A Douglas County judge ruled in favor of petitioners suing the county over a key land use permit for the Jordan Cove Energy Project pipeline Wednesday.
The county issued statements to The News-Review Thursday showing that it disagrees with Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Johnson’s decision.
The ruling prevents a part of the natural gas pipeline from running through a 7-mile stretch of county forestland near Camas Valley.
The future of the Jordan Cove Energy Project was called into question Wednesday after a Doug…
The Canadian energy company Pembina plans to construct the pipeline across 229 miles of Southern Oregon from Malin to an export terminal in Coos Bay; 64 of those miles would be in Douglas County.
The ruling nullifies the permit, stating it became void when the county failed to grant its sixth permit extension by the deadline on Dec. 10, 2016. The permit was originally granted on Dec. 10, 2009. The county began granting one-year extensions for the permit in 2011 after construction didn’t begin within two years as required by the permit.
The county disagrees with the judge’s decision.
Tamara Osborne, a spokeswoman for the county, said county “commissioners are not allowed to directly comment on pending or potential land use decisions, should this matter come to the Board in a subsequent land use process.”
“The Douglas County Planning Department processed the requests for extension of land use approvals for the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline in accordance with County Land Use and Development Ordinance (LUDO), under which such extensions are ministerial actions,” read a statement issued by the county. “The requests were received in a timely manner and processed as required by the LUDO. Obviously, the Judge has a different opinion of events.”
Johnson’s opinion letter filed with the court states that the county’s argument is inconsistent with its previous positions.
“It appears from the record that up to and including Oct. 16, 2016, the county took the position that the extension must be approved prior to expiration or it become void pursuant to LUDO 2.800(1),” Johnson wrote.
Johnson also disagreed with the county’s statement that issuing an extension is a ministerial action by the county planning director.
“I do not believe that the extension is a ministerial action despite the efforts of the county to title it as such,” she said.
The energy company is currently exploring ways to continue its plan to build the pipeline on the 7-mile stretch of county forestland at issue, according to a statement from company spokesman Michael Hinrichs.
“We are now examining yesterday’s court decision and considering all options, including appeal,” Hinrichs said. “We are also looking at the administrative option of filing for a new permit. Any suggestion that we are out of options is misleading.”