2005-12-08 / News

Solicitor responds in LNG battle

By Dotti Farrington

Town Solicitor A. Lauriston Parks has filed a response to criticism of the legal brief he sent in October about the Town Council’s ongoing opposition to the Weaver’s Cove proposal to build a new liquefied natural gas terminal in Fall River, Mass. Weaver’s Cove attorneys scorned Parks’ brief as “improper…untimely…procedurally flawed.”

Parks filed his latest LNG remarks on the record with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which approved the terminal plan on July 15, but in midSeptember agreed to rehearing issues. No date for the rehearing has been posted.

Parks wrote: “The Town of Jamestown has become aware of the answer filed in response to its amicus brief for the above captioned matter (Weaver’s Cove). Contrary to the position taken by Weaver’s Cove, the Town filed its amicus brief not as an intervener, but as a concerned entity desiring to have its comments heard. The Town is not intervening or seeking affirmative relief; the Commission itself has already granted a rehearing.”

The town solicitor continued, “Moreover, the Commission’s own policy states that a person does not have to intervene to have his/her comments heard and considered at a hearing. The Town is merely taking this opportunity to submit its comments for consideration.” He concluded, “The Town therefore respectfully requests that the Commission accept its amicus brief and take its comments under consideration at the rehearing.”

The Town Council agreed to directly challenge use of Narragansett Bay by LNG tankers through Parks’ amicus brief that urges the federal agency “to reverse (its) order of July 15 and reject the Weaver’s Cove application” to build an LNG terminal in Fall River.

The councilors previously voted not to join a similar legal challenge by several bay communities because town rules prevent the council hiring a lawyer or any professional without a competitive review of applicants for such work. Filed by a Washington, D.C., law firm, the joint bay challenge was promoted by State Attorney General Patrick Lynch. Lynch said Jamestown’s decision not to join in the joint action represented the town’s lack of opposition to the proposed LNG terminal.

The councilors were angered by Lynch’s misinterpretation. They said adoption of their own legal brief against the LNG project re-inforced their several previous actions against Weaver’s Cove.

Original statement

The Town Council praised Parks’ work on the matter. They also noted his work cost less than $1,000 compared to the $25,000 to which the town would have been committed to take part in the joint action.

Parks’ five-page brief states that Jamestown is a small island community adjacent to the navigational channel that will be used by the LNG tankers enroute to the proposed Fall River terminal. He detailed the island’s vulnerability to any tanker mishap and related dangers identified in the environmental impact Statement. The document charged that FERC “indifference to the plight of an island community directly adjacent to the navigational channel is callous and unconscionable… It is unimaginable that (the FERC) approved (the project) without once giving thought to the effect such approval would have on this community or the surrounding communities in general.”

Parks cited the “horrendous” results of the planned evacuation of Galveston, Texas, for hurricane Rita as an example of the consequences of a LNG disaster on Narragansett Bay.

In concluding with a call for the FERC to reverse its approval for Weaver’s Cove, Parks wrote, “It is inconceivable that (the FERC) issued an order approving Weaver’s Cove without addressing the pressing concerns with which the citizens of Jamestown will be confronted on a daily basis.”

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