Safety

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is natural gas in a liquid form. LNG has significantly less volume than its gas form, making it easier to store and transport to markets around the world.

LNG Vessel

Jump to:

LNG in Oregon

The Oregon Department of Energy is the lead state agency to ensure the safety and security of potential LN​G facilities.

An LNG import or export facility would most likely be sited along the Oregon coast or Columbia River, which means the facility could be affected by natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, fires, and winter storms. Facilities would also have to be prepared for man-made events like industrial accidents or fires, spills, terrorism, bomb threats, civil disturbances, or violence in the workplace. An incident at an LNG facility could have a negative impact on Oregonians working at the facility, living near the terminals, or working, living, or recreating along the LNG vessel transit routes.

As the Governor’s designated lead state agency protecting Oregon’s interest in the potential siting of LNG facilities, ODOE has been working with LNG developers, the United States Coast Guard (USCG), other state agencies, and local emergency response organizations since 2004. ODOE’s goal is to ensure that all safety and security issues are identified and resolved adequately to protect public health and safety should the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approve the construction and operation of one or more LNG terminals in Oregon.


Emergency Response Plan

FERC designated USCG to work with LNG developers, ODOE, and affected local emergency response organizations to develop a comprehensive facility and waterway Emergency Response Plan (ERP) for each proposed project. The ERP is designed to identify activities in all areas of emergency management, which include:

  • ​Mitigation: activities which eliminate or reduce the probability of an LNG disaster.
  • Preparedness: activities to train and prepare decision-makers and emergency workers to respond to an LNG event prior to an actual incident. This includes better understanding the LNG infrastructure and agency roles and responsibilities, identifying key assets, and conducting drills and exercises that test the effectiveness of response plans and strategies to more effectively protect public health and safety in the event of an emergency.
  • Response: activities to be taken to prevent loss of life and property and to provide emergency assistance during an incident as described in the ERP.
  • Recovery/Restoration: short and long-term activities to return all systems to normal status.

 

Cost Share Plan

Developing the ERP includes identifying resource gaps such as personnel, facilities, equipment, and systems to implement the ERP. FERC requires LNG developers to develop a cost-share plan to pay for state and local emergency preparedness activities and resource needs throughout the life of each proposed project.


Memorandum of Understanding

With each LNG developer having its own approach and interpretation for what is considered “adequate” emergency preparedness activities and resource needs, ODOE established minimum state standards for LNG emergency preparedness and response in Oregon. ODOE formalized the established minimum state standards for LNG emergency preparedness and response into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

FERC recognized the importance of the MOU and now requires each proposed LNG developer to enter into a MOU with ODOE. The MOU demonstrates an LNG developer’s commitment to providing adequate safety and security planning activities and resources throughout the life of the project. This includes providing the necessary funding required to implement the ERP.

Signing the MOU with ODOE shows only an LNG developer’s intent to meet state safety and security standards. Developers must provide ODOE three documents for review and evaluation of whether an applicant’s emergency preparedness approach meets state established standards. This includes:

  1. Emergency Response Plan;
  2. Resource List that identifies gaps in personnel, facilities, equipment and systems needed to implement the ERP; and
  3. Cost-Share Agreement with state and local agencies for activities and resources identified in the ERP and Resource List. 
  4. The USCG requires state approval of the ERP prior to construction.

 

Oversight

Should one or more LNG terminals be sited, constructed, and become operational in Oregon, ODOE is responsible for overseeing all emergency preparedness activities throughout the life of each project. 


LNG Facility Approval Process

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has exclusive authority to site LNG terminals in the United States. FERC’s authority is conditioned on the applicant’s ability to comply with other statutory requirements or various aspects of the project. The federal government has delegated authority to the states to regulate various federal statutes such as the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. LNG developers must comply with conditions imposed by states carrying out these regulatory authorities.

As the lead state agency overseeing Oregon’s interests in the siting of LNG facilities in the state, ODOE coordinates the participation of state agencies in the federal siting process – this means reviewing proposals, reports, or other LNG plans and coordinating the state’s response.

The table below provides a summary of the state’s authorities.

Authority Process
Protecting Oregon's interests in the federal siting process
Lead agency: ODOE Energy Facility Siting Division
​ODOE is responsible for overseeing Oregon's interests in the siting of LNG terminals in the state. Activities include:
  • Coordinating the state's review and comments of draft resource reports submitted by LNG developers.
  • Coordinating the state's review and comments of FERC's draft and final Environmental Impact Statements
  • Coordinating other state activities involving the federal siting process, as directed by the Governor.
Safety and security
Lead agency: ODOE Nuclear & Energy Emergency Preparedness Division
​ODOE is responsible for ensuring the protection of public health and safety in the event of an LNG emergency at a terminal or along the LNG vessel transit route.  Activities include:

  • Reviewing, approving, approving with conditions, or denying LNG developer emergency response plans.
  • Reviewing, approving, approving with conditions, or denying LNG developer cost share plans.
  • Establishing minimum state standards for LNG emergency preparedness and response in Oregon.
  • Establishing a memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to ensure LNG developers are committed to meeting state standards for LNG emergency preparedness in Oregon. 
  • Overseeing safety and security activities throughout the life of each LNG project sited, constructed, and operated in Oregon.

