COOS BAY — The proposed Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas terminal and its 230-mile feeder pipeline in southern Oregon would have some adverse and significant impacts, according to staff at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The agency’s staff issued their final environmental analysis of the contentious natural gas export project Friday, concluding it would result in “temporary, long-term and permanent impacts on the environment,” The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
The report says many of those impacts would not be significant or could be reduced to less than significant levels with avoidance and mitigation measures, the analysis said, but some would be adverse and significant, staff concluded.
The staff analysis is neither an approval nor denial of the project; that’s up to a vote of the agency’s presidentially appointed commissioners after the analysis goes through a public comment period and incorporates any subsequent revisions.
A final order is expected from commissioners on Feb. 13. Even if it wins regulatory commission approval, construction of the project would be contingent on the project obtaining a host of other state, federal and local approvals.
Canadian energy company Pembina hopes to construct the pipeline from Malin to the planned Jordan Cove export terminal in Coos Bay. The pipeline would cross 64 miles of land in Douglas County, and the project would create 6,000 temporary construction jobs and 215 permanent jobs, primarily in Coos Bay.
Specifically, the regulatory staff concluded that the project would permanently and significantly impact the visual character of Coos Bay; generate significant but temporary noise and housing problems; significantly impact operations of the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport operations, and adversely affect 18 federally-listed or proposed threatened and endangered species.
Jordan Cove spokesman Paul Vogel pointed to the jobs and tax benefits the project would deliver and said backers had committed to undertake extensive mitigation to preserve old growth forests, wetlands and riparian habitat.
Opponents of the project emphasized in a news release that the project was earlier rejected by the regulatory commission in 2016 because backers couldn’t demonstrate a public need for the project that outweighed its impacts on landowners impacted by the proposed Pacific Connector pipeline, which would stretch across much of Southern Oregon.
They also pointed to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s decision to deny the project’s water quality permit because it did not have “assurance that the construction and authorization of the project will comply with applicable Oregon water quality standards.” That rejection was somewhat procedural, as the agency faced a deadline to make a decision and did not want to waive its regulatory authority. It did leave the door open for Jordan Cove to reapply for the certification, however.