2011-05-05 / Editorial

Destinations of LNG tankers in bay ‘not a mystery’

By Ted Gehrig

The “Viewpoint (April 14, 2011)” in the Jamestown Press is yet another example of Dick Lynn playing fast and loose with the facts. We respect Mr. Lynn’s right to oppose our project but firmly believe that with advocacy comes the responsibility of accuracy.

Mr. Lynn grounds his attack on our LNG project by citing an unrelated proposal by the U.S. Coast Guard to update commercial vessel anchorage areas off Rhode Island. Mr. Lynn makes the statement that LNG tankers approaching Narragansett Bay will “likely” be using the proposed anchorage. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As we stated to the Coast Guard in the Waterway Suitability Assessment in January 2009, “LNG tankers would not anchor under normal situations.” Mr. Lynn attempts to link this Coast Guard review to the permitting of our LNG project by alluding to unnamed “sources close to federal permitting of liquefied natural gas.”

Why the mystery? Mr. Lynn could have avoided all the innuendo and speculation by simply directing his questions directly to the Coast Guard either in writing or verbally. His questions would have been answered for all to see in the public record. The law and federal regulations mandate nothing less.

While attempting to link this proposal to the permitting of our project, Mr. Lynn erroneously claims that Weaver’s Cove Energy and the Coast Guard have stated “that LNG tankers must come in unannounced, due to potential terrorism concern,” a blatant misstatement of fact.

Does Mr. Lynn think that the Coast Guard security plan calls for sneaking LNG tankers into the bay without anyone knowing in advance? Mr. Lynn is mistaken; the real-time location of LNG tankers and their destinations are not a mystery.

Weaver’s Cove Energy has never stated that LNG tankers must arrive or leave unannounced, nor has the Coast Guard. Mr. Lynn should be aware that his statement is wrong based upon testimony that Weaver’s Cove Energy gave before the state Senate LNG Task Force, has placed on www.LNGFact- Check.com and has repeatedly emailed to stake holders including members of the Jamestown Committee on LNG Threat. At the March 9, 2010 Senate LNG Task Force Hearing, Gordon Shearer, CEO of Weaver’s Cove Energy, addressed the issue: “There is no requirement to keep these vessels’ movements secret. Indeed with the advent of automated vessel tracking systems, anyone with access to the internet can determine where each LNG tanker is on any given day, as well as the next port of call and the time it will arrive there.”

If this statement and other written correspondence were not sufficiently clear, we invite Mr. Lynn and any of your readers to visit the Marine Traffic Web site to understand the mistake. Last week, we used this same website to track —in real time — the transit of an LNG tanker through Boston Harbor.

While Mr. Lynn’s editorial has other inaccuracies — including his claim that the Coast Guard states LNG tankers are restricted to speeds of 5 knots or that tankers will enter the bay “every other day” — our reply is necessarily brief due to limitations imposed by the newspaper. However, we would be remiss to not address the fictional account of the economic impact of our project. Rhode Island’s economy operates at a competitive disadvantage because it has among the highest energy prices in the country. The Weaver’s Cove Energy project will help moderate the region’s natural gas and electricity prices by providing additional natural gas supply when and where the market needs it most. Energy consumers take note.

Weaver’s Cove Energy will generate 2.5 million man hours of construction labor over a threeyear period. Having spoken with Rhode Island’s union leaders, we are confident that local unions have the skill sets and resources to support our project. Once in operation, Weaver’s Cove Energy will directly employ approximately 50 permanent employees (a bit less than the 70 permanent positions at Canaport, misstated as 20 to 35 by Mr. Lynn) and a comparable number of contract workers.

We take no issue with anyone who chooses to comment on the pending Coast Guard proposal or any matter that actually has something to do with our project; rather, we encourage a full and open debate on the issues. But when submitting comments, fact checking might go a long way to establishing a measure of credibility for their positions.

The author is the president and chief executive officer of Weaver’s Cove Energy in Fall River, Mass.

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