Well-paid fear-mongering

Richard Clarke, the former U.S. anti-terrorism official who has been going around as a very well-paid consultant warning about the dangers posed by shipping liquefied natural gas, should consider in public — as politically unpopular as that might be among the many millions of beneficiaries of LNG imports — how safe the importation of this fuel actually is.

Earlier this month, on the same day that Mr. Clarke was terrifying members of the Boston City Council about the city’s imminent incineration, Suez LNG, which brings the fuel to the terminal in Everett, next to Boston, announced that the 1,000th cargo loaded at its LNG facility in Trinidad had arrived in Boston. It was the 174th trip to the Hub for the tanker Suez Matthew since it went into service, seven years ago. Boston’s LNG terminal has received almost 750 LNG shipments without incident since its startup, 35 years ago.

The Trinidad-Everett link is a critical way for New England to receive natural gas. The fossil fuel meets some 20 percent of the region’s natural-gas demand, and is used for home heating, industrial use and electricity generation. The fuel has had increased demand in recent years because it is much cleaner-burning than coal and oil.

Mr. Clarke bases his objections on the potential of a terrorist attack on the facility in Everett, or on the Suez Matthew while transiting Boston Harbor, or going up the Mystic River. Since 9/11, visits by the ship have been attended by increased security, including armed surveillance on bridges and, indeed, elsewhere along its route.

Last year, Mr. Clarke made presentations in Rhode Island and in Fall River, where LNG terminals have been proposed. These were used by such politicians as Fall River’s mayor, Edward Lambert, to whip up opposition to the proposals.

In fact, the region needs more LNG, and more LNG terminals, which Mr. Clarke effectively acknowledges: His presentation in Boston was as a paid consultant for the developers of a proposed LNG facility on one of Boston Harbor’s outer islands — a very good idea in itself.

Nothing in human affairs is utterly without any risk but Mr. Clarke’s well-compensated fear-mongering, without any balancing facts, ill serves the region. Meanwhile, in Europe and Asia, LNG shipments continue to go into some of the world’s biggest ports.

The Providence Journal, Sunday, November 26, 2006

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~ by anick on November 26, 2006.

One Response to “Well-paid fear-mongering”

  1. You make an excellant point.

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