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League of Women Voters Jordan Cove Forum

Mike Graybill talks Thursday about the Jordan Cove Energy Project during an information forum for the public hosted by the League of Women Voters at the Egyptian Theater.

COOS BAY — The League of Women Voters of Coos County hosted an informational forum Thursday at the Egyptian Theatre in Coos Bay to discuss the ecological impacts of the Jordan Cove Energy Project.

The forum featured a panel of local environmental scientists and LWVCC board members who presented their concerns with Jordan Cove’s proposed 229-mile natural gas pipeline and terminal site, which will be located on the North Spit at the Port of Coos Bay.

LWVCC member Christine Moffitt, a biologist with a background on the effects of altered ecosystems, began the presentation by outlining the League’s official stance on the Jordan Cove Project.

The nonpartisan political group joined the Rogue Valley, Umpqua Valley and Klamath County League of Women Voters in opposing the project and asking federal agencies to deny any permit applications sought by Jordan Cove.

According to Moffitt, the group has already submitted their public comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Environmental Quality. It also has plans to submit their comments to the Department of State Lands (DSL) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The League found, based on its review of Jordan Cove’s permit applications, that Jordan Cove failed to sufficiently address the environmental, cultural and economic impacts to the area, said Moffitt. In her presentation, Moffitt also added the League’s interest in supporting measures that transition away from fossil fuels usage to other, alternative forms of energy.

Prior to Thursday’s forum, LWVCC president Susan Thornton said its group conducted an in-depth study of the project and discussed the pros and cons of it at length with fellow members. A consensus statement was collected from its board and the League voted to take on the issue.

“I know we surprised a few people by taking a position,” said Thornton. “But we’ve been totally transparent and (the forum) was all informational and letting people know why we choose our position.”

Co-president of Boost Southern Oregon Todd Goergen, a local advocacy group for Jordan Cove, expressed his own concerns with the LWVCC board taking on their position.

“The LWVCC failed their mandate to have a fair, impartial forum for both sides,” Goergen said. “What they did was akin to having a debate between two candidates, but not inviting, not allowing the candidate that they don’t really like to show up. It’s unfair.”

While the forum was open to all community members and a question and answer portion was featured during its second half, which was also open to the public, no Jordan Cove representatives were showcased during the LWVCC’s presentation.

“We don’t see it as an ‘us’ and ‘them,’ said Thornton. “We were solely focused on educating the community.”

Other concerns raised were ship size, dredging impacts on marine wildlife, sediment and material buildup and disposal as well as maintenance and seismic risks. A date to announce DSL’s decision on whether it will approve or deny Jordan Cove’s removal-fill permit has not yet been announced.

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Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-2039 or by email at amanda.linares@theworldlink.com.

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