2010-05-27 / News

LNG Threat

It’s time to give siting authority back to the states
By Dick Lynn

As you’ve undoubtedly heard, Hess is working to place a major LNG terminal in the middle of our towns, our naval facilities and our Bay. A decision from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is due on this project any day now. Today, it’s time to start our fight and stop debating. Hess is years ahead of us with highly priced attorneys and PR firms.

I am not against LNG, although I think our time and money is better spent on sources natural to Rhode Island, such as wind. I am against this plan by Hess, which is driven by profit. Many suppliers, such as Excelerate, have successfully sited LNG terminals offshore. I don’t understand why Hess cannot do the same. All of these arguments fade away, and they and we can co-exist peacefully if they choose to do so.

But they haven’t.

Hess CEO Gordon Shearer recently stated in an interview with an industry magazine that this is a football game, and that, “We [Hess] are on the 20 yard line. We have Tom Brady at quarterback, and Wes Welker is back.”

I do not feel that this is a game. This affects our safety, our environment, our economy and our daily lives and livelihoods.

Current supporters offer up cheaper energy and more jobs as reasons to move forward. The likelihood of jobs lost in tourism and fishing, next to the minimal numbers that have been provided by other such facilities, is a negative.

It should be noted that in the 1950s – when the oil industry wanted to build a massive refinery in Jamestown – those who also supported that project used the same arguments to support their philosophy. They said that it would bring jobs and cheaper energy, and that it would not affect local transit. With the oil spill in Texas this month – and what we now know of refineries – it is clear that they were on the wrong side then, and they’re on the wrong side now. We can’t afford to chance our future on this philosophy.

I understand Hess’s motivation. They’re a merchant of imported fossil fuels – LNG and petroleum. They’re here to maximize their profits for their shareholders. Rhode Island would be a passageway to their Massachusetts terminal and nothing more.

I am a citizen of Rhode Island – a shareholder in Rhode Island, not a Hess shareholder. And this is a bad deal for all of us who are Rhode Island shareholders.

I look at our concerns in this situation as a three-legged stool:

• Economics, through the closing of our Bay without notice for transit of LNG tankers and the closing of our bridges to potential tourists – who are the backbone of our economy – and to everyday workers commuting to and from work.

• Personal safety, both through LNG’s explosive properties, se- curity zones and as a terrorist target, as well as the potential closing of our bridges to ambulance and emergency vehicles.

• Environmental safety, though the dredging of our Bay, a large terminal in the middle of Bristol Harbor and an untested cryogenic pipeline buried beneath the Bay.

Richard Clarke, former head of counter terrorism under two presidents – who warned early in 2001 of Al Qaeda’s intent to attack within U.S. borders using airplanes – provided a report to R.I. Attorney General Patrick Lynch on the LNG threat possibilities to our community from this project.

Clarke states that “LNG should never be located inland, especially in populated areas,” such as ours. He further states that “it will be the likely primary terrorist target if implemented,” and then goes on to say:

“Governments would be deciding that avoiding the possible additional financial cost to the LNG operator and/or consumers of a more secure location is more important public policy than avoiding the additional risk of a catastrophic attack involving mass trauma and burn injuries which does accompany a decision to permit an urban LNG facility.”

We are all “shareholders” in Rhode Island. We get nothing from this project, except to act as a passageway for massive potentially-dangerous tankers going to Massachusetts, which also doesn’t want it. There is no upside to our shareholders.

For Rhode Island, this deal is a non-starter.

We want to remain Rhode Island – Providence, Newport, Middletown, Portsmouth, Jamestown, Tiverton and Bristol.

We want to be Newport, not Newark.

Our bays belong to us, and they are working bays. We do not want to be closed every other day, nor reminded of the possibility of being blown up when we see a tanker go by.

Hess, site it offshore – or go away!

What can you do?

There is a bill in the U.S. Senate, S-3056, that would remove the LNG siting authority from FERC and return it to the states, where it was before 2005. Call the following six senators to ask them to move it out of committee and onto the floor for a vote:

Senator John Kerry, Massachusetts (202) 224-2742.

Senator Scott Brown, Massachusetts (202) 224-4543.

Senator Olympia Snow, Maine (202) 224-5344.

Senator Susan Collins, Maine (202) 224-2523.

Senator Barbara Boxer, California (202) 224-3553.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, California (202) 224-3841.

Dick Lynn will write an occasional column about the LNG threat to our Bay.

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