Jordan Cove In Court While Feds Authorize Exports

Oregon challenges approval of Jordan Cove in federal court while the Department of Energy expands the proposed project’s export opportunities

On June 6, U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Bouillette issued an order authorizing the export of Jordan Cove liquified natural gas (LNG) from Oregon to non-fair-trade-agreement countries. He says the order exemplifies the Trump administration’s agenda.

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) order comes on the heels of Oregon’s challenge in court to overturn the Federal Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) conditional approval of the Jordan Cove LNG terminal and Pacific Connector pipeline. FERC approved the project even though it has not received some permits from key Oregon regulatory agencies. 

In an email to Eugene Weekly, Nikki Fischer, a spokesperson for the governor’s office, said “The Governor will not stand for any attempt to ignore Oregon’s authority to protect public safety, health, or the environment.”

The state’s suit for a rehearing has been applauded by community groups opposed to Jordan Cove.

“I am so heartened knowing that Oregon is on our side, pushing back on the federal government’s flawed analysis and approval of this terrible project,” says Stacey McLaughlin, an impacted landowner in Myrtle Creek who signed the letter.  

Allie Rosenbluth of Rogue Climate says the DOE’s order to widen Jordan Cove’s export opportunities shows the federal government is “bending over backwards to permit fossil fuel projects, even when they have no viable path forward like Jordan Cove LNG.”

The proposed Jordan Cove LNG pipeline, owned by Canadian company Pembina Pipeline Corp., would span 229 miles and four southern Oregon counties. A report from OilChange International suggests the project would become the largest greenhouse gas polluter in the state. The pipeline would move natural gas from Canada and Colorado across hundreds of waterways and wetlands to be exported from the Jordan Cove terminal in Coos Bay to markets in Asia. Impacted landowners have said the project would require the seizure of private property by eminent domain.

The project was approved by FERC in March 2020, even though Pembina was denied a clean water permit by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and received an objection from the state Department of Land Conservation and Development. The pipeline company withdrew applications to the Department of State Lands in January.

On June 10, the state filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia asking for a rehearing of FERC’s conditional approval of the project. The state joins landowners, Tribal governments and environmental groups that filed suits in May to overturn FERC’s decision.

On July 6, impacted landowners requested a “stay” from the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. to ensure private property cannot be seized by eminent domain for the project, according to a press release from Rogue Climate. 

The DOE issued an order it says is intended to expand the market for Jordan Cove exports on July 6. The order grants Pembina the authority to export 1.08 billion cubic feet per day of liquified natural gas to countries the U.S. does not have fair trade agreements with.

In a press release from the DOE, Energy Secretary Brouillette said the order “…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.”

Rosenbluth says the DOE’s latest move illustrates why “it is so critical that our state stand strong and continues to challenge and deny permits for Jordan Cove LNG.”

She is one of many community members who have praised the state’s stance. 

In a letter signed by 41 community groups in late June, organizations across Oregon thanked Gov. Kate Brown for “standing up for Oregonians, Tribal resources, public and private lands, wildlife, clean water, and a healthy climate.”

Dan Wahpepah, co-director of Red Earth Descendants, an Indigenous community group, says he signed the thank-you letter because the state’s opposition to the FERC order is an imperative part of protecting Oregon’s natural environment.

“It’s very gratifying and hopeful that the state adopted this kind of stance because we the people have been fighting this for a long time,” Wahpepah says.

Wahpepah says that if the pipeline project gets built, Pembina will be making at least “a 60-year investment in a dying fuel source.”

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