SALEM, Ore. — A sudden decision by state regulators to reject an environmental certification for the Jordan Cove LNG pipeline may represent a major setback for the pipeline's supporters.
On Monday, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) revealed that it had denied Jordan Cove's application for a Section 401 Water Quality Certification "without prejudice."
"This means that the applicant may reapply for the certification, and submit additional information that could result in a different decision," DEQ said in a statement.
The agency wrote that it had denied the application because Jordan Cove had provided "insufficient information to demonstrate compliance with water quality standards" and that some standards were likely to be violated if the project were implemented.
To move forward, Jordan Cove will have to resubmit its application "along with information addressing DEQ's concerns" — but even if new application is approved, it will extend the time-line by an indeterminate amount.
DEQ indicated that the timing of Monday's decision was perhaps unexpected, saying that it had "accelerated the schedule" because a proposed extended deadline could rest on shaky footing. Although the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had originally mandated that the DEQ offer a decision by May 7, Corps of Engineers had later extended that deadline to Sept 24.
"Recent federal court and agency decisions have raised significant questions about whether this extension was valid. As a result, DEQ is making a decision by the date initially provided by the Corps," the agency said.
Pembina, the company that owns the Jordan Cove project, issued a brief response to the decision on Monday:
"Today we were advised by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, of its decision to deny our Section 401 permit without prejudice, based on procedural concerns DEQ has in relation to recent court decisions. Pembina’s Management team is working to better understand this decision and its impacts and will communicate updates when appropriate."
Activist group Rogue Climate, which has fervently opposed the pipeline, called the decision a "potentially fatal blow."
“Oregon’s decision shows that when we come together and speak out, we can win,” said Hannah Sohl, Director of Rogue Climate.“For years, a record number of Oregonians have urged Gov. Brown and Oregon agencies to put the public interest over the special interests of Canadian fossil fuel corporation Pembina. It is great to see Oregon DEQ do just that. Oregon should be focused on creating good-paying jobs in renewable energy, not on new fossil fuel projects that hurt us all.”