June 25, 2008

Rep. Frank Sees `Scenic’ Label Sinking LNG Plan


Backers of a planned LNG facility in Fall River are howling over U.S. Rep. Barney Frank's push to designate an industrial stretch of the Taunton River as "wild and scenic" - and all but kill the plan.

The House Natural Resources Committee is expected today to vote on a bill that would officially make the Taunton River an environmentally protected waterway.

A spokesman for Frank said yesterday the designation idea had been around even before Weaver's Cove, owned by the giant Hess oil and gas company, proposed its controversial plan to build an LNG facility along the Taunton River in Fall River.

But the spokesman, Peter Kovar, said the Newton Democrat is "not sorry" the plan would make it "very difficult" for Weaver's Cove to build its LNG facility, which is bitterly opposed by lawmakers and residents in Fall River.

The U.S. Coast Guard has already expressed safety concerns about the Weaver's Cove project, and that opposition could end up dooming the plan.

But in case it doesn't, the "wild and scenic" designation is another nail that opponents are trying to pound into the Weaver's Cove coffin.

The proposed site of the LNG facility is an abandoned industrial site with empty oil tanks still on the property.

"It's not wild and scenic - it's an old commercial industrial site," said Jim Grasso, a consultant and spokesman for Weaver's Cove.

Republicans on the House committee are reportedly going to try to block the Frank-backed bill.

But sources say it will likely pass out of committee to be reviewed by the whole House.

Originally published by By JAY FITZGERALD.

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