State Gives Hess
Daniel Fowler, Herald New Staff
Reporter - 10/2/2004
FALL RIVER -- The state
Secretary of Environmental Affairs Friday created a roadblock
that could threaten Hess LNG's plan to construct a liquefied
natural gas facility in the city.
Secretary of Environmental
Affairs Ellen Roy Herzfelder ordered Hess LNG to prepare a supplemental
draft environmental impact report on its proposed project.
In her ruling, Herzfelder said Hess LNG's original draft environmental
impact report does not sufficiently address "several issues
critical to understanding the project design and how the project
meets state regulatory requirements."
"I continue to have significant concerns about the project
as it relates to impacts from dredging on water quality and fisheries
habitat, the management and reuse of dredge material on a site
undergoing extensive remediation, and public safety," Herzfelder
said in her ruling.
Besides requiring Hess LNG to address these issues in a supplemental
document, Herzfelder urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
to delay the filing of a final environmental impact statement
"until the state and public review of the SDEIR is complete."
The draft report and draft statement were issued as a joint document
on behalf of the state and the federal government, which are
both involved in the permitting process for the project. But
Herzfelder's decision to require Hess LNG to create a supplemental
report does not mean that the federal government will follow
suit and require a supplemental draft statement.
"If FERC decides to produce a (supplemental draft environmental
impact statement) for federal review purposes, it should coordinate
with the (Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act) Office and
the proponent regarding the preparation and the sequencing of
the review of state and federal documents," Herzfelder said
in her order.
FERC spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen declined comment on Herzfelder's
Mayor Edward M. Lambert Jr. said he was pleased with Herzfelder's
"I think it's very good news," Lambert said. "(Hess
LNG) has to go through this state process, and the state is sending
them back to the drawing board. Essentially, the state's saying
the (original) report is very deficient and it did not study
Lambert was particularly supportive of Herzfelder's request that
FERC halt its process until Hess LNG produces the supplemental
"I think if FERC violates that recommendation, then it might
show their real intent with this project -- an attempt to fast-track
it when you have state agencies telling them to slow it down,"
"I think over the past several weeks, we've developed great
momentum in opposition for this project, and hopefully each development
like this is another nail in the coffin," Lambert said.
State Rep. Robert Correia, D-Fall River, agreed that the ruling
is "absolutely" in the city's favor.
"I'm thrilled with it because it adds another bureaucratic
layer where (Hess LNG) has to go through an additional process
(if it intends) to prove that what they are doing is not going
to harm our environment," Correia said. "What it shows
is the state environmental agency is not convinced."
Should Hess LNG decide not to produce the supplemental draft
report and the FERC approves the project anyway, both Correia
and Lambert said there would be grounds for a lawsuit.
"If the company were to go ahead without those state permits,
there is no doubt that we'd be successful in court with stopping
them," Lambert said.
There is no timetable for when Hess LNG will have to complete
the supplemental draft report.
Marcia MacClary, a spokeswoman for the Hess LNG project, called
Weaver's Cove, said she was unaware of the ruling and declined
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