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    Guest Op-Ed

    Facts Deserve Fair & Complete Airing In Debate

    Tom Giles

    Mr. Giles is Chief Operating Officer of Sound Energy Solutions, a Mitsubishi subsidiary that has proposed to build and operate an LNG facility in the Port of LB.

    (May 27, 2005) -- A robust debate is a sign of a healthy government. A rush to judgment is a disservice to democracy. The actions taken by the Long Beach City Council at its May 24 meeting with regard to the proposed LNG receiving terminal indicate that a majority of Council members want a full debate on the issue that takes all available information into consideration before a final decision is reached.

    A vocal minority, however, favors a rush to judgment. A self-appointed group of a few dozen portray themselves as the proxies for a half-million residents of Long Beach. Most of the people who have spoken against our proposal have based their comments on the fact that they want only wind or solar power and disapprove of any use of fossil fuels. I think most people would view that as an unrealistic point of view.

    The Port of Long Beach has undertaken a massive effort to complete a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) with particular emphasis on the safety of the proposed facility. That report will be complete within months. A final decision on our proposal should be made only after that document has been released and Council members and residents alike have had an opportunity to completely analyze the findings and offer their opinions.

    This study has been underway for more than a year. In fact, the Port has delayed its release date several times because they want to ensure it is thorough. Itís important to remember that this proposal cannot go forward until it has been approved by more than 20 local, regional, state and federal government agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, the California Coastal Commission, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, as well as the Port and the City Council.

    The vocal minority, though, doesnít want to allow this process to continue. They donít want Council members and residents to make an informed decision with all the facts on the table to see and consider.

    Itís ironic that the vocal minority criticized the Council for acting too quickly and without sufficient information in approving the MOU but now wants the Council to make an immediate decision without the benefit of all available information because it serves their aims. By postponing the LNG agenda item, the Council demonstrated its support of fair and open government in Long Beach.

    The negotiations that the MOU initiated -- but were subsequently abandoned -- would inform the Council and residents on three important matters related to the proposed facility:

    • The amount of savings residents could expect on their natural gas bills:
    • The amount of additional revenue the City would generate through pipeline fees; and
    • The amount of additional funds SES would contribute to offset costs related to safety at the facility.

    For some reason, the vocal minority does not want answers to those questions to be presented to decision makers or residents.

    There has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the question of jurisdiction between the state and federal governments regarding the siting of LNG terminal. Allow me to state, once again, that Sound Energy Solutions opposes any effort by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to bypass local authorities in these matters. We support home rule.

    A full and fair hearing on our project is all we ask. We believe more information and a thorough process serves everyoneís best interest.

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