FERC said Thursday it plans to combine the environmental assessment of a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) import-export terminal at the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon and a connecting 86-mile transmission pipeline. Both the project backers and opposing environmental groups lauded the move by federal regulators.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said it plans to conduct a "cumulative environmental review" of Oregon LNG's planned facilities at Warrenton, OR, near Astoria, and the connecting 36-inch diameter gas pipeline proposed to run under the Columbia River to the Washington state side of the river and head northeasterly to interconnect with an enhanced Northwest Pipeline interstate segment at Woodland, WA, about 25 miles north of Portland.

Previously, another LNG import application at FERC for Bradwood Landing along the Columbia had sought separate review of its proposed terminal and a longer connecting transmission pipeline that ran easterly through Oregon to an interconnection point in the southwest Portland metropolitan area. FERC evaluated those projects separately, conditionally approved them, but the project was terminated for financial reasons.

"FERC isn't buying the same logic this time," anti-LNG activist Paul Sansone said in a Portland Oregonian report. "The true scope of the project and the impact will be greater and involve many more hoops to jump through."

More recently, Oregon LNG's competing project switched to a bidirectional import-export project, filing with FERC to do so and signing an agreement with Williams' Northwest Pipeline Co. to expand the capacity of lines bringing Canadian gas into the Pacific Northwest (see Daily GPI, July 6).

Peter Hansen, project manager for Oregon LNG, told NGI that since April he has known that FERC would follow the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and have one environmental impact statement (EIS) for the three projects: separate import and export facilities and the pipeline. "The only real news in FERC's [action] was that it has now officially accepted us into the prefiling process," Hansen said.

"The other day we celebrated the news that FERC had accepted Oregon LNG's and Williams' joint prefiling for the terminal and its associated pipelines. Somehow the opponents of our project misread [FERC's action] and thought it was good news from them. I am not sure how they managed to do that."

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