The Center for LNG: New Rhode Island LNG Carrier Law Unconstitutional

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The Center for Liquefied Natural Gas (CLNG) Executive Director Bill Cooper comments on a new Rhode Island law that effectively prohibits LNG ship traffic through the state’s waterways, calling it unconstitutional.

The Center for Liquefied Natural Gas today commented on a new Rhode Island law that effectively prohibits LNG ship traffic through the state’s waterways, calling it unconstitutional and counter to the work of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The law, H 6731, was enacted in July 2006 and extends the U.S. Coast Guard-mandated exclusion zone around LNG ships to include the shoreline and structures and materials on it. Given the shoreline along Narragansett Bay and the Sakonnet River, no ship could possibly maintain the exclusion zone laid out in the new law. This particular legislation, however, effectively prevents only LNG ships, which have one of the best safety records in all of marine transportation, from traveling through the state’s waterways on their way to the proposed Weaver’s Cove LNG terminal in Fall River, Mass.    

Quotes from CLNG Executive Director Bill Cooper

During a presentation in Boston at the Energy in the Northeast Conference, CLNG Executive Director Bill Cooper said, “The Rhode Island General Assembly created a law to govern in an area that the U.S. Congress clearly intended to govern itself. The U.S. Constitution dictates that the state cannot legislate in an area in which Congress intends to regulate.” Cooper, a long-time energy lawyer, added, “Furthermore, the U.S. Coast Guard has already implemented a pervasive safety and security plan for Narragansett Bay, and the new law conflicts with it. A state law can’t conflict with a federal determination on the same subject.”

“The Rhode Island law stands as an obstacle to the intention of Congress, which was to provide for vessels such as LNG carriers to safely navigate waterways, and an obstacle to a supply of environmentally sound energy that has an unmatched safety record in the broader fuel industry,” said Cooper.

About CLNG

CLNG is a coalition of 60 LNG producers, shippers, terminal operators and developers, energy trade associations and natural gas consumers. Its goal is to enhance public education and understanding about LNG by serving as a clearinghouse for LNG information. For more information, visit http://www.lngfacts.org

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