New Law Designed To Protect Vital Sites: Hartford CT Courant, 6/6/07

Restrictions Placed On Eminent Domain Use

By Mark Peters

Energy legislation signed into law this week includes a provision that grants more protection to vital energy structures, such as tank farms or power plants.

The legislation places new restrictions on the use of eminent domain to take energy-related properties for public projects. The new law arose from New Haven's interest in building a passenger ferry terminal at a site currently used as a fuel delivery and storage terminal.

The new law requires a review by the state Department of Public Utility Control and other state agencies before a municipality can take ownership of an energy facility.

A principal proponent of the new requirements is Magellan Midstream Partners, which owns a fuel storage facility and deepwater dock in New Haven Harbor.

City officials, the company said, have shown interest in using the waterfront land as a site to board passengers and vehicles for a ferry service between New Haven and Long Island. That has raised concerns by the company and by oil industry lobbyists who say the site is crucial to ensuring that the state has enough heating oil and diesel fuel.

The Magellan facility holds millions of gallons of home heating oil kept by the federal government as a strategic reserve to prevent shortages in times of extreme cold, said Bruce Heine, director of government and media affairs for Magellan, based in Oklahoma.

The new legislation "creates a balanced approach," Heine said.

An official for the city on Tuesday played down the city's interest in the property. New Haven has not even started a feasibility study of the proposed ferry service, and when it does, the city will look at several sites for a terminal, said Karyn Gilvarg, executive director of the New Haven City Plan Department.

The city recently hired a consultant to study whether a cross-sound ferry makes sense as a complement to the current service between Bridgeport and Port Jefferson, N.Y., Gilvarg said.

Hartford CT Courant: http://www.courant.com