City officials’ reluctance may halt LNG terminal in Long Beach, Calif.

The debate over a $700 million liquefied-natural-gas terminal in Long Beach, Calif., may be coming to an end. City officials have long been squeamish about the proposed facility due to its proximity to the urban center. “It’s a risk for accident and terrorist attack, and it’s not a good business deal for the city,” says Mayor Bob Foster. “Putting an LNG terminal in the port is like putting a giant kick-me sign on the back of our city.” Harbor officials, overworked and tired of waiting for City Hall to make up its mind, may halt an environmental impact report, which would effectively shut down the process. But Sound Energy Solutions — the Mitsubishi-ConocoPhillips venture behind the proposal — is still trying to woo the public. At a recent forum in a church basement, SES safety manager Peter Micciche went so far as to toss a lit cigarette into a small container of the fuel, saying, “LNG has never and cannot explode.” Even if it’s targeted by smoking terrorists? We feel unconvinced.