Deluge of comments delays Jordan Cove decision

    A crowd of about 1,000 turned out for a public hearing on Jordan Cove at the Jackson County Expo in January. Mail Tribune file photo

    The Oregon Department of State Lands has extended its deadline by six months on whether to issue a construction permit to the Jordan Cove LNG pipeline project, according to the DSL's website.

    According to the website, the department has been deluged with some 49,000 to 57,000 comments. It did not say which way the majority of the comments fell, be it in favor or opposition.

    The deadline for a DSL decision will now end Sept. 20 for the company's application for a removal-fill permit to build a pipeline from Malin in Klamath County to Coos Bay where the natural gas will be converted to liquid natural gas and shipped overseas.

    “DSL staff is currently in the process of reading all comments received. Extension of the permit decision deadline allows DSL staff to complete review of comments in order to identify substantive issues relevant to the removal-fill law.

    “DSL will ask the applicant to address those issues along with any other unresolved technical issues identified by the Department,” the website said.

    The department noted it could make a decision sooner than Sept. 20 depending on its gathering all the necessary information.

    An environmental group called Rogue Climate, which opposes the project, said in a press release Wednesday, “Throughout the 60-day public comment period on the permit, the Department of State Lands received over 50,000 comments in opposition to the project.

    “More than 3,000 people spoke out against the project in public hearings, including impacted landowners, anglers, small business owners, tribal members, health professionals, and many more Oregonians concerned about the impacts the fossil fuel project would have on nearly 500 waterways,” the release said. “The majority of attendees at hearings in Klamath County, Jackson County, Douglas County, Coos County, and Salem demanded that the permit be denied.”

    “We urge the Department of State Lands to stand up for Oregonians’ clean water by denying this permit,” said Stacey Detwiler of Rogue Riverkeeper. “Blasting, trenching, and drilling under and through nearly 500 waterways across the state would have irreversible damage to our clean drinking water and recreation-based economy,” the release said.

    Spokesmen for Jordan Cove were unavailable for comment late Wednesday. (Jordan Cove is owned by Pembina Co. of Calgary, Canada, a worldwide pipeline construction and operation firm).

    However, Harry Andersen, Pembina’s senior vice president for external affairs, said when the company opened a storefront in downtown Klamath Falls recently:

    “My request of you is that you support us,” Andersen said, noting that “there are less-educated opinions out there” that oppose the pipeline and question its safety.”

    He said that safety is top-of-the-mind for the company that operates 12,000 miles of gas pipelines in the U.S. and Canada.

    Jordan Cove is hoping to obtain all the permits necessary in 2019 to build the 239-mile gas pipeline.

    A host of public hearings were held in early 2019 for the $10 billion project. The regional ones by the Oregon Department of State Lands were held along the pipeline route and drew more than 300 people at the Klamath Falls hearing and about 2,000 in Medford. Deadline for commenting on this permit was Feb. 3.

    As of February, Pembina has not qualified for any state or federal permits and has lost critical land use permits in both Coos and Douglas Counties. In 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that this project did not qualify for a permit. The company since re-filed for a permit.

    “Year after year, out-of-state corporate interests have been unable to demonstrate that this project will not harm water quality, existing jobs, landowner rights, energy prices, small businesses, and our climate,” said Allie Rosenbluth of Rogue Climate, a community organization based in Jackson County.

    “The only way Pembina will ever get permits is by throwing around special interest money through campaign contributions, lobbyists, and a barrage of misleading media ads. It is time for Gov. Kate Brown and state agencies to stop this project once and for all. What we need is a faster transition to renewable energy and greater energy efficiency.”

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