FERC gathers comments on LNG terminal

Local residents can comment directly to Uncle Sam Wednesday night in Medford about their views on the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas terminal and Pacific Connector pipeline.

The session is one of four the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is holding this week for the controversial project. The 230-mile-long, 36-inch-diameter pipeline would originate at the terminal in Coos Bay and pass through the Upper Rogue region en route to Malin in southern Klamath County.

The Medford meeting will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday in the Rogue River Ballroom at the Red Lion Inn, 200 N. Riverside Ave. Those attending the meeting will be allowed to make comments but no questions will be taken.

Similar meetings are scheduled for Monday in Bend, Tuesday in Roseburg and Thursday in Klamath Falls. Opponents plan to rally outside each of the meetings.

In Medford, the rally will begin at 5 p.m. Wednesday outside the Red Lion, said Shady Cove resident Marcie Laudani, whose property would be crossed by the pipeline.

"We need numbers to show their support in opposition," she said.

In addition to rallying outside, opponents urge those concerned about the project to describe their concerns to the FERC staff during the session.

Opponents say the pipeline will dramatically reduce the quality of life along the 151 miles of private property it traverses, pose a potential hazard, and harm the environment by affecting numerous waterways and resulting in clear- cutting on more than 2,600 acres.

The pipeline also would cross about 80 miles of public land.

"We have no need to bring in foreign oil to the United States," Laudani said. "There is enough domestic natural gas available."

She observed that a huge amount of natural gas from Alaska is being sent to Japan.

"Mrs. Palin's plan backfired when she allowed her natural gas contract to go to Japan," said Laudani, referring to Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential candidate.

"We are optimistic we can stop this," Laudani added. "With the economy such as it is, there are good reasons this won't happen in Oregon or elsewhere in the United States."

The project, first proposed in 2006, is being undertaken by a coalition of companies including Fort Chicago Energy Partners, Energy Projects Development, Williams Pipeline and the PG&E Corporation, the parent company of California's Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The companies say ample safeguards would be in place to ensure safety and protect the environment.

Capable of transmitting a billion cubic feet of natural gas each day, the pipeline and terminal are estimated to cost up to $850 million.

If the project is built, ships carrying liquefied natural gas would unload at the Coos Bay terminal. The liquid would then be converted back to a pressurized gas and piped through the underground pipeline until it reaches two existing pipelines outside Malin near the California state line.

Along the way, the project calls for a connection to a Williams Pipeline system near Myrtle Creek and another to Avista's recently completed system near Shady Cove.

If approved, construction of the terminal is scheduled to begin next year, with pipeline construction planned to begin in 2011. The entire project is planned for completion in 2012.

However, construction of the Pacific Connector is contingent on FERC's certification of Jordan Cove.

The public has until Dec. 4 to send written comments to FERC on the draft environmental impact statement, which was released at the end of August. A final environmental impact statement on the proposal is expected to be completed early next year.

For more information on the project, go to www.pacificconnectorgp.com, www.jordancoveenergy.com or www.ferc.gov.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.

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