We Post In Its Entirety City of LB Document Submitted to CA Energy Comm'n Re LNG Facility Proposed in PoLB
(August 20, 2005) -- On August 19, LB city staff submitted an 18 page document to the CA Energy Commission stating the City of LB's safety considerations regarding a proposed 80+ million gallon Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility proposed in the Port of LB.
This procedure wasn't part of the LNG approval process until Congress passed a major federal Energy bill, signed into law by President Bush on July 29. Under the new federal legislation, City Hall was asked to meet an August 19 deadline by which to forward its safety considerations to the CA Energy Commission regarding the 80+ million gallon Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility proposed in the Port of LB.
The federal Energy bill specifies that a state agency chosen by the Governor (and 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 bill becoming law -- meaning 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 in Washington, D.C. vote on whether to authorize the LNG facility 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 Schwazenegger 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.
In response to our request, LB City Hall provided us with a copy of the document as filed. In the public interest, LBReport.com posts it in its entirety in pdf form on the following clickable link:
City of LB Submission to CA Energy Commission (pdf 1.7 MB)
In emailing the document to Sacramento, city staff noted that the Council "is scheduled to discuss their official position on the proposed LNG facility. If a position is taken, we will provide you with a supplemental communication reflecting the action."
[Related LBReport.com coverage of Aug. 23 Council item linked below]
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:
It is our position that the federal legislation...does not change in any way our obligations to local and state authorities. We will still be regulated under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review process led by the Port of Long Beach...[T]he last approvals we need to receive are from the Port of Long Beach and the City of Long Beach. We will not have a project unless we receive a Harbor Development Permit and a final lease agreement for the property on Pier T designated for the [LNG] site.
We confirm our commitment to go through the process described above, whether or not there are different opinions on the interpretation of the new [federal] law."
LBReport.com has posted Mr. Giles' August 8 letter in its entirety in pdf form. To view it, click here.
City Attorney Shannon has also stressed that under LB's City Charter (enacted by voters in the 1980s), the ultimate decision on whether to allow an LNG facility on Port property will be made by LB's Harbor Commissioners, not the City Council.
Councilmembers Colonna, Lowenthal, Baker & Gabelich Agendize Item To Tell All Pertinent Parties Incl. Sac'to That LB City Council Opposes Putting LNG Facility In Port of LB
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