Coastal Zone Management Act
Lead Agency: Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD)
​The mission of Oregon’s Coastal Management Program is to work in partnership with coastal local governments, state and federal agencies, and other stakeholders to ensure that the state's coastal and ocean resources are managed, conserved, and developed consistent with statewide planning goals. The federal Coastal Zone Management Act  provides DLCD with a unique regulatory authority to review various federal actions in or affecting the state's coastal zone for consistency with the Coastal Management Program. LNG applicants must demonstrate to DLCD that facility construction and operation activities comply with enforceable policies of Oregon’s Coastal Management Program. DLCD’s review process for consistency with the CZMA:

  • Applicant submits Coastal Zone Certification to DLCD indicating proposed activity complies with Oregon’s Coastal Management Program
  • Applicant provides DLCD all necessary data and information to support the certification
  • DLCD reviews applicant’s Coastal Zone Certification for consistency with Oregon’s Coastal Management Program and:
    -  Consults other state agencies as applicable
    -  Seeks public input
  • DLCD issues “coastal concurrences" for approvals or  "coastal objections” for denials

Clean Water Act
Lead Agencies: Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL)
​Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act requires that any federal license or permit to conduct an activity that may result in a discharge to waters of the United States must first receive a water quality certification from the state in which the activity will occur.  DEQ is responsible for issuing water quality certifications in Oregon.  Section 404 of the Clean Water Act provides states with authority over dredge-and-fill activities in wetlands and other waters that require permits from the Corp of Engineers and DSL for discharge of dredged and fill material.

In Oregon, the Corp of Engineers and DSL offer a Joint Permit Application, submitted to both agencies, so that processing can happen concurrently.  In addition, DEQ and the Corp of Engineers offer a single public notice process for the permit and the DEQ 401 water quality certification. Activities include:

  • Applicant submits a Joint Permit​ Application to the Corp of Engineers and DSL for evaluation
  • Applicant submits water quality certification application to DEQ for evaluation
  • The Corp of Engineers publishes a Public Notice to solicit public comments for Section 404 permit (dredge and fill activities) and Section 401 water quality certification permit
  • DEQ conducts public hearing if necessary
  • DEQ determines whether to approve the application and issue a water quality certification permit, approve the application with conditions, or deny the application

The Corp of Engineers and DSL decide to approve the Joint Permit Application and issue a Section 404 permit, approve the application with conditions, or deny the application. DEQ’s water quality certification permit is required for Joint Permit Application approval.
Clean Air Act
Lead Agency:
DEQ
​LNG applicants must demonstrate to DEQ that facility construction and operation activities as well as LNG vessel activities comply with enforceable policies of Oregon’s Clean Air Act.  Activities include:

  • Applicant submits a Notice of Intent to DEQ for review, which includes:
    -   description of the nature, location, design capacity, and typical operating schedule of the source
    -   estimation of short-term/annual maximum amount and type of regulated air pollutant emitted with calculations
    -   analysis of air quality and visibility impact of the source
  • DEQ reviews and evaluates the application
  • ​DEQ approves or denies a Clean Air Act permit

 

LNG Background

​​​​​​LNG is natural gas in a liquid form. It is turned into a liquid by cooling the gas to around -260°F (-160°C). This shrinks the volume of the gas 600 times, making it easier to store and transport to markets around the world. When LNG reaches its destination, it is heated at a regasification facility, which returns it to a gas form. It is then piped to homes, businesses and industries.

Beginning in the early-to-mid 2000s, a number of energy companies and developers began investigating the potential of constructing LNG import terminals in multiple locations in Oregon – both along the Columbia River and near Coos Bay on the Pacific Coast. The intent was to bring natural gas from large natural gas producing countries for use in the Western United States. At that time, the siting of such facilities fell within the purview of Oregon’s Energy Facility Siting Council.

In August 2005, President Bush signed into law the Energy Policy Act of 2005 giving FERC exclusive authority to approve or deny the siting, construction, expansion or operation of LNG terminals located onshore or in state waters. Recognizing the importance of participating in the federal review process, the Governor designated ODOE as the lead state agency for ensuring that Oregon’s interests are addressed in the federal FERC siting process for LNG facilities and associated pipeline projects. Additionally, ODOE has been delegated the responsibilities for emergency preparedness for LNG facilities (ORS 469). This means that it is ODOE’s responsibility to ensure there is a plan in place to protect citizens from LNG leaks and fires, should a terminal be built, and to provide oversight throughout the life of the project.

Five proposals to build import terminals in Oregon have been considered in recent years: four on the Columbia River and one in Coos Bay. 

Today, there is just one active proposal​ for an LNG export terminal located in Coos Bay, as well as an associated natural gas pipeline from Malin to Coos Bay.

​​​​​​​​​
Resources
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission


​​
​Contact Safety & Emergency Planning:
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
​Contact the Facility Siting Team:
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​