| May 21 -- Aug 1 Appeal Seeks to Hold Coos County Accountable|
Coos Bay's North Spit, looking south. Site of the proposed LNG facility is in the middle distance.Oregon Shores is an active member of the coalition battling to keep an LNG export facility from being sited in a tsunami and storm surge zone on Coos Bay’s North Spit. Our role within the coalition is to handle land use planning issues and state regulatory processes.
In this role, we are appealing a decision by the Coos County planning director. Although made under pressure from the would-be developers of the LNG facility, the decision has much broader implications. This is a "process question"—it doesn’t relate directly to LNG, impacts to the spit and estuary, or any of the other environmental issues raised by the project. In that sense, this might seem dry and technical. But what is really at stake is whether cities and counties are responsible for following through on the land use decisions they make.
As Jordan Cove Energy Project and Pacific Connector have been acquiring land use approvals for their Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal and pipeline project in Coos Bay, they have often agreed to conditions of approval in exchange for obtaining permits for land use development. These conditions are generally for the purpose of ensuring compliance with land use criteria and addressing the concerns of citizens and local residents who have participated in the land use process. Conditions become part of the permit, and like any other part of the approval decision, can be appealed by the applicant or opponents of the project. Once the approval becomes final, so do the conditions, and the county can use its enforcement authority to ensure that the applicants are complying with the conditions that were imposed.
Now, Jordan Cove’s attorney has requested an interpretation of Coos County’s land use ordinance regarding the county’s ability to enforce conditions of approval. At Jordan Cove’s urging, the county planning director issued an administrative decision finding that the county is limited in its ability to enforce conditions of approval, and will only enforce those conditions it believes it had the authority to impose at the time of land use permitting. In essence, Jordan Cove argued, and the planning director agreed, that even if the applicant proposes and/or agrees to conditions of approval in exchange for a land use permit, the county cannot later enforce those conditions without first determining that it had the jurisdiction or authority to impose that condition.
This conclusion turns on its head our land use system, which provides an opportunity to challenge any portion of a land use decision, including conditions of approval, at the time the decision is made. Once that decision becomes final, the county should not have to complete a second, separate analysis of the conditions before it will enforce the requirements of the permit. Not only that, this decision calls into question any statements or commitments made by a land use applicant at the time approval is sought. If a development company can agree to conditions in exchange for gaining approval, all the while knowing it will not comply with the conditions and instead will argue with the county over whether it had authority to impose the conditions, then any promises made by land use applicants become hollow and meaningless. What’s more, this decision puts county planners, already strapped for time and resources, in an even more precarious position when it comes to enforcing permit terms. Oregon Shores is appealing this decision because of its potentially far-reaching effects on land use planning in Coos County—and beyond, if this sets a precedent—and to hold land use applicants accountable for their promises to the community made in exchange for gaining permission for development.
Because this decision is not tied to any particular application, but is instead an interpretation of the code provisions generally, it could have far reaching effects beyond the LNG proposals as to what applicants will commit to doing in order to gain approval, and the public’s ability to understand and know what will actually be required of the developer once they obtain county land use permits. With regard to the LNG proposal, it is possible that this would allow Jordan Cove to avoid applications to amend its prior approvals and instead simply ignore conditions it doesn’t like or believes are not properly imposed.
We will contend in our appeal that this decision by the county is inconsistent with the principles of Oregon law, places an undue burden on the local jurisdiction in enforcing its decisions, and creates uncertainty for the public, making it harder to defend the public interest.
The next step will be a public hearing on the matter.
| Oct 30 2012 -- Jan 15 LNG Abuses Get Their Moment in the Spotlight|
Oregon Shores is an active member of the coalition working to prevent development of an LNG and/or coal export facility on Coos Bay's North Spit. We have just contributed to an extensive package of "scoping comments" sent by the coalition to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), demanding that the full range of potential environmental and social impacts of LNG development be ...
| Sep 22 2012 -- Nov 22 2012 Protection for Marsh Achieved Through LNG Agreement|
In August, Oregon Shores challenged a land use approval by Coos County relating to the zone boundaries for the Jordan Cove LNG project property and approving additional fill on the site. The administrative decision, which was not subject to prior notice or an opportunity to comment, adjusted the boundary line between the zones for Henderson Marsh on the North Spit and the adjacent Jordan Cove ...
| Aug 31 2012 -- Aug 29 2012 FERC Invites Public Comment on LNG Export Scheme|
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is asking for citizen input on what impacts to consider when weighing a proposal to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States to China. Public hearings are coming up. The Jordan Cove/Pacific Connector proposal, which Oregon Shores is battling along with a coalition of conservation groups and affected citizens, would have a drastic ...
| Jul 26 2008 -- Sep 26 2008 Setback for LNG proposal in Coos Bay|
The LNG proposal for the North Spit in Coos Bay had a setback recently, when Oregon's Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) remanded the Coos County approval of the facility back to the county for further work. Several opposing groups and individuals filed the appeal arguing that the County made inadequate findings as a basis of approving the controversial facility. The county must now address those ...
| Jan 14 2008 -- Feb 14 2008 Oregon Shores' Position on LNG Terminals, Ships, and Pipelines|
Adopted by Oregon Shores' Board of Directors, January 13, 2008: Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition opposes the siting of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals on the Oregon Coast or the Columbia River, as well as the building of associated pipelines. We also oppose movement of LNG tankers across the Columbia bar. LNG terminals in Oregon are all proposed for estuaries and rivers whose ...
| Jan 2 2008 -- Feb 2 2008 Coos Commissioners Approve LNG Land Use Application|
In a meeting lasting about two minutes, the Coos County Board of Commissioners has approved the International Port of Coos Bay's land use application for a marine terminal on the North Spit of Coos Bay, according to a January 3, 2008 article in the Coos Bay World. A local group, Southern Oregon Pipeline Information Project, Inc., has been formed by landowners who would be affected by the proposed ...
| Nov 27 2007 -- Nov 27 2008 Coos Hearings Official Approves LNG Facility, Disapproves Port Slip|
November 27, 2007: Coos County Hearings Official Anne Corcoran Briggs has submitted her decisions regarding the proposed LNG terminal on North Spit. Her first decision finds that Jordan Cove Energy's Liquified Natural Gas Facility application does satisfy all applicable county standards, or would if the county imposes the conditions she recommends. However, in her second decision she finds that ...