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Mayor O'Neill Wrote Senator Feinstein in 2003, Asked To Facilitate Federal Approval Process For LNG Facility Proposed in LB Port
[Letterhead, City of LB seal] The City of Long Beach
(March 19, 2004) -- LBReport.com has learned that Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill wrote U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., CA) in June 2003 and asked that CA's senior U.S. Senator "facilitate a federal approval process" for a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility proposed to be located within the Port of LB, part of the nation's busiest port complex.
In the letter, Mayor O'Neill tells Senator Feinstein:
"We have met with SES officials, and like the officials of the Port of Long Beach, believe the LNG facility can be operated safely and provide many benefits for Long Beach, the region and the entire state. Therefore, we support construction of the LNG terminal in the Port of Long Beach, subject to a rigorous environmental review and permitting process, and we respectfully request that you facilitate a federal approval process that would allow terminal operations to begin in 2007 as scheduled."
The letter was obtained under state freedom of information law (the CA Public Records Act) from the City of LB by local writer Bry Myown, who opposes the LNG project and brought the letter to LBReport.com's attention.
LBReport.com posts a copy of the letter's complete text below.
At the time Mayor O'Neill wrote her letter, it was expected that an application by a Mitsubishi subsidiary ("Sound Energy Solutions" or SES) would eventually come before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a decision. SES' application to build the LNG facility in the Port of LB is now pending with that federal agency.
The Mayor's letter to Senator Feinstein makes no reference to the LB City Council, the elected body which sets policy for the City of Long Beach, whose members -- unlike the Mayor -- have substantive votes.
In May 2003, Councilmembers voted -- in less than 90 seconds -- to enter into an MOU with the firm that effectively facilitates the project but did not convey any permit approval.
Likewise in May 2003, the Board of Harbor Commissioners (Mayor appointed, Council confirmed) approved a Letter of Intent and Summary of Terms with SES, giving the firm exclusive right to pursue developing the LNG receiving terminal at the site until their earlier of (1) the time SES determines the project isn't feasible; or (2) the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denies the project; or (3) 37 months after the date of the letter. The Summary of Terms indicates the Port would assign SES a berth and backlands consisting of roughly 27 acres for a term of 40 years.
In addition to FERC's permitting process, additional approvals are supposed to be decided by the Port of Long Beach's Board of Harbor Commissioners after it reviews environmental and other documents in the coming months.
The LB City Charter specifies that the Mayor "shall have no vote, but may participate fully in the deliberations and proceedings of the City Council. The Mayor shall be recognized as head of the City government for all ceremonial purposes and by the governor for purposes of military law, but shall have no administrative duties other than those provided for in Section 207. The Mayor shall represent the City at large and utilize the office of Mayor to provide community leadership and as a focal point for the articulation of city-wide
perspectives on municipal issues."
The subject of an LNG facility in the Port of LB has not been seriously discussed publicly by the LB City Council.
Reaction is pending as we post.
LBReport.com posts the text of Mayor's letter below. To view the letter in pdf form, click here:
Beverly O'Neill, Mayor
June 19, 2003
The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Feinstein:
As you are aware, I am a strong advocate for improving air quality and energy reliability in the City of Long Beach and the entire Southern California region. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee and said that the nation's shrinking supplies of natural gas mean the nation must build more liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals as such terminals would create a safety valve that will help stabilize long-term oil and natural gas prices.
With the California energy crisis still fresh in our memories, the need for a reliable supply of natural gas is critical for the economy of California. An important step in California achieving energy security as well as cleaner air is the introduction of liquefied natural gas, also known as LNG, into the California energy mix. In California, this new fuel supply would have a positive impact not only upon natural gas prices but also electric generation prices, oil prices, and air quality as diesel trucks are replaced by trucks fueled by the cleaner-burning LNG.
Currently, there is no LNG terminal on the west coast. In fact, the majority of LNG now used as an alternative vehicle fuel must now be trucked in from out of state. Sound Energy Solutions (SES), a subsidiary of the Mitsubishi Corporation, is seeking to construct and operate a 27-acre LNG receiving and gasification terminal at the Port of Long Beach. If built, this terminal could bring in 10 percent of California's natural gas needs, providing a stable supply of natural gas. On May 8, 2003, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners approved an agreement granting SES the exclusive right to pursue development of the LNG facility. SES is now applying for permits from multiple federal, state and local government agencies and commencing a comprehensive environmental review process.
We have met with SES officials, and like the officials of the Port of Long Beach, believe the LNG facility can be operated safely and provide many benefits for Long Beach, the region and the entire state. Therefore, we support construction of the LNG terminal in the Port of Long Beach, subject to a rigorous environmental review and permitting process, and we respectfully request that you facilitate a federal approval process that would allow terminal operations to begin in 2007 as scheduled.
Taking these steps would send a strong signal to the Long Beach community and to Southern California that the federal government is committed to energy security, reducing diesel emissions, and improving the quality of life for residents.
Thank you for your consideration.
s/ Beverly O'Neill
M A Y O R
For a compendium of LBReport.com coverage of the LNG issue, see LBReport.com Coverage of LNG Terminal Proposed in Port of LB
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