Oregon Gov. Warms to LNG Terminals
by Ted Sickinger The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.
December 02, 2007
Gov. Ted Kulongoski has put state agencies on notice that he is
open to proposals to build liquefied natural gas terminals in Oregon to
diversify and shore up state energy supplies.
A memo to state natural resource agencies tasked with providing feedback
on the controversial projects outlined the governor's position on LNG
terminals, which the memo said should guide them "in asserting Oregon's
interests and concerns about individual projects."
The governor, who has offered little public comment on the projects to
date, does not favor a categorical, statewide exclusion of LNG terminals, the
memo said. He also thinks it unlikely the state could even accomplish such an
exclusion given that the Energy Policy Act of 2005 pre-empted and passed its
licensing authority over energy facilities to federal regulators.
Three LNG terminals have been proposed in Oregon: two near the mouth of
the Columbia River and another in Coos Bay. The terminals would import natural
gas that has been super-cooled for shipment and storage as a liquid. The
terminals turn the liquid back into a gas then send it to market via pipeline.
All three terminal projects would require new gas pipelines to ship the gas
across the state.
The terminals and pipeline projects are meeting stiff opposition in the
communities where they would be located. Critics decry likely environmental
damage as well as potential safety concerns that come with importing and
shipping vast quantities of natural gas.
Each of the proposed LNG terminals is capable of importing far more gas
than Oregon consumes each day. One of critics' principal objections is that
Oregon would absorb the environmental harms and safety risks so developers
could ship gas to customers in California.
Californians have blocked several proposed terminals, and critics say
developers want to use Oregon as a back door to its southern neighbor. PG&E
Corp., the parent company of California's largest utility, has an ownership
stake in the proposed pipeline that would bring gas from the Coos Bay terminal
to the California border.
Backers of the proposed Bradwood Landing terminal near Wauna insist that
virtually all of their gas would be used in Oregon and Washington, though
they've told investors the terminal could serve California. Investors in the
other Columbia River terminal near Warrenton, meanwhile, have told the
California Energy Commission their terminal would help keep California
Both Columbia terminals could connect to interstate pipelines running to
California through 200-mile pipelines that are proposed to run through prime
Willamette Valley farmland and a big swath of the Mount Hood National Forest.
While the governor has directed the agencies to assert Oregon's interests
and closely evaluate the projects, he said the destination of the gas should
not be a factor in the state's evaluation of the merits or problems associated
"The issues of energy diversity, price and supply stability, bridging to
a renewable energy future are as important regionally as they are within
Oregon," the memo said.
State agencies have expressed deep concerns to the governor's office
about the environmental and safety effects of the LNG and pipeline proposals.
They also are bothered by a lack of any independent analysis about the need
for LNG or the associated terminals in Oregon.
The agencies' concerns were outlined in draft comments on the Bradwood
Landing terminal that were forwarded to the governor's natural resources
policy director earlier this month. A copy of the comments were reviewed by
The Oregonian. The state intends to provide feedback on the project to the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in coming weeks.
The memo said the governor was as concerned about the social and
environmental impacts of the pipelines as the terminals. Pipeline projects
that obtain a FERC license have the power of eminent domain -- a
government-granted right to forcibly seize property in exchange for court-set
compensation -- and the memo said the governor would insist that such power be
Kulongoski sent a strongly worded letter to the pipeline companies last
month outlining his concerns, including instances of public meetings being
inadequately advertised then changed at the last minute, proposed pipeline
routes being changed prior to public meetings without notification to affected
landowners, and private land being accessed without permission.
Copyright (c) 2007, The Oregonian, Portland, Ore. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
Bradwood Landing LNG
NorthernStar Natural Gas, Inc.
Bradwood, OR United States