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California Commission Blocks BHP Gas Terminal

Commission says BHP's technology would pollute the Los Angeles basin.

Californian authorities late April 9 blocked a bid by Australian mining giant BHP Billiton to build a permanent natural gas terminal off its coastline. The California State Lands Commission voted 2-1 against approving an environmental report on the project, which would see BHP base the floating terminal 14 miles offshore from Malibu, west of Los Angeles.

Last week the California's Coastal Commission said that BHP's proposed technology would deposit hundreds of tons of soot and smog annually near the Los Angeles basin, in violation of local regulations.

A local county ruled last year that the bid did not meet local and federal clean air laws.

BHP had sought to moor the terminal -- reported to be bigger than an aircraft carrier -- in order to unload liquefied natural gas and process it before pumping it ashore. The terminal and its fleet of carriers would be visible from the coastline on clear days, according to environmental studies. Supporters of the terminal said it would help to provide California with clean-burning natural gas and said it would meet all local and federal environmental laws. However environmental groups voiced opposition to the plan, questioning the impact of the terminal on the coastline. Malibu's city council and almost every elected official representing the area also expressed opposition to the project on environmental and energy-policy grounds.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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