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    Pres. Bush Says Finishing Energy Bill Is First "Good Thing" Returning Congress Should Do; Current Legislation Includes Fed'l Supremacy on LNG Decisionmaking

    (June 1, 2005) -- In one of his strongest public statements to date urging passage of a federal Energy bill -- which includes provisions effectively giving the federal government supremacy on LNG decisionmaking -- President George W. Bush told a White House news conference that the first "good thing" Congress should do on its return is finish work on the legislation.Bush News Conf. 5/31/05
    White House photo

    In his opening statement at the May 31 White House news conference, President Bush said:

    We've gone more than a decade without an energy strategy. And as a result, we have grown more dependent on foreign sources of energy and consumers see the consequences of that at the gas pump on a daily basis. For the past four years I've called on Congress to pass legislation that encourages energy conservation; that promotes domestic production in environmentally friendly ways; that helps diversify away from foreign oil; that modernizes the electricity grid; that's got a substantial amount of research and development money to help us transition from the hydrocarbon economy to a diversified source of energy economy.

    The House passed a bill, and the Senate Energy Committee passed an energy bill this past week -- I appreciate their good work. Now they need to get the bill off the floor, into conference, resolve their differences, and get me a bill before the August recess. That's what the American people expect, and that's what I expect."

    The advancing federal legislation would effectively let LB's Harbor Commissioners avoid deciding the adequacy of Environmental Impact documents on the proposed LB LNG project while retaining the power as landlord to say "yes" or "no" to the facility. However, if the Port says "yes," the federal legislation would strip the City Council of its current appeal authority over the sufficiency of the Environmental Impact documents...since Environmental Review would be decided by FERC, not the Port of LB.

    For roughly two years, the Port of LB has tacitly tilted toward federal supremacy in connection with the LB LNG application. While the applicant sought approval from FERC, the Port didn't require the firm to seek approval from the CA Public Utilities Commission. FERC said CPUC has no authority in the LNG matter, which led CPUC to sue FERC (to uphold CA law)...which prompted FERC to seek the now-advancing federal legislation clearly establishing FERC's supremacy in LNG decisionmaking.

    LB Councilmembers Frank Colonna, Rae Gabelich and Bonnie Lowenthal have jointly agendized a June 7th City Council item to end a 2003 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the LB LNG applicant. If approved by a Council majority, the action would formally end City Hall negotiations (via LB Energy) with the applicant for a possible future pipeline and a long-term gas supply...significant because City Hall's MOU is cited in a separate Port of LB MOU with the project applicant which states in pertinent part:

    "Concurrent with any final agreement with the Port of Long Beach, SES will enter into an arrangement for the benefit of the citizens of Long Beach, the Long Beach Energy Department, and the Port of Long Beach to provide liquid natural gas (natural gas.)"

    On May 24, LB City Manager Jerry Miller and City Attorney Bob Shannon jointly agendized an item seeking Council direction on how to proceed under the City Hall MOU, stating that the Port MOU verbiage means "no final agreement with the Port will occur under the Port’s existing MOU unless SES successfully concludes negotiations on the two issues discussed in Long Beach Energy’s MOU approved by the City Council."

    Near the conclusion of his May 31 news conference, the President reiterated his stance on the federal Energy bill. "I think the standard by which Congress should be judged is whether or not they can get an energy bill. And I think they will. And I look forward to working with them on an energy bill."

    This marks the third time since April that President Bush has publicly urged passage of the advancing federal Energy legislation.

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