WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Rep. Brian Baird has announced his opposition to the Bradwood Landing liquefied natural gas project - citing negative impacts on river commerce, the environment and private property owners as well as a potential burden on local taxpayers as his reasons.
"The costs, economically, to the environment, to those living in the community, and to the river itself are just too much to justify moving forward on this one project," he said in a statement released last week.
Baird said the recently released U.S. Coast Guard Waterway Suitability Report, an assessment of the navigation and safety issues associated with bringing LNG tankers up the Columbia River, was a deciding factor for him.
"After reviewing the WSR, I believe there is enough compelling evidence to oppose the proposed LNG project," he said. "While there may be local benefits to the project, including job creation and additional gas production, the overall negative impacts on the entire river system are too great for me to support."
The Coast Guard report identified "resource gaps" between what is on the Columbia River today and what would be needed before LNG tankers could travel 38 miles upriver to the proposed Bradwood Landing LNG facility site.
LNG terminals are designed to receive supercooled natural gas liquid from ships and regasify it for pipeline distribution. The Northern Star Natural Gas Co. proposal to build a terminal 20 miles east of Astoria at Bradwood Landing would bring 125 LNG tankers up the Columbia River each year.
"In order for the Columbia River to suitably accommodate this project, a number of measures will need to be implemented to manage navigation, safety and security risks," said Baird.
The project would require additional navigation aids, security boardings and changes to emergency communications systems. Baird said the Coast Guard report "does not outline what the impact of these new security measures will be on the Coast Guard or local law enforcement agencies, but the burden for paying will likely fall on the local taxpayers."
The Bradwood Landing project includes a 34-mile pipeline that would extend west into Columbia County, cross under the river at Port Westward and cut through private property in Washington to meet the Williams Interstate pipeline northwest of Longview near the Interstate 5 corridor.
"I am concerned about the project's impact on private property owners," said Baird. "I have repeatedly met with people whose property would be affected by the terminal or pipeline construction, and I respect their position. For those living on Puget Island or who may have a gas line running through their property, ensuring safety and security must be the highest priority."
Northern Star is one of five companies looking to site an LNG terminal in Oregon and the farthest along in the federal approval process. There are four LNG proposals on the Columbia River, and one at Coos Bay.
Joe Desmond, vice president of external affairs for Northern Star, said considering the positive economic impacts of the project, the improvements to navigation and the environmental benefits of the company's multi-million dollar commitment to environmental enhancement, the project "is a win for the community and the region."
"We hope that once (Baird has) had an opportunity to review the entire application, the Congressman will support the project and the benefits it will bring to the region's economy," said Desmond.
Baird said he recognizes the final decision on the Bradwood Landing project is up to state agencies and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but he wanted to state his position publicly to serve his constituents. So far, no congressional representatives from Oregon have announced their positions on the project.