With a decision nearing on a federal permit for Jordan Cove and the Pacific Connector Pipeline, two vacancies on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden worried.

FERC is slated to make a decision next week on the proposed Jordan Cove project, which would involve building a natural gas liquefaction plant in Coos Bay and a pipeline 229 miles across four Southern Oregon counties to carry gas from Malin to the plant. The liquefied natural gas would then be loaded on ships and carried to Asian markets.

Canadian developer Pembina has argued the project would create 6,000 temporary construction jobs and about 200 permanent jobs in Coos Bay. Many landowners in the pipeline’s path have reached agreements with the company, but some staunchly oppose it and fear eminent domain will be used to force the pipeline across their properties.

Opponents also have said Jordan Cove would become the state’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

Wyden, D-Oregon, wrote a letter to President Donald Trump last week urging him to fill the two vacancies on the five-member board prior to any decision being made. Wyden also asked for bipartisan appointments.

“I have long demanded that Oregonians receive a fair, open, fact-based and non-political process while FERC determines whether LNG projects are necessary and in the public’s best interest. Vacancies and political pressure on the Commission hinders its ability to fulfill the role of an independent regulatory agency,” Wyden said in a written statement.

“To properly consider, assess, and permit complex and often controversial projects, FERC must determine the public benefit of all proposals in a thoughtful, bipartisan way. To do so, pairing any Republican nominee with a Democratic nominee is critical.”

If that’s not done, Wyden said, any Jordan Cove decision could be interpreted as political.

FERC had voted unanimously in 2016 to reject the Jordan Cove project, but the developers chose to submit a new application in 2017. Opponents suggested the company was hoping to capitalize on shifts in FERC’s membership following Trump’s election.

FERC is expected to make a final determination on the pipeline Feb. 13.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

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