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    Port Exec. Dir. Steinke Says LNG Project Approval Process Only In "Very, Very Early" Stages, Councilmembers Lowenthal, Uranga Urge Port To Do Public Outreach

    (February 4, 2004) -- During a February 3 City Council item agendized to receive a report on a Port of LB asian trade mission, Port Executive Director Richard Steinke said the approval process for a Liquefied Natural Gas facility in the Port is only in its very early stages.

    In the first public discussion since Councilmembers voted in May 2003 in 87 seconds to approve a memorandum of understanding with a Mitsubishi subsidiary to help facilitate the project, two Councilmembers urged the Port to conduct more "public outreach" on the process and the project.

    The discussion occurred during an item agendized by 1st and 2d district Councilmembers Bonnie Lowenthal and Dan Baker, seeking a Port report on a Nov. 2003 asian trade trip on which Councilmembers Lowenthal, Baker and several LB Harbor Commissioners visited China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. posts below a transcript (unofficial, prepared by us) of salient parts of February 3, 2004 Council item:

    Councilwoman Lowenthal: ...I was also very interested in learning about the LNG facility and as you know, Dick, there's been a lot of interest and comment here about what would it mean to Long Beach, and in particular to downtown Long Beach to have an LNG facility located nearby. So I do think it's a very, very important time for us to find out how we can learn about it, what it is the Port is doing in that regard, and what the procedure is going to be from now through the final report on the EIR and the development and the construction of it. I think that it's probably one of the biggest topics now in the 1st district and even in the city.

    I will say that I was fascinated when I went to the LNG facility. It had been there for twenty years and seemingly without problems, there was a ship there that was unloading its LNG, and I didn't hear that there had been problems during the twenty years that it was there. So that's something I would like to hear more about.

    Mr. Steinke: Councilmember, I think it's a point very well taken. The Tokyo Bay has five LNG facilities and as we there in Tokyo Bay at one of the LNG facilities, you could literally look around the bay and you could point out along the horizon the various LNG facilities, so it's an energy source that they are very comfortable with and that they are very dependent upon.

    I believe there has been some either misinformation or lack of information about the proposed LNG facility here at the Port of Long Beach. The City Council and the Mayor will be provided with a listing of all of the public outreach that has been done thus far and the communications that have been made with the various neighborhood groups, and we'll be providing that to the Mayor and City Council this week.

    I must emphasize that we are very, very early in the process. The draft Environmental Impact Reports have not even been prepared yet. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report has been prepared, but we have a long ways to go, and I think that that's important for everyone to know, that we're in the very, very, very beginning steps in that process with lots of steps left to go. And I think it's important for the public to understand that there will be a series of public outreach meetings, a series of additional scoping sessions for everyone's voices to be heard, and what's taken place thus far is just the very beginnings of that process.

    So I think that there'll be substantially more information out there to the community and there'll be substantially more opportunities for the public to voice their issues and learn about what LNG is all about.

    Councilwoman Lowenthal: Thank you very much. That's, I think, the most critical part, that the public wants to have input, they want to learn and they want to have input and I appreciate that...

    Councilwoman Reyes-Uranga: ...Last night [Feb. 2], we had a Wrigley Association meeting where they discussed the LNG facility [separate coverage in preparation on] and they had pros and cons, and I understand that this [project] is an effort by private [firm] by Mitsubishi [a subsidiary], but I think that at some point the Port probably could benefit from some community outreach such as what we had with the 710 [freeway]. We started off, I think, globally on the wrong foot, then when the city kind of took hold because it's our constituents in the end that really have the concerns that we have to address. And I think that with the [710] oversight committee, they were able to get a community based consultant that really dealt with the grassroots concerns and so that might be something you want to look into.

    But it was really interesting that we had so much, so much interest in it that something that is just getting started. And so I know that it's going to be down the road something that the whole community is interested in finding out more about...

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