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Agencies Taking Comments On Oregon LNG Permits

The Oregon LNG project has changed quite a bit since it was proposed way back in 2004. It's now at a key milestone in a long permitting process.
Ken Hodge/Flickr
The Oregon LNG project has changed quite a bit since it was proposed way back in 2004. It's now at a key milestone in a long permitting process.

The Oregon LNG liquefied natural gas project in Warrenton has reached a milestone in its seemingly endless permitting process. Three key permits are up for review and open for public comment until Jan. 17.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development each have to approve permits before Oregon LNG can build an import/export terminal at the mouth of the Columbia River.

The Corps is reviewing the impacts to water quality for a Clean Water Act permit for the project. Oregon DEQ is also considering water quality impacts of the terminal and pipeline at the state level. The Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development will decide whether the project meets land use laws in the coastal zone.

The Oregon LNG terminal would be able to import and export liquefied natural gas. To export natural gas produced in the U.S., the facility would cool the gas down to -260 degrees F and ship it out in liquid form. The project was proposed as an import terminal way back in 2004, but project developer Leucadia National Corporation changed its plans in response to the shale gas boom in the U.S. In 2012, the company applied to add export capability to the import facility.

So, even though the project proposal has been around for a decade, it's still just entering key permitting processes with the state of Oregon and the Corps.

The project would include a loading terminal at the mouth of the Columbia River, two LNG storage tanks and an 86-mile pipeline that would connect the terminal in Warrenton with a pipeline hub in Woodland, Washington.

To build the terminal, the company would need to dredge about 152 acres of the Columbia River to create a turning basin and berthing area for LNG ships. It would dispose of the dredge material in the Pacific Ocean.

According to the project's permit applications, it would permanently impact 57 acres of wetlands. The company plans to offset those impacts by breaching a dike and restoring 120 acres of wetlands at the mouth of the Youngs River.

Oregon DEQ is planning to hold informational meetings on its permitting process in January in Astoria and Vernonia.

Oregon LNG also needs approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, which is currently reviewing all the environmental impacts of the project. FERC has yet to release a draft environmental impact statement for the project.

Jennifer Purcell of Oregon DEQ says her agency will have to review that draft environmental impact statement before setting a timeline for state permitting decisions.

Most of the project's permits also require a local land-use approval for the pipeline. That approval was denied by Clatsop County, but the company has challenged that denial. The challenge is awaiting a decision from the Oregon Court of Appeals.

--Cassandra Profita

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Cassandra Profita