Saying California must protect its coastline, state treasurer and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Angelides on Friday announced his opposition to an $800-million floating liquefied natural gas terminal that would be moored offshore between Oxnard and Malibu.
Speaking to a crowd of local officials and environmentalists, Angelides used the Malibu coast as a backdrop to burnish his green credentials just five weeks before the Nov. 7 election.
“This coastline is one of our most precious assets, an asset we have an obligation to leave pristine for generations to come,” Angelides told a cheering audience. “We cannot despoil our coast with these LNG facilities.”
Angelides criticized Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his support of marine LNG terminals, including one proposed by Australian energy giant BHP Billiton Inc. The company’s plan to place a floating gas-processing plant 14 miles off the Southern California coast has drawn the wrath of many local elected officials and activists.
Angelides said the plan is incompatible with the state’s tradition of protecting the marine environment and beaches from energy development.
Four other LNG terminals are proposed, from northern Baja California to offshore Ventura County. They would import chilled liquid natural gas shipped from overseas and vaporize it at processing plants for use in California factories, homes and power plants.
Marine LNG terminals have strong backing from Congress, the Bush administration, business leaders and California agencies. Increasingly, power plants and businesses are switching to natural gas to reduce air pollution.
California gets nearly half of its energy from natural gas, but supplies have been subject to price swings and competition from other states. The state Energy Commission concluded that California needs one or maybe two LNG terminals.
“It’s a hypocritical statement for him to make, considering his record,” said Matt David, spokesman for the Schwarzenegger campaign.
On Tuesday, the governor signed legislation requiring electricity imported into the state to be as clean as power produced in California. He also signed bills promoting hybrid vehicles and use of low-carbon electricity sources for public utilities.
“This plant would be like a Hindenburg on steroids,” Angelides said.
Pat Cassidy, spokesman for BHP Billiton, said that the project was undergoing a rigorous review and that it would not harm the environment.