Monday, December 04, 2006

FERC Head Tells the Courant His Only Concern Is Safety

FERCin' Broadwater ... The Hartford Courant’s David Funkhouser traveled to Washington to interview Joseph T. Kelliher, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, about FERC’s role in the approval of the Broadwater liquefied natural gas plant in Long Island Sound.

Kelliher asks us to trust him that the only thing FERC is interested in is safety. And let’s face it, based on the cumulative record, why would we not trust the word and competence of a Bush Administration appointee? Here’s what Kelliher says:

"There seems to be a perception on the outside that we are actually balancing need vs. safety," he said. "That's completely untrue. ... When the commission looks at an LNG facility, we are not an economic regulator, we are a safety regulator, pure and simple."

But Dave helpfully points out in the next sentence that the FERC’s environmental impact statement for the Broadwater project went to great pains to deal not just with safety but to establish the need for the project:

… FERC's environmental report and other agency literature make clear that the agency believes such projects are needed, especially in the Northeast. Energy demand in the region is rising faster than generation capacity and the ability of the infrastructure to deliver that power.

Looking at the contrast between Kelliher’s statement and the plain language of the EIS, the word “disingenuous” comes to mind. That’s the charitable word, anyway.

Kelliher also says the giant LNG facility can’t be built unless New York State gives its approval on a handful of issues, a question that some people disagree with but which Connecticut Fund for the Environment thinks is right. The state must decide that the plant would be consistency with state policies for the coastal zone, and it must grant Broadwater an easement for the long-term use of the land at the bottom of the Sound. From the Courant:

The law did give FERC the authority to approve the siting of liquefied natural gas terminals. But, he said, "the state role in reviewing LNG import facilities is undiminished. ... There's more than one decision-maker. If we disapprove a project, it can't be built, but we're not the only body that has to approve an LNG facility."

Natural filters ... In Narragansett Bay, volunteers have been cultivating oysters in an attempt to revive the population. One of the hopes is that the population can eventually resume its traditional ecological function as a massive, natural filtration system. From the Providence Journal:

A single adult oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day and live up to 25 to 35 years if undisturbed, said Dale Leavitt, an assistant biology professor at Roger Williams University and the RI-ORGE founder and technical assistant.

“Fifty gallons of water a day, 365 days a year, thousands of oysters, they’re moving a lot of water,” Leavitt said.

Michelle J. Lee, a ProJo reporter who is also a fellow with the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting, wrote the story.

Clean Water Fund ... Robert Miller of the Danbury News Times admirably outlines the issues facing Connecticut’s towns and cities as they try to upgrade their sewage treatment plants despite alack of money in the state’s Clean Water Fund.

Location, location ... Interested in knowing what the market value is of a one-acre island in the Thimble Islands? Mrs. Svenningsen knows. Hint: it’s not all that cheap.

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