In a surprising move, the company that wants to build a $1 billion liquefied natural gas terminal in Calais today asked state officials to postone a long-anticipated hearing on the project, set for next week in Washington County.

In a letter sent to the Maine Board of Environmental Protection, Calais LNG said it’s reluctantly asking that the hearing on its state environmental permit be put off until after Sept. 1. The company said it’s lacking “certain relevant information” prior to the hearing and needs more time to get material to the board and the Department of Environmental Protection.

It asked the board to reply by 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

The board has been preparing for a major, week-long hearing on the company’s application. Roughly 100 witnesses are scheduled to testify, and two public hearings – in Calais and Eastport – have been set.

11:44 a.m.

Calais approves permits for proposed LNG terminal

Calais LNG has received local permits to build a liquefied natural gas terminal in the city, following a vote Monday night by the Calais Planning Board. The vote was unanimous.

The vote comes a week before the Maine Board of Environmental Protection will hold hearings in Calais and Eastport on the proposed project, which would be built on the St. Croix River across from New Brunswick, Canada.

Calais LNG wants to build a terminal that would receive LNG from ships, store it in tanks, and pipe it to a pipeline running through Washington County. City officials and other supporters hope the project will help bring economic development and a new energy source to the area. Critics are concerned about the potential impact on the environment, fishing and residents living along the tanker route.

Regardless of local and state action, the project also needs approval from federal energy regulators.