As the state was still trying to overturn a favorable FERC ruling on its liquefied natural gas (LNG) project’s conditioned approval, NorthernStar Natural Gas and proponents of a competing Oregon LNG project separately expressed satisfaction Tuesday with other local, state and federal developments. In all, Oregon still has three active LNG terminal proposals — two along the Columbia River and a third, Jordan Cove, at Coos Bay along the southern half of the Oregon coast.

NorthernStar reacted quickly and positively to rulings by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), which the LNG advocates said rejected 19 of 21 issues raised by environmental groups and other intervenors against the March 20, 2008 approval by the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners of a consolidated land use application for NorthernStar’s Bradwood Landing LNG project. Two issues, however, were remanded to the county.

One of the issues sent back related to a fuller analysis of the overall project’s scale — not just the terminal site — including power line and pipeline rights-of-way and estuary dredging. The appeals board wants the county to reconsider whether the project as a whole can still be considered “small or moderate” in keeping with county scale limitations.

“LUBA upheld 90% of the county’s decision to approve Bradwood’s consolidated land use application,” said a Portland, OR-based NorthernStar spokesperson.

Meanwhile, a senior vice president and one of the co-founders of Oregon LNG, Mohammed Alrai, told NGI that his project, backed mostly by Leucadia National Corp., has already cleared the state land use appeals panel and the state appellate courts, and it is looking forward to U.S. Coast Guard and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) actions in the next three months.

“We have two major milestones coming up in the next few months,” Alrai said. “The first one is the Water Suitability Report from the Coast Guard, which we are expecting to be out in February, and second, we’re expecting the draft environmental impact statement from FERC by the end of the first quarter or early in the second.”

Officials for NorthernStar, which Alrai contends may be stalled for years in court appeals of the FERC decision, nevertheless talked bullishly about the land use appeals panel’s 50-page decision that was released Tuesday. “It is well reasoned and supported by an exhaustive record comprising 10,000 pages of analysis and studies,” said NorthernStar Senior Vice President Joe Desmond.

“By siding with the county’s conclusions in nearly every instance, LUBA has reaffirmed that the county’s original approval was well founded and supported by the record,” Desmond said. “We are confident the remaining two items remanded by LUBA can be successfully resolved, and today’s decision moves our project closer to providing a much-needed economic boost to Clatsop County and helping to stabilize the region’s long-term energy costs.”

In these tough economic times globally and nationally, Bradwood’s backers are stressing the new jobs and the positive economic returns that they contend their project will bring to Clatsop and the state overall. Of course, the other two LNG projects, which are in different stages of the permitting process, are saying much the same.

“We’re currently working closely with the federal and state agencies to ensure our permitting process moves forward on both [state and federal] fronts,” Alrai said. “It takes time and a lot of money [tens of millions of dollars] to coordinate with all the agencies, but having a fully permitted project is our ultimate goal instead of getting bogged down by litigation between the state and the feds [a direct reference to Bradwood’s current situation].”

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