2011-06-16 / Editorial

Battle over LNG terminal comes to a surprise end

Jamestown received much welcomed good news this week when Hess announced that it was abandoning its efforts to establish a liquefied natural gas terminal at Weaver’s Cove in Mount Hope Bay.

The terminal would have been used to off-load the massive LNG supertankers that would navigate Narragansett Bay at the rate of one to two per week.

Hess officials said that market conditions – not the overwhelming long-standing opposition from the bay side communities – prompted the decision to halt the project.

Whatever the reason, we applaud the decision. It has been about a decade since Hess first announced plans to build an LNG terminal. The first proposed site was the Providence. Those plans were scrapped and Hess launched its campaign to construct the facility in Weaver’s Cove.

Hess never quite understood that people were not opposed to Hess. They were opposed to the location of the LNG terminal. The Town of Jamestown established an LNG Threat Committee to combat the project. Aid was enlisted from other Narragansett Bay communities through a Congress of Councils. There was even an island citizen’s action group that was formed to fight the LNG terminal.

The proposed LNG terminal, with its dramatic increase in shipping traffic on the bay, would have had a severe impact on the quality of life in Jamestown. Not only was there the danger of the LNG tankers as possible terrorist targets, but there was also a risk of an accident – despite the constant assurances that LNG shipping was safe.

The tankers would have stopped everything on the bay. Rolling security zones with armed vessels would escort the tankers. Sailing regattas would have been halted in mid-race. Pleasure vessels would have had to leave the area. The Newport Pell Bridge would have been closed while the tankers passed underneath.

The LNG terminal was also anticipated to have a detrimental impact on the area tourism. Experts questioned that an LNG terminal was even necessary, arguing that there are already adequate facilities in place to supply the Northeast with LNG.

We recognize the need for shipping in Narragansett Bay. However, we do not believe the anticipated sacrifi ce justified the project. We opposed the Quonset Port for the same reasons.

Narragansett Bay is a valuable resource which we should protect and preserve, not exploit for one industry’s profit.

— Jeff McDonough

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