Energy | Ecotrope

Clatsop County vs. Oregon LNG: Game on

Ecotrope | March 18, 2011 4:04 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:39 p.m.

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A Clatsop County Circuit Court judge decided on Thursday that the Clatsop County Commission can continue its process of reversing an earlier commission’s land-use approval for the Oregon LNG liquefied natural gas pipeline.

The company had tried to stop the county’s reversal in its tracks and preserve the county’s initial application approval by filing a writ of mandamus motion in Clatsop County Circuit Court.

The writ could have invalidated a six-hour hearing the county board held on the application last week. But Judge Cindee Matyas vacated the company’s motion and canceled a court hearing set for today.

Last week’s hearing was a big step toward denying the company’s land-use application. Clatsop County Chair Dirk Rohne said he is pleased the court threw out the company’s motion and thinks a county denial of the pipeline application “could shut down the project.”

But he also expects the company to appeal a county denial to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals.

More from a Clatsop County news release:

The board of commissioners originally voted in November to approve the application. The ruling was appealed to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals by project opponents, and in January the board, with three new members, elected to withdraw the November decision in order to reconsider the application.

On March 4 Oregon Pipeline filed a request for a writ of mandamus with the court seeking immediate approval of its application. The motion argues that the county has missed the legal deadline for taking final action on the application. If local jurisdictions fail to act on an application within the required timeframe, applicants can seek to have a circuit court order the application to be approved.

Matyas signed the writ and set a hearing for March 18 to hear from attorneys for the county and the applicant. On Thursday, she rescinded her signature and cancelled the hearing.

Oregon Pipeline also claims that, once Matyas signed the writ on March 4, the application came under the official jurisdiction of the court, and that the county had no authority to hold its hearing March 9. No representative from the company attended that hearing.

At this point, Clatsop County is proceeding with the review process, including the March 30 meeting, until it receives direction to do otherwise from its legal counsel, according to County Manager Duane Cole.

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