In a stunning move, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) DENIED the Pacific Connector Pipeline and Jordan Cove Export Terminal proposed for southern Oregon!
The Jordan Cove Energy Project is a proposal to ship fracked gas from the Rockies through southern Oregon and the Rogue Basin via a 232-mile long pipeline to an export terminal in Coos Bay, Oregon. The pipeline would have crossed 400 waterways, including the Rogue, impacted nearly 650 private property owners, and clear-cut a 95-foot wide swath through forests on public and private land on its way to the coast. Once the gas reached the Pacific, it would have been liquefied in a massive facility, proposed to be built in a tsunami zone on a sand spit, and put on ships bound for Asia. Due to methane leaks from the fracking fields, transport, and liquefaction plus the burning of natural gas at the power plant, this project would have become the largest climate polluter for the state of Oregon.
In a decision issued Friday March 11, FERC concluded that there were insufficient public benefits to support the project, an argument that Rogue Riverkeeper and our allies have been making for years. In particular, in order to use eminent domain to seize private property, the corporations proposing the project needed to prove that the pipeline was in the public’s best interest. The significance of FERC’s conclusion that exporting gas was not in the public’s best interest cannot be overstated: this is one of only a few energy projects FERC has ever denied.
Rogue Riverkeeper has been one of the lead groups involved with this issue since it began back in 2006 as an import proposal. Our concerns focused on the impacts the project would have had on rivers, streams and fish in the Rogue Basin. In 2014, we partnered with local climate action group Rogue Climate and together hired a campaign organizer and developed the Stand Up for Oregon; No LNG, No Pipeline Campaign. Thanks to amazing grassroots organizing efforts, and the mostly volunteer driven campaign, the movement shifted from a 12-year old localized issue into a statewide-recognized campaign proving that people power versus corporate money can prevail! The groundswell of opposition to the project led to massive turnouts at hearings for permitting processes, thrusting the proposal into the public spotlight as one of the most controversial export projects in the country.
In part, FERC’s decision rests on faltering international markets for gas that show no sign of recovering. While this decision is the first nail in the coffin to bury this project, there are a few more nails needed to seal it shut. The company will likely appeal the decision and may attempt to sue to allow implementation of the project. Advocacy will still be needed in responding to state permits and certifications the project is seeking and we will continue to put pressure on the agencies reviewing these. Recognizing that this company has invested tens of millions of dollars into this project, they may not know when to quit and we will continue to remain alert, engaged and ready.
There are many people deserving of credit for this victory. We are so grateful for all of the volunteers who wrote letters, attended hearings, made phone calls, donated money, made signs, and simply cared about the future of southern Oregon and the Rogue Basin. Thank you to all who Stood Up for Oregon and Said No LNG, No Pipeline.