NorthernStar Natural Gas Co. was neither surprised nor concerned by reports surfacing late in June that a local planning/zoning review could delay permitting of its proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal along the Columbia River in Oregon. Senior Vice President Joseph Desmond told NGI Thursday he welcomes the critical look at the company’s plans.

Desmond, the former chief energy adviser for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said NorthernStar’s Bradwood Landing LNG team will be working with the local county planning commission staff to resolve the issues that have been raised.

“We were not surprised that the staff after having an opportunity to complete an exhaustive review of the documents identified a couple of issues they felt warranted some additional data, and we will be working with them in the coming weeks to provide responses to the issues they have raised,” Desmond said.

“We feel positive we’ll be able to address those prior to the next meeting of the planning commission on the project, which is July 10.”

Desmond said it is common in the permitting process on major energy facilities that issues like this will be raised. “We saw that with the U.S. Coast Guard’s report on waterway suitability. They imposed conditions for the navigation of the ships along the Columbia River,” he said.

In this instance, the planning commission staff has recommended approval with conditions, and the vast majority of which NorthernStar had requested in the way of zoning, Desmond said.

Triggering Despond’s response was a report Wednesday, June 27, that consultants to the Clatsop County Planning Commission reportedly will recommend denial of a land use permit for the Bradwood Landing site.

“A group of contract planners hired by the county to review Bradwood’s land use application — a key local approval in the federal LNG permitting process — determined after months of study that the proposed LNG project does not comply with the county’s planning policies,” the Astoria (OR) Daily Astorian reported June 27, noting the issue would be dealt with at the July 10 commission meeting.

Environmental impacts going beyond the county’s permitting authority and local emergency services beyond the local response capabilities were cited as two reasons for rejecting the permit in a 226-page report by a planning commission review team that was released Wednesday, June 27. The report details 27 Clatsop County approvals requested by NorthernStar.

The newspaper said the latest report will be submitted as staff recommendations to the seven-member county planning commission, with a hearing on the issues July 10 and a follow-up public meeting July 17.

This latest development on the Bradwood project comes as the recently reemerged Oregon LNG project near the mouth of the Columbia River at Warrenton, OR, (formerly Calpine’s Skipanon project) has received a local rezoning permit and was subject of a public hearing Thursday in Warrenton.

Four of Oregon’s five current LNG proposals are along the Columbia River, which requires various local permits covering bridge-building, dredging, pile-driving, landfill, tank construction, rail line realignments and installation of natural gas pipelines.

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