, Salem, MA

December 18, 2013

Letter: Setting the record straight

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

I know full well there are some who disagree with my fighting for the new power plant. I respect their right to do so. However, I feel compelled to address the inaccuracies leveled at me by Sharon Smith in her letter to The Salem News (“Keenan has gone too far,” Dec. 16).

First, Ms. Smith would be correct that I would be derelict in my duty to uphold the Constitution had I filed an amendment I know to be unconstitutional. I did no such thing. Indeed, it is an intriguing question of whether a legislative body can rightfully delegate a regulatory agency final say in a project where there is a compelling state interest (namely, the public health and safety of the tens, if not hundreds of thousands who could lose power if the plant is not built in a timely manner). What I said was that I would expect the opponents of the plant to challenge the constitutionality of the provision. It is my hope that the Supreme Judicial Court this week will approve Footprint’s Motion for an expedited review of CLF’s appeal of the approval to build the plant. I admit that is the best possible solution without having to address my amendment.

Second, I have not contrived “rolling brownouts” to scare anyone. I’ve been merely repeating what those in charge of keeping the lights on — the Independent System Operator (ISO) — have said. “On a hot summer or cold winter day ... the ISO will use controlled power outages, or “rolling blackouts,” in the Northeast/Boston zone to assure that reliability in the larger region is not threatened.” (See ISO Motion to Intervene, p. 7. December 11, 2013). It is that serious.

Third, neither I nor Mayor Driscoll has ever stated the cost of the cleanup is $1 billion. It IS a billion-dollar development project with hundreds of construction jobs. I know of no other project of that price tag in all of Massachusetts. The demolition and cleanup of the site alone is estimated between $60 million and $80 million. It is my opinion that this is the most important redevelopment project in Salem’s recent history. It is why I’m fighting so hard.

Finally, perhaps most insulting is the suggestion that I stand to gain from this project other than the satisfaction of knowing I am leaving Salem better than I found it (without a behemoth, rusting structure on 62 acres of our deep-water port for decades to come). I am a proud public servant and have been now for almost two decades. Most perplexing is Ms. Smith’s suggestion that I’m an out-of-touch Democrat. I have no idea what one’s choice of cars says about his politics, but just for the record, I drive a $79 per month, no frills, leased Honda Civic.

I don’t know how this is going to end. I hope the Footprint project gets built because I believe it can be a win for everyone. Regardless, my only remuneration will be the comfort in knowing I did all I could to make it a reality.

John Keenan

State Representative