LNG issue enters presidential primary race


Sen. Hillary Clinton is trying to use opposition to siting liquid natural gas terminals in Oregon to narrow Sen. Barack Obama's apparent lead in the Democratic presidential primary.

Clinton's campaign staff said Tuesday she spoke against a provision of the 2005 Energy Policy Act that took away state authority over siting LNG ports &

and she opposed the final bill while Obama voted for it.

Clinton domestic policy director Catherine Brown said in a conference call with reporters that this shows the New York senator has a far greater commitment to the issue than Obama, despite his lending support as a co-sponsor to a bill introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., to restore state control.

The record is not so clear-cut. In 2005, Obama joined Clinton in voting for an amendment to restore state control. It failed.

And both voted in favor of sending the overall bill to conference committee, which didn't give the states siting authority.

The difference came on the final bill, which Clinton voted against and Obama voted for.

"This is yet another in a long line of Washington political attacks that Sen. Clinton knows is not true and the fact is that Sen. Obama voted the same exact way as Sen. Clinton when this provision came before the Senate and are both co-sponsors of Wyden's current legislation," said Nick Shapiro, Obama communications director for Oregon.

He said that Obama voted for the bill in the end because "it was the largest investment in renewable and clean energy in history and because it does nothing to restrict the rights of coastal states like Oregon to consult on the placement of pipelines."

Clinton raised the issue last weekend when she was campaigning in Oregon, and has been opposing, along with members of the Connecticut delegation, construction of an LNG terminal in Long Island Sound between New York and Connecticut. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved construction of the $700 million Broadwater plant last month. the project still needs approval from New York state officials.

LNG proposals have stirred controversy in Oregon, with some welcoming the jobs and taxes they would generate and other residents scorning the potential environmental impact and likely use of eminent domain to seize farmland, vineyards and forest for hundreds of miles of pipeline.

Energy companies have proposed building three LNG terminals in the state: one in Coos Bay and two at the mouth of the Columbia River. The terminals would accept imports of supercooled natural gas on ships, reheat the liquid into a gas and send the gas to West Coast markets through one of four proposed pipelines.

Oregon's only authority over the projects is making sure they meet federal clean air and water standards and they comply with the Coastal Zone Management Act, which regulates development in coastal areas.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski, a superdelegate who has endorsed Clinton, has said he is willing to sue the federal government to make sure LNG ports are safe and needed in the state. And Democratic Reps. Peter DeFazio, David Wu, Earl Blumenauer and Darlene Hooley have joined in demanding the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission improve the licensing procedure for the facilities.

Polls have shown Oregon Democrats tilting toward Obama, who holds a narrow lead in the number of pledged delegates nationally. Primary votes are counted May 20, and 52 delegate votes awarded in proportion to the outcome.

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