2010-02-25 / Letters to the Editor

Facts on captain’s anti-LNG stand

On Feb. 4, 2010, the Jamestown Press published an article titled, “Council deadlocks on turbines; Agreement reached on anti-LNG port resolution.” Much has been said about the Weaver’s Cove LNG project in the press and we are committed to ensuring that the published material is factually correct.

It’s disappointing that the Jamestown Town Council is placing its faith in the judgment of Lorne Lawless, a selectman from Somerset and an opponent of the Weaver’s Cove LNG project, over that of the professional men and women serving in the U.S. Coast Guard. Mr. Lawless is entitled to his opinions, but don’t confuse opinion for a grasp of the facts or maritime experience. He may have worked in the oil industry, but it’s difficult to grasp how experience at a Canadian oil refinery has any bearing on his ability to assess whether LNG transits through Narragansett Bay are safe.

He boldly implies that the prior captain of the port, Captain Roy Nash, “was shipped off” in retaliation for purportedly saying, “There’s no way you’re bringing LNG 18 miles up the Bay.” Such a statement by Mr. Lawless reflects his lack of respect for the integrity of the Coast Guard and is yet another example of playing fast and loose with the facts.

Here are the facts: Captain Nash, like his predecessor, completed his three-year rotation and left his position in Narragansett Bay. Mr. Lawless implies that Captain Nash was “shipped off” because his decision went against the LNG project. Mr. Lawless fails to mention that Captain Nash’s new assignment was to a position of increased responsibility with a promotion to rear admiral.

Weaver’s Cove appealed the captain’s decision to the First District Admiral in Boston, who upheld Captain Nash. The implication that the captain’s career was adversely impacted by his LNG decision is simply inaccurate.

Mr. Lawless also exaggerates and distorts what Captain Nash had stated in his decision. The claim that Captain Nash said or implied “There’s no way you’re bringing LNG 18 miles up the Bay” is simply wrong. Captain Nash explained that his order was narrowly focused on navigational safety issues associated with the old and new Brightman Street bridges in the Taunton River, in the last mile of the transit. He believed that the size of LNG ships proposed by Weaver’s Cove could not navigate safely between the two closely spaced drawbridges.

Captain Nash specifically stated: “As I have determined that the above described segment of the proposed transit route (the portion including the Taunton River) is unsuitable from a navigation safety perspective, an exhaustive analysis of the other segments of the intended transit route and other factors relevant to waterway suitability for LNG traffic, such as maritime security, were not further analyzed in detail.”

In response to Captain Nash’s narrow objection, Weaver’s Cove redesigned the project to include an offshore berth located in Mt. Hope Bay and eliminated the portion of the route in the Taunton River that formed the basis for the Coast Guard’s original denial.

On July 30, 2009, the Coast Guard completed its comprehensive and impartial review of our offshore berth, this time including a full and complete review of maritime security

– an issue not addressed in the earlier denial. The 2009 order declares “that the applicable portions of Narragansett Bay and Mt. Hope Bay be considered suitable for the type and frequency of LNG marine traffic associated with this project.”

It is telling that following the denial of the earlier LNG transit route, Mr. Lawless and other project opponents hailed the Coast Guard as heroes for blocking the project. Fast forward to the Coast Guard’s July 2009 recommendation of the revised transit route – based on a complete analysis of navigation, safety and security – and Mr. Lawless can now only conjure up a speculative conspiracy theory in an attempt to question the Coast Guard’s integrity.
Gregg Landes
Vice president
Business development
Weaver’s Cove Energy

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