"This proposed project could be a major benefit to the Long Beach environment and the economy, while giving us the potential for lower natural gas costs for our residents and business."
LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill quoted in 2003 Port of Long Beach press release
(August 23, 2005) -- LBReport.com has previously posted a report that the City of LB submitted to state authorities. Prepared with input from LB's first responders (LBFD and LBPD), it cited safety considerations regarding a proposed 80+ million gallon Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant in the Port of LB roughly two miles from downtown LB. The process is part of the recently passed federal Energy bill.
In our view, LB city staff's document is a strictly professional document, a real credit to the city. To view the City's document, click here.
In other cities, Councilmembers would be able to respond to such a report by taking actions to protect the interests of the public. In LB, such responsive elected officials are told by others to sit down and shut up.
Until recently, in other U.S. cities LNG applicants came to elected bodies seeking permission first. In LB, this LNG applicant found the perfect enabler: the non-elected, non-recallable LB Harbor Commission, willing to enter into a backasswards arrangement to facilitate the project without knowing its consequences for residents and taxpayers first. Thank you, PoLB.
The Port then tilted toward federal control against city interests, not requiring its prospective tenant on state tidelands to seek state permission (with more rigorous hearings and public protections). The ensuing court fight begat a federal Energy bill conclusively stripping states and cities of powers on LNG. Thank you, PoLB.
While the Energy bill was taking shape, the Council passed a resolution supporting the Port's opposition to federal eminent domain on LNG...but the Port didn't reciprocate with a resolution opposing federal preemptive language and supporting local Council control. The outcome left the Port with virtually all of its powers intact...and deprived the Council of some of its previous powers (lawyers for the LNG firm deny this.) Thank you, PoLB.
In 2003, the Port of LB and the Port's de facto Mayor Beverly O'Neill didn't wait for an independent report on the project's potential risks and costs before rushing to judgment. In 2005, in a stupefying double-standard, some now insist that although LB's first responders have spoken and other information has come to light, the Council must ignore this in favor of a forthcoming mislabeled impact report that will actually be censored with federal approval preventing full disclosure to the Council and others impacted. Thank you, PoLB.
Earlier today (Aug. 23), LBReport.com posted verbatim a letter from lawyers for the LNG applicant. They contend if the LB City Council expresses its opposition to the proposed Port-sited project, that could cost their client nearly $40 million in damages. Thank you, PoLB.
If the company's lawyers are right, the Port's rush to judgment in 2003 and its subsequent enabling actions have prevented LB's elected Councilmembers from doing what the public elected them to do: protect the public's health and safety. Thank you, PoLB.
Regardless of the outcome at tonight's Council meeting, the Council cannot allow the Port's non-elected, non-recallable structure to persist. We urge Councilmembers to agendize an item seeking a Charter Amendment timed for the April 2006 that, if approved by voters, will create a legitimately elected, recallable Harbor Commission.
Incumbent Councilmembers unwilling to permit a public vote on this in April 2006 should be replaced by others who commit to scheduling that vote within 90 days of their taking office.
Thank you, PoLB.