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    Exclusive / Follow-Up

    Mayor O'Neill Fails To Oppose Fed'l Energy Bill's LNG Sections Preempting Local Control As Conference of Mayors Adopts Silent Energy Resolutions

    (June 14, 2005) -- Despite standing LB policy to defend local control on city issues, and a Council discussion (April 19, 2005) encouraging LB officials take any and all measures to oppose federal preemptive language in an advancing Energy bill regarding Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facilities, LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill (for the past year Vice President and now incoming President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors) failed to take action to include language opposing federal preemption of local control on LNG when the Conference of Mayors voted to approve the group's annual policy resolutions in Chicago on June 13.

    The news follows revelations, first reported on June 12 by, that Mayor O'Neill had not spoken to the chair of the Conference of Mayors' Energy Committee about the LNG issue even as it advanced for months in ways unhelpful to the City of LB.

    As also previously reported by, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., CA) has introduced legislation in an effort to blunt the preemptive effects of the federal Energy bill on LNG local control...and the U.S. Senate began discussing the Energy bill today (June 14).

    Informed of the development, Bry Myown of LB Citizens for Utility Reform, told

    "Mayor O'Neill's actions are a slap in the face to the people of Long Beach, to their elected City Council and to Senator Feinstein. The Mayor ignored a unanimous [8-0] vote [April 17, 2005] of the City Council and failed to support city policy on this legislation when she had the chance."

    On June 12, reported that the chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Energy Committee told us Mayor O'Neill had not spoken to him about local control, federal preemption and LNG in the advancing federal Energy bill.

    Mayor Bob Young of Augusta, GA, chair of the Conference of Mayors' Energy Committee told us that Mayor O'Neill "has never spoken to me about the LNG issue." Mayor Young also noted that the Conference's list of proposed resolutions doesn't include one opposing parts of the federal Energy bill on federal preemption re LNG even though the Conference has resolutions before it on "all kinds of things, even relations with Cuba."

    Asked for comment by on June 12, Mayor O'Neill's Chief of Staff, Cathy Wieder, told us:

    "The proposed resolutions are coming before the full Conference of Mayors on Monday [June 13] and at that time Mayor O'Neill will have the opportunity to make any comments on the issue. She isn't part of the Conference's Energy Committee. We're reviewing the resolutions now and she will be looking at the proposed Energy resolutions before they come to a full vote of the Conference." Ms. Wieder said Mayor O'Neill could make a motion to amend a proposed resolution and added that "the issue is absolutely in play." She added that the resolutions "don't come to a full vote of the Conference until Monday and at that time Mayor O'Neill certainly will have an opportunity to comment and offer amendments."

    However when the policy resolutions came up, a spokesperson for the Conference of Mayors told that the Energy resolutions were passed as submitted -- silent on the issue of local control over LNG -- without advocacy by Mayor O'Neill opposing federal preemptive language in keeping with City Council policy.

    The federal legislation doesn't affect the power of the Port, as landlord for the Pier T site, to say "yes" or "no" to leasing it for the LNG facility.

    The Conference of Mayors did pass resolutions backed by Mayor O'Neill that endorse parts of a massive federal Transportation bill that includes capacity-increasing infrastructure deemed of "national signficance," favored by the Port of LB and backed by City Hall

    Mayor O'Neill also co-sponsored a Conference of Mayors' resolution urging cities to support a campaign to teach people the National Anthem.

    The Conference of Mayors' website has been silent on the Energy bill's federal preemption of local authority re LNG, a matter impacting coastal cities in CA and across the country. bill.

    As previously reported by, a letter dated April 20 letter [one day before the House voted to approve the Energy bill with federal preemption of local control on LNG] addressed to "Dear Representative" was jointly signed by U.S. Conference of Mayors' Executive Director, and the Executive Directors of the National League of Cities and National Association of Counties and stated in pertinent part:

    [W]e are opposed to the language [in the House version of the federal Energy bill] that would allow FERC [Fed'l Energy Regulatory Commission] to preempt the state/local decision-making process when siting energy related facilities and infrastructure such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities. The issue is balancing energy needs versus what is best for a region. State and the local governments know what is best for the regional interests. For example, is the project consistent with local growth and development plans? What are the environmental impacts on the community? Are there any special regional environmental characteristics that would be adversely impacted by the proposed infrastructure? If the federal government is permitted eminent domain authority over siting issues, the states and localities lose this essential voice.

    The letter doesn't mention Long Beach...and the House and Senate versions of the federal Energy bill don't include eminent domain language (which had been sought by FERC months earlier). The eminent domain language was opposed by the Port of LB.

    Mayor Young said he wasn't told by Mayor O'Neill or anyone else about the April 20 letter (until we told him about it) but noted that the position "is certainly consistent with the Conference's historic position favoring local control.".

    In terms of LB City Hall advocacy, on April 21 (the day the full House of Representatives voted on proposed amendments to the federal Energy bill) a letter stating the City of LB's "strong opposition" to the current [LNG] provisions of the bill -- signed by Mayor O'Neill on her Mayoral letterhead -- was faxed to the chair of the House Energy Committee. Roughly a week earlier, the House Energy Committee rejected an amendment to delete the bill's LNG provisions. The Mayor's letter was cc'd to House Energy committee members, two east coast Democrats who supported the amendment and Congressmembers Juanita Millender-McDonald (D., Carson-LB), Dana Rohrabacher (R, HB-LB-PV) and Linda Sanchez (D., Lakewood). The LNG amendment failed on the House floor and the bill advanced with verbiage opposed by LB City Hall.

    In a letter dated March 22 to Senator Pete Domenici (R, NM), chair of the Senate's Energy & Natural Resources Committee, Mayor O'Neill -- again writing on behalf of the City on her Mayoral letterhead -- urged support "in ensuring that localities throughout the nation maintain their authority in making important local land-use decisions.".

    Today (June 14), the U.S. Senate began discussing the federal Energy bill.

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