WASHINGTON D.C — Early Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission moved to conditionally approve the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline.
"We appreciate FERC's science-based approach to their review. The approval emphasizes yet again that Jordan Cove is environmentally responsible and is a project that should be permitted given a prudent regulatory and legal process was undertaken," said Harry Andersen, Pembina's senior vice president and chief legal officer.
"The FERC's decision is due in no small part to our many supporters who have turned out time and time again to voice their support for Jordan Cove and to show that the Project is in the public interest, including in Southern Oregon and the Rockies Basin," Andersen added.
Jordan Cove and the Jordan Cove Energy Project are subsidiaries of the Canadian based natural gas company Pembina, which purchased the project in 2017 after it was denied by FERC.
Opponents of the project responded to the FERC decision by saying that it was an inappropriate time for FERC to make a decision during the national COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is outrageous that in this time of crisis, when many people cannot even leave their homes safely, the federal government is prioritizing a fracked gas pipeline and export terminal that local communities and the State of Oregon have firmly said no to,” said Sandy Lyon, an impacted landowner in Douglas County.
In a press release, Pembina said, “The bi-partisan FERC is currently comprised of three appointed commissioners and serves as the federal agency responsible for reviewing proposals to build interstate natural gas pipelines, natural gas storage projects, and LNG terminals. The FERC's approval of the project is the result of comprehensive environmental, safety and security reviews involving input from both federal and state agencies, tribes, landowners and many other stakeholders.”
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden weighed in on the FERC decision, saying that the recent appointment of a Republican commissioner created an imbalance in the FERC commission.
"A few days ago, Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell stacked the decks when yet another Republican commissioner was confirmed to FERC, leaving the commission unbalanced. This is despite current law that says the FERC should be an independent and bipartisan commission,” Wyden said. “Today, a stacked and incomplete FERC approved the controversial and complicated Jordan Cove project. There was no rush. A balanced and full FERC should have made the decision.”
Wyden also stated Thursday that he opposes the Jordan Cove project. For a number of years Wyden has not taken a hard stance either way, but now felt he must speak out against the JCEP.
"If that's not bad enough, the commission has decided to disregard local private property rights and environmental concerns identified by Oregonians. Both shortcomings and additional ones have been documented in the strong objections to the Jordan Cove project by three Oregon state regulatory agencies. All this adds up to a clearly rigged process designed to advance Trump-McConnell corporate interests over Oregonians,” Wyden said. “All these violations are contrary to everything the Oregon Way stands for – fairness, transparency and accountability. I now have to oppose this project.”
Conditions for the approval require that Pembina, the parent company of the Jordan Cove Energy Project, qualify for three remaining permits from Oregon state departments.
The three permits in question are the Department of Environmental Quality’s Section 401 Water Quality Certification, a removal-fill permit from the Department of State Lands, and a Federal Consistency application with the DLCD in accordance with the Coastal Zone Management Act.
Jordan Cove recently withdrew its application for a removal-fill permit from DSL days before DSL was going to make a decision.
The night before FERC was originally going to make its decision on the JCEP, the CDLC announced that it denied the Coastal Zone Management Act application.
Around a year ago, the DEQ denied the JCEP’s Section 401 Water Quality Certification.
In order for the JCEP to move forward with construction, it will have to reapply for those permits, most of which took over a year for a decision to be made. However, with FERC approval, Pembina may begin seeking eminent domain cases for folks along the pipeline route who haven’t allowed the company right of way on their property.
Pembina did not say whether it will begin claiming eminent domain. Pembina has said that it has signed voluntary easement agreements that constitute 77% of the privately-owned portion of the proposed pipeline route.
A group of around 90 landowners claiming to be along the pipeline route spoke out against the FERC decision, saying that FERC issued its certificate in spite of recent questioning by federal courts as to how natural gas exports are qualifying to meet public need and necessity.
“I am appalled that our government would prioritize export of a Canadian company's gas to Asia over upholding the property rights of American citizens,” said Pam Ordway, whose family owns property along the approved route in Camas Valley.