In a surprisingly candid interview with The Daily Astorian this week, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski moved another step away from his earlier suggestions that a liquefied natural gas import facility would help bridge the state’s current energy portfolio to a new, all-renewable future.
He jabbed at the federal LNG permitting process for failing to prove there is a need for the imported fuel in Oregon before granting approvals and questioned whether it’s worth all effort to even explore the issue.
“Why are we spending all this money, all this time, all this debate if they can’t tell me there’s a need for this?”
- Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski
Good question. And to an extent, he’s done his homework with a 2008 study by Oregon Department of Energy on the state’s need for LNG. But that study also confirms something LNG proponents have long said: there is a growing need for natural gas in Oregon.
The alternative to imported LNG – likely a pipeline full of domestic natural gas from the Rocky Mountains – is working its way through federal permitting. Meanwhile, there is a rising tide of opposition to the hydraulic fracturing technique needed to extract the wealth of natural gas now accessible in the Rocky Mountain West (anybody seen the Josh Fox documentary Gasland?). And a transmission pipeline 3 feet in diameter will no doubt have its own impacts.
So far, it seems the state still needs a bridge fuel – but, as Kulongoski suggests, it doesn’t necessarily have to pass under the Astoria-Megler Bridge in an LNG tanker.