Cong. Rohrabacher Says Council LNG Agenda Item Is "Worst Form of NIMBY-ism"; We Post His Letter To Mayor In Full
(August 22, 2005) -- In an August 18 letter addressed to LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R., HB-LB-PV) lambastes an item agendized by four of nine Long Beach Councilmembers to oppose the siting of an 80+ million gallon Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility roughly two miles from downtown LB as the "worst form of NIMBY-ism." [NIMBY="not in my backyard."]
The item, agendized for the August 23 Council meeting by Councilmembers Bonnie Lowenthal, Dan Baker, Frank Colonna and Rae Gabelich seeks to use an opportunity created by the recently-enacted federal Energy bill "to communicate to all pertinent parties, including the State of California via the California Energy Commission, the opposition of the City Council to the siting of an LNG facility in the Port of Long Beach."
Congressman Rohrabacher, whose district includes roughly 15% of LB (eastern and southern parts of ELB + Belmont Shore and shoreline areas westward through and including the Port) said the City Council "has yet to produce any credible information to determine the facility's safety. That will come only with a thorough public review of the environmental and safety documents, the result of which is months away."
As previously reported by LBReport.com, on August 18 LB City Hall complied with the new federal Energy bill by conveying the City's safety considerations -- in areas specifically indicated in the new law -- to the CA Energy Commission for the state agency's elective transmittal to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The City's filing includes cold, factual data (e.g. population within several mile radii of the site, major infrastructure in the vicinity and the like) and materials from LB's first responders: the LB Police Department and LB Fire Department. LBReport.com has posted this important document in full. To view it, click here (pdf 1.7 MB).
Congressman's Rohrabacher's letter states in pertinent part:
...I strongly urge the City Council not to prejudge the appropriateness of siting the LNG facility in the Port of Long Beach. I stress the importance of not taking hasty action without full consideration of the consequences. Rejection of the LNG facility means that Long Beach squanders a tremendous source of income. Should Long Beach spurn new sources of revenue such as this one, do not expect the federal government to provide comparable funding in the future for Long Beach projects.
LNG is a fuel that will contribute greatly to cleaner air for southern California. Compared to other fuels that are transported and stored in the dual port complex, an LNG terminal is relatively safe. If safety is the pivotal concern, close the existing facilities that store dirty, polluting fuels and make way for an LNG terminal in the outer area reaches of the POLB.
The opposition to the LNG facility demonstrated by the proposed City Council Agenda item is a manifestation of the worst form of NIMBY-ism. It is the worst form because it is based on unwarranted fears borne of the absence of analytical risk analysis. Moreover, communication of risk to our constituents that is not based on empirical data is a public disservice. The result is more risk for all of us, dirties air, and a dramatic reduction in financial resources."
Reached for comment, LB writer Bry Myown of LB Citizens for Utility Reform, an opponent of the proposed LB LNG facility, emailed that under the new federal Energy Act, LB's deadline arises in "mid-stream because the Port of Long Beach and FERC accepted SES' application without considering...vital factors [specified in the new federal Energy Act: surrounding population, land uses, hazards, emergency response and the need to encourage remote siting] before the Act was passed, and the Act's deadline is now, not after EIR completion."
Ms. Myown's email continued:
We know, and the [city] staff report makes clear, that the Port houses vital national economic and security interests surrounded by unstable natural conditions and densely populated neighborhoods that could be destroyed by LNG fires the size of those described in federal studies. No other land use application that could so impact its surroundings would even be accepted by the city's planning department, but the Port and FERC apparently accepted SES' application in the belief that all of the nation's coasts and rivers are "zoned for LNG."
Rohrabacher's threat that Congress will not allocate funds to a city that rejects this income source are a red herring. I am confident that the nation's 50 states will never fund the Gerald Desmond Bridge and 710 improvements the Port desires if the city is so foolish as to approve a land use that could blow them up.
LBReport.com posts Congressman Rohrabacher's August 18 letter in its entirety in pdf form. To view it, click here.
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