Oregon residents whose land would intersect the proposed Pacific Connector pipeline filed a letter Oct. 3 asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to deny the pipeline and Jordan Cove Energy project.
The landowners and organizations named in the letter include Robert Barker, Oregon Women’s Land Trust, Evans Schaaf Family LLC, Ronald Schaaf, Deborah Evans, Stacey and Craig McLaughlin, Bill Gow, Landowners United, Clarence Adams, Pamela Brown Ordway and Barbara Brown. It is signed by Thane Tienson, an attorney with Landye Bennett Blumstein LLP.
Veresen, Jordan Cove’s Canadian-based parent company, and Pacific Connector had already filed an application for a 232-mile natural gas pipeline to cross four Oregon counties, including Douglas, from Malin to Coos Bay, where the natural gas would be liquefied and shipped to Asian markets. But in March 11, 2016, FERC denied the project, citing a lack of market need for the product.
The companies made changes to the proposal and re-applied.
“[Pacific Connector] has produced no evidence of non-affiliate firm market commitment — the primary objective indicator of market need — and yet it is asking once again to be given permission to build a speculative project on the backs of landowners and communities who oppose the project and who will be threatened with the exercise of eminent domain if it is allowed to move forward,” the landowners’ letter reads.
JERA, a Japanese company, expressed interest in the project but has not made a firm commitment, the letter argues, but according to Hinrichs, Jordan Cove has firm commitments from world-class customers.
“Both JERA and Itochu remain committed to buying LNG from Jordan Cove and their commitments represent 50 percent of our LNG capacity,” said Michael Hinrichs, Jordan Cove spokesman. “We continue to advance negotiations with additional customers and are confident we will reach commitments for 100 percent of our capacity.”
The previous proposal had planned for the pipeline to cross 254 private properties, and the new proposal has brought that number down to 229.
“Of those 229, roughly 40 percent of those private landowners have signed voluntary easement agreements and we continue to engage more landowners each month,” Hinrichs said. If the project is approved and the landowners do not sign agreements, their land could be subject to eminent domain, meaning the pipeline would still cross their properties and a judge would decide the amount of compensation the landowners receive.
The landowners’ letter states the majority of landowners do not want the pipeline constructed underneath their properties.
“The burden a pipeline places on landowners is significant and landowners request that we not go back down this path with little to no certainty that any of the ‘public benefits’ the company claims are true, will actually materialize,” the letter reads.
According to the application, the project would require a liquefaction and deep-water export terminal able to receive and load ocean-going carriers of liquefied natural gas. The landowners argue Coos Bay does not have a deep-water port and would require dredging of a deeper, wider channel which would be costly and would have to compete with other projects around the country.
Meanwhile, Hinrichs said the Port of Coos Bay is already a deep-water port and the project does not necessarily require dredging of the port, as the ships ride higher in the water than other commercial vessels.
“However, Jordan Cove is supportive of the port’s plans to modernize the maritime transit channel as it increases safety and maneuverability within the port,” Hinrichs said.
Jordan Cove predicts it will create more than 6,000 construction jobs during peak construction, and more than 215 permanent jobs during operation. The company also estimates there will be more than 1,500 indirect and spinoff jobs created during operations in local retail, healthcare, tourism, finance, transportation, landscaping and office administration.
The company’s estimates show Douglas County would receive more than $5 million per year to support programs including public health, public safety, veterans affairs and public libraries.
“Jordan Cove asserts that the primary public benefit of their project is job creation,” the landowners wrote. “More accurately, this non-U.S. sourced gas greenfield project, even if successful, is likely to be competing with and taking away American jobs elsewhere.”
The letter also claims the natural gas could be sourced from Canada, directly competing with U.S. Gulf Coast-sourced gas.
Jordan Cove would have access to both U.S. and Canadian natural gas supplies, though the supply for Jordan Cove has not yet been determined.
“FERC has a responsibility to ensure that the ‘benefits’ outweigh any adverse effects to landowners and communities,” the letter reads. “That hinges entirely on the economic benefits test of weighing benefits tied to firm markets versus adverse effects of landowners being subjected to eminent domain.”