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Oregon Land-Use Board Remands County Jordan Cove LNG Permit

The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) last Tuesday remanded to Coos County its permit for the development of the Jordan Cove LNG project and related interstate-connecting pipeline. The county now has the option of revising the permit in an effort to gain approval from the appeals board.

The move further complicates the permitting outlook for at least three proposals to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminals in Oregon. LUBA's action immediately prompted statewide LNG opponents to urge the appeals panel to take the same action regarding Clatsop County's approval last year of the site for the proposed Bradwood Landing LNG terminal near the mouth of the Columbia River on the Oregon side. The LUBA action also prompted a third proposed project -- Oregon LNG -- to tout the fact that its site already has been approved by the land-use board.

Despite these reactions from other stakeholders in the budding LNG industry in Oregon, a LUBA attorney told NGI Friday that the appeals board did not "reverse" the county's action, which would have been the equivalent of rejecting it altogether. Instead, the board remanded it, giving the county a chance to modify the permit to allow it to pass muster.

LUBA's action was taken because it said the permitting process by Coos County failed to take into account some "archaeological and environmental concerns." Board members disagreed with LNG project opponents on several issues, but they agreed that the county needs to review its conclusions, including whether there are wetlands involved in the area proposed for the terminal.

An attorney for the principal opposition group challenging the county permit, Southern Oregon Pipeline Information Project, said if Coos County attempts to correct the permit it will take a lot more time and work. As it stands, the county permit would not allow the project proponents to resolve disputes with local Native American tribes regarding archaeological sites, the critics said, and LUBA agreed with them.

While NorthernStar Natural Gas' Bradwood Landing project talked last year about starting construction this year, and a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could happen soon, there are still state-backed environmental and other requirements -- including clearing LUBA -- that the project faces. In the meantime, Oregon LNG and Jordan Cove backers talk positively about their chances of winning federal and local permits.

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