The Long Beach City Council postponed a decision Tuesday as to whether to continue talks with the developer of the proposed LNG terminal at the city-owned port. Some 170 protesters who had showed up were frustrated and unable to voice their opinions. The Council is now scheduled to make a decision next month. Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., this week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed out a bill that would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authority over LNG terminal siting decisions. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) vowed to soften this language when the bill reaches the Senate floor. The legislation is absurd. Do the feds really think they can mandate construction of a major facility (of any kind) in a city that refuses to talk to the developer? If Long Beach is determined to keep out the Mitsubishi LNG terminal, it certainly can find ways of doing so?FERC or no FERC. In this case it should be easy because the terminal needs a pipeline through the city to send out the regasified LNG. California politicians? hesitancy in approving controversial LNG terminals is understandable: no politician wants angry constituents. Moreover, if something goes wrong and the politicians are still in office, it is they who will feel the voters? wrath, not appointed bureaucrats at FERC. In our alleged republican (small ?r?) democracy there is also something abhorrent when a private company can go to Washington bureaucrats and have state or local planning rules nullified. The sensible approach would have been for states to adopt reasonable siting guidelines for LNG terminals that would be honored by FERC. Sooner or later there is going to have to be some accommodation among federal, state, and local politicians. But given the increasingly confrontational political situation, I?m not holding my breath.