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CA LNG Proponents Unsure of New State Maritime Council

After two weeks, none of California's liquefied natural gas (LNG) proponents or regulators are clear on what, if any, impact a new California Maritime Security Council might have on the review process for up to four proposed LNG receiving terminals along the Southern California coast. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger created the council with an executive order issued Oct. 12, and so far no one among the LNG crowd has commented much.

Both BHP Billiton, which has one of three offshore terminal proposals, and the Port of Long Beach, which is conducting a joint state-federal regulatory review on the proposal for a terminal in Long Beach Harbor, said the new state council most likely would not have any significant impact on the review of existing LNG projects.

BHP's proposed project is already covered by the federal Marine Security Council, a local spokesperson in Oxnard, CA, said. A Long Beach Port spokesperson said the 2005 federal Energy Policy Act (EPAct) gives FERC lead jurisdiction on LNG onshore siting, so he didn't think the new California council could have an impact.

Schwarzenegger said he took the action to create a state council to improve coordination among the federal, state and local governments at California's ports -- San Diego, Long Beach/Los Angeles and San Francisco/Oakland, along with three smaller ones -- which collectively see tens of billions of dollars of cargo traffic each year.

The governor also responded to recent published reports by a couple of public policy and security think tanks -- Public Policy Institute of California and Rand Corp. -- that underscored the ports' individual and collective importance to the state's economy, and how devastating a catastrophic natural disaster or terrorist event could be to the economy.

Other proponents of LNG receiving terminals, including Mitsubishi and ConocoPhillips and NorthernStar Natural Gas, were asked about the new council's potential impact. Each indicated it needed to review the provisions for the marine council, which will be headed by California's homeland security director

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