In a move that they said would likely kill Weaver's Cove Energy LLC's proposal to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at Fall River, MA, Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Jim McGovern (D-MA) have proposed an amendment to the House Energy and Water Appropriations bill that would ban federal funds from being used to advance the permitting process or in any other way further the project.
"No funds made available by this Act may be used to take any action to authorize the construction of any liquefied natural gas terminal or its infrastructure to be located within five miles of the City of Fall River, Massachusetts, or to authorize vessels carrying liquefied natural gas to serve such terminal," to the proposal said.
The amendment leaves no room for ambiguity, Frank said during a press conference at Fall River Thursday. Frank and McGovern said they have been assured by a House subcommittee that a close version of the language will be included in the larger bill, and Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Scott Brown (R-MA) will work with them to include the provision in the Senate version of the bill.
"There will be no LNG plant built in Fall River," Frank said.
A Weaver's Cove spokesman said the company could not comment until copies of the complete bill into which the proposed language will be inserted is made public. The company has said the LNG terminal would represent one of the largest single investments ($700 million) ever made in southeast Massachusetts and would create more than 1,000 jobs during the three-year construction period.
"This region has among the highest energy costs in the nation," the spokesman said. "An LNG import terminal constructed in Fall River will drive down energy costs in the New England States."
The Weaver's Cove project has been the target of fierce opposition by local, state and federal officials, who are adamantly against building LNG infrastructure in their backyard, although they admit that more natural gas supply is needed for the region (see Daily GPI, Sept. 11, 2006). If built, the terminal would provide 800 MMcf/d of peak sendout capacity, 400 MMcf/d of baseload supply and 200,000 metric tons of LNG storage. The project originally called for tankers to use the Taunton River to deliver LNG to the Fall River terminal. But the Coast Guard in late 2007 concluded that the Taunton River was "unsuitable from a navigation safety perspective for the type, size and frequency of LNG marine traffic associated with [the Weaver's Cove] proposal" (see Daily GPI, Oct. 25, 2007).
Last year Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch called on the U.S. Coast Guard to withdraw and reconsider its letter of recommendation providing conditional support for Weaver's Cove's proposal to construct a berth for tankers in Mount Hope Bay and underwater pipeline facilities (see Daily GPI, Sept. 1, 2009). Weaver's Cove, a joint venture of Hess Corp. and Poten & Partners, had submitted the berth proposal in an attempt to suppress some of the controversy surrounding the project. (see Daily GPI, Feb. 5, 2009).
On Thursday Fall River Mayor William Flanagan said operations at the plant would require an area bridge to closed every time a tanker came into the facility, and said Fall River residents had concerns about safety and security issues the area could face if LNG tankers began plying nearby waters.
Six Senate Democrats representing coastal states introduced legislation earlier this year to repeal the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which gave the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the authority to determine the need for and location of LNG import terminals (see Daily GPI, March 3). If signed into law, the legislation would return LNG authority to siting agencies in individual states.
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