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Oregon LNG Plant Proposal Meets Opposition, but Undeterred

With a backdrop of unhappy local citizens and a river preservationist group gunning for any liquefied natural gas (LNG) proposed terminals, NorthernStar Natural Gas, Inc., said recently that the regulatory clock at FERC now officially is ticking on its proposal to build an LNG receiving terminal at Bradwood Landing, OR, 38 miles up the Columbia River from the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, the opposing resolve of the Columbia Riverkeeper, a partner with Astoria, OR-based Columbia RiverVision, has intensified.

Demonstrations against the site have continued, such as one staged earlier in the month in which landowners in and around the Bradwood site reversed earlier approvals to allow NorthernStar to survey on their property for part of the permitting work on the proposed LNG facility.

In addition to the proposed 1,500-foot exclusionary zone on either side of the Columbia River for boat traffic, an Astoria-based activist with RiverVision said the environmental and local citizens' groups are opposed to the proposed dredging in and around the Bradwood site as being very harmful to an existing salmon habitat, along with growing safety concerns.

Nevertheless, Pete Hackett, a local representative with NorthernStar, contended in a brief interview with NGI that the project is moving ahead and is on schedule. Senior officials with NorthernStar, a Houston-based company, which holds investments in more than 50 energy infrastructure projects with an aggregate investment of more than $15 billion, including nine LNG projects worldwide, maintain that Bradwood will "meet or exceed all federal, state and local safety/environmental requirements."

NorthernStar counts among its supporters, Northwest Natural Gas Co., the Portland, OR-based utility serving most of Oregon, and the Northwest Industrial Gas Users, representing the region's largest industrial customers. Northwest Natural's Keith White, managing director for gas operations, called the Bradwood project FERC filing an "important step forward," and the industrial gas users' group counsel, Ed Finklea, said the Bradwood project "would provide Pacific Northwest consumers with access to more new global supplies of natural gas."

Oregon has five different proposals for LNG terminals -- four at the mouth of, or along, the Columbia River, and one along the Pacific Coast at Coos Bay, OR, where the Jordan Cove project is active. NorthernStar and local news media closely watching the LNG developments characterize the Bradwood site as the "clear front-runner" in the competition to have an LNG site in the Pacific Northwest.

Opposition groups are questioning the need and the lack of a large enough future market for new natural gas supplies. They are particularly concerned about Jordan Cove and its proposed 230-mile large-diameter natural gas pipeline that would ship part of the supplies to San Francisco-based Pacific Gas and Electric Co., one of the backers of the proposed connecting pipeline.

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