COOS COUNTY — Since last April, the Jordan Cove Energy Project has discontinued funding the Coos County Sheriff’s office for the Combined Services Unit.
The cut in funding has caused the Sheriff’s Office to absorb the five deputies from its LNG division, leaving the division unmanned.
“LNG got to a point where they were reevaluating their current strategy, and as part of that they decided to discontinue current planning strategies to fill the security needs for the future,” said Captain Gabriel Fabrizio with Coos County Sheriff’s Office.
Pembina spokesperson Paul Vogel said the company has adjusted its spending profile and work streams while it awaits state regulatory permits.
“Resumption of engagement with emergency planning and other entities at an appropriate level will occur at the appropriate time,” Vogel said.
A Combined Services Unit is a division of the Sheriff’s Office that serves a specific purpose. In this case, the Coos County Sheriff’s Office LNG division deputies were full sheriff’s deputies whose salaries and training were paid for by Jordan Cove.
“Under the Energy Board Act of 1985, it basically says that when an LNG terminal is put in some place, the local governance shall not absorb the cost of increased security," Fabrizio said. "Basically if LNG goes somewhere they have to pay for security. There are varying models throughout the country, but the most common is through the Sheriff’s Office."
The Sheriff’s Office was able to retain the five deputies by placing them into the patrol and jail divisions.
“The money that we had in reserve for continuing operation, we were able to stretch that out until Dec. 31, 2019 by reducing those numbers against the Combined Services Unit slots. We didn’t have to fire anybody, thankfully," Fabrizio said.
After the first of the year, the Sheriff’s Office was able to continue to free up money to keep the deputies on through the retirement of a staff sergeant and three deputies who are National Guardsmen that are currently deployed.
“The money that was budgeted for those positions we are able to reallocate that toward our current staff and keep everyone on,” Fabrizio said.
Fabrizio said earlier this month the Sheriff’s Office did meet with Jordan Cove to discuss previous agreements and work toward a new agreement.