After years of community resistance and regulatory delays, Dominion Energy exported their first shipment of fracked gas from the Cove Point Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Terminal in Maryland this March. This marked not only the first fracked gas export from the East Coast, but a surge of new fracking and an expanding network of new fossil fuel infrastructure in the mid-Atlantic.
I grew up just an hour and a half from Cove Point, MD and spent nearly every summer of my childhood exploring the bay it impacted. In college, I joined my school’s event programming team to bring big speakers, like Josh Fox, to speak about the impacts of fracking as well as experts to talk about climate change and the Chesapeake Bay’s precious ecosystem and the communities and economies it supports. But, Dominion Energy’s grip on Maryland’s politics was just too strong at that time to stop the project outright.
When I moved to southern Oregon in 2015, I had no idea that this community was also threatened by a nearly identical LNG export project.
The Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline is a proposed 36-inch wide, 229-mile long pipeline that would transport fracked gas from the US and Canadian Rockies to the Jordan Cove LNG export facility proposed in Coos Bay. If built, Jordan Cove would become the first LNG export terminal on the West Coast.
This pipeline and fracked gas export project would threaten nearly 500 waterways, disturb tribal territories and burial grounds, trample the rights of hundreds of landowners through the use of eminent domain, put existing jobs in fishing, tourism, and other sectors at risk, result in one of the largest clear cuts in Oregon history, and put over 16,000 Coos Bay residents in a hazardous burn zone.
The Jordan Cove LNG export terminal alone would become the largest source of climate pollution in the state of Oregon, while the full lifecycle emissions of the project would be equivalent to over 15 times the 2016 emissions of Oregon’s last remaining coal plant. Fracked gas shipped from Jordan Cove would also directly compete with wind and solar projects in Asia, slowing down the global transition to clean energy.
To slow the impacts of climate change, it is vital that the Pacific Northwest stands together as a “thin green line” blocking fossil fuel infrastructure that would open North American gas, oil, and coal to energy markets in Asia. The pipeline and export terminal proposed in southern Oregon is a significant piece of that line.
Climate change disproportionately impacts communities of color, indigenous communities, and low-income communities in Oregon and around the world. The continued dependence on fossil fuels means a hotter, drier, and more fire-prone Oregon and more frequent severe storms like Hurricane Maria, which Puerto Rico is still suffering the devastating impacts of months later. Already in my community in southern Oregon we are experiencing hazardous smoke conditions nearly every summer, impacts to our crops, and extended drought.
Jordan Cove was originally proposed in 2004 but denied twice in 2016 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) citing negative impacts to landowners and nearby communities. Months after FERC’s denial, the company reapplied when Donald Trump stepped into the White House.
However, even under the Trump administration, our communities can defeat this project again. Oregon Governor Kate Brown and her state agencies have authority under the Clean Water Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act to stop this project for good.
On May 22, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the US Army Corps opened a 60-day public comment period for a critical permit that, if denied, could stop the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline.
Oregon DEQ is responsible for deciding whether this massive fracked gas pipeline and export terminal would negatively impact the water quality in Oregon. Federal regulators cannot approve Jordan Cove LNG or the Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline if the Oregon DEQ decides that the project does not comply with Oregon’s water quality standards. Fracked gas pipelines in Oregon, Maryland, and New York were stopped because state agencies denied this permit, and because communities like ours continue to stand up.
While communities on the East Coast continue to fight expanding fracked gas infrastructure triggered by the new export terminal at Cove Point, we can continue to keep the West Coast free from LNG exports by stopping Jordan Cove for good. Over the next two months, it’s up to all of us to submit comments to DEQ that demonstrate that the impacts of this project would be far too devastating for the health and safety of our communities, clean water, and the local economy.
You can get all of the information you need to submit comments by following this link HERE.
Allie Rosenbluth is the “No Pipeline Organizer” at Rogue Climate, who’s mission to "empower southern Oregon communities most impacted by climate change, including low-income, rural, youth, and communities of color, to win climate justice by organizing for clean energy, sustainable jobs, and a healthy environment". Currently, Allie's focus is on working with frontline communities across the region to stop the proposed Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline & Jordan Cove LNG export terminal while building a strong grassroots movement for climate justice in rural Oregon.