Senate rejects LNG plant measure

Amendment would have allowed state to stop Dundalk terminal

June 21, 2007|By Matthew Hay Brown | Matthew Hay Brown,Sun Reporter

WASHINGTON -- The Senate has rejected a measure that would have allowed opponents of the liquefied natural gas terminal proposed for Sparrows Point to defeat the project.

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin had introduced the measure to restore to states the authority to block new LNG terminals after residents rose up against plans to build the facility on the former site of the Bethlehem Steel shipyard in Dundalk.

The Senate voted, 56-37, late Tuesday to reject Cardin's amendment to the energy bill now being debated by the Senate. The Maryland Democrat expressed disappointment but vowed to press on against a two-year-old law that gives ultimate authority for locating new LNG terminals to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Chance to take part

"I am committed to ensuring that state and local governments have an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process regarding the location of these plants," Cardin said in a statement. "Communities that bear the burden of hosting these facilities should have a meaningful voice in where they are located."

Gov. Martin O'Malley, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. have joined local residents in opposing the project proposed by AES Corp. of Arlington, Va. Maryland's other senator, Democrat Barbara A. Mikulski, co-sponsored and voted for Cardin's amendment.

Opponents of the project have said they are concerned about safety and the potential for economic disruption in the event of a natural disaster or terror attack on the facility. AES officials say the nearest residents would be 1.2 miles from the terminal - outside of the 1-mile radius in which the heat from a worst-case explosion would be felt.

House bill

Ruppersberger, who represents the 2nd District, in which the facility would be located, has sponsored legislation similar to Cardin's in the U.S. House of Representatives. A spokeswoman for the Baltimore County Democrat said yesterday that he could attach that measure to the House version of the energy bill.

matthew.brown@baltsun.com

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