Wyden/Merkley Bill Could Stop LNG in Oregon

Wyden, Merkley Bill Could Stop LNG In Oregon
By Dennis Newman

Oregon’s two Senators are joining forces on a bill that could bring LNG projects in our state to a grinding halt.

Wyden and Merkley want to take away control over LNG projects from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). They’ve introduced a bill that would return that power to the states.

Whether or not Wyden and Merkley are outright trying to stop LNG in Oregon is unclear. But given the current political landscape in this state, that’s a real possibility, should the bill become law.

FERC was given control over the siting of LNG projects in the 2005 Energy Act. Since then, the commission has approved two projects in Oregon. Bradwood Landing LNG is a proposed site on the Columbia River about 20 miles east of Astoria. The Jordan Cove LNG terminal would be built on the north side of Coos Bay.

Then there’s a third project, Oregon LNG, which would also be placed along the Columbia River near Warrenton. Oregon LNG is still early in the approval process. All three LNG terminals also require the construction of major pipelines to carry the natural gas to interstate markets.

Wyden and Merkley say it’s time let state governments decide when and where to put LNG facilities. Here’s a couple of quotes from their statements.

“As citizens and their public officials in my state and those of my colleagues can attest, putting FERC in the driver’s seat for LNG siting has been a colossal mistake. Rather than address the critical environmental and economic questions of whether these large, potentially dangerous natural gas storage facilities are even needed or whether energy supplies could be provided with less environmental impact and risk, FERC has taken the attitude that it’s not its job to make such decisions.”
-Senator Ron Wyden

“It just doesn’t make sense to take states out of decisions that will affect their residents for years or decades to come. We need to give states a say and restore accountability. Momentous decisions about LNG terminals should only be done in partnership with local residents – not over their objections.”
-Senator Jeff Merkley

It’s not that these projects don’t have supporters, but Oregon’s current state leadership is dead set against LNG. Governor Kulongoski and Attorney General John Kroger are strong critics. The state has sued to block FERC’s license for Bradwood Landing and will probably also sue to stop Jordan Cove.

Oregon complaints mirror those of Merkley and Wyden, that FERC hasn’t done a good enough job in assessing the environmental impacts of these projects, and has given them approval even before other federal agencies and the state have completed their studies.

Other sponsors of the legislation include Senators Cantwell of Washington, Dodd of Connecticut, plus Mikulski and Cardin of Maryland.