State Agencies Criticize Jordan Cove’s Environmental Safety Claims

  The public comment period on the Jordan Cove LNG Pipeline ended on Friday, and a collection of Oregon state agencies submitted a blistering critique of the company’s plans to mitigate environmental damage.  

Jordan Cove, owned by Canada-based Pembina Pipeline Corp., are trying for the third time in the past decade to construct a 230 mile liquefied natural gas pipeline across southern Oregon, and a complementary terminal facility near Coos Bay, to ship natural gas to eastern Asian markets.   

As part of a 250 page review submitted by the state of Oregon, the Departments of Environmental Quality, Fish & Wildlife, and Geology & Mineral Industries all questioned or rebutted claims made by Jordan Cove regarding the pipeline’s potential environmental impact.   

Environmental Quality said the company’s claim that construction would not significantly affect water quality was “inaccurate and inconsistent” with the DEQ’s own study. Fish & Wildlife said Jordan Cove “grossly underestimates” the impact it would have on fisheries, up to and including possible violations of the Endangered Species Act. Geology & Mineral Industries warned about the possibility of an earthquake or tsunami compromising the pipeline’s integrity, and noted that the agency raised the same concerns before Jordan Cove’s rejected proposal in 2016.  

The state at large suggested including consideration of “life-cycle” emissions, those created after the gas is burned in Asia, instead of limiting the scope to the impact of the pipeline and terminal alone.  

The public comment period was overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), who is in charge of a major aspect of the pipeline’s approval process. FERC is required by law to seek public input on the 1,000 page environmental impact analysis it conducted on the pipeline proposal. Hundreds of people reportedly attended individual hearings in the counties through which the pipeline would run.   

On Thursday, July 11, the Board of Commissioners in Jackson County, one of six counties through which the pipeline would run, sent a letter expressing their unanimous disapproval of the project, which they say would only bring short-term economic benefits to the Rogue Valley.  

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) unanimously rejected Jordan Cove’s previous proposal in 2016. FERC requires that these projects show that construction would fulfill an existing business of trade need, meaning applicants need to provide proof of prospective business agreements or partners.  

 One of the reasons the agency rejected Jordan Cove in 2016 was because the company had failed to demonstrate any sort of “need,” likely meaning they were unwilling to divulge their partners or there were none at all.  

By Ian MacRonald