MEDFORD, Ore. — A controversial plan to build a natural gas pipeline across Southern Oregon received a restrained nod from federal regulators on Friday, paving the way for the pipeline construction plan to move forward in the approval process.
In a draft environmental impact statement on the Jordan Cove Energy Project, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ultimately said that the project could work to lessen its environmental impacts — provided that the project's advocates follow the Commission's recommendations.
Tens of thousands of people have voiced their opposition to #JordanCove 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. #noLNG https://t.co/AXo9uTcDaE— Rogue Climate (@RogueClimate) March 29, 2019
Credit: Jordan Cove LNG
"Based on our review . . . we conclude that constructing and operating the Project would result in temporary, long-term, and permanent impacts on the environment and a number of significant environmental impacts," the FERC said in the conclusion to its report.
"However, a majority of impacts would be less than significant due to the implementation of proposed and recommended impact avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures," the Commission continued. "As part of our review we developed measures that would appropriately and reasonably further avoid, minimize, or mitigate environmental impacts resulting from construction and operation of the proposed Project.
"Therefore, we recommend that these measures be attached as conditions to any authorizations issued by the Commission."
Opponents of the project were quick to fire back.
“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.”
Rogue Climate, an activist group that has long opposed the LNG project, argued that the project had been denied before by the FERC, and should be turned away again. The organization alleges that a pipeline would contribute to climate change, pollute waterways, and disenfranchise landowners along a proposed path that stretches across Coos, Douglas, Jackson, and Klamath counties.
“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, a landowner in Douglas County who says he would be impacted by the project. “We are still here. FERC needs to reject permits again and end this nightmare.”
Pembina, owners of the Jordan Cove project, lauded the review as another step toward a huge investment in the Southern Oregon economy, and indicative of its commitment to the local environment.
"Publication of the DEIS and start of the public comment is further evidence of the continuing momentum behind Pembina’s proposal for a $10 billion investment in Jordan Cove and Southern Oregon," the company said in a statement.
"Pembina is carefully reviewing the extensive document received today," it continued. "We can, though, reconfirm three important things: Pembina’s commitment to protecting the environment and meeting all state and federal requirements, working with landowners and communities on issues important to them, and that we are confident that our application will successfully meet FERC’s strict approval criteria when they make a final decision in January 2020."
With the draft environmental review completed, the project now enters a public comment period until July 5. Those who wish to comment can either submit statements online, send a paper copy to the FERC offices in Washington, D.C. (reference Project docket numbers CP17-494-000 and CP17-495-000) , or attend public comment sessions that have yet to be announced.
The video below from Jordan Cove LNG explains what liquefied natural gas is: