Fast track for LNG criticized
Kathleen Durand, Herald New
Staff Reporter - 3/13/2004
Congressmen Barney Frank and James P. McGovern have joined Mayor Edward M. Lambert Jr. in urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission not to put a proposed liquefied natural gas project here on a fast track.
Weaver's Cove Energy wants to build a liquefied natural gas import terminal at the former Shell Oil property off North Main Street. Lambert, who is strongly opposed to the controversial proposal, wrote a letter to FERC when he learned that Weaver's Cove has asked FERC for a preliminary determination on non-environmental issues by March 31 and a final order granting its requested authorizations by Sept. 15.
In a letter to Patrick Henry Wood III, FERC chairman, the Democratic congressmen urged him not to issue any preliminary determinations on the application by Weaver's Cove. After reiterating their opposition to the proposed LNG facility, they stated that they "are especially troubled that the applicant has attempted to fast track this potentially dangerous facility before thorough and comprehensive analysis has been conducted." They went on to say that an early "declaration would undermine the public commenting component of the application process." Frank and McGovern concluded by stating, "The city of Fall River deserves an application process that thoroughly analyzes all of the facets of this project. We reiterate that FERC should take the proper amount of time to make its ruling and not rush to any conclusions about this application -- preliminary or otherwise."
Lambert said he appreciates Frank's and McGovern's "aggressive and proactive stance on our behalf. I wholeheartedly agree and hope that FERC will hear our voices united in opposition to the request by Weaver's Cove."
The congressmen pointed out in their letter to Wood that a group of their Fall River constituents who live within one-half mile of the proposed LNG site had their public commenting deadline extended to Feb. 23. "A preliminary decision by FERC so soon after deadline of their comment period would be the equivalent of summarily dismissing their concerns about this project," they said. Frank and McGovern said a preliminary determination by March 31 would undermine the public commenting component of the application process. "In fact, Mr. Chairman, we believe that such an initial determination by FERC would directly contradict your previous assurances to us that there will be ample opportunity for the public to be involved in the entire proceedings. ... and will not be ignored., "
A spokesman for Weaver's Cove, James Grasso, has told city officials that it is standard procedure to ask FERC for a preliminary determination regarding non-environmental issues.