SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

December 2, 2013

Keenan: Myth vs. fact on Salem Harbor Station

(Continued)

CLF feels comfortable combating Footprint based solely on “environmental principles” — CLF has never proposed any concrete alternative plan or option should this natural gas plant not be built. Both the city and the state have tried to engage CLF in conversation to try to reach an agreement to afford CLF with something — anything — that might suffice to allow this project to proceed. Yet, the only response has been continued lawsuits.

Myth: The proposed power plant does not fit into Rep. Lori Ehrlich’s vision of a “clean energy commonwealth.”

Fact: Footprint’s gas plant will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the tune of the equivalent of taking more than 90,000 cars off the road annually (450,000 tons of carbon dioxide). That’s great for the environment. Ehrlich recently testified before the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee in support of a bill that she has filed this session: “An Act to Transition to a Clean Energy Commonwealth.” This bill calls for the state’s electrical generating facilities to lower their greenhouse gas emissions to a standard of 900 pounds per megawatt hour or lower. Interestingly enough, Footprint’s emission expectations will be, at the absolute maximum, 895 pounds per megawatt hour. This standard is below what Ehrlich feels is “environmentally acceptable” according to her legislation. Since the plant will meet her proposed standards, I do not yet fully understand her opposition to the project.

Myth: The gas bill provision is an attempt to circumvent regulatory oversight and appellate rights.

Fact: This project has broad local and state support. Mayor Driscoll, Sen. Lovely and I believe the project is in the best interests of the city. The plant received unanimous approval from the Salem Planning Board, the Salem Zoning Board of Appeal, the Salem Conservation Commission, the Salem City Council and the Energy Facilities Siting Board. The Department of Environmental Protection has issued Written Determination of Variance on Footprint’s Chapter 91 License, as well as a draft Comprehensive Air Plan Approval and Prevention of Significant Deterioration Permit.

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