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Oregon LNG Opponents Try Recalling Officials

October 5, 2009
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The extent to which opponents of liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminals in the West will go is being played out in Clatsop County, OR, where three of four elected commissioners who supported the Bradwood Landing LNG project along the Columbia River are fighting recall campaigns. Two Clatsop commissioners already are subject to an Oct. 27 vote to throw them out, and a third commissioner is the subject of a signature-gathering effort to force a third recall ballot.

"It remains to be seen whether or not the required number of signature will be turned into the county clerk to force a recall of Commissioner Pat Roberts," a Portland, OR-based spokesperson for NorthernStar Natural Gas Corp., sponsor of Bradwood Landing, told NGI last Monday, while passing on an editorial critical of the recalls by the state's largest newspaper, the Portland Oregonian.

"There is a chance there could be two recall ballots -- one for Commissioners Ann Samuelson and Jeff Hazen and a second one for Roberts," the editorial stated.

Opponents have been livid over the Clatsop commissioners (4-1 votes) upholding the land-use variations that Bradwood's sponsors have needed to complete permitting and move ahead with construction at the site.

Proponents of the Bradwood LNG facilities received a boost in late September when the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to rezone a parcel of private land that a connecting gas pipeline for the terminal is slated to traverse.

Separately, a business-labor pro-natural gas group in the region, Energy Action Northwest, earlier in September lambasted opponents of the LNG project for "misrepresenting" key facts related to zoning changes for the facility, which has conditioned federal approval pending resolution of a number of local and state permitting issues.

The Oregonian editorial in its Sept. 27 edition criticized the opponents for turning to recall campaigns, citing "ugly attacks" against the three elected commissioners. The newspaper concluded that "wielding the recall against them in such fashion has a corrosive effect, discouraging people from running for office and unfairly punishing those willing to stick their necks out and serve."

The Oregonian urged voters to reject the recall of the first two commissioners and to refuse to sign petitions against the third elected official. The newspaper said the fight over the proposed LNG terminal has "gotten out of hand" since the officials have not been accused of doing anything illegal in supporting the proposed terminal.

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