2010-07-01 / News

LNG group may host ‘congress of councils’

By Geoff Campbell

The Jamestown LNG Threat Committee convened last Thursday to focus on the design for the “Congress of Councils” event – a vehicle through which surrounding town councils and the leadership of the Wampanoag Nation plan to express solidarity in their opposition to the proposed transportation of LNG to a terminal in Mt. Hope Bay.

The committee was formed by the Jamestown Town Council and charged with “gathering, managing and disseminating information pertaining to the planned transport of liquefied natural gas through the East Passage of Narragansett Bay.”

After some controversy over the unscheduled taping of the group’s last meeting on June 21, committee members on Thursday were greeted by two cameras set up to record the proceedings – those of freelance photographer Frank Clynes for Weaver’s Cove Energy and Sav Rebecchi for the Jamestown Record.

After calling the meeting to order, Chairman Dan Wright recognized Town Administrator Bruce Keiser and Town Solicitor Peter D. Ruggiero. He then called for an executive session, citing R.I. General Law 42-46-5, which gives municipalities and their properly established committees the right to hold “sessions pertaining to collective bargaining or litigation, or work sessions pertaining to collective bargaining or litigation.”

The executive session lasted for approximately one hour and 15 minutes. Wright reported that “no votes or actions” took place during the executive session, and a motion to seal the minutes of the session was made and passed.

The committee then discussed either supporting the Working Group’s resolution, which – according to Wright – may be “too cumbersome” to gain the necessary support of surrounding towns, or drafting a more general resolution, as recommended by committee member Lowell Thomas.

Committee member Dick Lynn agreed that a statement that garnered full support and demonstrated “a show of solidarity” was the principal goal of any resolution.

Wright noted that he was not prepared to reject the original resolution, and later requested that Jerome Scott of the LNG Working Group assist in providing references and supporting documents regarding the specific scientific data around pipeline failure, potential detonation and the release of explosive gas as represented in the Working Group’s resolution.

Wright noted that the hard data presented in the resolution was among its “main and best arguments.”

Lynn was tasked with researching and drafting an outline for the COC that addresses solidarity, commitment of each town’s resources and ultimately, the “unifi cation of the governmental bodies.”

The committee then discussed the location, length, nature of the program and potential dates. Preliminary plans propose a weekday, three or four-hour seminar-style event in which speakers address the whole assembly.

The audience would include surrounding town councils, interested members of the public and the media. The committee agreed that the end of July could be an early target date, and Lynn agreed to begin working with Keiser to discuss the possible location, potential dates and a budget for the event.

In other business, Wright addressed the town’s application for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission intervener status.

“There is not much downside to gaining intervener status,” he said, adding that the advantages include availability of up-to-date information from FERC and the preservation of the right to appeal a FERC ruling.

The easy application and leniency that FERC generally affords late applications resulted in consensus by the committee to recommend that the town apply for intervener status.

Committee member Lowell Thomas made a presentation about the economics of natural gas, which is “potentially not very competitive,” he said.

He detailed the story of a large gasification plant in Louisiana – operated by Cheniere Energy, Inc. – that was “an [economic] bust” and now seeks a retro fit to become a liquefaction plant.

“The economics don’t work… Hess is basically looking backwards… five years ago, there was a 30-year supply of natural gas and today, it is estimated to be a 100-year supply,” he said.

After Wright thanked the committee for its work, the meeting adjourned.

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