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Mexican Officials Call For Inquiry Into Sempra Plant

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The call for a review comes weeks after Ensenada officials tried to close the plant.

— Federal legislators in Mexico want to know how Sempra’s liquefied natural gas plant in Baja was approved.

For years, planners in Ensenada had envisioned homes and a tourism hub on coastal land north of the city. Zoning laws supported that vision until Sempra applied for permits to build a liquefied natural gas plant there, according to Aaron Quintinar. He used to work for the environmental group WiLDCOAST.

“In an extremely expedited process, the zoning was transformed to allow heavy industrial use which allowed for the possibility of permitting an LNG facility in the area,” Quintinar said. “It’s real shadowy.”

Quintinar says Sempra and Mexican President Felipe Calderon have close ties.

“Felipe Calderon, [who] was energy secretary, [said] regarding LNG facilities said, `where they want them, when they want them,’” said Quintinar.

Sempra says even if a Mexican review disputes how the plant was approved, it would be non-binding. The company says it followed the law. However, a former Sempra executive says the company paid bribes to Mexican officials.

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