Warming up for a public hearing next Monday, the local county planning staff recirculated its negative assessment from earlier in the year recommending that local elected officials reject NorthernStar Natural Gas’s proposed Bradwood Landing liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal site along the Oregon side of the Columbia River, about 30 miles east of Astoria, OR. A spokesperson for the project downplayed the staff report as old news.
“All they are doing is reissuing a previous report ahead of Monday’s [elected] county commissioners’ meeting,” the Bradwood Landing project spokesperson said.
Despite the report that resurfaced Tuesday, the Clatsop County Planning Commission on a 4-3 vote recommended that the elected officials approve NorthernStar’s rezoning of it proposed site, which local news media reported needs 30 land-use regulation changes. Regasified LNG would be shipped from the terminal in a new 36-inch diameter natural gas transmission pipeline cutting across parts of Clatsop and two other Oregon counties before interconnecting with existing major north-south interstate gas pipelines to the east.
“The reissuance of the staff report doesn’t change our position,” said Joe Desmond, NorthernStar’s senior vice president. “In fact, we look forward to making our case before the county commission and presenting our project’s benefits to the local and regional economy.”
Despite the planning commission recommendation, the staff feels the report indicates that several of NorthernStar’s specific requests should be turned down, including one to dredge 700,000 cubic yards of material from 46 acres of the river bottom, deepening the riverbed by nine feet. Adjacent landowners also do not want the proposed connecting transmission pipeline crossing their property.
Ultimately, opponents are expecting the issue to wind up with the state land-use board of appeals, regardless of what the county commissioners decide to do.
“The dredging is appropriate to support development of the adjacent industrial site,” Desmond said. “Just last week [Oct. 8-12], the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development advised the county that where the integrity of the estuary is not compromised, a change in zoning in the Columbia River to support an appropriate use on land is consistent with statewide goals.”
NorthernStar further argues that its proposed dredging is just a fraction (2%) of what is on the drawing board for the Columbia, citing the Army Corps of Engineers’ plans to dredge more than 23 million cubic feet as part of an effort to deepen the river’s navigation channel to 43 feet. Generally, the LNG backers contend their proposed site modification constitutes a “small-medium-size” industrial project, compared to the criteria for large facilities.
Nevertheless, the staff report asks that seven of the NorthernStar conditional-use requests be denied, and the local opposition group, Landowners and Citizens for a Safe Community in neighboring Cowlitz County, is using the staff recommendations to support its case.
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