Sharon Rubalcava and Shiraz Tangri of Alston & Bird successfully defended Plains All American Pipeline LLC in litigation challenging the approval of a new $500 million super-tanker terminal proposed at the Port of Los Angeles. The firm had previously assisted Plains in securing the Port’s approval of the terminal, known as the “Pier 400 Project.” The Port of Los Angeles’ Board of Harbor Commissioners approved the project at a public hearing in November 2008, and the approval was confirmed by the Los Angeles City Council in April 2009. The Project was then challenged by a community activist, who alleged that the approval violated the California Environmental Quality Act on more than a dozen grounds. Alston’s lawyers defeated each of the plaintiff’s many attempts to delay the litigation, getting to a final hearing in January 2010, at which the court rejected every argument by the plaintiff.
The Project proposes construction of a crude oil tanker off-loading marine terminal that will be capable of supporting 25 percent of the refining capacity of Southern California refineries. The marine terminal will be the only local marine terminal capable of off-loading a fully loaded VLCC, the largest crude tanker commonly in use, and will include up to four million barrels of crude oil storage and several miles of new pipelines. The facility will be the first new marine petroleum terminal built at either the Port of Los Angeles or Port of Long Beach in over 30 years, and will incorporate state-of-the-art control measures and systems to reduce vessel emissions both at berth and in transit. Plains is a publicly traded Master Limited Partnership in the oil pipeline transmission and storage business in the United States. It owns about 37 million barrels (5,900,000 m³) of terminalling and storage capacity, and 15,000 miles (25,000 km) of crude oil pipelines.