RPT-New U.S. West Coast energy projects face tough opposition
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By Edward McAllister
NEW YORK, March 25 (Reuters) - The West Coast of the United States, long a battle ground for industrial and environmental interests, is set for another round of disputes as the region attracts key energy projects.
Huge new oil and gas fields have changed the way energy is transported across the United States, opening up the prospect of gas exports to Asia and increasing shipments of oil by rail. As this happens, the West Coast, from California to Washington, has become a major focus for energy developers.
Veresen Inc's Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Coos Bay, Oregon, received approval from the Department of Energy on Monday to export gas to needy importers in Asia. Another project further north, known as Oregon LNG, is expected to receive similar approval within two months.
The two developments, both of which still need construction permits, would be the first of their kind on the West Coast outside of Alaska and represent a potentially new era for the Unied States, where a drilling boom has pushed output to record highs. The outcome of these projects could also set the standard for other energy developments in the region.
But opposition remains.
"Jordan Cove still needs a slew of federal and state permits to begin construction," said Zack Malitz of San Francisco-based environmental group Credo, which is opposed to exports because it could lead to more drilling. "We still have time to sound the alarm."