Pipeline comment timeframe extended

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has extended by nearly two months its public comment period regarding a proposed 230-mile natural gas pipeline between Coos Bay and Malin.

FERC had set a Sept. 4 deadline for receiving public opinion as it prepares an environmental impact statement for the pipeline project, but U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., had asked that the comment period be extended to at least Oct. 4, citing the increased complexity of the proposal.

The new deadline is Oct. 29, FERC announced Tuesday. The commission also decided to add two additional public scoping meetings. The time and place for those meetings have not yet been determined.

Four meetings already have been scheduled for this week in southwest Oregon, including a meeting that begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, at the Medford School District Education Center Auditorium, 815 S. Oakdale Ave., in Medford.

Other meetings included one in Coos Bay on Monday, one in Roseburg on Tuesday and another in Klamath Falls today.

Proponents of the Pacific Connector Pipeline earlier this year announced they wanted to export natural gas rather than import it as previously requested. They had received FERC approval for importing natural gas, but that authorization was withdrawn after it was announced the gas would be exported.

Vacating the authorization meant the firms had to obtain a new FERC certificate as LNG exporters before moving forward, according to a commission spokeswoman.

The proposed pipeline would cross through northern Jackson County, including the upper Rogue River drainage. In Coos Bay, it would be connected to a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal to be built at Jordan Cove.

In addition to crossing more than 100 miles of private property, as well as state and county lands, the Pacific Connector pipeline would go through some 30 miles of national forestland and 40 miles of Bureau of Land Management land.

The pipeline is being proposed by subsidiaries of Williams Pacific Connector Gas Operator, a Salt Lake City firm, while the LNG terminal would be developed by subsidiaries of Veresen U.S. Power Inc. based in Calgary, Alberta.

An article in Sunday's Mail Tribune incorrectly included Pacific Power and Electric as a developer of the pipeline. However, that firm is no longer involved in the project.

Project proponents say the 3-foot-diameter, underground pipeline and the terminal would be safe for both the environment and landowners while producing jobs in the region.

But the proposal has met with vocal opposition from private property owners whose land the pipeline would cross, as well as from environmental groups and others. In addition to concerns about eminent domain issues, they say the project could increase the cost of domestic natural gas, threaten salmon fisheries and pose a danger to nearby residents.

Comments on the proposal will be accepted at the scoping meetings, and input can be sent via email or regular mail to FERC.

To send comments electronically, go to the commission's website at www.ferc.gov, then go into the documents and filings link.

Comments by regular mail should be sent to: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First St. NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or email him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.

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