Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bradford Natural Gas Terminal Receives Court Challenge

2/18/2009, 2:29 p.m. PST
The Associated Press

ASTORIA, Ore. (AP) — After asking a federal appeals court to block a liquefied natural gas terminal on the Columbia River, Oregon Attorney General John Kroger has asked federal regulators to wait for a ruling.

Kroger filed a request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last Friday asking the commission to stay its September approval of the Bradwood Landing project until the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the state's challenge.

Kroger also asked the commission to wait until Oregon issues the state permits needed to build the LNG facility.The stay, if granted by FERC, would prevent the Office of Energy Projects from approving any final designs or construction plans that do not comply with state laws.

Oregon first challenged federal regulatory approval in October, arguing the commission had jumped the gun in issuing an order approving the project before state approvals and federal environmental reviews were complete.

In January, FERC denied Oregon's request for a rehearing of the Bradwood case.

Kroger then took the state challenge to the 9th Circuit, arguing the commission's environmental analysis was flawed and that it acted prematurely.

The Bradwood project is being developed by NorthernStar Natural Gas Inc. of Houston, which had hoped to begin construction in 2007. Company officials have said they will continue working on state permits during the appeal.

In related action, Columbia Riverkeeper and partners filed a challenge in federal court last Thursday, seeking to overturn FERC's approval of the Bradwood terminal.

Also on Thursday, the Washington state Department of Ecology said it would file a federal court challenge.

"We are pleased that the states of Oregon and Washington have joined this challenge," said Columbia Riverkeeper Executive Director Brett VandenHeuvel.

"The broad coalition opposing FERC's approval is an indictment of the Bush administration's flawed decision and flawed energy policy," VandenHeuvel said.

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