In a letter sent Dec. 29, 2009, by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to the National Marine Fisheries Service, the formal consultation between the two agencies on Bradwood Landing's impacts to endangered species began effective December 8. In its letter, FERC stated its expectation that the consultation will be completed by March 8, 2010, the 90 day statutory deadline.
"The start of Endangered Species Act consultation marks a major milestone for Bradwood Landing as we work toward beginning construction," said NorthernStar Natural Gas President Paul Soanes. "The beginning of ESA consultation puts Bradwood Landing on track to complete its permitting by next summer, allowing construction to begin later in 2010. With its short 36.3 mile pipeline and proximity to the Portland metropolitan area Bradwood is well positioned to meet the Pacific Northwest's growing demand for clean-burning natural gas," said Soanes.
Bradwood Landing received its FERC certificate order September 18, 2008, after an extensive scientific and technical review, which took three and a half years and included an official record in excess of 50,000 pages. Bradwood had previously received local land use approval from Clatsop County to develop the site of the former Bradwood lumber mill, company town and deep-water port.
"We are that much closer to the day when Bradwood Landing begins putting Oregonians to work," said Soanes. "We will provide hundreds of union wage jobs during the construction of our terminal and pipeline."
More on the Biological Opinion
The Endangered Species Act requires federal agencies, in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and/or the National Marine Fisheries Service to conserve species and their designated critical habitat listed under the ESA as "threatened" or "endangered." Bradwood Landing has submitted all of the requested scientific studies and reports to FERC that are needed to initiate the consultation process with NMFS. These documents, consisting of more than 5,000 pages of technical information, comprise the Biological Assessment.?
During the consultation process, agencies will evaluate the effects of the proposed project on the survival of species and any potential adverse modification of critical habitat, based on "the best scientific and commercial data available" for the purpose of producing a Biological Opinion. ?
Since its inception, Bradwood Landing has worked to ensure it will provide a significant and sustainable net benefit for fish, wildlife, and the lower Columbia ecosystem, and serve as a model of sustainable development. Using best available science and recovery plans, as well as new studies and modeling, the project includes innovative measures to avoid and minimize impacts, robust mitigation, and a $59 million voluntary (but legally binding) Salmon Enhancement Initiative: the largest private investment of its kind ever proposed for the region.
Collectively, these measures will restore and protect thousands of acres of habitat and increase juvenile salmon survival by hundreds of thousands or even millions of fish each year. The Salmon Enhancement Initiative will be managed by regional restoration entities (agencies, tribes, fish recovery groups) and will provide a model and a sustained mechanism that encourages and enables other "net benefit" proposals associated with needed infrastructure projects.
Bradwood Landing's coalition of supporters includes the Oregon AFL-CIO, the Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council, the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council, the Oregon Machinists Council, the Washington Machinists Council, Carpenters Local 1707 and the International Longshore Workers' Union (Columbia River Oregon Area), the Steamship Operators Association, and more than 2,500 citizens which have sent letters or cards of support to FERC, Clatsop County and the Governor.
The Bradwood Landing LNG terminal and its associated 36.3 mile pipeline would provide a new source of natural gas directly into the Oregon and Washington natural gas market. It would create more than 450 jobs over three years of construction and 65 permanent jobs while contributing more than $7.8 million annually in taxes to Clatsop County.