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LNG Company Submits Environmental Plan

The company that wants to build  a liquefied natural gas terminal near the mouth of the Columbia River has  submitted an environmental plan.

It's thousands of pages long and details how NorthernStar is  planning to mitigate damage to threatened fish.

The company says its proposed Bradwood Landing project is built on science, and will spend millions on recovering salmon. But as Rob Manning reports, the project’s critics detect a smokescreen.

NorthernStar says it's planning to spend nearly $60 million over 40 years on salmon recovery. That’s $7 million up front, and a little more than a million and a half a year, for 40 years.

Project backers say the terminal is no bigger than it needs to be, and they say the proposal contains other steps to minimize damage.

Joe Desmond with NorthernStar says the Biological Assessment is good news for salmon.

Joe Desmond: “It’s a document about 3700 pages in length, representing three years of science, studies, and literature, all of which, taken in their entirety, conclude that the project will provide a net environmental benefit to the Lower Columbia River estuary.”

Dan Serres: “To put it bluntly, we’ve seen this before from Bradwood. We’ve seen them make claims that are sweeping about the benefits of their project.”

That’s Dan Serres, with Columbia Riverkeeper, a group that’s been sharply critical of LNG projects.

Dan Serres: “Bradwood’s claims are fantasy, about improving salmon habitat. They want to put an enormously destructive project in the midst of critical salmon habitat. The second part of it is their analysis, is incredible.”

NorthernStar spokesman Joe Desmond says that his company used federally-approved methods to make sure that what they want to do for salmon will work. 

But Columbia Riverkeeper contends that NorthernStar is giving conflicting signals about its plans. For instance, various documents sent to FERC cloud how exactly the company intends to keep threatened salmon from being swallowed into ships with ballast water.

FERC is the first agency to review the 3700 page document, to make sure it's complete. If it is, it'll go to federal biologists, who will use it to help them draft an official Biological Opinion.

More on Bradwood Landing is expected sooner than that, though, when a Final Environmental Impact Statement comes out, possibly later this week.