Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Fair and Balanced.

Kudos to the Ventura County Star for its editorial Sunday about LNG. The message is simple: There are things you might like and things you might hate about Cabrillo Port, but the most important thing is for people to participate in the process. The editorial is cut & pasted for your perusal below.

Also, the LA Times has a good write-up as well. The State Lands Commission has a completely different take on Cabrillo Port (it supports it) than the Coastal Commission, which has been among the most vocal critics of the project.

Editorial: LNG hearings are your future

Listen, comment, participate
April 1, 2007

It borders on understatement to say there's a lot riding on a series of upcoming hearings on a proposal to build a floating liquefied natural gas terminal off the Ventura County coast.

For more than three years, proponents and opponents of BHP Billiton's Cabrillo Port have waged a war of words over the LNG proposal. Now, with last month's release of the project's final environmental impact report, decisions on whether or not to grant key permits are at hand.

We urge all residents to take advantage of these final three hearings, not only to express their opinion and ask questions, but also to learn more about the pros and cons of a floating liquefied natural gas terminal off the coast. There are currently two other LNG projects proposed off the local coast, besides BHP Billiton's, but Cabrillo Port is furthest along in the permit process.

The next three hearings are specifically about Cabrillo Port.

Here are the dates to remember:

— Wednesday, the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Maritime Administration will take public testimony; they have 90 days to issue a decision.

— April 9, the state Lands Commission will hold public hearings; a vote will be taken.
Three days later, on April 12, the California Coastal Commission will conduct its own hearing and vote on the project.

Under federal law, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has 45 days following the Wednesday hearing to veto, approve, or approve with conditions, the offshore LNG terminal. If he takes no action, the project goes forward.

The proposed floating Cabrillo Port would be located about 14 miles off the Ventura/Los Angeles county line. It is there that LNG — superchilled to liquid form and transported by large tankers from overseas — would be offloaded, then warmed to a gaseous state and sent via underwater pipelines to Reliant Energy's Ormond Beach power plant, where it would then be piped to Southern California Gas Co.'s Center Road station in Somis for distribution.

BHP Billiton anticipates about 99 tanker arrivals per year at the terminal from Australia.
LNG critics first worried about the risks from terrorism and fire. More recently, air-quality and pollution concerns and the integrity of the regulatory process became the focus.

BHP Billiton, for its part, maintains safety precautions will reduce risks of fire or other accidents. In addition, the company said it will offset the project's harmful emissions by such actions as retrofitting tanker and tugboat engines.

While the massive 3,000-page EIR does not recommend approval or denial of the project, the document — more than a year in the making — covers concerns of critics and reflects public comments and changes made since a draft document was released in March 2006.

Southern California is going to need more energy as it continues to grow. Whether BHP Billiton's LNG project will be part of the equation is the key question facing residents.

It's an important discussion about the county's future that's worth joining.

Copyright 2007, Ventura County Star. All Rights Reserved.