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State Rep. Accused Of Fast-Tracking New Salem Power Plant

SALEM (CBS) --- What does the future of Salem Harbor Power Station have to do with a bill on gas leaks?

The lawyer made famous by the movie "A Civil Action," is part of a group outraged by the process to overhaul the shuttered power plant.

"I'm aghast that a gas leak bill that is supposed to protect us, is now being held hostage to protect one company," Jan Schlictman said. "There is absolutely no justification for favoring one company and exempting them from our rules and laws meant to protect us."

The company Footprint Energy wants to tear down the old coal plant and replace it with a brand new, larger, natural gas plant.

Representative John Keenan added the project to a bill on gas safety.

"It's really sad that Chairman Keenan would try to hijack a bill that is so important to so many stake holders for a power plant in his district," Sue Reid of Conservation Law Foundation said.

Keenan says the company has done what is needed.

"They've been through every regulatory hoop and hurdle that they could get through at every step of the way," Keenan said.

Critics also point to $2,000 donations to Keenan from Footprint Energy employees.

"It has no impact on any decision I made or what I do," Keenan said.

While some neighbors oppose the plan, others support Keenan's work to power the plant back up.

"We need something, we need something for energy," Barbara said.

The bill now goes to the House Ways And Means Committee and Keenan hopes it will come before the full house in the next session.

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