Skip to comments.CA: Inquiry into Sempra LNG project launched
Posted on 04/02/2005 11:19:13 AM PST by NormsRevenge
As Sempra Energy broke ground on its $800 million liquefied natural gas receiving terminal in Baja California this week, the state's legislature launched an official inquiry into the project.
The investigation, which began yesterday, is led by Guillermo Aldrete Hass, the leader of the legislature's foreign affairs committee. He said he will ask federal officials to suspend the permits for the project while the investigation continues and legal challenges remain unresolved.
"There hasn't been transparency from the beginning to the end," Aldrete said. "We want to know the economic and environmental impacts both negative and positive."
Of particular concern, Aldrete said, are investigative findings and legal cases in California alleging that Sempra Energy manipulated the natural gas market during the state's 2000-2001 power crisis, causing higher prices for consumers.
"We can't trust Sempra Energy if they have these problems in California," Aldrete said.
Federal and legal challenges also have been filed in Mexico to forestall the LNG project, which is about 14 miles north of Ensenada on the Costa Azul plateau adjacent to the Bajamar golf resort.
Sempra says the federal cases have been resolved, that a state lawsuit challenging its title to the Costa Azul property is not valid and that it conducted a thorough title search before the purchase.
The terminal, which would process liquefied natural gas for Sempra Energy and Shell, is expected to receive liquefied natural gas shipments from Indonesia and Russia. The LNG would then be regasified and shipped by pipeline to Southern California and Baja California.
Aldrete said Baja California uses very little natural gas and that the project is being built to benefit users north of the border.
"We want an investigation that makes all the issues clear and that the people of Baja California will be comfortable with," he said.
Sempra spokeswoman Laura Farmer said Aldrete and others who support his investigation are "clearly misinformed" about the Costa Azul receiving terminal.
"If they were informed about the benefits, they would see we have complied with stringent federal, state and local laws," she said.
"Baja California has such a huge need for natural gas," Farmer said, noting that demand for the fuel is expected to double by 2010.
Most would be used to power electricity plants, including one that is expected to soon be built for the local market near Sempra's LNG facility.
The ground-breaking was held Wednesday, Farmer said, with about 120 people, including employees, contractors, local supporters and Shell and BP representatives attending.
Media representatives were not informed, she said, because "we kept the event small so we could thank the people who are part of it."
Aldrete said he hopes to get the federal congress' support for the investigation because that body has the power to compel company officials to testify, while the state legislature can only call state and local officials.
Referring to allegations that Gov. Eugenio Elorduy Walther has favored Sempra projects over competing proposals, he said, "It's questionable why the federal and state governments granted these permits. . . . It's a big investment, but we're interested in the people of Baja California and not the relationship between the governor and Sempra Energy."
Elorduy denied any favoritism toward the San Diego company, noting that ChevronTexaco also has gained permits to build an LNG terminal off the Coronado Islands.
"It's completely false that I have any prejudice with any company. I deal with them institutionally, never personally," he said. "We value as a very important addition to our economy having natural gas brought into our state to be used by our companies and to be used in California."
Elorduy, a member of the ruling National Action Party, or PAN, said the investigation is an "invention" supported only by Aldrete, a member of the Institutional Revolution Party, or PRI.
Aldrete said members of his foreign affairs committee represent several political parties, including the PRI and the PAN.
He said the issue of the Sempra Energy investigation will be discussed when Baja California legislators meet with California legislators in San Diego on Friday.
Unless we were annexed by Mexico last night...how does the CA legislature have any pull with Baja California?
Sounds like either an enviro nut or an attempt at extortion. This guy doesn't think he got his share of the grease.
Thanks for the alert!
Wackos at it again!
If you're looking to blame someone for the loss of tax revenue form this location; blame the greens.
If you're looking to blame someone for granting Mexico some control over California utility rates; blame the greens.
Its being built in Mexico because its almost impossible to permit a new plant in the US. It will feed power plants to be built on the Mexican side of the line because its almost impossible to permit a new power plant of any size in California.
The jobs, the professional experience and training, the money spent in the local economy, will all go to northern Mexico because of the legal climate in the US.
If the legal challenges being filed in Mexican courts get any traction, then Mexico will also pay a price. Not that the lawyers and politicians involved would care about that.
I thin that the California inquiry is because Sempra didn't buy off enough democratic party politicians. Sad, but true.
Sempra pulled out of the Alaska natural gas project today.
Hmm, still no Sempra-Alaska thread. That's strange, it's a $30 billion project with some trillions of feet of natural gas for whichever community can use it, Chicago maybe. Alaska is telling itself that it doesn't matter, that the real action will come this fall, Sempra doesn't matter, never did.
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