Kennedy, Langevin Urge Court to Allow States Authority on Placement of LNG Facilities

Jan 11, 2005

(Washington, D.C.)–Congressmen Patrick Kennedy and Jim Langevin today joined with Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank in urging the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to allow states authority to determine where LNG facilities could be located, rather than the federal government making the decision regardless of state preference.

Langevin and Kennedy have signed the 'friend of the court' brief in an effort to ensure that Rhode Island, Massachusetts or any other state would have the legal right to challenge the siting of a LNG facility. Should the court side with this view, the federal government could not force a specific location on any community; rather, the state would have authority to participate in the selection of the location.

The Frank-authored amicus curiae brief pertains to an LNG facility controversy currently being litigated in California. The California Public Utilities Commission has challenged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) claim that it had sole authority over choosing the location for new LNG facilities.

A provision in the colossal Omnibus Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2005, slipped in at the last minute unbeknownst to most Members, stated that Congress sides with FERC in interpreting existing law to mean that states do not have authority when it comes to siting LNG facilities. Congressmen Langevin, Kennedy and Frank did not want that language to influence the California lawsuit in FERC's favor, so they have sent a "friend of the court" brief explaining that the language in the appropriations measure did not represent the will of Congress, that FERC does not have exclusive authority to site LNG facilities, and that states have the right under the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act to establish safety standards for pipelines.

This is particularly critical for Rhode Island, given the proposed expansion of KeySpan's LNG facility in Providence, whose application is currently under review by FERC.

An amicus brief is one submitted by a person or group who is not a party to the litigation, but who believes that the court's decision may affect its interest. Such briefs are regularly submitted to the United States Supreme Court and other federal appellate courts on issues of interest to those not directly involved in a case before the court. There is no guarantee that the brief submitted by the Congressmen will impact the outcome of the case. Rather, it is intended to provide the judges with additional information as they consider the facts and issues before them.