Battle Over LNG Might Head To High Court

Daily Astorian | Dec. 24, 2012 11:20 a.m. | Updated: Dec. 24, 2012 7:20 p.m.

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Daily Astorian

The legal battle over a liquefied natural gas terminal in Warrenton may be considered by the Oregon Supreme Court.

The Oregon Pipeline Company filed an appeal asking the state’s highest court to accept a review of the case and reverse a decision the Oregon Court of Appeals made in August.

The court of appeals decision came after Clatsop County commissioners voted in early 2011 to deny an initial land-use permit that would have allowed Oregon Pipeline to construct an LNG pipeline through the county. The vote reversed a decision made by commissioners in November 2010 to allow the permit. The board was made up of three different members at the time.

The legal debate began with a motion made by Oregon Pipeline, which was taken in the Clatsop County Circuit Court. In May 2011, Judge Phil Nelson ruled in favor of the commissioners’ reversal.

The Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision, with a panel of three judges voting unanimously.

The most recent appeal, filed Dec. 12, continues a line of legal questioning directed at whether Clatsop County could withdraw and reverse a decision already sent to the Land Use Board of Appeals. The written appeal questions consideration of the timeline leading up to final action, stating that the court of appeals decision does not “fully describe the timeline associated with the application.”

Cheryl Johnson, an estuary coordinator with Columbia Riverkeeper, said the group is eager to hear a final ruling on the LNG terminal, if the supreme court takes the case.

“We were delighted and not at all surpised that the Court of Appeals upheld the Clatsop County commissioners decision,” she said. “I think the path is very clear and Clatsop County commissioners have done things correctly from the beginning.”

She said it was a shame that a company from out of state would try and go over a decision by the people of Clatsop Couty made by the commission.

“We assume that the Supreme Court will choose not to receive it because it was a unanimous decision, or if they hear it they will uphold the lower court,” she said.

The appeal did not reach the court in time to be considered in conference this year. The next conference for the court will be sometime in mid-January. The process could last up to 60 days and then go to briefings and oral arguments as the judges decide the merits of the case.

This story originally appeared in Daily Astorian.


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