Wednesday, January 04, 2006

LNG Still Looms Over Astoria

Well, the LNG controversy once again is upon us in Astoria. However, it's taken a new and interesting twist.

The lease deal on the Skipanon Peninsula in next-door Warrenton, between the Port of Astoria and Calpine, was one of those back-room deals you used to read about back in the Mayor Daly Daze in Chicago; signed and shuffled under the table without a city-wide vote. Suddenly, wet-lands on the Skipanon Peninsula are supposed to be declared industrial zones to enable the building of humongous LNG tanks that will disrupt the flow of traffic at the mouth of the Columbia River. I mean ... what the hell were they thinking?

Signs started cropping up all over town, a circle with a red bar across the initials LNG, saying, "The Columbia River deserves better!" Yet when the election for the Port Commissioners came up, the good ol' boyz were voted right back in, lock, stock & barrel. Go figure.

Now a loophole has turned up in the lease, whereby the Port Commissioners could actually extricate themselves from this boondoggle. Calpine is on the verge of bankruptcy. Oh, I'm soooo sad. There is a clause in the lease that says Calpine can only transfer the lease to another LNG company IF the Port Commissioners agree.

Will the Port Commissioners agree to let Calpine transfer the lease? If so, they'll go down in history as the blackguards who destroyed the mouth of the Columbia River. Maybe the Port Commissioners think infamy is the same as fame? Getting your name in a history book is just peachy, but you would think a person would care about WHY they were mentioned. But then again, maybe not.

I wrote a letter to the Daily Astorian comparing the situation to a Grimm Fairy Tale:
My Letter.

But a seventh grader at the local middle school wrote a letter to be reckoned with: Seventh Grader Letter. It's getting scary around here when a seventh grader understands the implications of having LNG tanks around here better than the powers that be.

It's not over yet. There's still hope that the Port Commissioners will come to their senses and refuse to let Calpine transfer the lease. Let's just say I'm not agog with confidence in the Commissioners' ability to make sensible decisions, but here I sit, toes crossed, hoping they have a moment of revelation.

Will the Port Commissioners jump off their black horses, jump on some white horses, and gallop in to save the day? Tune in for the next episode ...

Astoria Photografpix

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