Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Fall River LNG Plan Still Alive

As of a few months ago, I had thought that the plan to build an LNG terminal in Fall River had been all but killed by the Coast Guard. At issue was the width of the Brightman Street Bridge, which spans the Taunton River. The Massachusetts Congressional delegation, particularly Congressman Jim McGovern (D-Worcester) had inserted language in the transportation bill that forbade the use of federal funds to demolish the bridge, all but ensuring that it would stay up. Weaver's Cove Energy, the group that wants to build the LNG facility, responded by saying it would just use narrower ships, small enough to fit through the bridge's 98 foot wide opening. The Coast Guard balked, however, saying that the proposed 82 foot wide vessels still left too little margin for error when navigating the bridge.

Despite all this, the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee has reaffirmed their approval of the plan to build the facility. The regulators noted that the Coast Guard still has final say over the matter, and they are still reviewing the plan. In addition, project opponents have filed an appeal with the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals to try to stop the project.

Personally, I still can't see why it's such a great idea to build a new LNG facility in the far end of a medium sized city, 26 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. If Weaver's Cove is forced to use the smaller ships, they will end up doubling the traffic along the route, increasing not only the disruption of bridge traffic, but also the chances of an accident or sabotage. It doesn't make any sense to me, but it's consistent with the Bush Administration's energy policy, succinctly summed up by Congressman Barney Frank (D-Newton): "whatever any major energy company asks for, you give them."