As local and state agencies weigh various aspects of pending proposals to develop liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminals in Oregon, Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s administration reiterated the governor’s position last month for various state agency heads.
The action summarized in a Nov. 16 internal memo that was made public clarifies Kulongoski’s approach to both LNG plants and associated pipelines. It was supposed to give state units engaged in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) siting processes a “guide” for asserting Oregon’s “interests and concerns” regarding individual projects.
“Ultimately, the decision to site terminals requires [the] full engagement of [the] federal government, the state and the communities where facilities are proposed,” the two-page list of guidelines concluded. It stresses the need for cooperative efforts among the various levels of government. The governor views LNG as a regional issue and is not concerned about large portions of future LNG coming into Oregon going to markets out of state.
“The issues of energy diversity, price and supply stability, bridging to a renewable energy future, are as important regionally as they are within Oregon,” he said.
The guidance is of particular interest to NorthernStar Natural Gas’s proposed Bradwood Landing LNG project along the Columbia River as it awaits a key vote for rezoning of its proposed plant site by local county officials Dec. 13 (see Daily GPI, Dec. 3).
Among the points the governor has stressed are that he is against a statewide ban on LNG facilities in the state, and Oregon has what he considers “an effective system of siting large energy facilities,” balancing the need for new energy resources with environmental protection and public safety concerns.
In acknowledging that there have been “many environmental concerns” raised about LNG, Kulongoski said the concerns need to be addressed by federal and state agencies as they participate in the FERC siting process.
“The governor’s office has issued clear directions to state natural resource agencies to engage in the FERC process,” the guidelines said. The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 effectively preempts state siting authority, but the states do retain authority regarding LNG facilities’ impact in the areas of water quality, air quality and coastal zone management and in cases when state lands are involved in the terminal and related construction.
While Kulongoski makes it clear that LNG needs to be given full-blown assessment in the larger regional context of shoring up energy supplies and providing an essential “bridge” to future energy portfolios more dependent on renewables, he said the environmental and other issues associated with pipelines connected to LNG facilities are “as much of a concern as the terminals themselves.”
“Accordingly, [the governor] expects state agencies to exercise due diligence in identifying and evaluating the environmental and social impacts of these pipelines through federal and state permitting processes.”
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