It’s been 14 years since the Jordan Cove natural gas pipeline was first proposed to run from the Malin terminal to a port in Coos Bay.

Over the years, the project has changed in scope and ownership. (Initially, the gas was to run from Coos to Malin. Now, it’s shipped from Canada to Malin and runs to Coos Bay where it will be converted to a liquid for shipping overseas).

Current owners, Pembina of Calgary, Canada — a longtime successful pipeline company — have taken up the mantle and are aggressively pushing to get the project permitted; meeting with stakeholders, launching an wide-ranging publicity campaign and, most importantly, working through the permitting process with a host of regulators.

The most recent stumbling block is the state Department of Environmental Quality denial of a water quality permit last spring; seeking greater details from the company. Once again it’s back to the drawing board. The company is also awaiting a Department of State Lands permit for the 239-mile pipeline route that runs across Klamath, Jackson, Douglas and Coos counties. Ultimately, it needs a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permit to begin work.

Mike Koski, Pembina vice president for external affairs, visited Klamath Falls last week, speaking to the Klamath County Commissioners and to the Herald and News editorial board, seeking its endorsement of the project.

“At the end of the day, no matter what we do, we have to follow the environmental, regulatory laws,” Koski said. But he emphasized that the company intends to remain a fixture in the communities the pipeline passes through.

There are two big takeaways from those meetings. The first is that Pembina is doing everything right in getting its message out (and listening to its critics), meeting with concerned parties, and putting money upfront for those who will be affected by the pipeline.

Secondly, Pembina’s message is that it is not some fly-by-night company, but remains tied to the Klamath Basin for as long as it operates the pipeline, with its employees living here and contributing to numerous charities throughout the years. It has donated $100,000 in Klamath County alone over the last couple of years. It has also opened an office in downtown K Falls.

Economic boon

If the pipeline is built, it will mean $5.3 million annually to Klamath County coffers, possibly the largest taxpayer in our county, and the same goes for the other three counties. That translates to $2.8 million for schools and $600,000 for public safety, fire and hospitals, the company said.

Overall it is a $10 billion investment in Oregon and approximately $1.5 billion in payroll to Oregon workers, by the company’s estimate.

It has paid for a financial impact study for all to read by an independent group called ECONorthwest. Koski reiterated that the firm is staunchly unbiased, as its credibility rides on its study results.

The group has reached out to landowners, offering $30,000 incentives for permission to cross their land. In Klamath, 96 percent of the land owners have signed on with the project to date.

Waterway concerns

Crossing the rivers and waterways is obviously a concern for all. Pembina says it will drill down 140 feet below the Klamath River — 350 feet and up to 1,000 feet from its banks — to ensure no harm comes to the river. There are a few hundred waterways it must cross all the way to Coos Bay. No small undertaking.

Make no mistake, we are all concerned about our environment in Oregon. Global warming is not fiction. Yet to get to a 100 percent renewable energy grid that can power the world is decades in the future.

We think this is a great project for Oregon. It will be a much-needed economic shot-in-the arm for Klamath, especially for high-paying temporary jobs.

And even if you think pipelines are evil, Pembina is one company that has paid attention to many of the concerns and has been transparent along the way.

We hope it receives its FERC permit and work can begin in the next few years.

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