Monday, November 27, 2006

Yet another LNG Hearing...

Hi, folks-

The State of Massachusetts is holding a public hearing on the Chapter 91/Waterways license for the proposed Weaver’s Cove Energy LNG project Monday, December 11th at 6:30PM at the Venus De Milo in Swansea, MA. This is another important opportunity to get comments and concerns on the record. The full public notice follows:




DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
WATERWAYS REGULATION PROGRAM

Notice of License Application pursuant to M. G. L Chapter 91 Waterways License
Application Nos. W04-1023D (Dredge), W04-1031 (LNG Facility) & W04-1030 (Pipeline)
Weavers Cove Energy, LLC & Mill River Pipeline, LLC

NOTIFICATION DATE: November 30,2006

PUBLIC HEARING DATE: December 11,2006

COMMENT PERIOD CLOSES: January 2,2007

Public notice is hereby given of the Waterways applications by Weavers Cove Energy. LLC to
dredge approximately 2.3 million cubic yards of sediment within Mount Hope Bay-Federal
Navigation Channel and the turning basin, to construct and maintain a liquid natural gas (LNG)
receiving 8 storage facility with auxiliary facilities, bulkhead, unloading platform 8 trestle service
platform 8 trestle, boat ramp, and floating dock, storm water outfall pipes and fill within the Mount Hope Bay Designated Port Area, off of 1 New Street in the municipality of Fall River in and over filled and flowed tidelands of the Taunton River, The Mill River Pipeline, LLC to dredge/backfill and to construct and maintain a gas transmission pipeline off of 1 New Street in the municipality of Fall River to an area off of Annette Avenue in the municipality of Somerset under filled and flowed tidelands of the Taunton River. The proposed projects have been determined to be water-dependent.

The Department of Environmental Protection Waterways Program, will conduct a Public hearing on the aforesaid projects on Monday. December 11. 2006. 6:30 PM. at Venus de Milo, 75 Grand Army Highway, Swansea, MA. The Department will conduct a public hearing in order to receive information to be used in its decision on whether to grant Waterways Licenses pursuant to M.G.L. Chapter 91. Directions to the Venus de Milo can be obtained by contacting the restaurant at, (508) 678-3901.

Additional information on these projects may be obtained by contacting Michael Howard of Epsilon Associates at (978) 897-7100.


The Department will consider all written comments on these Waterways applications received
within 30 days subsequent to the 'Notification Date". Failure of any aggrieved person or group of
ten citizens or more to submit written comments to the Waterways Regulation Program by the
Public Comments Deadline January 2, 20071 will result in the waiver of any right to an
adjudicatory hearing in accordance with 310 CMR 9.13(4)(c).

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Projo Story on LNG Hearings


The first RIDEM hearing on Weaver's Cove LNG's happened on Tuesday night. There's another hearing on 11/20. See the attached Providence Journal story by Alex Kuffner, also available on www.projo.com:

Lynch asks DEM to put a stop to dredging plan

01:00 AM EST on Wednesday, November 15, 2006

By Alex KuffnerJournal Staff Writer

TIVERTON — Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch last night called on the state Department of Environmental Management to suspend its review of an application to dredge a section of Mount Hope Bay that would clear the way for tanker ships to reach a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal in Fall River.

At a public hearing on the dredging plan at Tiverton High School, Lynch, a staunch opponent of the construction of the $250-million terminal, called the application submitted by Weaver’s Cove Energy and Hess LNG inadequate and said the companies had shown “callous disrespect” and “gross disregard for officials in the state” and its coastal residents.

He said that in their application to dredge up to 230,000 cubic yards from 33 acres in the Rhode Island portion of the Bay, the companies had failed to provide essential information about the potential negative impact on water quality and marine life.

“What do they do? At best, provide misinformation,” he said to DEM officials and an audience of 50 people from Rhode Island and Massachusetts, most of whom had come to speak against the proposal.

In a statement released before the hearing, Lynch urged the DEM to hold a separate evidentiary hearing on the dredging application.

“The general public, like RIDEM, deserves a response to these legitimate and serious ecological issues, and unless the applicant can be forthright about the known consequences of its plans, the RIDEM should not be wasting its time, and that of the public’s, reviewing an incomplete application,” he said in the statement.

The project companies have received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee to build an LNG facility on 73 acres in Fall River’s north end fronting the Taunton River. The terminal would be supplied by tankers traveling north through Rhode Island waters. However, the 35-foot-deep shipping channel in Mount Hope Bay and the Taunton River is too shallow for the massive ships.

Weaver’s Cove and Hess propose deepening a seven-mile stretch to 37 feet and they need permission from local and state agencies to move ahead. The bulk of the project would be carried out in Massachusetts. In total, the companies would remove 2.6 million cubic yards of material from 191 acres in the Bay and river.

The companies say they would limit dredging during the three-year project to seven months a year from mid-June to mid-January to minimize damage to fish habitats.

Of the 15 people who submitted comments last night, 14 raised objections. Nobody from Weaver’s Cove or Hess spoke. The lone supporter of the proposal was Don Church, a retired Rhode Island boat pilot, who said Fall River’s economy would suffer without an adequate shipping channel.

