No misconduct was found regarding allegations that Oregon LNG tried to steamroll landowners along the path of a proposed natural gas pipeline tied to the project’s proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal along the Columbia River, according to a FERC fact-finding report.

The report by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Deputy Chief Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Bobbie McCartney is the outcome of three town hall sessions in April regarding Oregon LNG’s proposal to build an LNG receiving terminal in Oregon and a related 122-mile pipeline (see Daily GPI, April 22).

Landowners along the proposed pipeline route had raised three main issues: (1) the company allegedly ignoring their concerns about potential pipeline locations, (2) the company allegedly “bullying” people, and (3) Oregon LNG not providing information that people sought. The company strongly denied all of the allegations.

In the next-to-last paragraph in an 80-page document, McCartney said that “while there [were] indeed many areas that may be improved upon in terms of communication and process by both FERC and the pipeline [Oregon LNG], the evidence of record does not support a finding of misconduct as to any of the allegations.”

Nevertheless, the backers of now one of two remaining proposed LNG import facilities are not expecting a final decision from FERC until next year as the process of the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) has been slowed by federal Department of Transportation software problems, according to Oregon LNG CEO Peter Hansen.

While noting there was nothing legally wrong done by the LNG proponents, the FERC deputy chief ALJ did acknowledge that complaining landowners continue to be concerned and frustrated about the pipeline project tied to the LNG terminal. “The concerns and frustrations the participants have expressed in their testimony are very genuine and have been captured in the record of this proceeding for the [five-member FERC] commission’s consideration,” McCartney said.

Hansen said McCartney’s report now will be incorporated as part of the Oregon LNG pending case at FERC. He contends that the Columbia Riverkeepers and some “anti-LNG” landowners tried to use the workshops held by FERC as a “golden opportunity” to kill the project. “They wanted to harass us, and that is what they did.”

In the wake of NorthernStar Natural Gas Corp.’s announcement in May that it was abandoning its Bradwood Landing LNG project, questions have been raised about the viability of the two remaining LNG proposals — Hansen’s and a second one, Jordan Cove, at Coos Bay along the Pacific Ocean coast (see Daily GPI, May 12). Natural gas industry players in the Pacific Northwest and western Canada are arguing that natural gas shale supplies in the U.S. Rockies and in northeast British Columbia could render LNG imports in Oregon as unnecessary, if not uneconomic.

Hansen said a draft biological assessment of his company’s project at Warrenton, OR, came out earlier in June, and it is one of two major documents that FERC needs to produce; the second critical one is the draft EIS, which most likely will be released “in the next few months.” The only positive aspects right now is that the biological assessment is out in advance of the EIS, he said, noting that other projects have run into problems when the environmental documents were released before the biological assessment, which looks at endangered species.

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