A new report about a natural gas pipeline and export facility proposed in Southern Oregon says the project's in-state emissions would make it the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon.
Additionally, the report by Oil Change International says the whole project — from gas extraction in North America to the burning of the exported natural gas in Asia — would produce 15.4 times the emissions of Oregon's last coal-burning plant, which is slated to close in 2020 due to climate and pollution concerns.
Oil Change International is an anti-fossil fuels advocacy group that endorses a goal to reduce fossil fuel emissions to zero by mid-century.
Pipeline project spokesman Michael Hinrichs said information in the group's report looks exactly like a previous report paid for by the opposition. He said the report appears to use an inaccurate comparison to support a pre-determined stance.
Hinrichs said the project has filed hundreds of pages of scientific reports by third parties with federal regulators and has received approval for an air permit from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
Hundreds of project opponents are scheduled to rally at the state capitol building in Salem on Thursday afternoon.
"We need Gov. Brown to stand up for property rights, tribal rights, the environment and the climate over corporate special interests," project opponent Hannah Sohl, director of Rogue Climate, said in advance of the rally. "There is no way to be a climate leader and stay neutral on the Jordan Cove project."
The Jordan Cove export terminal would be located near Coos Bay, while the 3-foot-diameter underground Pacific Connector Pipeline would stretch 229 miles through Klamath, Jackson, Douglas and Coos counties. Natural gas would be shipped to overseas markets.
The pipe would traverse the land of hundreds of property owners and cross more than 400 rivers and other waterways, including the Rogue River near Shady Cove.
If the pipeline is built, a 30-foot-wide corridor must be kept clear of trees, deep-rooted bushes and heavy structures such as houses and swimming pools.
The project is being reviewed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but opponents want Oregon to deny state permits for the project if it wins approval from FERC.
FERC denied the project during President Barack Obama's administration, saying potential benefits didn't outweigh potential harms, including negative impacts to landowners. The Canadian-based company backing the project is hoping for a different outcome under President Donald Trump, who is seen as friendlier to traditional energy companies.
The project already has had a few setbacks at the state level. Most recently, Oregon's state geologist said parts of the applicant's scientific analysis of the project are misleading and don't use the latest scientific methods and research findings, especially in regard to earthquake, landslide and tsunami hazards.
Lorne Stockman, senior research analyst for Oil Change International and the lead report author, said the project would increase the flow of fracked fossil fuel to world markets and undermine the transition to clean, renewable energy.
The report said there is no evidence the exported natural gas would displace the use of coal overseas and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Hinrichs countered, "The project is putting Oregon on the path to supplying a cleaner energy future for our customers. Natural gas is cleaner burning, has fewer pollutants, is less expensive and more efficient than other fuels that are capable of meeting around-the-clock energy demand."
The report also said the project would provide no natural gas for Oregonians, but state residents would bear the brunt of any negative impacts.
Hinrichs said the project will benefit local and state economies.
"The project has direct benefits to the state of Oregon, including thousands of construction jobs, hundreds of good-paying permanent jobs, and the significant tax benefits to the four counties and to the state of Oregon," he said.
The project is backed by Canadian-based Pembina Pipeline Corp., which merged with Veresen, the original proponent.
Veresen previously touted the economic benefits of the natural gas project, saying engineering, procurement and construction spending would be about $10 billion. The project would generate $60 million in annual property taxes, including $20 million in the pipeline counties, the company said.
About 6,000 workers would be employed during the construction phase, with about 200 permanent jobs created. Most of the permanent jobs would be associated with the export facility that would be located north of Coos Bay, Veresen has said.
— Reach staff reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.