Anti-pipeline protesters said they feel vindicated by a report released Thursday stating the natural gas pipeline and export facility proposed in Southern Oregon would be the state’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, while a project spokesman found the information to be inaccurate.
The report, published by Oil Change International, says the Jordan Cove project would produce more than 15 times the emissions of the Boardman coal plant, Oregon’s last remaining coal plant set to close in 2020, and equal the emissions of nearly 8 million passenger vehicles. In total, the report says the pipeline will produce 36.8 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
Oil Change International is an advocacy organization focused on “exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the coming transition towards clean energy,” according to its website.
The 229-mile Pacific Connector Pipeline would have the capacity to push 1.2 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas across Klamath, Jackson, Douglas and Coos counties to a plant in Coos Bay where the gas would be turned into liquid form and be transported to Asian markets. The pipeline would connect to existing pipelines to transport natural gas from Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and the Montney Basin in British Columbia.
“The emissions estimate includes an estimated range of methane leakage along the supply chain and finds that even a conservative estimate of methane leakage undermines claims that the gas supplied to global markets via the project would lead to a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” the report said.
It also asserts there is no evidence that natural gas from the project would replace coal in global markets, and the project undermines the need to reduce emissions from all sources of fossil fuel to address the climate crisis.
Michael Hinrichs, a spokesman for Jordan Cove, said the report seems to use an inaccurate comparison to support the pipeline opponents’ views.
“There is another side of the story,” Hinrichs said in a statement Thursday. “The project has filed with (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) hundreds of pages of scientific reports by third parties and the work done by the project has resulted in Jordan Cove receiving approval for our air permit by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.”
Hinrichs said Jordan Cove puts Oregon on the path to supplying a future of cleaner energy for its customers.
“Natural gas is cleaner burning, has fewer pollutants, is less expensive and more efficient than other fuels that are capable of meeting around-the-clock energy demand,” he said.
He added the project would create thousands of construction jobs, hundreds of good-paying permanent jobs and tax benefits for the state and the four counties the pipeline would cross.
Stacey McLaughlin, who owns land where the pipeline would cross near Myrtle Creek, said she agrees with Oil Change International’s findings.
“This report is very clear and the project will be taking us down a road we cannot come back from, and it will be affecting the health of thousands of Oregonians,” she said.
She said greenhouse gas emissions have already started to cause the irreversible effects of climate change.
“We’re already past the point of no return,” McLaughlin said. “We are going to have to find ways to try and stop it if we intend to protect ourselves into the future.”
Other affected landowners and environmental activists from around the state went to Salem on Thursday to encourage Gov. Kate Brown to deny the project.
Deb Evans was among the estimated 200 people holding anti-pipeline signs outside the state capitol Thursday. She owns timberland between Klamath Falls and Ashland, where the pipeline would run across. Evans said speakers were passionate at the protest, including people from the Klamath Tribes, representative to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council Bill Bradbury and State Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland.
“The message was clear, the report just solidified what we already thought was true about this project,” Evans said. “The greenhouse gas emissions are over the top and the project is not something Oregon needs to meet any kind of climate goals by 2050.”
She was referring to goals the Oregon Legislature adopted in 2007 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to below 14 million metric tons by 2050.
Evans said Brown needs to come out against the project.