SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

December 2, 2013

Plant hit with another appeal

CLF's latest move questions variances for waterways license

SALEM — The increasingly nasty fight over the natural-gas power plant that developers want to build on the Salem waterfront ratcheted up a few notches with the filing of another appeal by the Conservation Law Foundation, a leading environmental advocacy group intent on blocking the plant from being built.

The Conservation Law Foundation and others are appealing a decision last month by the state Department of Environmental Protection to grant variances to developer Footprint Power for a state waterways license, one of the key approvals needed to open the new facility.

CLF filed the appeal Nov. 22, along with Clean Water Action, Swampscott-based HealthLink and 11 local citizens.

“If constructed, the facility will displace a critical area in Massachusetts that was specifically designated for water-dependent, marine industrial facilities,” Shanna Cleveland, a senior CLF attorney, wrote in the appeal.

“The potential removal of this area from its designated use violates both Massachusetts state law under Chapter 91 and Salem’s 2008 Harbor Plan. In addition, with the existing Salem Harbor power plant slated to shut down completely in 2014, the construction and operation of the facility will increase air pollution in Salem for the next 40 years.”

Footprint Power of New Jersey bought the 65-acre site last year and is scheduled to complete the shutdown of the current coal-and-oil-burning plant in May. It hopes to open a 630-megawatt natural gas plant in June 2016.

This latest attempt at scuttling the $800 million project drew a strong response from Footprint President Scott Silverstein.

“We’re very disappointed that after 31/2 years of discussions with CLF, they have chosen to take this path, appealing permit after permit in complete disregard to the environmental benefits of our proposed generating facility,” Silverstein wrote in an email.

“In addition to the deep reductions in system-wide emissions (including carbon dioxide) provided by our facility, we have also designed our plant to use as little water as possible.”

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