The Clatsop County Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to uphold a hearings officer's conditional approval of the consolidated land-use application from Oregon Pipeline Company LLC and deny two appeals.
A final order and findings of fact will be presented for final action at the board's Nov. 8 meeting, after modifications to some of the conditions of approval are added. In particular, the commissioners sought language spelling out the company's requirements regarding emergency preparedness.
A hearings officer ruled Aug. 23 to grant conditional approval to Oregon Pipeline's application, which seeks conditional use permits and other approvals for construction of 41 miles of natural gas pipeline through Clatsop County to serve the proposed liquefied natural gas terminal on the Skipanon Peninsula in Warrenton.
Both Oregon Pipeline and project opponents led by Columbia Riverkeeper filed appeals of the hearings officer ruling. Riverkeeper's appeal sought the denial of the application, while Oregon Pipeline asked for modification or removal of some of the conditions imposed by the hearings officer.
The commissioners convened a public hearing on the appeals Oct. 20 and took public testimony, then continued the hearing to Wednesday to gather more information on issues surrounding emergency preparedness plans for the proposed pipeline.
The board voted 4-1 to approve the application, with Commissioner Dirk Rohne voting no. Rohne cited the findings of the county Planning Division staff, whose June 3 staff report recommended that the application be denied because it did not comply with a number of provisions of the county land-use code.
In his subsequent review, Hearings Officer Peter Livingston ruled that the application did meet the code provisions.
The issue of an emergency response plan arose over questions of whether a 2008 memorandum of understanding on emergency preparedness between the State of Oregon and LNG Development Co. LLC, the LNG terminal developer and partner corporation of Oregon Pipeline, also covered the proposed pipeline. County Counsel Jeff Bennett told the board that the document only covers the proposed terminal.
The LNG terminal lies within the city limits of Warrenton and is not part of the Oregon Pipeline application to Clatsop County.
Mike Connors, attorney for Oregon Pipeline, said the company has proposed a new condition of approval that extends the company's emergency response obligations, including funding, training and other requirements, to the pipeline.
Brett VandenHeuvel, Columbia Riverkeeper executive director, asked that if the board votes to approve the application that it adopt conditions requiring Oregon Pipeline to pay all costs related to emergency preparedness, that the company's emergency plan be reviewed by a consultant and subject to a public hearing before adoption, and that the land-use approval not be transferable to another entity.
The board directed county staff to take both parties' proposed conditions and develop language to cover the emergency response plan requirements.