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April 4, 2020

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Oregon regulators reject request for LNG project permit extension

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PORTLAND — State regulators have rejected a request from backers of a proposed liquefied natural gas export project in Coos Bay to extend their application for an important permit, saying they are still lacking critical information to make their decision.

The Department of State Lands will deliver its verdict on a removal-fill application, which applies to moving materials during construction in Oregon waters — by Jan. 31. A recent letter to backers of the Jordan Cove Energy Project suggests that a rejection could be in the offing. Last week, Calgary-based Pembina Pipeline Corp., requested that the agency extend its decision deadline until March 31.

In a Tuesday response, Vicki Walker, the agency director, went through chapter and verse of the agency’s interactions with Jordan Cove since 2017, including applications, extensions, resubmittals, extension requests, information requests and meetings. The most recent requests for information from the agency came in April, and were reiterated in November.

“The Department does not agree to an extension and is therefore denying your request,” Walker concluded. She also tacked on a warning: “Please be aware the Department has not yet received requested critical information.”

Pembina said Wednesday that the delay was due to the agency’s requirement that its application be accompanied by information and feedback from other agencies.

“Due to requests for new information from other Oregon agencies that were only recently communicated to Jordan Cove, the Project is now unable to meet DSL’s requirements in the current time frame,” said Paul Vogel, a project spokesman. “As we seek to fully understand the information contained in Director Walker’s letter, we are working to determine our path forward.”

A permit denial would be welcome news for opponents of the project.

“As impacted landowners, this project has been hanging over our heads for over 15 years,” Larry Mangan, a Coos County resident, said in a news release. “We are extremely relieved to hear that Director Walker and the department of state lands aren’t going to kick the can down the road.”

But if the permit is rejected, Jordan Cove can reapply, opening another chapter in the seemingly never-ending permitting saga for the proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal in Coos Bay and a 230-mile feeder pipeline that would stretch across Southern Oregon to a gas hub near Klamath County’s border with California.

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