Clatsop commissioners reject LNG project

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ASTORIA, Ore. — Clatsop County commissioners have voted to reject a proposed liquefied natural gas pipeline and terminal on more than 40 miles of county land.

The board concluded that Oregon LNG’s proposed pipeline violated land-use rules. Wednesday’s unanimous vote got a standing ovation from liquefied natural gas opponents who wore red shirts to signify their opposition.

“Oregon LNG has no place in Clatsop County or anywhere else in the Northwest,” Dan Serres, conservation director with Columbia Riverkeeper, said in a statement Thursday. “It’s clear that this project damages forests, harms fish habitat, and threatens the safety of local residents.”

The decision appears to mark the end of more than two years of legal challenges to a preliminary denial by the board. But two companies seeking to build the pipeline — Oregon LNG and the Oregon Pipeline Company — contend federal regulators will have the final say.

The Oregon Pipeline Company initially filed a land-use application for construction of a pipeline and terminal in Warrenton in October 2009.

The county commission approved zoning for the pipeline in 2010. Four months later, a newly elected slate of commissioners reversed the decision. In a lawsuit, the company argued the first decision was irreversible. The Oregon Court of Appeals disagreed last year and the Oregon Supreme Court declined to take the case.

The terminal was originally envisioned as a means to import liquefied gas, but technological advances touched off a boom in domestic exploration and production. After that, the LNG proposal began to focus on exporting domestic supplies to Asia.

The board voted Wednesday after a lengthy public hearing that included complaints of bias by the lawyer for the companies, The Daily Astorian reported.

Attorney Michael Connors said his clients wanted to work cooperatively with the county through the process and show compliance with county code.

“Our willingness to do that was based on the assumption that we would have a fair process,” he said.