Twice-Denied Fracked Gas Project Faces Tremendous Opposition Across the Pacific Northwest
Today, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the twice-denied Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Export Terminal and Pacific Connector Pipeline proposed for southern Oregon, opening a public comment period that will close July 5th. Public hearings will be held in southern Oregon in June.
In 2016, FERC denied this project, citing adverse impacts to landowners and a lack of public need for the project. This is one of the few fracked gas pipelines ever denied by FERC. Since then, the Canadian fossil fuel corporation behind the proposed project, now Pembina, has reapplied under the Trump administration. The proposed 229-mile Pacific Connector Pipeline and the associated Jordan Cove LNG export terminal would impact more than 485 waterways in southern Oregon including the Rogue, Umpqua, Coos, and Klamath Rivers, and would quickly become the single largest climate polluter in the state.
“FERC already denied this project because of the harm it would cause to me and other landowners impacted by eminent domain for this private corporation,” said Russ Lyon, an impacted landowner in Douglas County. “We are still here. FERC needs to reject permits again and end this nightmare.”
“This project threatens our watersheds, forests, culture, ancestral homelands, burial sites and future. We have been here since time immemorial and will not let our home be violated for a fossil fuel corporation’s short term profit,” said 16-year old Ashia Wilson of the Klamath Tribe’s Youth Council. “FERC and Governor Brown need to listen to my generation and my Tribe’s call to stop the project now.”
For over 14 years communities impacted by this project have been fighting to protect their land, clean drinking water, and climate. Now, opposition to the project is growing tremendously across the Pacific Northwest and the United States. Today’s DEIS release comes just one day after hundreds of Oregonians came to the Oregon State Capitol to meet with lawmakers to urge them to speak out against the project.This February, the Oregon Department of State Lands received over 50,000 comments in opposition to the project. More than 3,000 people spoke out against the project in public hearings, including impacted landowners, anglers, small business owners, tribal members, health professionals, and many more Oregonians concerned about the impacts the fossil fuel project would have on nearly 500 waterways. The Klamath Tribes, Yurok Tribe, and Karuk Tribe all officially oppose the project.
“Southern Oregonians know that, despite Pembina’s advertising blitz and fancy new offices, nothing’s changed, and that the Jordan Cove LNG project still threatens our water, climate, economy, and safety,” said Hannah Sohl, executive director of Southern Oregon based community organization Rogue Climate. “That’s why tens of thousands of people have voiced their opposition to the fracked gas project over the last year, and will continue to do so throughout this FERC process. What our communities need is a faster transition to clean energy, not steps that take us backwards.”
Whether or not FERC grants Pembina their certificate of need, the State of Oregon has the authority to deny this project through the state permitting process. In 2011, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality denied a Clean Water Act permit for the Bradwood Landing LNG terminal on the Columbia River because of impacts to waterways, even after FERC approved the project.
“Governor Brown has the responsibility to protect our communities and clean water,” said Stacey Detwiler of Rogue Riverkeeper. “The state of Oregon should use its authority to deny critical state permits and protect our waterways from harm caused by federally-licensed projects.”
Prepared by federal agencies, the DEIS outlines some of the potential impacts the Jordan Cove LNG project would have on thousands of acres of forests, the public drinking water of over 150,000 Oregonians, the climate, and more. After the 90-day public comment period, FERC proposes to review comments, release a Final Environmental Impact Statement in November, then issue a final decision in January 2020 on the certificate of need for the project.
“The Coos Bay estuary is a highly productive ecosystem. It provides jobs through fishing, tourism, and outdoor recreation," said Mike Graybill, former Manager of the South Slough Estuarine Research Reserve in Coos Bay. "The dredging proposed for the LNG tankers would do permanent damage to the bay. Federal and state agencies should protect existing jobs and deny permits for Pembina’s export terminal and pipeline.”
"FERC was right to reject this dangerous fracked gas export terminal last time, when FERC explained that there was no evidence showing that anybody actually wanted to buy gas from this boondoggle," said Rhett Lawrence, Conservation Director of the Sierra Club's Oregon Chapter. "Nothing has changed since then. Today's DEIS provides no additional evidence of need or market support for this project. Oregon communities shouldn't be left to pay the price of our clean air and water just so that fossil fuel executives can build a pipeline that they hope somebody will someday want to use."