The embattled Weaver’s Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal project became the target Friday of another legal maneuver to block the construction of the proposed facility in Fall River, MA.
From the proposed site of the Weaver’s Cover facility, opponents of the project announced that they filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, MA, that seeks to compel the Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish minimum safety standards governing the siting of new LNG terminals, as required by the Pipeline Safety Act of 1979.
This latest legal action is a three-pronged effort by Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly, Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch and Fall River Mayor Edward Lambert. They contend that the DOT has failed for more than 26 years to comply with the Pipeline Safety Act’s mandate that the department adopt standards for locating LNG facilities in remote areas.
The petition argues that DOT’s failure to promulgate regulations in this area “had little effect for many years because of a waning LNG industry in the United States,” according to a statement issued by Lambert. “However, various market and regulatory changes over the years have spurred energy companies since 2002 to propose approximately 50 new LNG import facilities to federal regulators, including the large LNG import terminal that Weaver’s Cove Energy LLC has proposed in a densely populated neighborhood in Fall River.”
As a result of this growth, “what once was DOT’s benign neglect to adopt statutorily required location regulations has now become a serious danger to public safety,” the petition said.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the Weaver’s Cove LNG terminal in July 2005. But congressional, state and local lawmakers are doing everything possible to head off construction of the project.
“Today we are opening a new front in our fight to keep LNG terminals out of densely populated urban areas like Fall River. We will use every tool available to keep the federal government from forcing this ill-advised project down our throats,” said Reilly.
The $250 million terminal project, if ever built, 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 would take up 68 of 73 acres at a former petroleum import terminal on the Taunton River, which feeds into Mount Hope Bay and Narragansett Bay about 50 miles south of Boston.
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