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Weaver’s Cove LNG, Fall River, Massachusetts

STATUS:  In progress with opposition

TYPE: Natural Gas

OPPOSITION:  Environmental groups; local residents; Massachusetts and Rhode Island state governments; U.S. Senators and Representatives from Massachusetts and Rhode Island

PROSPECT:  Indeterminate

BACKGROUND: Weaver’s Cove Energy LLC, in conjunction with Hess Corporation, has for the greater part of the last decade sought to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Fall River, Massachusetts.  The original plan, first drafted in 2003, was to build a $250 million LNG receiving terminal on the Taunton River at the north end of Fall River.  The project would have consisted of a single storage tank, a new pier, various processing equipment and several small support buildings, and would have put out 800 million cubic feet of natural gas per day (mmcf/d).  Opposition to the project by environmental groups, local residents and local government officials was overwhelming.  The project received a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2005, which was challenged in court by the Conservation Law Foundation and the State of Rhode Island.  A related permit was then denied by the U.S. Coast Guard in May 2007, effectively killing the project.

In response to community and Coast Guard concerns, Weaver’s Cove Energy developed an alternative: in March 2008, the Weaver’s Cove LNG proposal was changed to an offshore berth to be located in Mount Hope Bay and serve as the berth for LNG tanker deliveries.  The new design would send out 400 mmcf/d on average (800 mmcf/d at peak) and would cost $500 million to construct.  In January 2009, Weaver’s Cove amended its existing FERC authorization to reflect the new proposal.

Opposition to the project continued—and seems to have intensified—despite the redesign.  Opponents cite environmental and safety issues, negative impact on fishing, potential bridge closings, and even the impact on Newport’s ability to regain the America’s Cup sailing regatta match.  The City of Fall River alone has spent $2 million in legal fees to oppose the project through administrative and court challenges.  In August 2010, Reps. Barney Frank and Jim McGovern attached language to the House Energy and Water Appropriations Bill that would cut off federal funding for the Weaver’s Cove permitting process.  They declared their rider a “stake in the heart of the project.”  The appropriations bill has not yet been enacted, and Weaver’s Cove Energy continues to move forward with its project.

On November 16, 2010, Jonathan Stone, Executive Director of the environmental group Save the Bay, sent an open letter to the project’s investors, urging them to stop funding Weaver’s Cove and threatening that it will never receive its permits.

SOURCES:  Weaver’s Cove Project Website: http://weaverscove.hesslngsites.com/; http://www.weaverscove.com; http://weaverscove.hesslngsites.com/images/pdf/2007_10_Weaver_Cove_Economic_Analysis_Final_1.pdf;
The Herald News: http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x1098185818/Cost-of-LNG-fight-crosses-2-million;
http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x1137370614/Swansea-selectmen-unswayed-by-LNG-pitch; http://www.heraldnews.com/archive/x298230208/file;
Narragansett Baykeeper: http://narragansettbaykeeper.blogspot.com/2009/04/latest-on-weavers-cove-lng.html;
Newport Now: http://www.newport-now.com/2010/02/26/weavers-cove-pledges-lng-shipments-will-not-affect-americas-cup-bid-but-opponents-arent-so-sure/;
LNG World News: http://www.lngworldnews.com/us-lawmakers-propose-cutting-funds-for-weavers-cove-lng-terrminal-permitting/;
http://www.lngworldnews.com/usa-save-the-bay-takes-hess-lng-fight-to-the-street/; http://www.lngworldnews.com/usa-weavers-cove-not-giving-up-on-fall-river-lng-project/   

Last Updated:  November 24, 2010