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Oregon County Rezones Land for Proposed LNG Pipeline

NorthernStar Natural Gas Corp.'s plans to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal at Bradwood Landing along the Columbia River in Oregon received a boost last Wednesday night when the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to rezone a parcel of private land that a connecting gas pipeline for the terminal is slated to traverse.

Separately, a business-labor pro-natural gas group in the region, Energy Action Northwest, lambasted opponents of the LNG project for "misrepresenting" key facts related to zoning changes for the facility, which has conditioned federal approval pending resolution of a number of local and state permitting issues (see Daily GPI, Sept. 22, 2008).

Energy Action Executive Director Edward Finklea accused the LNG opponents of "deliberately twisting the facts surrounding the needed LNG development" in statements they reportedly made about the proposed zoning changes prior to the board's vote. At issue was a private landowner's request for more restrictive zoning on property that Bradwood Landing's pipeline is supposed to cross.

In addition, there were two issues regarding land-use definitions connected to the project that Oregon's Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) earlier in the year sent back to the Clatsop County officials for clarification. The action has been taken by the county, but LNG opponents are now making another appeal to LUBA on the two pending issues.

A Portland-based spokesperson for the Bradwood project said the landowner seeking the rezoning made it clear to county elected officials that he wants the land eventually set aside for conservation and hunting. "Wetlands preservation and duck hunting are passions of his, and he wants to ensure his property is set aside for those purposes in the future," said the Bradwood spokesperson.

Last year the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) took its action despite considerable opposition from local and state officials to the project in Oregon, which has been pending before FERC for 42 months.

"We find the project, as conditioned by [the] agency, meets our high safety standards and will have only a limited adverse environmental impact," said Joseph Kelliher, who was FERC chairman at the time. He further noted that the LNG terminal and pipeline were needed to meet rising natural gas demand in the Pacific Northwest. The order approving the project is "based on science and the fact."

At the time, individual FERC commissioners said their conditioned approval did not ensure that the terminal would ever be built. Finklea and his organization are determined to have at least one LNG terminal built in Oregon.

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