Forrest English, Program Director, Rogue Riverkeeper (541) 488-9831 Mark Westlund, Sierra Club (415) 977-5719 Susan Jane M. Brown, Staff Attorney, Western Environmental Law Center (503) 914-1323
Medford, OR – Today the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) took the long-expected step of granting a conditional export license to the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Oregon, a move that carries little meaning without more detailed environmental reviews from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and multiple Oregon state agencies.
The Jordan Cove project calls for building an export terminal at Coos Bay on the Oregon coast, which would allow liquefied natural gas to be exported overseas. The terminal would be supplied by a proposed 235-mile-long pipeline, called the Pacific Connector, which would cross privately and publicly owned lands in southern Oregon and connect to existing pipelines running north-south from British Columbia to California.
Susan Jane Brown, staff attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center, explained the context for the decision.
“DOE did not attempt to address the myriad environmental issues with the project,” she said. “Instead, other state and federal agencies will examine Jordan Cove’s compliance with numerous laws, and ultimately, the federal courts will ensure that the project won’t destroy the waters, wildlife, and public lands that Oregonians cherish. We believe it is clear that the LNG terminal and pipeline will harm our natural resources and that the projects should not proceed.”
Forrest English, Program Director with Rogue Riverkeeper, stated, “We are calling on the state of Oregon and Governor Kitzhaber to reject this LNG project because the facility and 235-mile pipeline would dramatically harm Oregon’s salmon habitat, from the Rogue River to Coos Bay.”
The State of Oregon has the authority to reject the terminal and pipeline under the Clean Water Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, the Clean Air Act and other laws.
Others echoed skepticism about the impact of DOE’s decision. Bob Barker, a southern Oregon property owner with Landowners United, whose property would be impacted by the LNG terminal’s associated Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline proposal, expressed frustration at DOE’s analysis.
“It simply makes no sense to condemn private lands and cut across the Rogue River just to send our gas to high-priced overseas markets,” Barker said. “The benefit goes to gas companies, but the costs are borne by every Oregonian in the form of increased energy prices and by landowners like myself who will face losing their land to condemnation through eminent domain.”
Nathan Matthews, an attorney with the Sierra Club, added, “It is deeply disappointing that the Department of Energy (DOE) conditionally authorized exports from the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal in Oregon. It’s a bad deal all around: for public health, the environment, and America’s working people. The economic study the DOE itself commissioned clearly states that LNG export will transfer wealth from wage earners to fossil fuel executives. LNG export is nothing by a giveaway to the dirty fuel industry, at the expense of everyday Americans.”
Julia DeGraw, Northwest Organizer for Food & Water Watch, pointed to the nationwide impacts of increased hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking.”
“Exporting LNG will lead to more drilling — and more drilling means more fracking, more air and water pollution, further damage to drinking water supplies, and more climate-fueled weather disasters like last year’s record fires, droughts, and superstorms,” she said. “DOE acknowledges that it has not yet considered any of these impacts, but that environmental effects must be considered before DOE can grant final approval.”
A diverse coalition of opposition groups is reviewing the decision and calling on Oregon agencies to conduct a thorough review of the LNG terminal and pipeline projects.