2006 December 8
by Edward French
The Maine State Planning Office (SPO) has informed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that it is withdrawing as a "cooperating agency" with respect to FERC's environmental review of the Quoddy Bay LNG and Downeast LNG proposals. In April 2006, the state agency had indicated its intention to serve as a cooperating agency. Since cooperating agencies cannot act as intervenors, the SPO will now be able to intervene during the FERC review process.
In letters dated November 28, Martha Freeman, director of the State Planning Office, writes, "Notwithstanding its decision to withdraw as a cooperating agency, SPO intends to continue to coordinate as appropriate with the commission as its NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] and licensing review of this matter continue. In order to help ensure continued thorough and transparent review of this proposal that includes opportunity for full consideration of pertinent state interests, SPO anticipates participating as an intervenor when the license application is filed with the commission."
Freeman says there is no specific reason for the decision to withdraw as a cooperating agency. "We didn't want to leave that tool out of our tool kit," she notes of the intervenor status. "We want to make sure we can work as effectively as we can for the folks of Maine."
Although calls have been made for a more regional approach in considering LNG proposals, Freeman says that was not a factor in the decision. She notes that presently there is no formal mechanism to study LNG proposals regionally.
While the State Planning Office has withdrawn as a cooperating agency, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection will continue to be one.
© 2006 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.