Liquefied Natural Gas Interagency Permitting Working Group
Establish close communication among and support for agencies potentially involved in the permitting process of any LNG facility in California.
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:
- Coordinate information sharing among state, local and federal agencies for related state permits required from the California State Lands Commission and California Coastal Commission;
- Facilitate the involvement of state and local agencies in the federal licensing process;
- Create objective, scientific educational material related to LNG; and
- 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.
- Identify permitting responsibilities for various aspects of an LNG project
- Identify potential resources available to the state that can be used to assist the lead and responsible agencies that review an LNG facility application
- Establish a support network to ensure all affected agencies can operate efficiently and complete their work in a timely manner
- Provide clear guidance to potential developers on the state's LNG permitting process
- Energy Commission to become an information resource on LNG - provide workshops to agencies or the public; maintain a website on LNG.
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:
- Continuous updates by developers on their proposed California LNG facilities.
- Emergency planning activities.
- Presentations on health and safety issues related to LNG, including risk assessment studies and accident studies.
- Discussions on LNG supply sources.
- Sensitive security access issues.
- Critical energy infrastructure information updates.
- Public outreach activities.
- Federal activities on LNG siting jurisdiction.
- Legislation updates.
- State fees, liability and taxes for LNG facilities.
- Impacts of imports on natural gas rates.
- Coordinating federal/state interaction.
- State LNG website.
Next meeting is planned for: July 31, 2008 Cancelled
The group has met on the following dates:
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.
OES's Office of Homeland Security
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:
- Air permits
- Land permits
- Coastal land permits
- Water permits
- Coastal water permits
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
- Energy context within which the project is being considered
- Growing demand for natural gas and how LNG could augment natural gas supplies
- LNG supply chain and where LNG would originate
- Impacts to downstream natural gas pipeline infrastructure
- How gas prices will be determined
- Contemplated contractual terms with natural gas suppliers
- Gas quality standards and likely markets for natural gas liquids removed from LNG
- Minimum methane content of transportation fuel LNG; fleets that will use this fuel and where the LNG will be marketed
- Impact of LNG carriers on other delivery ships in port
- Implications of international agreements on reliability and pricing
Safety Impact Analysis Issues
- LNG safety and security regulations
- Risk analysis to eliminate or reduce potential safety hazards
- Terrorist risk; public concerns and consequences of worst-case situation
- Generic overview of Operations Plan
- Workshop for security organizations; public concerns
- Safety and emergency response planning
- Certificate programs that provide additional safety
- Mitigation measures of spread of LNG on water
- Agencies responsible for safety inspections
- Legal liability for losses due to LNG spills
- Credible scenarios at terminals and truck loading facilities and natural gas pipelines.
Environmental Impact Analysis Issues
- Air Quality (e.g., criteria pollutant emissions and air emission reductions)
- Biological Resources (e.g., threatened and endangered species, sport and commercial species and marine and terrestrial species)
- Cultural Resources (e.g., historic port facilities and buried facilities)
- Environmental Justice (e.g., presence of environmental justice populations and notification of affected groups)
- Geological Hazard Resources (e.g., ground rupture, slope stability, liquefaction, seismic activity, design standards of storage tanks, and proximity to active or closed oil wells)
- Land Use (e.g., existing and planned land uses and proximity to sensitive uses)
- Noise (e.g., major noise sources and noise levels)
- Public Health (e.g., cancer risk, chronic and acute non-cancer risks)
- Socioeconomic Resources (e.g., jobs and commerce impacts, number of jobs, and projects expected capital cost/tax distribution requirements)
- Water and Soil Resources (e.g., water source and alternative sources, potential thermal discharges of water used in regasification, tanker water ballast management practices, and impacts of non-indigenous species introduced through ballast water discharges)
- Traffic and Transportation (e.g., on-shore traffic impacts, marine traffic impacts
- Visual Resources
- Waste Management (hazardous and non-hazardous)
- Worker Safety and Fire Protection
- Seismic criteria to be used for the design of the pier/wharf structure
- Highest wind speed used for analysis and design of structure and moorings
- Effects of passing vessel traffic on moored LNG tank vessel(s) factored into mooring analysis/design
- Load combinations and references
- Use of deadweight tonnage (DWT) in discussions related to wharf-vessel interactions
- Impacts of equipment/materials use and storage on above-water locations
- Alternative workspace locations
Issues of impacts to Public Trust uses of the Port and the Surrounding Region
- Public access (from land and sea)
- Recreation areas
- Effect of buffer zones
Project Alternative Issues
- Alternative supplies of natural gas
- Alternative on-shore and off-shore project locations
- Site and technology alternatives