Unbelievably, certain shipments of liquefied natural gas will be allowed into Boston Harbor by the Coast Guard starting later this month. These LNG shipments will be from…wait for it…YEMEN! That’s right, Yemen. This is the same country that has been identified as a haven for terrorists. And the same country from which “The Underwear Bomber” came to blow up a U.S. airliner as it approached Detroit on Christmas Day. One is left with a feeling of disbelief and the further eroding of the confidence people have in security of the Homeland.
In their defense, the shipments will be subject to tight security measures that were proposed to the Coast Guard by the company that is importing the gas from Yemen, Distrigas of Massachusetts. The Coast Guard will consider each shipment on a case-by-case basis, a spokesman said.
“The security measures are going to be put in place by the company and validated by us when each vessel arrives,” a Coast Guard official told the Boston Globe. “The captain of the port will then decide whether to allow or deny (the ship) entry or take more extensive inspection measures than we normally would. Officials from Boston, including Mayor Tom Menino and officials from surrounding communities have urged rejection of the plan.
Here in Connecticut, state officials, environmentalists and other advocates fought successfully to keep a LNG terminal out of Long Island Sound, thereby avoiding both the environmental and security risks.
Today is the opening day of the 2010 session of the Connecticut General Assembly. After the opening day pomp, ceremonies and introduction of families during “points of personal privilege,” there will be the State of the State address by outgoing Governor Jodi Rell who reportedly has several budget cutting proposals.
According to several media outlets, the governor will propose a $500 million “Connecticut Credit Consortium” that would make loans available to small- and medium-sized businesses which would then, in theory, create jobs. Leaders in the Democratically-controlled House and Senate have also said job retention and creation is a key goal of theirs’ in this session.
The governor is also seeking more budget-cutting authority. Lawmakers may be hesitant to go along, given the fact that the cuts she’s made under her current authority have been unpopular. Those include the elimination of the nursing programs at the state’s technical schools. The program is a proven jobs-creator and Democrats are looking to restore the funding for the program.
Also back on the table is legalization of Keno, an electronic gambling game very popular in Massachusetts. According to projections, Keno would bring in to the state $20 million in the first year of the budget and $60 million the second.
There are potential problems with Keno, such as how it would be viewed by the state’s casinos which have a gaming compact with the state. The state relies heavily on its share of casino intake.
Despite the expected spin, Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz is now in an impossible position after yesterday’s official opinion from Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, an opinion asked for by Bysiewicz herself. Blumenthal opined that the state law requiring 10 years’ “active practice” as a lawyer before serving as attorney general is constitutional, and that it takes more than merely being licensed as a lawyer to be considered as actively practicing law.
Blumenthal went on to say that the courts would have to decide, in a declaratory ruling, what constitutes “active practice” of law. Absent that, the legislature could clarify the law and include criteria for “active practice.”
That leaves Bysiewicz, who leads in the race for AG in the latest polling, in a no-win situation. If she asks for a declaratory ruling, she takes a serious gamble as to what the answer is. If she doesn’t ask, she looks like she is avoiding the issue because she is afraid of the answer.
The best Bysiewicz could do was declare herself vindicated by Blumenthal’s decision and go on with the campaign. The issue, however, may not go away easily.