The many opponents cited the harmful effects of disturbing what they said are buried toxic sediments that include zinc, copper and mercury and the potentially devastating effects of dredging on dwindling populations of winter flounder, herring, tautog, Atlantic sturgeon and other fish.

John Torgan, of Save the Bay, said dredging could exacerbate periods of hypoxia in Mount Hope Bay, cutting off oxygen to fish and shellfish. He and others told the DEM that the Taunton River, Mount Hope Bay and Narragansett Bay are part of a single ecosystem and asked them to also consider the dredging work in Massachusetts when reviewing the companies’ application.

Eric Hesher, of Portsmouth, said Rhode Island waters would suffer if buried pollutants around Fall River are dug up.

“Anything that’s up there is going to come down here,” he said.

State Rep. Raymond E. Gallison Jr., D-Bristol, Portsmouth, went one step further than Lynch’s request to suspend the dredging application. Gallison said Weaver’s Cove and Hess have no grounds to apply for a dredging permit because of a recently ratified state law he introduced that effectively prohibits LNG tankers from entering Rhode Island waters. The companies have said the law is unconstitutional.

Paul Roberti, a lawyer in Lynch’s office, said he and others would not give up their fight.
“The one thing we have are our natural resources,” he said. “They are not for sale. We will fight this to the end. This project will never happen.”

Monday, November 13, 2006

RIDEM to hold 2 Public Hearings on LNG Dredging


RIDEM is holding 2 hearings on the RI component of Weaver Cove's dredging application. Although the RI portion is relatively small, it's still important to attend or write a letter of testimony.

Save The Bay is urging DEM to deny the permit and water quality certification based on the fact that this would be a damaging project and it has the potential to harm critical habitat for winter flounder, river herring, and other key estuarine species. The proposed disposal of all the dredged sediment (3 Million + cubic yards) would be in the Rhode Island sound site, so it would negatively impact RI's resources both during dredging and disposal. The dredged channel, called "improvement" dredging, is actually new deepening which will cause a permanent impact on the bottom of Mount Hope Bay and the Taunton River.

The public notice follows:


News Release: RI Department of Environmental Management235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462

For Release:
November 3, 2006

Contact:

Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418

DEM TO HOLD TWO HEARINGS ON WEAVER COVE ENERGY LLC'S REQUEST TO DREDGE NAVIGATION CHANNEL IN MOUNT HOPE BAYPROVIDENCE -

The Department of Environmental Management announces that it will hold public hearings on November 14 in Tiverton and November 20 in Bristol regarding a request from Weaver's Cove Energy LLC of Fall River, MA for a dredge permit and water quality certificate to dredge approximately 140,000 cubic yards of sediment from the state's portion of the existing federal navigation channel in Mount Hope Bay.Under the proposal, the depth of the channel would be deepened from its original 35 feet to 37 feet.

About 40,000 cubic yards of sediment would be removed from depths of up to 35 feet as maintenance dredging. The remaining 100,000 cubic yards, considered "improvement dredging," would deepen the authorized channel by two feet. The proposal would also allow a one-foot depth margin of error because of the nature of the dredging equipment, which could add an additional 90,000 cubic yards of sediment to the total amount dredged.

The hearing on November 14 will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Tiverton High School auditorium, 100 North Brayton Road in Tiverton. The November 20 hearing will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Mount Hope High School auditorium at 199 Chestnut Street in Bristol.

Written comments will be accepted at the hearings and also via mail by November 20 to Ronald Gagnon at DEM's Office of Technical and Customer Assistance, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02928.

Questions regarding the public hearings should be directed to Ronald Gagnon at 222-6822 ext. 7500. Documents related to the proposed project can be reviewed at DEM Headquarters in Providence by appointment by calling 222-6822 ext. 7307.

Weaver's Cove LNG in Deep Trouble


The proposed LNG terminal for Fall River has taken several major hits in this past week. First of all, the election will help take the momentum away from those who would force risky energy development into communities against the political will of the region. There are no guarantees, but it's likely that a democratic Congress will actually listen to the Governors and Delegations of Rhode Island and Massachusetts when they say they don't want Hess/Weaver's Cove in Fall River. Those "environmental" agency officials who are pawns of the oil and gas industry will be replaced, if we're lucky, with reasonable people who will work to plan a sustainable energy future for the Northeast instead of kowtowing to industry pressure from a greedy few.

Also, several proposed offshore LNG development projects will now get a leg up on the land-based competition. See today's Boston Globe story below on that...

It seems that between the Canadian Maritimes' facilities that can pipe LNG to New England and any of the proposed offshore facilities, there is no need to site any LNG terminals that would unduly risk the environment, the safety of our cities, or the rights and responsibilities of states to have a role in siting. A regional soultion has always been the most sensible soultion to the need for gas, and if they have any clue at all, Weaver's Cove and Hess will finally realize that their damaging proposal is a non-starter and that they should go back to the drawing board. JT

Romney may swing debate on LNG sites

Offshore approvals could slow land plans

By Beth Daley, Globe Staff November 13, 2006

In his last days in office, Governor Mitt Romney could dramatically alter the controversial debate about where to put new liquefied natural gas terminals as he decides the fate of two gas ports in the deep waters off Gloucester.

If Romney allows construction of one or both of the ports, 8 and 13 miles southeast of the fabled fishing city, they would get a head start on nearly a dozen proposed land-based LNG terminals from Rhode Island to Eastern Canada.

The offshore facilities could supply much of New England's projected natural gas needs for the immediate future, say some energy analysts, so their approval could delay -- if not outright kill -- the land-based projects.

The land terminals, including ones in Fall River and on a Boston Harbor island, have provoked stronger opposition from communities and politicians than the offshore ones because of safety concerns.

Federal laws give Romney no final say over the land-based projects, but he has veto power over the offshore proposals. In the past, he has said he favors offshore LNG over terminals on land because they are far from people in case of an explosion. But a spokesman last week said Romney is reserving final judgment until a public comment period is completed and a final state environmental review is released next month.

The US Maritime Administration, the lead permitting agency for offshore LNG, wrapped up public hearings last week on one of the projects, called Northeast Gateway. Tomorrow, the last hearing will be held on Neptune, the other project. Written comments on both will be accepted for several more weeks. The governor then has until Dec. 26 to make a decision on Northeast Gateway and Jan. 2 -- his second to last full day in office -- for Neptune. If he does nothing, the projects will automatically be approved.

New England needs at most two new LNG ports in the next five years to meet the region's growing energy demand, analysts predicted, and the offshore projects can be built much faster -- less than a year, compared with three years for land terminals. Natural gas consumption in New England is expected to grow some 25 percent by 2021, according to the Northeast Gas Association.

The Fall River proposal, known as Weavers Cove, has been approved by the federal government, but it remains mired in legal challenges and has faced intense public opposition because thousands of residents live nearby. "Clearly the offshore proposals will affect other projects and Fall River," said Neal B. Costello, a Boston lawyer who represents energy companies and is not involved in the current LNG proposals. "If these offshore projects do go forward, Weavers Cove is facing not only a political hurdle but an economic one."

A Weavers Cove official said last week that they still would build even if the offshore projects are approved because the proposed Fall River terminal is necessary to meet energy demand in the future.

Some analysts say it is too early to predict which LNG projects will be winners and losers because there are so many variables -- from the securing of long-term supplies of gas from overseas to lawsuits to stop construction.

A large LNG facility called Canaport is under construction in New Brunswick, and its plans to push gas into the New England market could erode the need for new LNG receiving ports or terminals. Some analysts say the Fall River terminal is needed because it will have the infrastructure to receive, store, and transport supercooled gas on peak demand days. The offshore ports are designed primarily to deliver vapor into the system that can't be stored, analysts said.

"The offshore projects will compete, but it won't necessarily drive Weavers Cove out," said John Meeske, president of Energy Market Decisions Inc., an energy firm in Hopkinton. "It could delay for a few years a land-based terminal, but it doesn't necessarily mean it will not be built, because demand continues to grow."

If Romney grants approval, Northeast Gateway officials say, they could be operating by December 2007. Neptune, proposed by Suez, the conglomerate that owns an Everett LNG facility, plans to go on line in 2009. Construction of an offshore terminal would not result in the closure of the land-based terminal in Everett.

The two offshore LNG ports would act as permanent floating factories. Ships from overseas would dock and regasify supercooled gas on board before pumping it into a pipe system connecting to the mainland. As soon as one of the massive ships -- some almost 2 1/2 football fields in length -- completed its weeklong unloading, another would take its place. Each ship could hold enough super-cooled gas in its tanks and labyrinth of pipes to heat about 30,000 homes for a year.

The only existing offshore LNG port -- in the Gulf of Mexico -- is run by Northeast Gateway's parent company, Excelerate. However, eight other offshore proposals are under review around the nation by the Maritime Administration, and two others in the Gulf of Mexico have been approved.

The governor's final say over offshore LNG lies in the Deepwater Port Act of 1974, which granted refusal rights over proposed offshore oil ports to adjacent coastal states. That law was amended in 2002 to include natural gas.

"The point hasn't been lost on me that a governor cannot stop a proposal like Weavers Cove, which clearly endangers the people he represents, but [the law] allows him to prevent one offshore," said Mayor Edward Lambert of Fall River. "It's incongruous."

The offshore proposals are opposed by fishermen who fear a loss of fishing grounds and others who worry about impacts to the federally endangered right whale and other marine mammals. But they have not generated the same outrage that Weavers Cove or other on-shore sites have.
In fact, state environmental officials have praised the offshore projects' water intake system, which has dramatically reduced the amount of ocean water needed to warm the LNG to about 5 million gallons a day from an originally proposed 54 million gallons.

The projects could exclude fishermen from about 7 square miles of fishing grounds, but federal officials say they are researching whether boats could steam through the closed zone to other fishing areas.

Beth Daley can be reached by e-mail at bdaley@globe.com.