SALEM, Ore. — The company behind a plan to build 229-mile natural gas pipeline across southern Oregon has withdrawn its application for a permit from the state, according to a statement from the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL).
Jordan Cove LNG sent a letter to DSL on Thursday, asking that its removal fill application be withdrawn. State officials said that they allow applicants to withdraw an application "at any time prior to the permit decision." DSL was set to deliver that decision on January 31.
Statement from Jordan Cove LNG on permit withdrawal:
On January 23, 2020, the Jordan Cove Project formally withdrew its application for its removal-fill permit originally filed with the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) on November 3, 2017.
Jordan Cove reached this decision after DSL Director Vickie Walker notified the Project on January 21, that Jordan Cove’s request for an extension on the agency’s permit decision date from January 31, 2020 to March 31, 2020 was denied.
Jordan Cove had notified Director Walker that we are not able to meet DSL's requirements by the January 31 decision date due to additional, recently required information by other state agencies. These recent requirements from other agencies are impossible to finalize prior to DSL’s January 31, 2020 decision date. DSL asserted they now require those filings to complete their removal-fill application, so an extension was necessary to comply with these new information requests, but was not granted.
Having received all local land use permits, the next major milestone in Jordan Cove’s regulatory process will be the final determination by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on February 13, 2020, at which time we will determine our path forward.
In a statement issued on Thursday, state lawmakers Sen. Jeff Golden and Rep. Pam Marsh indicated that Jordan Cove had recently filed for another extension on the DSL removal fill decision. Golden claimed that the company was stalling for time.
“This corporation has come to realize that their pipeline can’t come close to meeting Oregon’s environmental standards," Golden said. "The environmental protection standards of the Trump Administration on oil and gas projects are a very different matter, and those are the ones that Jordan Cove wants to see applied to their application. They knew that would be more likely if Oregon’s decisions could be delayed until after FERC makes its ruling.”
By withdrawing its application, Jordan Cove staves off a potential rejection from the state. It faced a similar setback in May of 2019 when the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) rejected Jordan Cove's application for water quality certification.
A withdrawal does not mean that Jordan Cove has entirely given up on the permit fill application. It can enter a new application at any time.
In November, federal regulators with the FERC issued a final environmental analysis for the Jordan Cove project. The report concluded that the project would result in “temporary, long-term and permanent impacts on the environment,” but it did not represent either a rejection or approval. At the time, FERC commissioners were expected to deliver a final decision in February.
"It appears that they [Jordan Cove] are counting instead on approval of their broader application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is expected to announce its decision in February," Golden and Marsh wrote in a letter to DSL director Vicki Walker, "after which they would navigate the courts in an attempt to have the federal decision override all denials from Oregon state agencies."
Removal-fill permits are a requirement for projects that remove or fill more than 50 cubic yards of material in waters of the state or in wetlands. According to DSL, the application withdrawn by Jordan Cove included removal-fill activity related to construction of the proposed LNG terminal, slip and access channel, and pipeline.
On Friday morning, a spokesman for Jordan Cove parent company Pembina confirmed that the project had tried to file for another extension prior to its withdrawal.
"Jordan Cove had notified Director Walker that we are not able to meet DSL's requirements by the January 31 decision date due to additional, recently required information by other state agencies," Jordan Cove said. "These recent requirements from other agencies are impossible to finalize prior to DSL’s January 31, 2020 decision date. DSL asserted they now require those filings to complete their removal-fill application, so an extension was necessary to comply with these new information requests, but was not granted."
This is a developing story, and NewsWatch 12 will have complete coverage on our broadcasts Friday evening.