On August 16, 2005, the City Council unanimously agreed to direct the City Manager to communicate to the Harbor Commission the position of the City
Council that public safety should be the overriding consideration in its decision to
site a Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) facility in the Port of Long Beach.
The recently enacted Federal Energy Bill provides for governors in coastal states
to have the opportunity to submit a Safety Advisory Report to the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission through, in California’s case, the California Energy
Safety considerations which are to be included in the report include the option of
encouraging remote siting. The City Council has not yet provided policy direction
to the City Manager on this important component of the report.
It is now clear that there is an urgency for the need of the City Council to take a
position on the appropriateness of siting an LNG facility in an urban area and to
make that position known to the Board of Harbor Commissioners and to all appropriate governmental agencies.
As separately reported by LBReport.com, on August 16 city management promised, and on August 18 delivered and circulated, a draft letter for transmittal to the CA Energy Commission on Aug. 19 that enumerates the City of LB's safety considerations regarding a proposed 80+ million gallon Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility proposed in the Port of LB.
LBReport.com has posted the letter's draft text. To view it, click here.
The federal Energy bill says a state agency chosen by the Governor [CA Gov. Schwarzenegger selected the Energy Commission] "may" communicate the city's safety considerations to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) within thirty days of the Energy bill becoming law (i.e. on or before August 29). FERC is then required to "consult with" the CA Energy Commission and "review and respond specifically to the issues raised by the state agency" before FERC's five non-elected Commissioners vote in Washington, D.C. on whether to authorize an 80+ million gallon Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility in LB's Port, roughly two miles from downtown LB.
The federal Energy bill says that before granting approval for an LNG facility, FERC must "consult with" a state agency designated by the Governor [CA Governor Schwarzenegger chose the CA Energy Commission] regarding "State and local safety considerations" that include:
- (1) the kind and use of the facility;
- (2) the existing and projected population and demographic characteristics of the location
- (3) the existing and proposed land use near the location;
- (4) the natural and physical aspects of the location;
- (5) the emergency response capabilities near the facility location; and
- (6) the need to encourage remote siting.
On June 7, 2005 the Council voted 5-4 (Yes: O'Donnell, Kell, Richardson, Uranga, Lerch; No: Lowenthal, Baker, Colonna, Gabelich) to maintain a City Hall Memorandum of Understanding with the LNG project applicant (regarding possible future City natural gas supplies and prices) pending an Environmental Impact Report on the LNG project (repeatedly delayed and with parts which may not be fully disclosed publicly on homeland security grounds). Of the five Councilmembers who voted to maintain the LNG MOU, only one (Councilwoman Reyes Uranga) voiced open support for the LNG project.
In May 2003, LB's non-elected, non-recallable Harbor Commissioners voted to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the LNG firm to facilitate its application before City Hall looked into potential safety and fiscal impacts to the city.
The Port, which sits on state tidelands, allowed the project applicant to seek approval from FERC without seeking approval from the CA Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which insisted its approval (with rigorous hearings and the like) was required under CA law. When CPUC sued to enforce CA law (which FERC said doesn't apply to LNG), FERC asked Congress to rewrite federal law to conclusively strip CPUC (and similar state agencies across the country) of LNG siting and regulatory powers...which Congress did in the federal Energy bill.
In April 2005, LB City Attorney Bob Shannon alerted the Council to disadvantageous provisions in the then-advancing federal Energy bill [arguably now evident in the procedure City Hall must now undergo with the CA Energy Comm'n and FERC] and also opined that parts of the bill create time deadlines that could affect City Council appeals by the members of the public or others (on sufficiency grounds) of the Port's LNG Environmental Review.
On August 8, 2005, Tom Giles, President/CEO of the LNG project applicant Sound Energy Solutions stated the firm's view of the effects of the federal Energy bill in a letter to the City Council and publicly reiterated these views in City Council testimony on August 9. The letter states in pertinent part: