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Controlling LNG

OPB | March 11, 2010 9 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 9:18 p.m.

Oregon’s senators want to give states more authority when it comes to new liquified natural gas terminals. Sentators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, along with Democratic lawmakers from Maryland, Washington and Connecticut, introduced a bill last week that would repeal a specific section of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (pdf). The goal is to wrest control away from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which now has the final say in permitting sites for new LNG projects.

If passed, the bill would do nothing to stop two LNG projects near Astoria, which already have approval from FERC.* If passed, the bill would affect two LNG projects near Astoria and Coos bay — which already have approval from FERC — only if those approvals are overturned on appeal. But a proposed terminal in Warrenton could be affected. Groups such as Columbia Riverkeeper, which oppose all three LNG ventures, say they think the state would do a better job of regulating liquified natural gas permits. Anti-LNG groups applauded Oregon’s attorney general earlier this year when he challenged FERC’s approval of an LNG facility in Coos Bay. The natural gas industry is opposed to the senators’ bill. At least one company has complained that the deck is stacked against them in Oregon, in part because of Attorney General Kroger’s decision to hire a vocal opponent of LNG as part of his environmental law team.

Wyden introduced a very similar identical bill in 2008, along with then-Senator Hilary Clinton. That bill elicited responses drawn along the same battle lines, but it ultimately failed to gain much ground in Congress and died before it could be voted on.

Do you live near an LNG facility? Is one coming to your area? How would state control over these projects affect your community?

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