SOUTH COAST — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Friday announced that it would not consider a re-hearing of its March 11 decision to deny a permission to build a 234-mile-long interstate liquefied natural gas pipeline that would end in an export terminal in Jordan Cove.
The letter, signed by FERC Secretary Kimberly D. Bose, stated that the April 8 request for re-consideration, filed by the Jordan Cove Energy Project and Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline, and joined by the Wyoming Pipeline Authority and the State of Wyoming, was denied because the petitioners "failed to demonstrate the existence of 'extraordinary circumstances' that overcome the need for finality."
Specifically, prior to issuing its March 11 order, FERC sent four data requests to Pacific Connector "asking it to show that the public benefits of its proposed Pacific Connector Pipeline outweighed the project's adverse impacts."
In response to each data request, Pacific Connector stated that its negotiations were 'active and ongoing' and provided no certainty as to when it would receive agreements for the pipeline's capacity," Bose wrote.
FERC found that the Pacific Connector had three-and-a-half years to demonstrate the market need for its LNG pipeline.
Bose wrote that "litigation must come to an end at some point."
Her Friday announcement also defended the commission's March 11 decision against allegations that the permit was improperly denied.
Bose noted that at the time of the March 11 order, Pacific Connector has secured easements for just 5 percent of necessary permanent right-of-way easements and just 3 percent of construction right-of-way easements, "in the face of protests from landowners contending that the pipeline would have negative economic impacts to their interests, such as land devaluation, loss of tax revenue and economic harm to business operations (e.g. oyster and timber harvesting and farming)."
In its argument, the State of Wyoming stated that FERC failed to take into consideration "the volatility of the international energy markets" and the benefit that the pipeline would pose to Wyoming's economy.
Bose disagreed, saying that the pipeline applicants had to show "that the public benefits of its proposed project outweigh any adverse impacts," and they "failed to make any significant showing of demand."
The FERC decision came just days after Veresen Inc., the Calgary, Alberta-based company behind Jordan Cove, released a statement that it approved a $30 million 2017 project budget for the pipeline.
In a prepared statement, Veresen President Don Althoff wrote, "Veresen remains committed to this important energy infrastructure project. We are very disappointed by FERC's decision, especially in light of the significant progress that has been made in demonstrating market support for the project and the strong showing of public support for the project. We continue to firmly believe this project will provide significant economic benefit to Oregon, while ensuring responsible environmental stewardship and stakeholder engagement."
Jordan Cove spokesman Michael Hinrichs said Friday that, "We are disappointed with (FERC) upholding the denial."
Hinrich said the Veresen board is looking "at every option available," and would announce its response at a later date.
He said that could include taking the matter to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, re-filing the project or other options "that come to mind right now."
Though President-elect Donald Trump has staked out a staunchly pro-development policy, and has spoken favorably of other pipeline projects, FERC is an independent agency made up of up to five commissioners. However, there are two vacancies and all three sitting commissioners have five-year terms that will expire during Trump's term of office, beginning in 2017.
"I don't think that I would speculate to say FERC would be any different come Jan. 20, but we'll just have to wait and see," Hinrichs said.
Hannah Sohl, director of nonprofit group Rogue Climate, wrote in a statement that "this order puts the public interest over the special interests of large out-of-state corporations interested only in short-term profit at our expense. Our state should be focused on creating good-paying jobs in improving energy efficiency and the expanding clean energy industry, such as solar power, not on new fossil fuel projects that hurt us all. This should be the end of this LNG project but we will have to remain vigilant to ensure that is the case."
Reporter Spencer Cole contributed to this story.