A Hopeful Resolution on the Jordan Cove Pipeline

Four local LWV leagues, including Rogue Valley, Klamath, And Coos, have been working for several years to defeat this project which the LWV viewed as detrimental to the environment and lives of the people who live in the areas that would have been impacted by the pipeline construction.

Our position on this project reflects the LWV US position on the Environment, as represented by this action in 2020:

The League submitted a comment letter urging the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to withdraw proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing regulations that would remove public participation in and science-based review of large federal projects.

The League also joined a coalition letter started by the Water Protection Network and signed by over 300 organizations.

Jordan Cove Energy Project LWV Update Summary from rogue valley leaders

As 2021 begins, local, state, national, and global happenings remain relevant to the project’s future. The oil and gas industry is struggling due to market forces stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, and another year of tragic and costly wildfires and weather events have increased public and political pressure to step up the pace to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The impact of the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is unclear for numerous reasons, but their strong commitment to addressing climate change including by reversing Trump era policies on a range of climate and environment-related matters, both here and internationally, puts projects like JCEP on a very different footing than they have enjoyed for the past four years. Investors are taking note. In their 2021 Guidance and Business UpdatePembina announced a write-down of the Ruby Pipeline, a major asset related to JCEP, and made it clear that their only expenditures on the project will relate to obtaining permits, a task that drags on largely due to state denials, local permit appeals, and incomplete federal regulatory processes.

Here’s an update on key permitting highlights:

  1. The U.S. Secretary of Commerce has directed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to evaluate JCEP’s request for an override of Oregon’s objections to the corporation’s Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) consistency certificate. The outcome of the override request of this critical state permit would have multiple impacts. The Secretary’s decision is due by January 26 (with an option for an extension into February), so could happen at any time.
  2. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) ruling on whether Oregon waived their authority over JCEP’s 401 Water Quality certification is still pending with a decision expected soon. Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) denied (without prejudice) the permit application in May of 2019. If the State prevails, Pembina will need to reapply, but under new EPA rules that weaken the role of states and tribal groups. (LWVOR commented in strong opposition to the rules when proposed.) As of January 4, the two vacancies on the FERC have been filled with a bipartisan pair, Mark Christie and Allison Clements, as is customary. Commissioner Glick is expected to become Chair.
  3. Attorneys on both sides of the appeal of FERC’s Order approving JCEP in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals are now preparing briefs with a deadline after mid-January.
  4. Crag Law Center and Talent Attorney Tonia Moro continue to pursue appeals of several local land use decisions before the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). They won one recently and are arguing another to overturn a permit allowing Coos Bay dredging at this writing.
  5. In addition to these major events, see the list of water permits JCEP has yet to even apply for. The federal FAST-41 Dashboard tracks federal permit requirements, but fails to reflect several permits marked “complete,” that have been reopened due to FERC actions in the Final Order.
  • Supportive quotes from landowners are available here.
  • A one-page summary of the Landowners Fairness Act is available here.
  • HERE is a final report from the NOAA which explains the denial of approvals necessary to go forward with this project (technical).
  • HERE is a copy of a lengthy final summary report on this project from last year.
  • LWV Klamath County also recently signed on to THIS letter of thanks to Gov. Brown for her efforts to head off approval of this project.

news release from our US Senators:

For Immediate Release: March 9, 2021

Contact: Nicole L’EsperanceHank Stern (Wyden) 503-326-7539

Sara Hottman (Merkley) 503-326-3386

Wyden, Merkley Reintroduce Legislation to Defend Property Owners’ Rights from Eminent Domain Claims for Natural Gas Pipelines

Bills would provide needed protections for landowners in Oregon and nationwide facing increased and unfair use of eminent domain for pipeline development

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today reintroduced their legislation that would strengthen the rights of landowners facing eminent domain claims from private companies exploiting public interest provisions to confiscate property in Oregon and nationwide for natural gas pipeline development.

The bills, which Wyden and Merkley first introduced last fall, come in response to the natural gas industry’s increased use of eminent domain for pipeline development and the failure of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to protect landowners’ rights. The property owners in southern Oregon along the potential pipeline path for the proposed Jordan Cove project provide a clear example of that alarming trend.

“Making sure that landowners’ rights are maintained and that due process is the default process is just commonsense. Yet, in Oregon and elsewhere, long-running natural gas projects have kept property owners on edge, not knowing whether their property might be condemned or whether selling out to big industry was the only option,” Wyden saidFERC has proven to be a weak guardian of landowners’ rights. These bills change that and bring much-needed transparency and standardized due process.”

“Allowing private pipeline companies to steamroll people’s private property rights to build export pipelines that won’t benefit Americans is wrong, plain and simple,” Merkley said. “If a massive corporation wants to use land—in Southern Oregon, the Columbia River Gorge, or anywhere in America—they should have to negotiate with landowners for that right. Let’s put an end to the days where powerful and privileged fossil fuel executives act like Americans’ private property is up for grabs as they try to line their own pockets at the expense of our communities.”

Wyden’s Landowner Fairness Act would end the legal presumption that gas exports are by definition in the public interest, standardize gas developers’ communications to landowners while also setting time limits on FERC actions, set stricter standards on eminent domain claims, provide a more robust appeals process for landowners, and more. In addition to Wyden and Merkley, the bill is also cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J.

Merkley’s Ending Natural Gas Companies’ Seizure of Land for Export Profits Act would prohibit companies building export pipelines from using eminent domain claims of private lands. In addition, the legislation would affirm that the federal government does not have the authority to allow companies to use eminent domain to seize state land for natural gas pipelines.