ASTORIA In a move that surprised both proponents and opponents of a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal near Astoria, the federal agency charged with approving the facility decided in early July — months earlier than expected — to make a ruling on the project.
Five days later, the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee surprised everyone again by delaying the vote. FERC could choose to vote at any time, but it’s likely it will wait until a meeting on Sept. 18.
No one knows what is going to happen in the meantime. Gov. Ted Kulongoski has been highly critical of FERC’s environmental studies on the project and has called for new research. Which, says spokesperson Jillian Schoene, he’s hoping FERC is now going to do. The potential environmental impact of the project, which would sit 20 miles upriver from Astoria, has generated ongoing controversy.
Project-backer NorthernStar Natural Gas thinks FERC needed more time to prepare for the vote. “We’re certainly prepared to wait a little longer to ensure the order is prepared correctly,” says Joe Desmond, SVP for external relations.