Barbara Penney of Medford and Jan Waitt of Ashland make their feelings know about the LNG pipeline proposal Wednesday before a hearing at the Red Lion. Jim Craven 10/29/2008 - Jamie Lusch

Liquid natural gas hearing draws protests

As the Philadelphia Phillies were busy winning the World Series 2,800 miles away Wednesday, a group of Southern Oregonians filed into the Red Lion Hotel to voice their concerns over a proposed natural gas pipeline in their backyards.

The session was the third of four Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hearings intended to gather public opinion about the project. Jordan Cove Energy Project plans to build a 230-mile-long, 36-inch-diameter pipeline that would spring from a terminal in Coos Bay and pass through the Upper Rogue area en route to Malin in southern Klamath County.

Shady Cove resident Bea Frederickson, 64, joined about 30 sign-waving protesters outside the inn Wednesday evening before the comment session.

"The natural gas is not needed in Oregon," Frederickson said. "I fear the gas would be turned for a profit on the international market and Oregon would not benefit from having the pipeline run near our towns."

Of primary concern to many of the protesters were plans to run the pipeline across 151 miles of private property.

"Mainly, I am upset at the use of eminent domain the government has used to grant the pipeline across private property," said Dola Johnson of Shady Cove. "If this thing falls apart and Jordan Cove decides to pull out, what happens to that land? They could sell it and that would be a miscarriage of justice."

The pipeline also would cross 80 miles of public land.

Linda Henderson of Trail worried the blasting and digging required to bury the pipeline would affect the region's drinking water.

"A lot of us have wells for our drinking water and they could be contaminated," she said.

Henderson said the controversy has been a popular topic around the small town, though everyone also is busy living their lives.

"We try to come to as many meetings as we can, but we have to do this while making a living. It's hard," Henderson added.

The protesters filed into the Rogue River Ballroom inside the hotel for the comment period. Lonnie Lister, branch chief in FERC's Office of Energy Projects, then announced the speakers' comments would be recorded and taken into consideration by the government before work begins on the pipeline. There was no interaction between FERC officials and the public during the session.

Lister did not make the Coos Bay session earlier that day because of a delayed flight. FERC officials plan to attend a final meeting in Klamath Falls today.

If approved, construction of the terminal could begin next year. Pipeline construction could start in 2011, with the entire project scheduled for completion in 2012.

The public can send written comments to FERC on the draft environmental impact statement released in August. Comments can be made at Click on the "eFile" link to post a comment.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail

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