JEFF BARNARD, The Associated Press, April 7, 2008
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Gov. Ted Kulongoski said Monday he is willing to go to court to make sure any liquefied natural gas facilities slated for Oregon are needed and safe.
Kulongoski was reacting to a letter from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission about state concerns over proposals to build facilities at the mouth of the Columbia River and at Coos Bay to unload LNG from ships and feed it to pipelines serving the West Coast.
The energy commission rejected the governor’s suggestion to conduct a regional review of LNG projects. Once it has determined they meet environmental and public safety standards, the commission said, it will let the market decide which projects are built.
“I have talked to the attorney general,” Kulongoski told The Associated Press. “I am going to look to make sure the law is followed. Though I am not wanting to go to court to protect the interests of Oregon and the citizens of this state, I will if necessary ask the attorney general to take legal action.”
LNG proposals have stirred controversy in Oregon, with some welcoming the jobs and taxes they would generate and other residents scorning the potential environmental impact and likely use of eminent domain to seize farmland, vineyards and forest for hundreds of miles of pipeline.
Energy companies have proposed building three LNG terminals in the state: one in Coos Bay and two on the Columbia River. The terminals would accept imports of supercooled natural gas on ships, reheat the liquid into a gas and ship the gas to West Coast markets through one of four proposed pipelines.
The governor said he was surprised at FERC’s position, after it had cooperated with state efforts to limit the size of wave energy buoys to avoid conflict with potential marine reserves along the Oregon Coast.
“They are willing to work with the states when they think it is to their advantage,” he said.
Kulongoski noted that Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and others introduced legislation Monday to restore state control over siting energy facilities, which was taken away by federal legislation in 2005.
He said he is not convinced that the LNG is primarily intended for distribution to Southern California. He said he is having state agencies determine whether it is really needed in Oregon and whether it would go along with his efforts to make the state carbon-neutral to combat global warming.