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Loretta Lynch, Dmitry Lisitsyn on LNG

Just a reminder that Loretta Lynch, former Chair of the California PUC, and Dmitry Lisitysn, Russian activist and Board President for Sakhlin Environment Watch, will be making "The Case Against LNG" on Monday. March 5, 7pm, SW 12th and Salmon at the First Unitarian Church.
Greetings from the LNG Front:
For all who are interested, this weekend has two opportunities to get much more informed about Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), here in the Northwest and abroad.
Loretta Lynch and Dmitry Lisitsyn will address the climate, environmental justice, and economic impact of opening the Oregon Coast to massive LNG megaterminals. Astoria, Bradwood, and Coos Bay are all facing active LNG import terminal proposals. Each proposal will send out, daily, an amount of natural gas that exceeds Oregon's current total daily consumption of natural gas. The proposed pipelines taking gas away from the LNG import facilities all have conspicuous connections to California, and rural Oregonians and Washingtonians are now facing eminent domain to construct these projects.
Probably more disturbing is the environmental, social, and economic harm wrought by the LNG industry in upstream nations like Russia, where Shell and Gazprom are now pushing the Sakhalin II project forward, destroying rich subsistence fisheries with pipelines and export terminal development. Pacific Rim sources of LNG that might come to Oregon follow generally this pattern (possibly with the exception of Australia) of severe human rights and environmental harm.
Dmitry and Loretta will speak to this better than I can. They have seen this industry at work, first-hand.

Please come! Monday, March 5. 7pm. SW 12th and Salmon - First Unitarian Church.

Coast Guard works for the LNG corps! 02.Mar.2007 22:29

top secret

This is a repost from the March 2 Daily Astorian.

The United States Coast Guard, a subsidiary of the Department of Homeland Security since 2002, and financed overtly by Northrup-Grumman, has now officially announced they are in the pocket of the LNG corpos. The details are all "top secret".

How in the world do we put up with this drivel?

Coast Guard: River not ready for LNG
Waterway Suitability Report explains what is needed before tankers could travel on the river to Bradwood Landing

The Daily Astorian

The Columbia River is not ready to receive liquefied natural gas tankers, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard's long-awaited Waterway Suitability Report, released Thursday, explains all the changes and additional resources that would be needed before LNG tankers could safely cross the bar and travel 38 miles upriver to the proposed Bradwood Landing facility.

North Coast residents have been asking questions for months: Will security zones around the LNG tankers affect traffic on the Astoria Bridge? Will other vessels on the river be allowed to pass by? Are local authorities equipped to handle an LNG emergency?

The report, six pages of which have been made public, addresses a lot of questions North Coast residents have about how LNG would change life on the Columbia River.

But the report does not say who will cover the costs of making the river LNG-ready.

And while the resource gaps identified in the Coast Guard's report will have to be filled before LNG tankers can enter the river system, the required changes might not take place until after the Bradwood Landing project receives federal approval.

"The report identified what it would take as far as capabilities to keep the waterway safe and secure, what resources are currently available and where there are gaps," explained Lt. Shadrack Scheirman, chief of waterways management in Portland. Later, during the emergency planning process, the Coast Guard will "work with other responders along the waterway to identify who's going to be responsible for filling those gaps," he said.

To ensure safe and secure navigation, LNG tankers will need to have Coast Guard escort boats and firefighting tugs close by at all times; other vessels on the river will need authorization to enter a 500-yard moving security zone surrounding the tankers in the shipping channel; and a 200-yard security zone will be enforced while the tankers are berthed at the Bradwood Landing LNG receiving terminal at river mile 38.

The tankers would not, however, affect vehicle traffic on the Astoria Bridge, and the security zones do not extend past the shoreline.

Limited resources
Among the listed "resource gaps" are additional people and boats to enforce the security zones, more data on underwater keel clearance to assist the bar pilots, and a camera system to monitor the shipping route.

Shoreside firefighting capability is "extremely limited," the Coast Guard reports. Resources such as training, equipment, maintenance and staffing in local units "will need to be augmented in order to provide basic protection services to the facility as well as the communities along the transit route."

In addition, the WSR identified several needs that could impact local Coast Guard operations, which include three lifeboat stations, several cutters and an air station.

At a minimum, said Lt. Bryan Burkhalter, assistant operations officer at Coast Guard Group Astoria, "It will increase the workload."

The agency would maintain the 500-yard security zone around tankers traveling the river, prohibiting other vessels from entering the area without permission for the Captain of the Port, in Portland, likely through a "representative" on scene, said Lt. Scheirman.

While Coast Guard boats would accompany the tankers for protection, he could not clarify how many escorts would be provided or what equipment they might carry. However, Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment, in Washington, regularly uses M-60 mounted machine guns on its escorts for cruise ships.

"The type of security escort is sensitive security information," Scheirman said. "You can look out your window and see it going by, but I'm not supposed to talk about it."

The report also called for "additional Coast Guard Facility and Vessel Inspectors" to carry out annual LNG vessel and facility inspections.

