(June 6, 2006) -- Taking time in the final hours of her campaign to become LB's next 2nd district Councilmember to address a possibly significant step in the battle she began over three years ago to stop a proposed 80+ million gallon Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility in the Port of LB, LNG project opponent Bry Myown urged LB Harbor Commissioners on June 5th not to extend their 2003 letter of intent/exclusivity agreement with LNG project proponent Sound Energy Solutions (SES). Ms. Myown also urged the Harbor Commission to return in a week and reject the proposed LNG terminal use, not accept further rent payments and not go forward with the project.
Ms. Myown's testimony came in response to a formally agendized Harbor Commission item indicating a "closed session" discussion (on real property terms) on the matter. The agendized item allows the public to speak prior to the "closed session:..and Ms. Myown was the only person who did.
LB's Harbor Commissioners listened to Ms. Myown's testimony, then exited into closed session...and emerged to issue a statement indicating they would. in fact, not extend their letter of intent/exclusivity agreement which expires on June 9...but left further moves vague.
"The Board noted that the May 8, 2003 letter of intent and exlusivity agreement with SES expires on or about June 9, 2006 and it took no action to extend the letter but indicated its intent to await the final EIR/EIS and the conclusion of the negotiations between SES and the city. "
After the announcement, Ms. Myown cautiously welcomed the development. "It's a step in the right direction. The next steps will be very important," she said.
Project proponent SES indicated it was pleased with the development and would continue negotiations with City Hall (authorized on a 5-4 Council vote last year) over price and terms for future natural gas deliveries (if the facility is built).
Ms. Myowns testimony on behalf of LB Citizens for Utility Reform, the Sierra Club's Harbor Vision Task Force and CA For Safe, Affordable Clean Energy. She noted that multiple state agencies and the City of Long Beach itself disputed or questioned assertions in a draft PoLB/FERC Environmental Impact Report/Statement on the project.
Although both LB Mayoral runoff finalists and multiple Council candidates now publicly oppose the LNG proposal, Ms. Myown was the first to speak out strongly against the Port's 2003 letter of intent which has propelled the project.
The Port's May 2003 action (which occurred prior to arrival of Commissioners Hankla and Cordero) came without an independent assessment of the project's potential risks and costs for the City. It was followed by a 2003 City Council action to negotiate with SES over future natural gas terms taken in barely 91 seconds without any serious Council discussion.
A 2003 Port of LB press release quoted Mayor Beverly O'Neill as supportive of the Port's action which effectively agreed to facilitate SES' efforts to obtain regularly approval for the project. Mayor O'Neill also moved behind the scenes -- and without explicit Council approval -- to urge U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein to fast track the project's approval. The Mayor's actions, which angered several Council members, became known only when Ms. Myown uncovered them via a state freedom of information request.
Over the next two and a half years, Ms. Myown made multiple Council presentations and detailed media coverage of the LNG proposal, which LBReport.com was first to report in detail, eventually grew. A number of Ms. Myown's forewarnings about certain consequences of the Port's 2003 action (dismissed at the time) came to pass. In 2004, federal legislation resulted from the Port of LB's decision to process SES' application without requiring that SES seek and receive approval under state law by the CA Public Utilities Commission. The federal legislation stripped LB City Hall and CA regulatory agencies -- and cities and states nationwide -- of permitting authority for LNG plants.
City Hall, which uses the same DC lobbying firm as the Port, failed to take effective action to oppose those provisions (which LBReport.com first reported had surfaced in 2004). Mayor O'Neill also failed to use her position in the U.S. Conference of Mayors (despite a request by the Council) to advocate effectively against the legislation.
The federal legislation became law and left the Port of LB -- currently governed by non-recallable, non-elected, Mayor chosen, Council approved Harbor Commissioners -- virtually in sole control over the LNG project's fate as landlord for the desired property.
Following that outcome, LB Councilmembers took an action long-urged by Ms. Myown, directing City Manager Jerry Miller to issue a Request for Proposals to consider other DC lobbying firms that would give LB a DC voice independent of the Port of LB.
City management's recommendation on the matter has not been announced publicly yet...but will ultimately decided by current Councilmembers or new Councilmembers...potentially including Ms. Myown, one of eleven candidates in the 2nd district special election being held today.