Caught in a legal cross-fire between the state and federal regulators, Sound Energy Solutions (SES) declined to represent itself at an August 23 California Public Utilities Commission hearing on an investigation into the company?s plan to build a liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Beach. ?To go forward with this proceeding at this time puts SES in a dilemma,? said Michael Day, an attorney with Goodin MacBride representing Sound Energy. To participate in the state proceeding, he explained, the company would have to disobey the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission order holding that the CPUC has no authority over the project. ?The FERC order is effective even though it is on appeal,? said Day. The CPUC filed a lawsuit August 4 challenging FERC?s claim of exclusive legal jurisdiction over licensing the proposed terminal. The suit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. In the interim, the CPUC is proceeding with its own hearings. At a preconference hearing in the proceeding in Long Beach this week, Day asked CPUC administrative law judge Kim Malcolm to delay hearings that may begin in October until the litigation is resolved. ?Nobody will be prejudiced by waiting,? said Day. He added that the company would waive its rights of objection to CPUC jurisdiction if it participated in the state proceeding. FERC cannot comment on the company?s contentions because of pending litigation, said spokesperson Tamara Young-Allen. The planned hearings will not ?serve as an exercise in futility? no matter what the outcome of the court case, said CPUC commissioner Geoffrey Brown. Should it lose the case, the CPUC still will be able to use the information developed in the hearings to advocate its position on the proposed terminal before FERC, he added. Malcolm pledged she would go forward with the hearings as soon as possible. There were an unusual number of intervenors at this week?s hearing?including labor unions supporting the project and community groups opposed to building the terminal in Long Beach. ?We look at the facility as work for our members,? said Terry Martin, business representative for the Steam & Pipefitters Union Local 250. Don May, executive director of California Earth Corps, said environmental groups will present testimony on such issues as seismic safety and the potential for fires in the event of a catastrophic release of LNG. Other environmental groups asked the commission to consider alternatives to the project, including increased development of renewable energy resources in the area. SoCal Gas and San Diego Gas & Electric also plan to participate in the proceeding. They have an unregulated sister company, Sempra LNG, that develops new terminals.