Proposed Gas Pipeline
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has officially announced they are starting to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the new Jordan Cove terminal and Pacific Connector gas pipeline proposal. A 30 day comment period is open till July 10th for comments on what issues the EIS should specifically evaluate for environmental impacts that would result if the project were ever built.
Jordan Cove is a fossil fuel facility proposed by Canadian company Versen that would export over 1 billion cubic feet of fracked gas per day overseas from Coos Bay. The gas would be converted to liquefied natural gas (LNG) on site at huge energy expense for transport in massive tankers. The project would also require a brand new 230 mile, 36” pipeline that would carry the gas from Malin near Klamath Falls, across Klamath, Jackson, Douglas and Coos counties in Oregon to Coos Bay.
The facility and pipeline threatens to pollute 400 waterways in salmon watersheds, to seize property from rural landowners using eminent domain, and would bulldoze a 95-foot wide linear clearcut across the whole route.
The company has been trying for 12 years now, had their various proposals challenged by rural communities, tribes, the State of Oregon, environmental and climate activists, and been shot down by the Federal Government. In 2017 they are starting all over again for a third time.
On June 9th 2017 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the new proposed version of the Jordan Cove project and Pacific Connector gas pipeline. This announcement begins a measly 30 day “scoping” comment period that ends July 10th, and several public hearings are scheduled! You can view the notice directly here.
This notice begins a critical component of public engagement. Scoping is a phase of the environmental analysis where the public can raise issues that the agency (FERC) should include in their full analysis of environmental impacts from the proposed project.
Stay tuned for ways you can take action before the deadline ends!
Waterways and Wetlands – The pipeline route would cross 400 waterways, damaging major salmon bearing watersheds like the Klamath, Rogue, Umpqua, Coos and Coquille Rivers, and sensitive estuarine habitat in Coos Bay. The crossings would require extensive removal of riparian habitat critical to keeping streams cold enough for salmon to thrive in a region where many streams already violate temperature standards. All told the project would disturb more than 6.4 million cubic yards of material from streams, wetlands and bays. Lastly the project would destroy 277 acres of wetlands important for habitat and water quality benefits.
Cultural Resources – The pipeline route and the facility would harm sites and resources important to Tribal cultures, including the fish habitat and water quality of downstream watersheds.
Forests – The pipeline would create a 230-mile long, 95-foot wide linear clearcut across the Cascades and Coast range through private and public lands. That clearcut would be maintained along the easement forever.
Threatened and Endangered Species – The proposal would impact dozens of at risk species protected by the Endangered Species Act. Species that would have habitat damaged include Coho salmon, marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl, whales and sea turtles.
Climate – Facing an already warming climate, a new pipeline to fill would fuel continued and new fracking for gas to fill it. Fracking wells are notorious for methane leakage at the drill site. Methane is a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent for the next 20 year than carbon dioxide accelerating climate change.
Safety – Gas is a highly explosive and toxic substance and has no odor, and have a history of explosions such as the 2014 accident on the Oregon Washington border. Leaks could lead to death plants and animals near the leak. The pipeline route traverses major fire prone landscapes, in fact the proposed route was burned to the ground last year in the Stouts fire in the Umpqua watershed. Our rural fire and safety personnel are simply not prepared to deal with this type of event in our communities. Finally, the terminal would be sited in a tsunami zone on the north spit of Coos Bay, and proposes to store enough gas to place 16,000 people in North Bend in the estimated hazardous burn zone. Any accidents could have serious consequences.
Landowners – Roughly 700 private landowners would be impacted along the pipeline route. If the project is approved by the federal government they face a Canadian company taking their property using eminent domain.
Economy – The economics for this project don’t pencil out. Gas rates are currently extremely low and there is limited demand for gas in the proposed export markets in Asia. Asian markets can get gas faster and cheaper from Russia and other sources. Furthermore, gas exports currently proposed throughout the country could raise domestic gas prices up to 54%, punishing consumers and domestic manufacturing.
Jordan Cove’s first attempt to get approval to build the largest infrastructure project in the history Oregon was originally billed as a gas import project in 2005. In theory the gas was going to be brought into the US, and taken to an ostensibly desperate California that needed the gas but was unwilling to permit this type of facility on their own shores. The company appeared to be banking on rural Oregon being easier to push over, and that an import project would be easier to sell as a public benefit to gain eminent domain authority. The economics of the project rapidly appeared to make little sense when in fact there was already a cheap surplus of gas in the US. Jordan Cove adamantly denied that they really planned to immediately upgrade the facility to support export of gas if it were completed. After FERC approved the project, parties including the State of Oregon petitioned for rehearing and prepared to take FERC to federal court. While the request for rehearing sat awaiting review, the company finally admitted that they did in fact want to flip the project to export, and pulled their application with FERC.
Jordan Cove’s second attempt was submitted to FERC in 2012, starting the lengthy public review process anew. This version was proposed as an export project from the get go, and included a brand new 420MW powerplant to be sited next to the terminal on the north spit of Coos Bay. Overwhelming public opposition really came into the spotlight in this round, with hearings for state and federal authorizations overflowing with hundreds of people from throughout Oregon and impacted areas of the Klamath River watershed. As groups prepared for the worst, FERC in a surprise decision denied authorization for the pipeline in early 2016. The company appealed, but was rebuffed by FERC again in late 2016 killing the project again.
Jordan Cove’s current third attempt was announced in early 2017 through a pre-filing application to FERC.
Rail company plans indicate up to three trains per week could travel through the Klamath Basin carrying explosive bakken crude oil from the Dakotas to refineries and terminals in California. While the market for oil is currently down and these trains are on hold now, the shipments were in full swing through 2014 and could resume at any time without public notification if the market prices rise.
These trains have carried crude oil with a content of methane in it that the cars were never intended to hold, and have a tendency to explode, threatening communities along the rails like Klamath Falls, Dorris, Merrill and Malin, as well as exposing Klamath Lake and Klamath River to the risk of harmful oil spills.
You can view a map of oil train routes and the potential blast zones here.