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Greenwashing an LNG Terminal

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Tue, Apr 3, 2007 at 5:22 pm

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Someone is playing a dirty trick (see full text below) regarding the giant liquefied natural gas terminal proposed offshore of Malibu and Oxnard on the California coast. This biased poll, as the Callifornia Coastal Protection Network notes below, could be used to intimidate the panel making the environmental ruling April 9 on the terminal. Got info? Post a comment here or e-mail us:

For Immediate Release                Contact: Rose Kapolczynski, (323) 254-5700
April 3, 2007                                                 Susan Jordan, (805) 637-3037
Misleading Questions Designed to Pressure
State Lands Commissioners Days Before Vote
An unidentified polling company has been calling Southern California residents asking questions about BHP Billiton’s LNG terminal proposal. BHP Billiton has proposed building the world’s first floating industrial LNG terminal complex for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) supertankers off the Southern California coast.
Unlike polling that seeks to provide an accurate assessment of public opinion, these questions were designed to mislead the public about the true nature of the project. In the poll, respondents were read a series of statements and asked if each one made them more or less likely to support the project.  Included were a series of statements that downplayed the project’s impacts, such as:
The terminal would be located 14 miles off the coast, which would appear about as small as a grain of rice at the end of your arm.
Transporting LNG isn’t dangerous, unlike transporting nuclear power.
In the history of LNG plants around the world, there’s never been a bad accident.
There are no risks of danger from an explosion because the project would be located so far offshore.
Of the many questions asked, the respondent could remember only one that identified any potential negative impact from the project and that was the impact on marine life.
“Clearly, the vast majority of these loaded questions were designed to generate a misleading assessment of public support for the BHP proposal,” said Susan Jordan, Director of the California Coastal Protection Network. “But what is more disturbing is that the poll appears designed to elicit a response that could be used to try to intimidate the State Lands Commissioners just days before they are to cast a crucial April 9th vote on whether or not the project should go forward.” 
The poll included the following question:  “Would you be more or less likely to support an elected official who did not support certification of the EIR for the LNG terminal, and then California experienced energy shortages that resulted in blackouts in the area?”  This question was clearly targeted to influence Lt. Governor John Garamendi and State Controller John Chiang. 
Of the three State Lands Commissioners, two are elected: Lt. Governor Garamendi and Controller John Chiang. The third member of the Commission, Michael Genest, is appointed by the Governor.  Further, the State Lands Commission is the only state entity to vote on the certification of the FEIR.
“To mislead a respondent by trying to imply that a Commissioner’s refusal to certify the FEIR could lead to rolling blackouts is a blatant misrepresentation. The obvious goal here is to walk into a Commissioner’s office and imply that if they refuse to certify the FEIR, that they will lose support of the voters,” said Jordan.
“From what we’ve seen, this survey made absolutely no attempt to provide a fair or accurate reading of public opinion regarding the Cabrillo Port project,” said Scott Tallal, President of INSITE Research.  “A legitimate poll would have presented both sides of the issue, without trying to bias the results.  There’s an old saying in the research business:  ‘garbage in, garbage out.’  Any data from this type of survey would be highly suspect.”
It’s easy to understand why BHP Billiton would not want to ask the many questions that have been raised about the project because they are afraid to hear the answers.  If they are truly interested in assessing public opinion about a wide range of concerns about the proposal, we suggest that they ask the public whether they would support the Cabrillo Port LNG project if they knew that:
The project is seeking an illegal exemption from the Clean Air Act that protects the air you breathe.
The proposed plant would emit over 200 tons of smog-producing pollutants every year.
The proposed project would generate 25 million tons of new greenhouse gas emissions every year, a setback for California’s leadership in the fight to stop global warming.
The proposed plant would be a massive, three football fields long, 14-story high floating industrial factory terminal that would be moored off the California coast for at least the next 40 to 50 years.
Congress has determined that LNG Terminals and tankers are terrorist targets and that the United States Coast Guard does not have the resources to adequately protect them.
Serious LNG accidents have occurred in the past.  In 2005, an LNG pipeline leaked and caught fire.  The resulting flash fire consumed 16 square miles and took two days to put out.  
BHP Billiton has a troubling safety record.  BHP promised the residents of the Gulf Coast that their natural gas terminals were “hurricane proof,” yet Hurricane Rita ripped a BHP terminal from its moorings, leaving it to drift 100 miles before coming to rest upside down.
“Clearly, if the poll told respondents both sides of the story, the level of support for approval of the BHP Project would be dramatically different,” concluded Jordan.


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