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Groups appeal federal Jordan Cove approval

Environmental groups, landowners, doctors and others have filed lawsuits to challenge the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s conditional approval of a natural gas pipeline and export facility in southwest Oregon.

FERC ruled in March the controversial project could move forward if Pembina, the Canadian company proposing the project, can secure necessary permits, including from the state of Oregon. The company hasn’t been able to win key permits from the state because of concerns over environmental damage.

FERC said last week that eminent domain proceedings can start against landowners who don’t want their property used for the underground 3-foot diameter pipeline that would stretch 229 miles through Klamath, Jackson, Douglas and Coos counties. But FERC said land clearing and construction couldn’t begin unless the project secures all needed permits.

Impacted landowners filed a lawsuit late last week challenging FERC’s decision.

“FERC is authorizing a foreign company to take our citizens’ land for foreign profit,” said lawyer Megan Gibson of the Washington, D.C.-based Niskanen Center, which is representing the landowners. “There is no legitimate public use of this project, which will destroy many landowners’ properties, as well as the environment. It is our hope that the courts will see through the facade of alleged public use used by FERC and put a final end to the project.”

Another lawsuit was filed this week with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., by groups that include Rogue Riverkeeper, Rogue Climate and Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility. The natural gas project is known locally as Jordan Cove LNG.

“Over 40,000 people sent comments and hundreds turned out to hearings across the four impacted counties to ask FERC to deny Jordan Cove LNG, which would risk our climate, clean drinking water, public safety and more,” said Allie Rosenbluth of Rogue Climate. “FERC has failed to listen to the people of Southern Oregon who stand united against Jordan Cove LNG. Now, our communities’ concerns about this project will get their time in front of a judge.”

More individuals and groups could file lawsuits during a 60-day appeal window that started May 22.

Opponents fear Pembina will try to leapfrog Oregon permit requirements by seeking alternate approval through channels such as the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

They say the project would contribute to climate change and harm streams, rivers, fish, forests, the Oregon Coast and private property.

Pembina has argued construction of the $10 billion project would boost Oregon’s economy, generate tax revenue for counties and the state government, and create several years’ worth of construction jobs. Operations at the export facility would provide some long-term work in the Coos Bay area.

The company offered payments of at least $30,000 to each landowner along the route and said it had secured voluntary agreements for the use of property along at least 77% of the route.

Pembina wants to export Canadian and Colorado natural gas to Asia — which it says would offset coal burning there and aid in the fight against global warming.

The company has recently faced layoffs after global demand for gas plummeted amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

Groups have filed appeals to stop construction of a pipeline across Southwest Oregon like this one seen in Canada.{ }Photo courtesy of Pembina