FALL RIVER, Mass. — Hess LNG on Monday withdrew its bitterly contested plan to build a liquified natural gas terminal in southeastern Massachusetts, citing “unfavorable economics” for LNG in New England.
The decision was immediately applauded by members of the Massachusetts and Rhode Island congressional delegations and other officials who had opposed the Weaver’s Cove project. They said the terminal proposed for Fall River would have posed unacceptable risks to the heavily populated area.
The plan called for tankers carrying LNG to pass through Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay.
In a statement, Hess said it had withdrawn all federal and state applications for the project and planned to focus on other, more viable LNG projects, including one in Shannon, Ireland.
“The significant increase in natural gas production from shale resources in North America resulting in lower prices as well as the growth in demand for LNG in the rest of the world make it unlikely the company can secure supplies of LNG on economic terms attractive enough to ensure the sustained profitability of the project,” said Gordon Shearer, the company’s president.
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, whose district includes part of Fall River, said years of intense opposition had weakened the project.
“I believed that we had driven a stake through this vampire’s heart several years ago, and I’m very pleased that it has finally laid down and died,” he said in a statement.
Frank and U.S. Rep. James McGovern had sought to bar the U.S. Department of Energy from authorizing an LNG terminal within five miles of the city and prohibit LNG tankers from servicing such a terminal.
U.S. Sens. John Kerry and Scott Brown of Massachusetts and U.S. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed of Rhode Island also hailed the decision by Hess.
“This is a victory for common sense and public safety and people up and down the Taunton River will be sleeping more soundly tonight knowing that this long fight has been won,” Kerry said.
“From a safety, economic, and environmental standpoint, siting this LNG terminal in a densely populated, environmentally-sensitive area never made sense,” Reed said.
Weaver’s Cove Energy had defended the project as one that would benefit New England by reducing energy demand and bringing down costs. The region has some of the highest energy costs in the nation.
But opponents, including Fall River officials, were unconvinced.
The city spent millions to fight the proposed terminal, which officials said was discouraging development along the city’s waterfront. Fall River has struggled with one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.
Other steps taken to kill the project included saving from demolition a bridge that would prevent supertankers to get to the site. Congress also extended federal “wild and scenic” environmental protection to the lower Taunton River, prompting the National Park Service to find the project inconsistent with the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.