LNG Opponents Will Challenge FERC Decision on Bradwood Landing

For Immediate Release

Dan Serres, Columbia Riverkeeper, (503) 890-2441
Brent Foster, Columbia Riverkeeper (541) 380-1334

Astoria, OR – The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its decision today granting conditional approval of the Bradwood LNG terminal and pipeline. Opponents of the Bradwood project immediately vowed to appeal the decision, and raised serious concerns about the project and the FERC process. Commissioner Wellinghoff voted against Bradwood's certificate, the lone dissent in a 4-1 decision.

In response, Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury called on Oregon to reject LNG in order to reduce fossil fuel use and global warming emissions: "We must say no to liquefied natural gas. It makes no sense for Oregon or the rest of the country to build a new facility to develop fossil fuels at the same time we're trying to reduce our use of fossil fuels."

Others challenged the decision on legal grounds, saying that FERC should not grant a license without first satisfying state concerns. According to Brent Foster, Executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, "It is insulting but not surprising that FERC has ignored the State's concerns and moved forward with the project. The law is clear – FERC shouldn't be issuing the license unless the State certifies that it complies with our Clean Water Act, which the project clearly does not. The ball is in the State of Oregon's court, now. The project is only alive as long as the State entertains the idea of granting permits—such as a 15 billion-gallon water right—to Bradwood. We need the Governor and our state agencies to step up and deny permits for the project."

The FERC Commission conceded that the States of Oregon and Washington had an "important role to play" and could effectively block the project using laws such as the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). FERC Commissioner Marc Spitzer, who voted to approve Bradwood, said, "Opponents can declare victory if the State withholds its CZMA concurrence," alluding to the decision by Oregon's Dept. of Land Conservation and Development that was recently delayed until January, 2009, due to lack of adequate information from Bradwood.

Brett VandenHuevel, attorney for Columbia Riverkeeper, noted that the State's own comments to FERC show that Oregon should refuse to permit the projects. "On issue after issue, State agencies have described the huge environmental and public safety risks with this project in stark terms to FERC. FERC ignored these comments, and we're going to challenge their decision. Regardless of what FERC has done, the State should heed its own analysis and reject the project."

Greg Jacob of Oregon Chapter Sierra Club reiterated the call for State agencies to take a hard look at the project. "The Oregon Department of Energy concluded that Oregon has far better options for meeting its energy needs than Bradwood LNG. Now is the time for the State of Oregon to put an end to this ridiculous proposal, a proposal that will commit the entire West Coast to increased global warming emissions for decades to come."

Opponents of the Bradwood LNG project will gather today at 2pm at 729 NE Oregon St. to hold a press conference in response to the decision. Speakers will include a member of the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission (CRITFC), Columbia Riverkeeper, State Representative Chuck Riley, and other opponents of the Bradwood LNG project.

Major issues raised by Governor Kulongoski, State of Oregon agencies and community groups that were not adequately addressed by FERC's decision include:

1. Need for LNG: Despite calls to consider whether or not there was a need for LNG in Oregon, FERC refused to address this issue. Recently, Oregon Dept. of Energy concluded in a May 2008 Report that "natural gas pipelines from the Rocky Mountains are likely to provide less expensive natural gas than LNG terminals and to produce significantly less life-cycle carbon dioxide impacts." ODOE also concluded that LNG may be prohibitively expensive: "LNG supplied to Oregon would cost substantially more than natural gas produced in North America."

2. Impacts on global warming: FERC refused to consider the impacts that the proposed LNG project would have on global warming as a result of the significant carbon emissions and energy use needed to liquefy and ship LNG to Oregon from the Middle East and other foreign countries where it originates. Oregon Dept. of Energy has concluded that, "LNG was equivalent to coal in greenhouse gas emissions when shipped over long distances."

3. Impacts to salmon: State agencies from both Oregon and Washington as well as Native American tribes strongly criticized FERC's failure to adequately consider the impacts of the proposed project on Columbia River salmon. In its comments to FERC, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife stated that "significant fish habitat will be lost and mitigation is not adequate," and that plans to avoid killing juvenile endangered salmon with ballast water withdrawals were insufficient.

4. Pipeline impacts: Because NW Natural's proposed 220-mile long Palomar pipeline would send gas from the Bradwood LNG project to the California-bound pipeline in eastern Oregon, many told FERC they needed to evaluate the impacts of this "connected" or "cumulative" action as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The EPA, NOAA, and Oregon Dept. of Forestry commented that the projects should be analyzed together in one EIS.

5. Threats to public safety: Despite the federal governments own studies showing that communities such as Astoria could be leveled by a catastrophic fire in the event of an LNG tanker accident or terrorist attack, FERC refused to provide any specifics about how many people would be killed or injured in such an event, or evaluate how a city like Astoria, with few emergency response resources, could cope with an LNG accident. The Cities of Astoria and Warrenton have informed FERC that current response plans are tantamount to "Russian roulette."