Thursday, April 21, 2005

Shays, DeLay, LNG

When a congressman attacks his party’s leader, as Christopher Shays did recently when he called on Tom DeLay to step down as majority leader, does it hurt or help your region’s chances in Washington?

We may have a chance to find out. Shays sent out a statement yesterday criticizing the energy bill being debated now. In the statement, he announced that he is co-sponsoring an amendment that would give the states a voice in the siting of new LNG terminals, like the one proposed for the middle of the Sound:

In addition to its environmental shortsightedness, I also oppose provisions in this bill related to energy transmission. For instance, the Energy Policy Act allows the Federal Electric Regulatory Commission (FERC) to preempt state siting authorities when it is determined that a high-voltage power line is of "national significance," and overrides state authorities when expanding or siting new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals. In our own Long Island Sound just off Connecticut, this is a very real possibility. While energy security is a national issue, it seems to me the communities who will live with these siting decisions deserve a voice in the process.

(The statement goes on to say: I strongly oppose a provision in the bill that allows for the permanent activation of the Cross Sound Cable. In doing so, the bill subverts the regulatory process and ignores sound environmental policy regarding the depth at which the Cable should be buried.)

I don’t know if the FERC amendment would have had any chance of passing even if Shays had kept his mouth shut about DeLay. But is it possible that on an important issue, Shays’s sponsorship might actually hurt?

Shays, by the way, took a beating from a couple of Democratic-leaning blogs last week after his statements on DeLay. Their arguments were that his DeLay-bashing were too little and too late, and were nothing more than a response to almost getting beaten by Westport’s Diane Farrell last November. To that, I say good – it’s the way democracy is supposed to work: an elected official listens to what his constituents say and then reacts. And the constituents always speak most clearly on election day. If Christopher Shays took that as his cue to oppose Delay, then better late than never.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...In doing so, the bill subverts the regulatory process and ignores sound environmental policy regarding the depth at which the Cable should be buried."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but as I recall the USACOE determined that the cable would not constitute a hazard to anchoring ships at the depth where it was initially buried. Furthermore, the CT DEP determined that the cable did not pose a hazard to marine life at the initial depth. In fact, a letter from the former CT DEP Commissioner to CT AG Blumenthal stated that dredging New Haven Harbor was more environmentally disruptive than the cable was. Was this really "sound" environmental policy?

9:30 PM  

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