Saturday, July 10, 2010

How to Send HESS Packing

Hess/LNG Opinion piece by Jerry Landay

Here’s a key question about John Hess, who runs Hess Petroleum, and has been haunting these environs with the tenacity of Marley’s ghost for six years.
Why won’t Hess go away?
Hess has kept the prospect of its proposed Weaver’s Cove liquid natural gas (LNG) berth and tank dangling over our heads. His leased, huge LNG tankers would frequently transit and depart via the bay route between Newport in the south and Fall River-Swansea-Somerset in the north.
Hess’s staff and mind-bending public-relations enterprises continue to disturb our peace. We’ve all said no countless times. The Interior Department of the Federal government just recently said no. The residents of Swansea and Somerset, whose safety and home values are under assault, have repeatedly said no. Marine industries, environmentalists, and every single municipality along the route of the LNG behemoths that would clog and endanger the bay and the shore, have all said no. But, like leeches, Hess hangs on.
So why won’t Hess go away? Here’s my guess. It’s the prospect of feeding Hess’s neighbor – Brayton Point power station – with the thawed out natural gas to keep its generators running. Brayton Point, had been one of the most polluting electric facilities in all of New England, long in the gun-sights of environmentalists and government regulators, fouling the air with the coal and oil it burns, and the water of the bay with the thermal output of its four mammoth generating units. Only one of those units burns natural gas, the only clean fossil fuel that Brayton Point uses.
Brayton Point is under orders to clean up its act. It has recently constructed two mammoth cooling towers to vent its thermal pollution upward instead of bay waters.
My guess it that its clean-up efforts would be complete if it would convert the three generating units that burn coal and oil into clean-burning natural gas. That could give Hess’s nearby Weaver’s Cove operation a pre-sold nearby user, and the profits to go with it. But some 20 interstate natural gas pipe lines already serve the northeast. And three LNG berthing sites are now operating safely offshore thawing natural gas off-loaded from LNG tankers. If Brayton Point pipes these sources to its units, our problem is solved – without Hess..
Also, a bill introduced by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, now in the works in Congress, would take siting decisions away from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and restore that power to the states, localities, and the people -- where it belongs.
That would finally send our unwanted guest packing. Please tell our local Congressional delegations to throw their full support behind the Wyden legislation. In Massachusetts, that would be Senators Kerry, Brown and Congressmen Frank, McGovern, and Markey; here in Rhode Island, Senators Whitehouse and Reed, and Congressmen Kennedy and Langevin. Please do it today.
Jerry M. Landay, Bristol, 401-254-2291

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