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Local Board Again Challenges Oregon LNG Project

The Clatsop County elected Board of Commissioners last Wednesday again decided to challenge an Oregon state board's ruling favoring the land-use application for a pipeline connected to the proposed Oregon liquefied natural gas (LNG) project at the mouth of the Columbia River.

Clatsop officials decided to file a cross-appeal of a June 27 ruling by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) that found one of the county commissioners was biased when he voted with the rest of the board to reject Oregon LNG's application to build a 41-mile portion of the connecting transmission line, Oregon Pipeline, for the proposed LNG export facility (see Daily GPI, July 3).

"We were fully expecting [the county] would cross-appeal, and we do not expect that it will have any impact on our schedule," said Oregon LNG Project Manager Peter Hansen. "We continue to make good progress on our permitting efforts."

Clatsop's board voted 3-1 to pursue the further appeal with Commissioner Matt Samuelson voting against the move, and Peter Huhtala, the commissioner LUBA found to be biased, abstaining from voting this time.

"It would be hard to imagine how anybody could possibly find that Huhtala was not biased, and given the facts of the case, the right thing to do for the county would obviously be to stop this farce and issue the permit that we are entitled to," Hansen told NGI on Monday.

An Oregon LNG unit, Oregon Pipeline Co. LLC, filed an appeal with LUBA after a January 2011 decision by the Clatsop County board to reverse its earlier approval of the pipeline's request for a land-use permit. LUBA subsequently decided that Huhtala was biased in his 2011 vote since he was the head of a group opposing the Oregon LNG project before being elected to the county commission.

LUBA's action required that the county reconsider the application of the Warrenton, OR-based project for the 41-mile segment of the 86-mile, 36-inch diameter pipeline traversing Clatsop. Instead of doing that, the commissioners have decided to take the cross-appeal route.

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