Partners TransCanada PipeLines and ConocoPhillips suspended plans to build an LNG terminal in Harpswell, Maine, after the town residents voted March 9 against leasing town-owned land at a former naval fuel depot for the project.

The $350-million Fairwinds LNG project would have allowed imports of 500 million cu ft per day of natural gas into New England and brought the town $8-million/year in fees and taxes. But the plan was opposed by groups who said it would harm fishing and "industrialize" the town. It was defeated in a 55% to 45% vote.


After the vote, the project sponsors issued a statement saying they "respected the choice of the people" and would pursue LNG projects elsewhere in the Northeast..
The Harpswell vote is expected to shift attention to a separate plan by the state of Maine to develop an LNG terminal on Sears Island in Penobscot Bay which is owned by the state.

In 1996 the state had dropped a plan to build a wood-chip and container port on the uninhabited, 940-acre island because of environmental protests. State officials have acknowledged in recent months that they have held talks with unidentified groups about developing an LNG terminal there along with a 12-mile connection to the Maritimes and Northeast gas pipeline.

Richard Stander in Searsport, Maine, a spokesman for local opposition group Friends of Sears Island, says "bidding for Sears Island will now heat up with TransCanada-ConocoPhillips getting in line behind the other groups."

Stander’s group claims the project will ruin the island’s natural state and the LNG shipping in the narrow bay will disrupt lobstering and create a major safety hazard. They are currently lobbying Maine Gov. John Baldacci (D) who has ultimate authority to approve or reject the sale of the island.