By Timothy Mclaughlin May 17 (Reuters) – A coastal Oregon county overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure aimed at blocking a proposed natural gas terminal dealing a blow to what was the latest in a series of efforts to thwart energy projects across the Pacific Northwest.
The measure, had it passed, would have banned transport of fossil fuels not intended for local use through Coos County, located about 200 miles (322 kms) south of Portland.
Around 76 percent of votes were cast against the measure, with 24 percent in favor, according to unofficial results posted on the Coos County government website late Tuesday.
“This ballot measure was not a good measure by any means, and I think (the voters) were able to see that,” Coos Bay’s mayor Joe Benetti, who opposed the measure, told local newspaper The World.
Backers called the initiative a response to a $7.6 billion proposal by Calgary-based Veresen Inc, to build a facility in the county where natural gas would be liquefied and transferred to tanker ships for sale abroad. They cast the measure as a local refusal to contribute to global warming.
Gary Cohn, head of the National Energy Council, in April singled out the Veresen project as a priority for the administration of Republican President Donald Trump.
The Coos County initiative was part of regional resistance in the Northwest to fossil fuel projects that has seen the blockage of several major export facilities.
Last year, the Lummi Nation Native American tribe and environmental groups blocked an export terminal in Northwest Washington state that would have moved Montana and Wyoming coal to markets in Asia.
In January, Washington State denied a permit for a coal export terminal in the city of Longview, citing concerns about the financial viability of the project.
In February, bowing to pressure from activists, Seattle’s city council voted to divest approximately $3 billion from Wells Fargo, citing concerns over the bank’s support of the North Dakota Access Pipeline, among other factors.
Passage of the Coos Bay measure would have been another blow for liquid natural gas projects on the West Coast, even as depots in other areas of the country have moved forward.
Cheniere Energy Inc opened a port in Louisiana last year and several other companies are set to open projects on the Gulf Coast in 2018 and 2019. Dominion Energy Inc plans to open the Cove Point LNG port in Maryland later this year. (Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago, editing by Louise Heavens)
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