COOS COUNTY — On Monday, the Trump administration approved the Jordan Cove liquid natural gas terminal.
But this does not mean the project has the green light to move forward, at least not until it gets permits from the state of Oregon.
Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette signed an order for the project, which would send its LNG exports to Asia from Coos Bay, and stated that the Jordan Cove Energy Project “encapsulates what the Trump administration has been working hard on for the past three years — providing reliable, affordable, and cleaner-burning natural gas to our allies around the world.”
However, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley’s office clapped back, stating in an email to The World that “We need real infrastructure plans that will create real jobs, boost our economy and spur exports, without undermining our economic future, environment, and public health.”
Ray Zaccaro, from Merkley’s office, went on to write that the Monday announcement “fails that test.”
“Climate chaos is already wreaking havoc on our fisheries and burning up our forests, and adding more fossil fuel pollution for decades to come will only make things worse,” Zaccaro wrote. “Senator Merkley will continue to fight for jobs and an economy that helps working Oregonians while combating the climate crisis and protecting our resources and health.”
Allie Rosenbluth, campaign director with community activist organization Rogue Climate, said that the approval from the federal administration did not come as a surprise.
“It’s just another rubber stamp … giving the facade that the project is moving forward,” Rosenbluth said. “However, (federal approval) has no impact on whether or not Jordan Cove is moving forward. The project still cannot build because it lacks permits from the state … Its federal and local permits are (also) being challenged by the state, local tribes, affected land owners and community groups like Rogue Climate.”
Rosenbluth pointed out that Monday held victories for groups standing against pipelines across the nation, starting with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline which was canceled after five years of delays.
“… The energy company saw it wasn’t a viable project,” she said. “And then yesterday, the Dakota Access Pipeline was ordered by a federal court to drain the oil from the pipeline in the next 30 days and shut down the project because the Trump administration’s environmental review was so poor that they have to restart all over again … It shows the Administration can’t skimp on environmental reviews and expect them to move forward.”
Rosenbluth also mentioned the Keystone Pipeline, which received a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that it did not have the water quality permits needed to build the project and “will be delayed another year,” she said.
“I think all of those (are) huge wins for communities and show that just because the federal administration is trying to greenlight a project does not mean it will get built, especially when communities stand against the project for so many years,” she said.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday it was announced that a group of impacted Oregon landowners — represented by the Niskanen Center — filed a motion asking the Washington D.C. Circuit Court to “invalidate FERC’s approval of the Pacific Connector Pipeline and Jordan Cove LNG facility,” read a press release from the Niskanen Center.
It added that the landowners also asked the court for a “stay” — or pause — on FERC’s approval of the project.
“If the Court rules in favor of the landowners, Pembina — the pipeline and facility’s proponent — will not be able to start condemnation actions against landowners’ properties,” read the release.
According to the release, the motion goes on to argue that FERC’s approval of the pipeline “violated the Natural Gas Act by approving a pipeline that will only export gas and permitting Pembina to exercise eminent domain violates the Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution ….”
The release added that allowing Pembina to proceed would also result in “irreparable damage to the landowners’ homes and properties through activities such as tree and crop clearing. In addition, the project poses a heightened public health risk for landowners, many of whom are elderly, by exposing them to pipeline workers during a surge of COVID-19 cases in Oregon.”