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Environmentalists file appeal to Salem proposal

December 2, 2013

SALEM, Mass. (AP) — An environmental advocacy group has filed another appeal in an attempt to block construction of a proposed $800 million natural gas-fired power plant on the Salem waterfront.

The Conservation Law Foundation is appealing a decision last month by the state to grant variances to developer Footprint Power for a state waterways license, one of the key approvals needed for the facility.

The foundation and other groups as well as some individuals filed the appeal Nov. 22.

“If constructed, the facility will displace a critical area in Massachusetts that was specifically designated for water-dependent, marine industrial facilities,” Shanna Cleveland, a senior CLF attorney, wrote in the appeal.

If the area is used for something else, that violates state law as well as Salem’s plan for the harbor, she said. Footprint Power of New Jersey is scheduled to complete the shutdown of the current coal-and-oil-burning plant in May. It hopes to open a 630-megawatt natural gas plant in 2016.

“With the existing Salem Harbor power plant slated to shut down completely in 2014, the construction and operation of the facility will increase air pollution in Salem for the next 40 years,” Cleveland wrote.

“We’re very disappointed that after 3 ½ years of discussions with CLF, they have chosen to take this path, appealing permit after permit in complete disregard to the environmental benefits of our proposed generating facility,” Footprint President Scott Silverstein told The Salem News (http://bit.ly/1hsXM6B ) in an email.

“In addition to the deep reductions in system-wide emissions (including carbon dioxide) provided by our facility, we have also designed our plant to use as little water as possible.”

This is the second appeal CLF has filed in recent days. On Nov. 8, it appealed an approval by the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board following a lengthy review.

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Information from: The Salem (Mass.) News, http://www.salemnews.com

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