandum of understanding with the state, which includes the Longboat Key sand stipulations.
Manatee County will also benefit from permitting and sand-removal costs for a renourishment project planned for Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island.
Federal officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation will now make a final decision on the project by Oct. 26.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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