In another move to prevent its proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) project from becoming a political football kicked between Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski and FERC, NorthernStar Natural Gas urged the federal regulators Feb. 20 to respond to the governor quickly on his concerns about LNG siting in Oregon generally, and particularly NorthernStar's proposed Bradwood Landing terminal along the Columbia River. NorthernStar sent a four-page letter to FERC from its Washington, DC-based legal counsel Van Ness Feldman.

In its latest communications, NorthernStar reiterated that it agreed with Kulongoski on Oregon's permitting process "working well" through its Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC), which the Bradwood Landing project originally sought to use back in 2004 when it first proposed its LNG project, a Portland, OR-based NorthernStar spokesperson said. "But the Oregon attorney general in 2006 stopped further processing of our application because of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [FERC] preemption power in the 2005 Energy Policy Act (EPAct)."

On Feb. 14 the Oregon governor wrote FERC expressing concern about the federal process of evaluating multiple LNG receiving terminal projects for Oregon. While saying publicly that he was not "categorically against LNG," Kulongoski questioned whether the need for one or more new gas import projects had been substantiated.

NorthernStar in its latest letter to FERC interprets the governor's letter to be asking FERC to stop its ongoing review process of the Bradwood Landing project to conduct "what might be considered a programmatic or cumulative type of needs assessment of all proposed [Oregon] natural gas projects." The LNG project proponents ask FERC to get back to Kulongoski "expeditiously" to assure him that the need question has been addressed in at least nine separate third-party studies during the past two years.

"The Northwest's need for additional natural gas is well documented," said NorthernStar's latest letter, attaching a Jan. 16 letter from Oregon's three major natural gas distribution utilities attesting to that need. The studies confirm declining imports from Western Canada and increased movement of new supplies east out of the Rockies, which is Oregon's other major supply source along with Canadian gas.

In adding environmental and permit processing data on the Bradwood project, NorthernStar's letter concluded that FERC needs to provide Oregon officials with more assurances, particularly in light of the latest move by Kulongoski to have the federal regulators make what the Bradwood backers consider is "a major policy shift with national implications."

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