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The World Environment STOCK

COOS BAY — Last Tuesday, the Jordan Cove Energy Project received approval on its application, securing the last of 14 local government permits across four counties.

In Coos County, the JCEP has received approval on permits that call for the widening of the Coos Bay shipping channel. There were other applications that dealt with placement of dredge spoils and additions to the Trans-Pacific Parkway to accommodate increased vehicle traffic if the project is approved.

Three of the four dredge spots to widen the channel were under the jurisdiction of Coos County, while the fourth was within Coos Bay’s jurisdiction.  

In a 4-3 split decision, Coos Bay City Council approved an application that will change the designation of 3.3 acres of Natural Aquatic area to Development Aquatic area, a text amendment to Coos Bay’s Comprehensive Plan to authorize the map amendments, and two permits that allow for new maintenance dredging and temporary dredge transport pipeline.

“On behalf of the Jordan Cove project and its many supporters, we are pleased that the Coos Bay City Council made this affirmative determination, consistent with Coos County, and approved Jordan Cove’s final NRI application, the final local land use application necessary for the project. This decision represents a significant step for Jordan Cove, and we thank the Coos Bay City Council and staff for their extensive consideration on this matter,” Jordan Cove spokesperson Paul Vogel said.

With local permitting out of the way, the JCEP still has a number of state permits that need approval before the project can begin. The next decision is the Department of State Land’s removal-fill permit.

The same dredging project that was just approved by Coos Bay and Coos County must also be approved by DSL. Any project in Oregon that proposes putting material into or taking material out of waters and wetlands is required to receive a removal-fill permit from DSL in order to mitigate any impacts to waters and wetlands associated with that project.

After a year of public hearings, and waiting on local approval, DSL will make its decision on the removal-fill permit on Jan. 31.

Following the DSL permit, Jordan Cove will receive a decision from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in February. The final Environmental Impact Statement was released in mid-November 2019.

“As we await final determination by FERC on our federal certification, that is what we will be working on, almost exclusively, until the necessary determinations have been made for moving this project forward to benefit all Oregonians,” Vogel said.

Following the FERC decision, Jordan Cove will need to re-apply for a 401 Water Quality Certification with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. DEQ denied without prejudice the 401 Water Quality Certification on May 6, 2019.

A permit also is being sought for the project from the Department of Land Conservation and Development that is required under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972. The DLCD will agree or object to the proposed federal activity based on an analysis of how consistent the project is with Oregon’s state management program. According to DLCD a decision will be made by the end of February.

“We now will turn our undivided attention to the state of Oregon permits. Due to the uncertainty with the Oregon state regulatory processes, the project’s spend profile and workstreams are being adjusted to reflect the significantly protracted and uncertain state regulatory process,” Vogel said.

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Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.

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