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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:

Jonathan Stone
Executive Director, Save the Bay

Robert Godfrey March 01, 2011 at 07:48 PM
Another issue is Hess' refusal to abide by the world LNG industry's own terminal siting best practices (see http://www.LNGTSS.org ). Those best safe practices indicate Mount Hope Bay is inherently inappropriate for LNG terminal siting.
robert brow March 02, 2011 at 11:32 AM
Of course we read your negitive side ,If it was up to Save the Bay we would be paying 4.00 for a gal of gas now and all oil movement would stop completely, God forbid a container Port in Quonset , Being in the industry I know for fact that we comply with every rule the state of RI and MASS have thrown at us or I must be wasting time logging all the procedures we abide by comming in RI waters ,We do not discharge any dirty water , I wish i could say the same for all the pleasure boats who dump raw sewerage at night , What will we do with street run off ? that enters the bay ? You tell me that has no impact on spawning grounds or shell fishing then your full of s---t Why do they close areas of the Bay after a good rain storm , If any one is killing the Bay its you Men cant make a living although they try , instead of reading stats take a ride to all the oil terminals and look at the rules and regulations they follow and the wild life that thrives in those areas , Big Oil will win as soon as your pockets are full
Mary K. Talbot March 04, 2011 at 03:23 PM
Robert, I'd like to clarify that Save The Bay is actually in favor of mixed uses of the Bay. It's part of our core mission to provide public access to the water for all, including business and industry. We are also in the midst of an aggressive, multi-pronged, ongoing stormwater campaign that includes legislative changes at the State House, removal of impervious surfaces, plantings of native species, a public education campaign and storm drain markings to bring attention to the fact that everything flows to the bay. Like you, we understand the impact of storm water runoff. I invite you to visit our web site, savebay.org, or come meet with our staff here to learn more about what we're doing to create a cleaner, healthier Narragansett Bay.
Tivie March 04, 2011 at 04:22 PM
Hess is trying to take control of our bay for its private use and profit. We would suffer the damage for any BP-type disasters. Hess/LNG's proposals included dredging, 100s of trips, in ships that barely clear the bridge. It would restrict access to boaters, fishing, and close bridges. What if an LNG ship hit the bridge (Algerian Tanker Accident, 1989 – Wind blows ship against pier; Bachir Chihani Ship Failure, 1990 – Hull cracks open on high seas; Trinidad/Tobago, LNG Tanker Engine Failure, 1999 – Tank ship damages pier; Elba Island, Georgia, Cargo Ship Hits LNG Pier, 2000 – Cargo ship collision; Norway, Tanker Engine Failure , 2004 – Evacuation of town considered when ship almost grounds.) It's dangerous stuff: Ohio, 1944 – LNG tank failure. 128 people killed, 225 injured, 30 acre area completely devastated. New York, 1973 – Tank fire. 40 workers killed repairing LNG tank. LNG that had leaked into the ground around the tank liner and concrete tank wall berm was ignited by a spark from equipment. Algeria, LNG Explosion, 2004 – Steam Boiler explodes triggering LNG vapor cloud explosion. LNG Plant burns for 8 hours. 27 dead, 74 injured. Blast damage extended 6 miles from the explosion site. See full accident roster: http://www.greenfutures.org/?content=La4qin3pqhzlwHW7 FERC's head is appointed, staff revolving door with industry, no congressional oversight - so these end-run laws are needed. RI's risk - Hess profit. LNG CEO's from UK - like BP.

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