The prospect of coal exports has stirred controversy in the Northwest this year. But near Astoria last night, it was natural gas exports that drew a capacity crowd. Correspondent Tom Banse reports what happened when federal regulators invited comment on a proposed natural gas export terminal at the mouth of the Columbia River.
The newfound abundance of natural gas in North America and falling domestic prices make it potentially quite profitable to export gas to Asia. Also, quite controversial… and colorful. Near Astoria, opponents wore red T-shirts. Supportive union carpenters came in their orange or yellow safety vests. The critics were seeing red when developer Peter Hansen made his case to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Hansen: “Environmentally, it is a project with benign impacts. (audible guffaws from audience) It may change the skyline, but it will not change the character of the community…” (Interruption of derisive laughter from some quarters)
Hansen is chief executive of a company called Oregon LNG. It and a separate company looking to export from Coos Bay have a thicket of permits to work through. If authorized, the Astoria and Coos Bay export terminals could send out their first natural gas cargoes in 2017 at the earliest.
Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio