Conservation Law Foundation
Date: May 5, 2004
Mr. Patrick H. Wood, III, Chairman
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE
Washington DC 20426
Re: Regional Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Terminal Siting in New England
Dear Chairman Wood;
As you are aware, proposals for new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals in New England and across the country have become extremely controversial. From my perspective as President of the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), New England's largest regional environmental organization with offices throughout New England, it is apparent that LNG terminal siting is a regional issue of great importance and with significant environmental implications. CLF therefore proposes that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) work with the Governors of New England's coastal states and other federal officials to address the very complicated and controversial issues associated with LNG terminal siting through a New England-wide approach.
CLF believes that New England's key regional policymakers need to engage in finding a solution to this issue, one that works for all New Englanders. After careful consideration, we believe that the solution lies in a regional evaluation of the merits of adding one or more new LNG terminals to New England's energy base and the development of a regional strategic plan for new terminal siting prior to approval of any individual terminal. This evaluation should include examination of opportunities at the state level to reduce overall energy demand through increased efficiency and to reduce demand for fossil fuels through increased use of renewable energies. CLF does not have the answers to these critical questions about terminal siting, but we ask you, as regional policymakers, to develop and evaluate the information needed to make fair and informed decisions about the need for additional terminal capacity in New England and the siting of such terminals. In the end, CLF's objective is to ensure that any new LNG terminal in New England is sited fairly, strategically, in an environmentally protective manner and on the basis of need.
To date, proposals for several potential LNG terminal sites have been advanced in New England, specif cally in Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. These proposals, however, are advancing on a community-by-community basis. As such, they are not part of a coherent strategy for evaluating the merits of one or more new terminal(s) for New England generally, or for any particular community specifically. From CLF's perspective, this ad hoc approach has not been effective and will continue to founder. It has pitted New England communities against one another in wrestling with the merits and the risks of specific proposals. This has led to very unproductive results.
Complicated issues such as these lead us to conclude that the best approach would be regional and strategic and address these issues proactively. There maybe several tools that can serve as vehicles for such an approach. One tool that FERC could use would be the development of a programmatic environmental impact statement (EIS). The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) provides for the preparation of programmatic EISs in order to evaluate "broad actions" geographically (e.g., by region) or generically (e. g., common timing, impacts, alternatives), and anticipates that connected, cumulative or similar actions should be evaluated in a single EIS. 40 C.F.R. §§ 1502.4(b)(c); 1508.25(a)(1)-(3).
The programmatic EIS can then be used to facilitate and expedite the preparation of subsequent project-specific EISs ("tiering"), allowing those documents to concentrate only on site-specific issues. 40 C.F.R. §§ 1500.4-5; 1502.4(d); 1502.20. Alternatively, a separate but equally rigorous regional alternatives study involving federal, state, and private participants could accomplish similar results, leaving the environmental impact analysis to FERC and the individual project proponent(s).
CLF believes that undertakins a regional approach to LNG terminal siting represents an important opportunity to address this controversial issue in a strategic manner and propel consideration beyond the current, site-specif c, polarized siting debates. Most importantly to all of us, a more rational approach to LNG siting could help reduce New England's dependence on dirtier fuels like coal and oil while ensuring that the terminal site selection process provides an economically sensible and environmentally acceptable result.
In the coming weeks, my staff will contact your office to discuss FERC's interest in participating in initial meetings designed to advance a regional approach to LNG terminal siting. I appreciate your time and consideration of this proposal and look forward to working with your office to resolve this issue of utmost importance to New England. You or your staff may also contact me directly at 617-350-0990.
Phillip Warburg, President
Conservation Law Foundation
CC Robert W. Varney, Regional Administrator, USEPA
Governor John E. Baldacci, State of Maine
Governor Craig Benson, State of New Hampshire
Governor Donald L. Carcieri, State of Rhode Island
Governor Mitt Romney, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Governor John G. Rowland, State of Connecticut
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Senator John F. Kerry, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Senator Olympia J. Snowe, State of Maine
Senator Susan M. Collins, State of Maine
Senator Jack Reed, State of Rhode Island
Senator Lincoln D. Chafee, State of Rhode Island
CLF: "Defending the Law of the Land"