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Gas plant loses key lawmaker's support

March 11, 2007|Jennifer Oldham | Times Staff Writer

The chairman of an Assembly committee that heavily influences California's energy policy announced Saturday that he now opposes construction of an $800-million natural gas processing plant in the ocean about 20 miles off Malibu.

Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys) said he would fight a terminal proposed by BHP Billiton, one of the largest energy companies in the world, because "it's an environmental problem for the coast."

Levine said he once supported initial terminal concepts offered by BHP because the company assured him the project would be environmentally friendly.

"California doesn't need this," he said, adding that a huge supply of LNG "just enables our fossil fuel addiction."

The project would pose safety issues and substantial environmental concerns for the California coast, significantly affecting air quality, ocean views and marine life, according to a 3,000-page final environmental impact report released Friday by the U.S. Coast Guard, California State Lands Commission and U.S. Maritime Administration.

Levine denounced the project at a news conference at the Malibu Pier, where he was joined by Assembly members Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara) and Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), as well as actor Pierce Brosnan and his wife, Keely Brosnan, who oppose the plan.

The proposal will be discussed in a series of hearings starting April 4, when the Coast Guard and the Maritime Administration will meet at the Performing Arts Center in Oxnard. On April 9, the State Lands Commission will discuss the plan, as will the California Coastal Commission at its April 10-13 meeting in Santa Barbara.

Information on two of the hearings can be found at www.cabrilloport.ene.com/meetings.htm

jennifer.oldham@latimes.com

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