Western Environmental Law Center and Sierra Club submitted comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission opposing what would become the first gas export terminal on the West Coast.
The Jordan Cove and Pacific Connector Pipeline project, a gas export scheme proposed by Canadian-based Veresen Incorporated, would export about one billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas per day. The terminal would be built in Coos Bay, Oregon and the Pacific Connector pipeline would run the gas 232 miles through a 36-inch pipeline from an existing hub in the Klamath Basin at the Oregon/California border. The company has stated that target markets for the exported gas include China, Japan and Korea.
According to the coalition, the project would have significant environmental impacts. These include logging streamside forests, dumping sediment into waterways that are critical habitat for imperiled salmon, fragmenting important wildlife habitat, and extensive dredging in the Coos Bay estuary. The coalition asserts that FERC’s examination of these impacts is insufficient, and important aspects of the analysis have not yet been made available to the public.
The proposal also creates a wealth of safety concerns, including the possibility of spills and explosions. The export terminal would be built on a sand spit that is vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis, while contaminated soil problems were noted by a whistleblower that was contracted by Veresen.
Committed opponents to the project include affected landowners who risk losing private property like those contesting the Keystone XL pipeline. Landowners who are threatened with eminent domain see no public benefit. Rather, they note that a Canadian company would profit off the landowners’ loss by exporting gas.
The coalition argues that the project would increase controversial fracking, yet FERC chose not to analyze the impacts of accelerated fracking to feed the export terminal. Once Oregon’s lone coal power plant closes in 2020, the Jordan Cove gas export terminal would be the state’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, but the federal analysis fails to consider the climate impacts of the project.