Right now, one detachment duty officer is available for inspections in the area. Bringing in additional officers would require a process higher up in the Coast Guard's chain of command, Scheirman said.

Some matters remain secret
LNG terminals are designed to receive and regasify supercooled natural gas liquid delivered by ships that can reach 950 feet long, 150 feet wide and 40 feet deep.

Bradwood Landing is one of five companies proposing LNG terminals in Oregon and the farthest along in the federal approval process. The Coast Guard's WSR marks another major milestone for the project, which is being developed by Houston-based Northern Star Natural Gas Co.

Much of the Coast Guard's report will not be made public for national security reasons, but a six-page overview, available on the Coast Guard Web site, offers a glimpse of how safety issues associated with LNG tankers would be handled if the project is approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Among the safety measures needed on the river are a public notification system, public education and training for "all river users, including commercial and recreational boaters, local businesses, local residents and tourists."

The WSR identifies a need for gas detection capabilities, which "with the exception of the HAZMAT team in Astoria ... is not resident," a system of inter-agency communications which "pose a significant obstacle to joint operations" equipment and plans, and "a concrete plan for managing underway fire fighting." The Bradwood Landing project will also require local law enforcement resources to cover cruise ship interactions and navigational aids for LNG tankers at several places on the river.

In addition to the WSR, there will need to be a Transit Management Plan and an Emergency Response Plan, "to spell out the roles, responsibilities and specific procedures for the LNG vessel and all agencies responsible," the Coast Guard concludes. River traffic management will aim to minimize interactions between LNG tankers and commercial and recreational vessels.

Company 'will take care of needs'
William "Si" Garrett, Northern Star's Chief Executive Officer, said his company can take care of the changes needed to make the river suitable for LNG. The additional equipment and resources the project will bring to the region will bring fringe benefits as well, he said.

"The improvements to navigation and safety in particular that we will make will be of great benefit to all Columbia River users," said Garrett. "We look forward to working with the Coast Guard and other stakeholders to ensure the recommendations are successfully implemented."

Gary Coppedge, Senior Vice President of Development for Northern Star, said the company anticipated the qualifications detailed in the WSR. To complete the report, the Coast Guard reviewed Northern Star's assessment of navigation and safety hazards, submitted last fall, and verified the company's claims.

"To us, this shows that the Columbia River is a suitable waterway for LNG," said Coppedge. "The qualifications (in the) WSR are ones that we expected and have planned for."

The company is already on its way to filling the identified resource gaps, including the Emergency Response Plan, which will be compiled by Northern Star with the help of first responders in the region. However, Coppedge said the cost-sharing responsibilities have not been decided, and the resource gaps don't have to be filled until the company wants to bring LNG tankers across the bar. That means the needed safety and security measures might not be taken care of until after the FERC approves the Bradwood Landing project.

"We don't have to provide those resources until we're ready to start shipping, but if we don't take care of them, the Coast Guard won't let the ships in, so its in our best interest to get these gaps resolved," said Coppedge.

The specific resources that will be needed by local emergency response agencies haven't been nailed down yet, he said, and neither has the company's budget for covering the expenses.

"Some of those are paid directly by Northern Star, and some of those are funded through taxes that are paid. Some are funded through collaborations with different groups that are providing these services," said Coppedge.

Sheriff wants Coast Guard to take lead
Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin said he participated in talks with the company six months ago but did not reach a consensus on exactly what additional manpower or equipment the county would need to handle LNG or how to cover related costs. He said he would like to see the county's LNG responsibilities minimized.

"This is something I'd like to see local law enforcement stay out of," he said. "It's a huge undertaking. It's something the Coast Guard should be responsible for."

Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Bradwood Landing also must develop a cost-sharing plan that describes any direct reimbursements it would provide to local or state agencies responsible for safety and security in the area.

However, the company would not have to reimburse the Coast Guard for additional service and personnel needs.

"There is no cost-sharing for the Coast Guard," Scheirman said.

The next big step in the Bradwood Landing approval process will be the FERC's release of its Draft Environmental Impact Statement, a total review of how the proposal would affect the region. That document is expected later this month, after which the FERC will hold public meetings, respond to comments and issue a Final Environmental Impact Statement. A five-member commission could approve or deny the project as soon as mid-September. Prior to construction, approved projects must obtain clean air and water act and local land use permits.

USCG fails to provide equal protection 04.Mar.2007 11:40


This is an important update - the situation on the Columbia River is progressing, and the USCG appears to be rolling over. In other locales, these tankers are considered a huge security risk. Under the Coast Guard's guidelines, NVIC 05-05, the USCG is permitted to weigh population density heavily into its consideration of safety. Apparently Astoria didn't make the cut for being high enough in population to warrant much protection. Unless I'm missing something, they won't even close the Astoria bridge - a step that is taken in other places where LNG is shipped.

Loretta and Dmitry will provide the regional and global context for this mess, I hope. This is a huge issue locally, obviously, and the same recklessness applies in even larger quantities to upstream producing nations - Russia, Indonesia, Peru (Camisea), etc.

I'll be there - thanks for putting it up, Dan.