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Jordan Cove project falls short of final approval from federal regulators

Jordan Cove's failure to secure several permits from the state of Oregon means that the project's fate remains uncertain.

Posted: Feb 20, 2020 10:33 AM
Updated: Feb 20, 2020 4:21 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. — At a meeting of federal regulators in the nation's capitol on Thursday, the divisive Jordan Cove LNG project did not receive the final green-light from the U.S. government for a natural gas terminal and pipeline that would stretch across much of southern Oregon.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) voted 2-1 against approving the project, citing the need to review several permits that the state of Oregon had denied for the project — one of which came through just the day before the FERC hearing.

In a letter issued on February 19, the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) said that it "objects" to Jordan Cove's certification for activities along the state coastline.

"Coastal effects analyses show that the project will negatively impact Oregon’s coastal scenic and aesthetic resources, a variety of endangered and threatened species, critical habitat and ecosystem services, fisheries resources, commercial and recreational fishing and boating, and commercial shipping and transportation, among other sectors critical to the state," DLCD said.

RELATED: Final environmental analysis of Jordan Cove project issued

According to the state agency's letter, neither FERC or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could approve of the project following its objection — unless U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross overrides the objection on appeal.

Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) denied Jordan Cove's application for a water quality certification in May, though it gave the project a window to re-apply. More recently, Jordan Cove was forced to withdraw its permit application with the Department of State Lands (DSL) after officials refused to give the project another extension.

According to a statement from the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC), one commissioner who voted against the project cited the permit denials, while another said that the project "was not in the public interest."

RELATED: Police arrest activists protesting Jordan Cove pipeline at Governor's office

“Commissioner Glick made clear he voted against approving the Jordan Cove LNG project because it would make it impossible for Oregon to meet its climate goals,” said Susan Jane Brown, public lands and wildlife director and staff attorney at WELC. “In addition, since the state of Oregon denied the Jordan Cove LNG project a critical permit yesterday, FERC shouldn’t even be discussing the matter. If it comes to it, WELC and our allies are prepared to defeat the project in or out of the courtroom again.”

FERC's decision on Thursday puts the project back on uncertain footing. Though significant, it does not necessarily represent a decisive shift in an approval process that has plodded along since Pembina revived the project in 2017.

"We watched with interest the Commission’s actions at today’s meeting," said a spokesman for Jordan Cove in a brief statement on Thursday. "We also just received Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development's (DLCD) letter late last night and like the FERC, we are taking our time to review it now. We respect the Commissioner’s thoughtful consideration and look forward to their final decision at their next opportunity."

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