Letter: What's Going On With The LNG Terminal Plan
Save the Bay's Executive Director Jonathan Stone praises the hard work of many groups and individuals fighting the LNG terminal proposed for Mt. Hope Bay.
To the Editor,
I’m writing today to update you on the status of Hess’ efforts to build a massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the middle of Mount Hope Bay and connect it to the Weaver’s Cove storage facility in Fall River by way of a pipeline along the bottom.
As you may know, Save The Bay has been leading efforts to oppose this environmentally-damaging and economically-risky project since it was first proposed in 2003. Our objections are based on the permanent and severe environmental impacts of the project’s footprint on the fragile and battered Mount Hope Bay and Taunton River ecosystems that we’ve worked for decades to restore. We are further concerned that the frequent transits of LNG tankers and associated security exclusion zones will disrupt and displace many other Bay users, threaten economic growth and upset the balance of uses of the bay.
In December of 2009, anticipating the imminent release of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) favoring the project, Save The Bay ramped up the Stop Hess LNG campaign to raise awareness and engage the public in the fight to defeat the project. So far, our collective efforts are working.
Thanks to you, dozens of community organizations, cities, towns and elected officials have stepped up to fight this. The release of the FERC DEIS is still delayed, and there remain several crucial issues that could finally end Hess’ relentless pursuit of the Weaver’s Cove project:
1. The “Wedge Lot.” The State of Massachusetts and the City of Fall River won an important victory in October of 2010 as FERC granted a rehearing on the so-called “wedge lot” issue. The ownership of a lot adjacent to the proposed LNG storage facility is in dispute, and the outcome will ultimately determine whether the LNG storage facility can be sited there. The rehearing now allows a Massachusetts court to rule on this critical issue.
2. New Vapor Dispersion Rules from the Federal Department of Transportation. In October, FERC notified Hess/Weaver’s Cove that the company must conform to new vapor-gas exclusion zone requirements established by the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration of USDOT. Until Hess can demonstrate that the project can comply with these rules, the DEIS will be delayed.
3. Political opposition remains strong across both Rhode Island and Massachusetts. We are fortunate that the bipartisan Congressional Delegations, governors and attorneys general see this project for the raw deal that it is to the environment and economies of both states. Local cities and towns have voiced forceful and well grounded objections. We applaud their continued strong leadership on this, and we believe the political opposition will ultimately make the project’s construction impossible.
4. Environmental permits will be difficult, if not impossible, for Hess to secure. The fact that the project would permanently remove and destroy 73 acres of essential winter flounder spawning habitat calls into question whether the project could ever get dredging and fill permits from the state and federal agencies. Such permits would be illegal, since winter flounder impacts and other habitat impacts cannot be effectively mitigated.
5. Market forces are working against Hess on this. Numerous objective analyses of regional energy markets confirm that the Northeast has an adequate supply of gas from existing LNG terminals and domestic production. Hess/Weaver’s Cove is simply not needed. While Hess still believes there is a profit to be made here, the project fails the basic needs and public benefits test, and therefore cannot justify the environmental impacts and safety/security risks.
While this project remains in a holding pattern awaiting the outcome of these threshold issues, Hess continues to push forward, undaunted by the facts or the will of the people. Therefore, we also must remain vigilant, engaged and active.
FERC has indicated that a DEIS will be forthcoming if key safety issues are resolved. If, like most FERC permits, this DEIS effectively rubber stamps Hess’ plans, we will be in the legal and regulatory fight of our lives. We’re ready.
Save The Bay is committed, for as long as it takes, to defeating this project. Thank you for your support and encouragement, and please stay tuned.
To take action immediately:
- Sign our "Stop Hess LNG" online petition
- Become a member
- “Like” us on Facebook and repost this on your wall. Share your comments on Facebook.
- Click here to send a message to the Congressional Delegations of both states thanking them for their leadership and urging continued vigilance.
- Donate now.
Executive Director, Save the Bay