Citing the new federal Energy Policy Act of 2005, parts of which give FERC exclusive siting authority for onshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, the California Public Utilities Commission dropped its investigation of the Sound Energy Solutions (SES) proposed LNG terminal in Long Beach harbor in a closed session following its business meeting earlier this month (Nov. 18). The state regulators had started the proceeding to examine safety and economic issues.

“Federal legislation has mooted the commission’s [federal court] appeal as recognized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s and the CPUC’s recent filings in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Appeals Court,” the CPUC said in its decision that was uncontested and adopted unanimously. “The Energy Policy Act supports the FERC’s review of siting and safety issues involving SES’s plans to construct and operate an LNG plant at the Port of Long Beach, and the commission’s right to participate in the FERC’s hearing, instead of the CPUC reviewing these issues in its own proceeding.”

The CPUC had held a pre-hearing conference and established a schedule of hearings, but none of them were ever held.

Both the CPUC and Mitsubishi Corp.’s SES subsidiary have been involved in federal litigation concerning the CPUC’s assertion of authority to regulate SES’s proposed LNG project. FERC issued orders asserting preemption of the state regulatory body’s authority, resulting in the CPUC appealing FERC’s declared preemption in an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit (see Daily GPI, Aug. 9).

In the wake of the new federal energy law, the CPUC supported a FERC motion to the Ninth Circuit Appeal Court to dismiss the CPUC petition as now moot.

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