Tens of Thousands of Comments in Opposition to Jordan Cove LNG Reflect Wide Range of Concerns as Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Comment Period Closes
Tens of thousands of comments from impacted landowners, tribal members, crabbers and anglers, health professionals, youth, and other community members across the region poured into the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) before its public comment period closed today on their draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and fracked gas pipeline. This markeda significant growth in opposition since 2016 when FERC considered and twice denied a previous application of the proposal. Thus far, over 40,000 of the comments submitted to FERC that have been counted are in opposition to the project.
Notable commenters on the draft EIS included the State of Oregon, the Jackson County Commissioners, multiple Tribal governments, organizations representing commercial fishing interests, and a 302-page compendium of technical comments from the No LNG Exports Coalition.
Photo by Sherri Kies.
The State of Oregon’s comments highlighted major flaws in FERC’s analysis, stating, “Oregon state agencies have identified numerous errors and deficient analysis in the draft EIS….” The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) commented that FERC’s draft EIS is “inaccurate and inconsistent with DEQ’s recent review of the proposed project’s impacts on state water quality,” highlighting the contrast between FERC’s analysis and Oregon’s recent denial of the project’s Clean Water Act permit.
Oregon urged FERC to amend its analysis to include a thorough review of the full greenhouse gas impacts of the project. Oregon’s comments include a quote from FERC Commissioner Richard Glick, who wrote in 2019, “It is hard to fathom how hiding the ball on a project’s climate impacts is consistent with NEPA’s purpose.” A 2018 study showed that the annual lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of the project would equal at least 36.8 million metric tons, over 15 times the 2016 emissions from Oregon’s only remaining coal plant in Boardman.
Many Tribal governments submitted their concerns to FERC as well. In their comments, The Klamath Tribes noted, "Overall, the [Klamath] Tribes oppose this Project, and FERC must deny approval for this Project as it is not in the public interest and will have severe, unmitigated impacts on the Tribes, on the fish, wildlife and water that we rely on for exercise of our Treaty rights and on our culture resources."
Pacific Fishery Management Council, one of eight Regional Fishery Management Councils established by the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, wrote, “We are concerned that the commercial and recreational fishing and commercial port delivery activities offshore of Coos Bay-- one of the busiest fishing ports on the West Coast-- may be impeded or halted in the security zone around LNG carrier vessels. This could lead to substantial impacts to Council-managed fisheries.” The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife agreed, stating that the draft EIS “grossly underestimates the impact” on local fisheries, including crabbing.
Impacted landowner in Camas Valley, Barbara Brown, asked FERC in her comment, “Why are private landowners who will not benefit from this pipeline expected to take environmental, safety and economic risks and spend money to protect their rights and property just so a Canadian company can profit?”
The Jackson County Commissioners raised concern that much of the work for Jordan Cove LNG would happen in dry months increasing the risk of a construction-sparked wildfire, “wildfire smoke has hampered recreation and tourism activity in our county for the past two years. Economically speaking, the citizens of Jackson County cannot risk their financial well-being for this project that may result in a conflagration of fires during peak wildfire season.”
Kristi Pennington, a Former Coos County Planning Commissioner, along with many other Coos County residents, submitted comments about the public safety risks presented by the terminal, which is proposed in the Cascadia subduction earthquake and tsunami-inundation zone, "The thousands of people who live, work, and recreate in the red zone will suffer immediate death or severe burns when an explosion occurs. I live in the green zone, in which, according to Pembina, people will experience “only” burns. This devaluation of human life is ghastly and unacceptable."
“For over a decade Southern Oregonians have sent a clear message to our federal and state agencies that this project is not in the public interest. For that reason FERC denied this project twice in 2016, and should do so again,” said Allie Rosenbluth, Campaigns Director of Rogue Climate. “In addition to a federal permit denial, our communities are looking to Governor Kate Brown and Oregon's agencies to protect our land, air, water, and climate for future generations by opposing and denying this project once and for all."
“Communities throughout the Pacific Northwest are standing up to the fracked gas industry. The State of Oregon’s comments show that the concerns of landowners, foresters, fishers, clam diggers, and climate activists are resonating,” said Dan Serres, Co-Director of the Power Past Fracked Gas campaign.
FERC twice denied a previous version of the Jordan Cove LNG proposal in 2016, declaring that it was not in the public interest. In May 2019, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality denied an essential water quality permit for the project, and the Oregon Department of State Lands has yet to approve or deny Jordan Cove LNG a “removal-fill” permit. The State Lands comment period drew over 3,000 in-person comments and 50,000 written comments in opposition to the project earlier this year. A decision is expected from the Department of State Lands by the end of September. FERC must review and respond to comments received, and the agency is expected to issue a Final Environmental Impact Statement in late 2019 or early 2020.