Liquefied Natural Gas Interagency Permitting Working Group

Mission

Establish close communication among and support for agencies potentially involved in the permitting process of any LNG facility in California.

Description

The LNG Interagency Working Group was created by the California Resources Agency in 2003 as a loose collection of state agencies having responsibilities in connection with the potential siting and operation of one or more liquefied natural gas terminals to be located either onshore or in offshore federal waters adjacent to the state. The Working Group was created administratively, although not by rulemaking or other written process, and has no legislative charter. There are no "members" as such; rather, there are various state, local, and federal agencies which have elected to participate in this group. Most agencies select one attorney, and one or more technical staff, to serve as their representatives in the Working Group. The level of participation varies, ranging from simply being placed on an email distribution list to receive documents or other information, attending (either in person or by telephone) monthly meetings of the Working Group. California Energy Commission staff is tasked to coordinate the Working Group.

Resources Secretary Chrisman initially identified four objectives for the working group:

  1. Coordinate information sharing among state, local and federal agencies for related state permits required from the California State Lands Commission and California Coastal Commission;
  2. Facilitate the involvement of state and local agencies in the federal licensing process;
  3. Create objective, scientific educational material related to LNG; and
  4. Provide support to the Governor in his formulation of recommendations to MARAD regarding the approval or disapproval of offshore California LNG terminals, including recommended conditions.

Some participants function as observers for their agency, whereas other agencies have directed their representatives to actively participate in the drafting of documents, collection and/or sharing of information, and other activities.

Goals

Meeting Topics and Dates

In the years the group has been meeting, the members have covered a wide variety of issues related to LNG siting. Some of the topics discussed in past meetings include:

Next meeting is planned for: July 31, 2008 Cancelled

The group has met on the following dates:

2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003
January 17
January 18
February 22
March 15
April 19
June 21
July 26
September 20
November 1
December 6
January 26
March 2
April 27
May 25
June 22
July 25
August 31
October 5
November 9
December 7
January 20
March 3
April 7
May 11
June 16
August 4
September 22
November 3
December 6
January 22
March 4
April 15
June 3
July 22
August 19
September 30
November 4
December 13

September 23
October 22
November 20

Working Group Members

The following is a list of federal, state and local agencies that have participated in, or are active members of, the working group.

Federal Agencies

State Agencies

U.S. Air Force

U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

U.S. Navy


Local Agencies

City of Los Angeles

Ventura County

California Air Resource Board

California Coastal Commission

California Coastal Conservancy

California Energy Commission

California Public Utilities Commission

Department of Conservation

Department of Fish and Game (DFG)

DFG's Office of Spill Prevention and Response

Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES)

OES's Office of Homeland Security

Office of Planning and Research

State Lands Commission

State Role in Permitting LNG Projects

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was enacted in 1970 to be used in the environmental review of land-use development and management decisions in California. An Environmental Impact Report is the final product of the CEQA environmental review process. It covers the scope of the applicant's proposal and analyzes all of the known environmental effects of the proposed project. In most cases, the CEQA review goes beyond the requirements established in the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

In the siting process, one federal agency takes the lead role for environmental review under the NEPA, and one state or local agency takes the lead role under CEQA. Once the lead agency is identified, all other involved agencies, whether state or local, become responsible agencies. These responsible agencies do not prepare their own documents, but instead are required to consider the environmental document prepared by the lead agency.

However, in the permitting process of LNG facilities, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (the Act) grants the Federal Energy Regulatory Authority (FERC) the exclusive authority to issue licenses for the siting, construction, operation, and modification of LNG import terminals onshore and in state waters, with limited exceptions. The exceptions involve the exercise of federally-delegated authority only under the federal Coastal Zone Management Act, the federal Clean Air Act, and the federal Clean Water Act by state or local agencies. The state also has the ability to be a cooperating agency with FERC during the NEPA review and can contribute to the environmental review.

Some of the various permits that an applicant must obtain from the state include:

The Act does not grant the power of eminent domain to FERC; therefore, any state or local agency with public land stewardship responsibilities retains its authority to review and approve land lease applications, and the preparation of a CEQA document to support that decision. The Act does not impact the siting authority of state agencies reviewing offshore LNG import terminal applications.

For the Sound Energy Solutions (SES) Port of Long Beach LNG project, the Port of Long Beach and the City of Long Beach retain their authority to issue leases for the state lands under their jurisdiction that are needed to complete this project.

The California Energy Commission does not hold any regulatory authority in the siting of LNG facilities in California.

Summary of Issues That State Agencies Address
In the Review of an EIS/EIR for an LNG Project

Energy Planning Issues

Safety Impact Analysis Issues

Environmental Impact Analysis Issues

Engineering Issues

Issues of impacts to Public Trust uses of the Port and the Surrounding Region

Project Alternative Issues