LNG Plant in Warrenton, OR, Rejected by County Commissioners

Steven Nehl/The Oregonian

Steven Nehl/The Oregonian

by Ted Sickinger / OregonLive

After two years of legal challenges, Clatsop County Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday night to reject an application to build a liquefied natural gas export pipeline and terminal in Warrenton, near the mouth of the Columbia River.

A county board made up of different commissioners originally approved the Oregon LNG facility in 2010, then a new slate of commissioners reversed the decision the following year, rejecting zoning approvals for a feeder pipeline that ran across county land. Backers of the controversial project, which is located on a spit of land across Young’s Bay from Astoria, challenged the rejection in court, but the decision was upheld and the county’s vote Wednesday finalized their earlier move.

The project is currently under review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but it’s not clear how it can proceed without county approvals. Backers may argue that federal authority preempts local decision making. But the project still needs a host of state approvals that may not be forthcoming without Clatsop County’s land use approval, including a permit  under the Coastal Zone Management Act.

Opponents of the project crowded the hearing room and broke into applause when the vote was completed.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Dan Serres, an organizer with Columbia Riverkeeper. The advocacy group has organized opposition to the Warrentonterminal and another further upriver at Bradwood Landing whose backers abandoned permitting in 2010 after spending close to $100 million.

“People have been testifying about this project since 2005,” Serres said. This was a big victory moment for folks who believe this project doesn’t belongs in the estuary.”

A third LNG terminal has been proposed in Coos Bay. That project has received approval from Coos County and has applied for a license from FERC and an export permit from the U.S. Department of Energy. Opponents are still fighting the dredging permits and pipeline approvals for that project.

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