|Posted by Matthew P. LaFrenier on October 12, 2014 at 11:50 AM|
PORTSMOUTH – Gov. Maggie Hassan has invited Mayor Robert Lister to meet with her about his concerns over the expansion of the Sea-3 propane facility in Newington.
“I share the concerns that you and many other Seacoast-area residents have expressed about Sea-3’s proposed expansion,” Hassan wrote in a letter to Lister.
She noted that the state Legislature has just established a commission “that is about to begin its work on these issues.”
“For our endeavors to be successful and to ensure the safety of our rail systems, I want to ensure that we work collaboratively with all stakeholders so that we resist duplication of efforts and find constructive solutions on this issue of critical importance,” Hassan said.
She then invited Lister to meet with her in Concord.
The mayor said Friday he was “pleased that she’s willing to meet with us,” and added that he plans to bring other city officials with him.
Most concerns raised about Sea-3’s proposed expansion have focused on the condition of Pan Am Railways’ tracks, which will carry a significant increase in propane rail cars throughout the Seacoast.
The tracks are now Class 1, but Pan Am Railways Executive Vice President Cynthia Scarano has said the company may upgrade them to Class 2, which would allow trains to travel as fast as 25 mph, up from 10 mph.
Portsmouth officials have asked Pan Am to commit to running its trains at only 10 mph, but Pan Am has refused.
Hassan’s letter to the Portsmouth mayor came in response to Lister's request asking her to issue an executive order to review the state’s rail system. He has previously asked the state to “perform a comprehensive safety and risk analysis regarding all aspects of the transportation of LPG (liquefied propane gas) throughout the state.”
Lister said the meeting with the governor hasn’t been scheduled yet.
Lister considers rail safety a “statewide issue” and believes the governor shares that feeling.
“Obviously, she’s very concerned with safety,” Lister said Friday.
A recently released 10-year state energy plan warns about the vulnerability the state faces in terms of propane shortages, like the one it endured last winter.
Asked whether he thinks the city’s fight against the Sea-3 expansion plan could hurt the supply of propane in the state, Lister said, “Hopefully we’re providing all that New Hampshire needs.”
Lister heats his home with oil and propane, the mayor said.