Published: Tuesday, July 03, 2012, 4:06 PM Updated: Tuesday, July 03, 2012, 4:17 PM
By Ted Sickinger, The Oregonian
A settlement between environmental groups and federal agencies covering the development of energy corridors in West could mean more trouble for Northwest Natural Gas Co.'s on-again-off-again quest to build a pipeline across the Cascades through Mt. Hood National Forest.
The settlement would revise a Bush-era plan under the 2005 Energy Policy Act to establish energy corridors across the West with streamlined regulatory approvals of transmission lines and pipelines.
Environmentalists sued the Department of Interior in U.S. District Court to block the plan in 2009. They argued the original designations didn't facilitate renewable energy development, failed to look at environmental consequences and provided insufficient protections for public lands within the designated corridors.
The settlement, if approved by the court, would force the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service and the Department of Energy to adopt a more rigorous process for approving corridors, consider access for renewables, look at options to avoid or reduce environmental impacts and provide more opportunities for public input.
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