Oregon environmental regulators denied a key certification for the Jordan Cove Energy Project on Monday, dealing a blow to the proposed natural gas pipeline.
The Department of Environmental Quality said in a press release it won’t issue Jordan Cove a Section 401 Water Quality Certification, saying the project doesn’t meet water quality standards.
The certification program evaluates water quality impacts of projects that may pollute Oregon waterways. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cannot issue construction permits for projects without the certification, according to the Clean Water Act.
The pipeline would cross more than 300 wetlands, rivers and streams on its 229-mile path from Malin to Coos Bay. It would cross 64 miles of land in Douglas County.
The DEQ said the project would impact water temperature and cause sedimentation to streams and wetlands, among other concerns. The agency also cited the risk of drilling materials being released from construction at the proposed crossing of the Coos Bay estuary.
“There is insufficient information to demonstrate compliance with water quality standards, and because the available information shows that some standards are more likely than not to be violated,” DEQ said.
Jordan Cove has the ability to reapply for the certification and submit additional information requested by the DEQ. Additional information, including changes to the project or further mitigation measures, may yield a different decision, the agency said.
The DEQ requested information regarding potential water quality impacts from Jordan Cove in September, December and March.
“Jordan Cove has provided some, but not all, of the information requested,” the agency said.
The U.S. Army Corps initially instructed the DEQ to complete its review by May 7. The agency extended that date to Sept. 24, 2019, after Jordan Cove’s withdrawal and resubmission of its application.
“Recent federal court and agency decisions have raised significant questions about whether this extension was valid,” the DEQ said.
Jordan Cove is working to better understand the DEQ’s decision and its impacts, according to an emailed statement from the company.
On Monday, advocacy groups opposed to the project called the decision a potentially fatal blow.
“This decision shows that the Clean Water Act still works in Oregon to protect our citizens, our rivers, and our fish,” said Andrew Hawley, a staff attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center, in a press release.
Pembina, Jordan Cove’s Canadian parent company, is awaiting decisions on several local, state and federal permits that will decide the future of the project.