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corporate dominance | energy & nuclear

Wyden & Kulongoski on LNG

the voice of oregonians on LNG terminals is getting through as the article below from the register guard shows. although the statements of the governor and the senator are watered down versions of what anti-LNG activists have been saying -- its important to remember that the fact these guys are saying this at all is the result of some well executed organizing and action. keep up the good work neighbors!
 link to www.registerguard.com
FLORENCE U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden and three other lawmakers introduced a bill Monday that would roll back the federal energy rules that strip states of authority in siting liquefied natural gas terminals.

The bill would give Oregonians the chance to block proposals in Coos Bay and on the Columbia River that they once could only weigh in on.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski, whose stance on the placement of terminals has grown increasingly cautious, said he supports the bill, which would repeal portions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and apply to any permit applications that have not been approvedyet.

Kulongoski also vowed to go to court to ensure that any facilities built in Oregon are necessary and safe.

"The end result of the Bush-Cheney energy bill is a federal process, dominated by corporate energy interests, in which Oregonians have no due process and no assurance that their concerns will be heard, much less addressed," Wyden said in a statement.

Three terminals are proposed in Oregon: two on the lower Columbia River and one in Coos Bay. There is fierce public opposition in both locales, and a growing frustration with the new rules that give states input only about which projects gain approval.

Residents worry that the terminals could be terrorist targets or unable to withstand natural disasters, and that the pipelines necessary to transport the gas will damage forest lands and farms as they're built.

Kulongoski wrote to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in February, asking the government to assess regional energy needs before determining which applications are granted. Last week, Kulongoski got a reply from Joseph Kelliher, the commission chairman.

"The commission's policy is to ensure that all proposed projects are environmentally sound and consistent with public safety," Kelliher wrote, "and then leave it to the market to determine which projects are constructed."

In other words, if three companies meet the federal standards, and they all decide to build terminals in Oregon, they could.

In fact, FERC may approve more than one project to "stimulate competition" and offer more choices to consumers, Kelliher added.

Wyden said when he introduced the bill that the three terminals proposed in Oregon would have a combined capacity of 3.3 billion cubic feet of gas per day.

"Oregon and Washington, together, only use 1.33 BCF per day," he said. "Yet, FERC categorically refuses to address the basic question of whether the three proposed facilities are even needed to serve our market."

Wyden also took aim at FERC for not considering which terminals would minimize impacts, and for considering each application separately, which "has produced a bureaucratic nightmare of competing public meetings, scoping hearings and filings requirements for each project."

Letters from local officials to the federal government asking about the project get filed and not answered, Wyden said, because "that's what the FERC process is set up to do to process paper and not address real concerns."

Bob Braddock, project manager for the Jordan Cove Energy Project in Coos Bay, said he wasn't surprised at the bill's introduction.

Braddock said his company's efforts began before the state's authority was pre-empted, so it's designed to deal with state concerns and could adapt if the law were changed.

The market wouldn't allow more than one terminal in Oregon, no matter who approves it, Braddock added. And if the state plays more of a role in deciding which one gets approved, the Jordan Cove project would fare better than its counterparts on the Columbia River, he said.

"If we use the state's criteria, we stack up better because of some of our location differences," Braddock said. "It'll de-bottleneck gas flows in the southern Willamette Valley, and it doesn't impact as many landowners."

If another project got its permits and landed the contracts to build on the Columbia River, "our project is gone," Braddock said. "The need is not great. There's not a need for more than one."

Ron Opitz, an LNG supporter and executive director of the South Coast Development Council, said it would be a bad idea to force Jordan Cove to rework its application for a new state authority.

"You get down the road so far, it's very hard to go back and take another look," Opitz said. "If they want to apply the process to future sitings of energy facilities, I think that's excellent."