The backers of the Bradwood Landing liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, NorthernStar Natural Gas Corp., filed Thursday in the Oregon Court of Appeals, challenging a decision earlier in April by the Oregon Land-Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). NorthernStar is concerned about two issues that were remanded back to the local county commission where it is seeking to develop its LNG receiving facility.

The Clatsop County Board of Commissioners again has been asked by LUBA to reexamine part of earlier approvals of the proposed $650 million LNG project.

While NorthernStar officials reiterated that the Oregon Land-Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) substantially has agreed with the county’s 2008 land use decisions, an opponent of the project that keeps appealing county action to LUBA, Columbia Riverkeeper, emphasized that the county’s decision has continued to be rejected by the state board’s questioning of whether the proposed LNG facility would meet county standards for small- and medium-scale development, which they contend is the only kind of development allowed at the Bradwood site.

The back-and-forth filings between the county and LUBA began more than two years ago when the Clatsop board approved Bradwood’s consolidated land use application. Project opponents appealed that decision back then and subsequently did so again last fall (see Daily GPI, March 25, 2008).

NorthernStar is appealing to the court for the first time, and a Portland-based project spokesperson said that if the company can prevail in the courts it will not have to go back to the county for further approvals.

NorthernStar President Paul Soanes called the latest LUBA decision “flawed” in several respects, noting the company contends the state board has exceeded its jurisdiction, along with “misapplying the applicable standards and failing to acknowledge particular findings.” In short, NorthernStar is contending LUBA has substituted its judgment for the county’s, which was “reasonable and supported by substantial evidence.”

NorthernStar officials are taking the position that throughout the federal, state and local processes, the proponents of the LNG terminal and 36.3-mile connecting gas transmission pipeline have done all they could to comply with permitting and environmental requirements. In late March, county staff recommended approval of the Bradwood plan for placement and management of dredged materials, erosion/sediment control plans, and a conditional use permit for road improvements outside of the right of way (see Daily GPI, April 12).

Separately, Bradwood’s mitigation plan is currently being reviewed by federal agencies as part of the consultation process under the Endangered Species Act.

Soanes maintains that based on the Bradwood project design there will be a “net environmental benefit to the lower Columbia River,” and he is confident the mitigation plan now being reviewed by the National Marine Fisheries Service will confirm that contention.

“Concurrent with this [latest] court appeal, the company also will undertake a reorganization for any adjustments necessary to reflect our current development efforts,” Soanes said.

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