Jordan Cove LNG Proposal Remains on Hold

Photo of Coos Bay's North Spit -- note North Bend airport runway in the distance, pointed at where the LNG tanks would have been built, by Alex Derr.
Coos Bay's North Spit, with North Bend airport runway in the distance, pointed at where the LNG tanks would have been built. Photo by Alex Derr.

In one sense, a lot has been going on with regard to Oregon Shores’ long-running struggle (together with many allies) to block development of an LNG (liquefied natural gas) export facility on Coos Bay’s North Spit.  In another sense, nothing has happened.  All of which is to say that the news lately has been about further delays.

The most recent development is that on Nov. 3, Oregon’s Department of State Lands (DSL) granted the would be developers (Jordan Cove LNG and Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline, both owned or co-owned by Canadian mega-corporation Veresen) a nine-month extension.  The applicants asked for four months to re-design the path of the pipeline that would bring natural gas to the North Spit to be converted into LNG, so as to avoid Haynes Inlet, a branch of Coos Bay, and DSL will take five months beyond that to consider the new proposal.  Opponents, including Oregon Shores, protested allowing the damage to the estuary the pipeline crossing would cause.  DSL seemed to agree, noting that “Oregon law (ORS 196.8925) and administrative rule (OAR 141-085-0565(6)) require that removal-fill permits in estuaries must be for projects that are ‘for a public use’ (note: the Jordan Cove development is private) and that ‘outweigh harm to navigation, fisheries and recreation.’ “

Oregon Shores joined numerous partner organizations in sending a sternly worded letter to DSL and the Governor, asking for a firm decision denying Jordan Cove’s permit, but instead received merely this delay.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has also delayed its decision on the project’s water quality permit.  Oregon Shores took the lead in preparing comments and making the case to DEQ that the project should be rejected on grounds of its impact to water resources, but again, we find ourselves waiting.

We also took the lead in commenting to the Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for federal water quality permits under the Clean Water Act.  The Corps’ decision is due Jan. 29.  It may be that other agencies are waiting to take their cue from the Corps’ decision.  If it is negative, it may trigger denials from DSL, DEQ and even the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, finally killing the project. 

Meanwhile, Oregon Shores continues to battle the LNG project on another front, taking the lead (with other opponents joining us) in appealing Coos County’s approval of land use permits for the project.  We are carrying the fight to the state’s Land Use Board of Appeals.  Our brief in this case is due on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

More information on LNG issues in Oregon is available here.