Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski told FERC Dec. 18 that the draft environmental review of the proposed Bradwood Landing liquefied natural gas (LNG) project is "incomplete and flawed." Two federal agencies -- the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) -- expressed similar concerns as well.

Kulongoski said a more comprehensive environmental review of his state's three proposed LNG projects -- now in various stages of permitting -- is needed. The governor acknowledged that federal regulators hold the ultimate authority for siting LNG projects, but he stressed that states retain authority over import terminals in regard to water quality, air quality and coastal zone management.

In his letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the governor said he did not oppose the construction of LNG terminals in Oregon. But Kulongoski noted that he believes the Bradwood Landing project proposed by NorthernStar Natural Gas along the Columbia River needs to demonstrate more convincingly that it is needed, along with providing more detail on its technical and environmental mitigation plans.

The letter prompted NorthernStar spokesman Joe Desmond to say, "We appreciate the governor's interest in our project and LNG and take his comments seriously. Based on our earlier review of the draft agency comments, we are confident we can address all of the issues and look forward to working with the state agencies through the permitting process."

Last Monday, the marine fisheries division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) raised serious questions about the adequacy of the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) being developed by FERC on the Bradwood Landing project.

"NOAA believes substantial work remains to complete the EIS to ensure the impacts to the environment are described, analyzed and mitigated adequately," said NOAA's Rodney Weiher. "The mitigation plan included in the DEIS appears inadequate and incomplete," the NOAA unit said.

Generally, in looking at alternatives, the NOAA unit finds that the analysis falls short. It suggests in several instances that FERC pursue more details on several alternatives. In some cases, the FERC work so far is characterized as not addressing some issues at all. "The sensitivity of a species or their habitat to change does not appear to have been factored into the alternatives analysis."

A NorthernStar spokesperson said the company was "reviewing the comments in detail" and would respond to the concerns of NOAA and other agencies.

Likewise, the EPA last Wednesday told FERC it "has identified concerns with the proposed project related to wetlands impacts and mitigation, impacts to air from diesel emissions, dredging, invasive species, ballast water intake and horizontal directional drilling."

In addition, "we raise questions and offer recommendations relative to the DEIS development process. These comments focus on the alternatives analysis and incomplete information about interrelated projects," the agency wrote in its letter to the Commission. "In light of the concerns raised, we have given a rating of EC-2 (Environmental Concerns, Insufficient Information) to the DEIS."

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