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Jordan Cove pipeline project will not go forward, company says

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COOS BAY, Ore. — The company behind the Jordan Cove LNG project will drop its bid to build the southern Oregon natural gas pipeline and export facility, according to a document filed with federal regulators this week.

Pembina, a Canadian oil and gas pipeline company, asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to vacate its previous authorizations, saying in the filing that it had "decided not to move forward with the Project."

"Despite diligent and persistent efforts, Applicants have not been able to obtain the necessary state-issued permits and authorizations from various Oregon state agencies," Pembina said.

Under Pembina, the Jordan Cove project proposed burying 229 miles of 26-inch diameter pipe, stretching from a connection point with two other pipelines near Malin in Klamath County to an LNG terminal facility that the company hoped to build on 240 acres of property in the Port of Coos Bay. From there, LNG ships would transport their cargo out to the Pacific and on to markets in Asia.

The pipeline route would have stretched across Coos, Douglas, Jackson, Douglas, and Klamath counties — crossing several major waterways, 87 miles of private land, 60 miles of timber land, and about 82 miles of public lands.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality denied a water quality certification for the project in 2019. In early 2020, Jordan Cove withdrew its application for a state removal fill permit after it was denied an extension on the deadline. And in July, the state Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) reversed an earlier approval for dredging around the proposed terminal facility in Coos Bay.

In March of 2020, the FERC gave its approval to the Jordan Cove project. But Pembina still had not received the state permits needed to move ahead with construction, and FERC in January of this year rebuffed a request by Pembina to bypass the DEQ clean water certification.

Opponents of the project celebrated Pembina's withdrawal as a victory on Wednesday, hailing the project as "dead."

“This is amazing news. We knew the project wasn’t viable because of all the risks that it brought to our communities,” said Chairman Don Gentry of the Klamath Tribes. “I am thankful for the cooperative effort to bring about this victory. This is a significant relief for our members who have been so concerned about the impacts for our members and the region as a whole.”

“The defeat of this project shows what communities can accomplish when we insist that public officials put the public interest ahead of the special interests of big corporations,” said Hannah Sohl of Rogue Climate, an organizing group of residents of the South Coast and other Southern Oregonian counties. “Now, we need those same public officials to act with urgency to speed our transition to clean energy jobs and greater energy efficiency.”

Though Pembina's withdrawal certainly marks a major milestone in the ongoing conflict, it is not the first iteration of a proposed gas pipeline through southern Oregon and it may not be the last. The Jordan Cove project originated with Fort Chicago Energy in 2006, which designed the Coos Bay facility as a terminal for importing natural gas from foreign sources.

Fort Chicago became Canada-based Veresen Inc. in 2010 — reapplying for the Jordan Cove project, this time as an export facility. Federal regulators ultimately rejected Veresen's proposal in 2016, citing dubious market demand.

Pembina took control of the project in 2017 after acquiring Veresen. The same year, the company proposed the Jordan Cove LNG project in its current form.