Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Rally against Weaver's Cove LNG


The proposal to create a large-scale Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) tanker terminal in Fall River by Weaver's Cove and Hess may be sailing along through the federal permitting process, but the States of Rhode Island and Massachusetts are united in their determination to keep it out of the Taunton River.

Senator John Kerry's appearance at a Fall River anti-LNG rally yesterday helped keep the momentum of the LNG opposition movement alive. Lately, much of the official news on the Weaver's Cove project has been discouraging: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied our motion to reopen the public record and require a supplemental EIS, and FERC punted most of the substantive safety and environmental decisions to the Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, and the States.

The locals in Fall River, led by the popular and charismatic Mayor Lambert, Joe Carvahlo and the Coalition for Responsible LNG Siting, have done a phenomenal job keeping this issue in the public's eye and this rally event was another example of their courage and vision . Despite great coverage by the local media and Save The Bay's best efforts to reach out to the public on this, many Rhode Islanders and Massachusetts residents still don't seem to understand the massive environmental, economic, and public safety risks of the Weaver's Cove proposal. Clearly this plan should have been a non-starter and it is a surprise and disappointment that it has gotten this far.

It seems like just about every year, there is some new scheme to convert a major portion of the Bay's public waters into private, for-profit, industrial or energy facilities at the expense of the environment and public trust. These kinds of proposals always promise a panacea of economic development, jobs, and energy security and claim to pose only a minimal or insignificant risk to the existing communities.

Save The Bay has a long memory for mega-boondoggles, each of which was supposed to be a "silver bullet" cure for all that ailed the local economy. Does anyone remember Commerce Oil's plans for Jamestown, the Tiverton oil refinery proposal, Patience Island LNG, Rome Point nuclear power plant, or the Quonset Point Container Port?

All of these proposals had strong support from big-business types, but ultimately they failed under their own dead weight. They failed, but not because of obstuctionist enviromental groups or burdensome government regulations. They failed because they were way out of proportion with Narragansett Bay and its coastal communities. They failed because they were bad business decisions, but it took the bright shining light of public review and disclosure to expose their fatal flaws.

Ultimately, we expect that Weaver's Cove LNG will go extinct like all those other ill-fated ideas. While it may be cruising through the industry-friendly FERC,other agencies like the Coast Guard, the Corps, and the states still have the time and the responsibility to act in the Bay's defense. In the meantime, we are committed to the fight. JT

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