Earlier this month, the Federal Energy Regulation Commission voted 2-to-1 to approve the Jordan Cove natural gas terminal and a 230-mile feeder pipeline, signaling a legal battle ahead. The FERC chair, Neil Chatterjee, stated the project will still be required to obtain all relevant state permits. The Jordan Cove project has been denied permits 3 times by major Oregon environmental agencies out of concerns the project would have impacts on state lands and local water quality.
In 2019, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality denied Pembina, the company behind the pipeline project, a water quality certificate. In its rejection, the DEQ stated the project had provided ““insufficient information to demonstrate compliance with water quality standards, and because the available information shows that some standards are more likely than not to be violated.” Pembina was also denied an application extension for a dredging permit from the Department of State Lands in January. In February, the Department of Land Conservation and Development issued a ruling stating the project was inconsistent with land use laws and could not be issued building permits by the FERC or the Army Corps of Engineers, unless appealed to the Secretary of Commerce. Pembina announced Thursday it would seek that appeal.
The state water quality and dredging permits may still be withheld even if the project is appealed to the Secretary of Commerce. Pembina’s projects have faced significant opposition in Oregon. Gov. Kate Brown and Sen. Ron Wyden issued statements condemning FERC’s approval. Public hearings for the pipeline’s land use permit drew protests from environmental groups and tens of thousands of public comments. A previous project, a propane terminal in Portland, led to the city placing a ban on all future fossil fuels projects. The global fall of fossil fuel prices have severely impacted Pembina. If the project is able to obtain the necessary permits and began construction, it would become the largest construction project in Oregon’s history.
By Kevin Davenport-Rackham