Palomar files for FERC application, despite comment period extension

alomar Gas Transmission filed an application yesterday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a 220-mile natural gas pipeline connecting the proposed Bradwood Landing liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal to existing infrastructure in eastern Oregon. The pipeline has been the focus of strong opposition from communities along the route. Eminent domain would be used to build it through Willamette Valley farmland on its way to Mt. Hood National Forest, where it would then require a 47 mile-long clearcut through the forest.

Palomar’s filing comes weeks BEFORE the end of a public comment period opened by the Forest Service. The comment period allows the public to provide feedback on the sweeping changes to existing rules that would be necessary to build the pipeline. The pipeline would need to be exempted from Forest Service regulations restricting logging in old-growth forests, on unstable slopes, over hiking trails, including the Pacific Crest Trail and development along the Wild and Scenic Clackamas River Corridor.

The comment period was set to close in January, however the Oregon Department of Energy and the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners filed letters requesting a minimum extension of thirty days and the comment deadline is now February 4, 2008.

“If this was a timber sale it would be illegal. Why should we allow an energy company special treatment?” said Amy Harwood, Bark’s Program Director, who hiked and surveyed the entire route across Mt. Hood National Forest this summer. “The public has been given an opportunity to respond to these changes. By filing before the comment period has been fulfilled, Palomar sends a message that this project is moving forward with or without the public’s support.”

Changes proposed are largely referring to the Mt. Hood Land and Resource Management Plan, written in 1990 and amended by the historic Northwest Forest Plan several years later. It has otherwise remained largely untouched because the purpose of the LRMP is to ensure that individual projects are not looked at in isolation, but in the context of cumulative impacts throughout the forest.