Power plant review seeks intervenors

Published on Thu, Oct 10, 2002
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Power plant review seeks intervenors

As the review process for the proposed power plant at the BP Cherry Point Refinery grinds forward, the state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) is asking for anyone who wants to legally challenge the project to come forward.

“We have three tracks we need to go down,” said EFSEC manager Allen Fiksdal, “and we’ve started down all three.”

Following a June application by BP to build a 720 megawatt gas-fired cogeneration power plant adjacent to the refinery, EFSEC help public scoping meetings in July. The agency is working with Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to draft an environmental impact statement (EIS) due out in December. The EIS will focus on the environmental, social and cumulative impacts of the project, targeting key issues raised at the scoping meetings. These include air and water quality, the health of wildlife and wetlands, threats to public health, and how the power generated by the plant would help the local economy and power supply.

Fiksdal's said the second track is to look into processing a bundle of air and water permits. “We’ve been delegated by the Environmental Protection Agency to issue federal permits,” Fiksdal said, with a mandate to “prevent significant deterioration” of air and water quality.

The track that EFSEC is turning on now is the adjudicative proceeding. “It’s a trial like process where the applicant will present their case and any expert witnesses, and so will any intervenors. All parties can cross examine each other’s witnesses,” Fiksdal said. Anyone wishing to formally intervene in the application of the hearing for the power plant needs to make application to EFSEC by October 22, demonstrating how the project would impact them or their organization. The council can turn down applications if they feel an applicant is not committed to following through with the multiple hearings or has insufficient interest in the project. The preliminary hearing is scheduled for November 5 in Lacey.

Fiksdal said the formal intervenors are usually government agencies or lobby groups. Individuals with concerns about the project will have opportunity to comment on any of the three tracks leading to a recommendation on the permit. “In the adjudication process we hold one public session when anybody can get up and have their say,” he said. After the draft EIS and permits are issued there is usually a 30 to 45 day period for public comment and a public meeting. “We will hold these meetings locally,” Fiksdal said.

Ultimately EFSEC will make a recommendation for or against the project, which will go to the government for final approval, following the same road as the Sumas Energy Two project, approved by the Governor in May on the recommendation of EFSEC, which had denied their first application the year before. The list of likely intervenors for the Cherry Point project is similar to that for the Sumas project: Canadian communities and government agencies with pollution concerns, the county with growth, environment and economic concerns, and a raft of state agencies wishing to ensure their guidelines are adhered to. Again, strongest opposition is likely to come from north of the border. EFSEC has already received letters expressing concern from the city of Richmond, the Greater Vancouver Regional District, the Fraser Valley Regional District and Environment Canada.. .
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