r Letter From Eastie: Thank you Congressman Markey
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Collaged view of Boston, from East Boston

Letter From Eastie

News and other items from East Boston, Massachusetts.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Thank you Congressman Markey

for giving it the old college try in attempting to get the Castle amendment passed. According to the April 22nd Boston Globe:
Before the final vote on the [energy] bill, the House also voted to reject an amendment challenging a provision that would keep localities from exercising control over LNG facility construction. Representatives Michael Castle, a Delaware Republican, and Edward Markey, a Malden Democrat, cosponsored the measure. Markey and Castle wanted to take out a provision in which the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would have final say over whether an LNG facility could be built or expanded. Under the measure as passed, the federal government would consult with state and local governments, but could ignore their objections.

Moreover, if local governments failed to meet a federal deadline for reviewing a proposal, they would be ''conclusively presumed" to have approved it. Local authorities could conduct safety inspections of LNG facilities, but would have no power to enforce citations.

Soaring natural gas prices have spurred 55 proposals to build new facilities to handle the super-cooled gas around North America, including stations in Fall River and off the coast near Gloucester. But local opponents believe the plants could be targets of terrorist attacks that would cause catastrophic damage.

The vote to reject the amendment followed a 20-minute debate, played out against a backdrop of a large Boston Globe photograph of an orange LNG tanker in Boston Harbor. Markey brought the poster-size photo into the chamber to bolster his argument that communities should have some control over whether LNG facilities should be built in their midst.

''Right behind the ship you can see East Boston High School," said Markey. ''If there was a terrorist attack, if there was an accident, you would not call the federal government. It would be the local police, the local fire department, the local emergency medical technicians that would respond."
What was the Republican response to this?
. . .House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, said, ''When I look at this [photograph], what I see is energy for America. I see security for America, and I also see safety. Admittedly it's a big boat, it looks threatening. . . . But we already have existing provisions in law to make sure these terminals that are already in existence are as safe as is possible to be."
Proving once again that some Republicans are incapable of existing in the reality-based communtiy and write their speaches using the "George Orwell, 1984 Manual of Style." War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Love is Hate, and enough LNG to "produce a thermal blast that would set buildings on fire, melt steel out to 1,281 feet, and give people second-degree burns up to 4,282 feet away" is "security for America." I remember once upon a time, the Republican party actually thought that it was important to protect the rights of states and individuals and had some kind of integrity. Some still do:
[Representative] Castle argued that the provision ''tramples on the rights of states and individual communities," and a few of his fellow Republicans echoed that theme, including Representative Christopher Shays, a Republican of Connecticut. Markey also argued that there ''was no crisis" in energy supplies because the number of LNG facilities has gone from two in 2001 to five today, with six more licensed to be built.

But opponents of the amendment argued that the country needs more natural gas. Afterward, a congressional aide said the vote was lost after industry lobbyists convinced members from agricultural states that the measure would help ease the price of fertilizer.
Basically the moral of the story is that with the current batch of Republicans controlling Congress if you have any kind of legislation that protects children, old people, veterans, animals, the environment, or basically anybody other than the millionaires and corporations, you can just kiss it goodbye.

Related story: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the LNG.

Some pics of LNG tankers here.

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