SALEM, Ore. — A Canadian energy company has withdrawn its application for a state permit for a controversial natural gas pipeline and export terminal in Oregon, and a project spokesman said Friday it is instead awaiting possible federal approval.
The proposed natural gas terminal and a 230-mile feeder pipeline would permit shipment of natural gas from the United States and Canada to Asia and create local jobs. But there has been strong opposition by some in Oregon to the Jordan Cove Project. They say it would ruin habitat and that the increased use of a fossil fuel would contribute to global warming.
Protesters occupied Democratic Gov. Kate Brown’s office in November, demanding she oppose the pipeline project. She refused, and 21 protesters were arrested for trespassing. A prosecutor declined to file charges, but if the project goes ahead, opponents are vowing to resist.
In a letter to Department of State Lands Director Vicki Walker, a Jordan Cove project official said it was on Thursday withdrawing its application for a removal-fill permit, needed to dredge sediment out of Coos Bay for the marine export terminal, and to construct a pipeline through and under waterways in southern Oregon.
Jordan Cove, which is a project of Calgary, Canada-based Pembina, had sought an extension to a Jan. 31 deadline to file additional documents with the Walker’s department. But Walker told Jordan Cove in a Jan. 21 letter it had already received numerous deadline extensions and denied the request.
Nathan Matthews, an attorney for the Sierra Club, one of several environmental groups opposed to the project, said there is no path forward for Jordan Cove without state approval.
“This proposal has been stalled for years because it would be a disaster for Oregon’s communities and waterways,” Matthews said in an email. “Today it’s more obvious than ever that Pembina should just give up on the project altogether.”
Paul Vogel, a spokesman for the Jordan Cove Project, said in an email that it is awaiting a final determination by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Feb. 13, “at which time we will determine our path forward.”
While Brown, a Democrat, declined to speak out against the project, she did share a letter with the protesters that she sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency a month earlier. She said she opposed the federal agency’s attempts to remove the state’s authority in the permitting process.
The Trump administration in August proposed streamlining approval of gas pipelines and other energy projects by limiting states’ certification authorities under the Clean Water Act.
It appears the administration already anticipates the project will go forward. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said this month, after an agency under his jurisdiction said Jordan Cove won’t jeopardize protected species, that the opinion “will pave the way for more American jobs and vastly expanded exports of domestically sourced liquified natural gas to prized Asian markets.”