A recently adopted law effectively bans tankers carrying liquefied natural gas from entering Narragansett Bay -- a restriction Rhode Island lawmakers
hope will prevent an LNG terminal from being built in nearby Fall River, Mass. Coast Guard officials say the law may prove illegal and could seek to block it. The Boston Globe reported that the bill, signed on July 11 by Gov. Don Carcieri, prohibits LNG tankers from coming within hundreds of yards of multiple obstacles and hazards, including people, docks, waterfront facilities, hunting grounds or anywhere workers are welding. As a result, LNG tankers can't legally enter even the widest entrances to Narragansett Bay, said Rep. Raymond Gallison Jr.
, D-Portsmouth, the bill's sponsor. Gallison said his bill increases pressure on Weaver's Cove Energy to abandon plans to build a $250m LNG terminal along the Taunton River in Fall River. To reach the terminal, LNG tankers must pass through Narragansett Bay
. Project critics, including Carcieri and Gallison, say an attack or accident involving an LNG tanker could cause the ship's flammable cargo to explode, igniting waterfront communities. According to the Boston Globe, Weaver's Cove Energy doesn't believe Rhode Island authorities can regulate tanker traffic on Narragansett Bay.
Coast Guard authorities warned on July 13 that Rhode Island lawmakers have overstepped their authority. The Coast Guard has already established rules governing how tankers must transport hazardous cargo through Narragansett Bay. Those federal regulations generally supersede state law, said the Coast Guard. (Source: Boston Globe)