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Gerry O'Brien

Gerry O’Brien

The Jordan Cove pipeline protest last Thursday was kind of a dud. Could it be that many of the concerns have been allayed or the questions have been answered?

Not likely.

About 35 people turned out on a blustery afternoon to rally in front of the Jordan Cove offices in downtown Klamath Falls; holding up signs for passersby and drivers along Main Street, stating their case against the proposed 239-mile, natural gas pipeline that will run from Malin to Coos Bay.

One person remarked, “That’s just how we protest in Klamath Falls...low key.”

The demonstration was organized by Klamath Indivisible, a splinter group that is part of a statewide organization that emphasizes protecting democracy, transparency in government, accountability, inclusion and fairness.

There was a second rally at the state Capitol that day as well, but that, too, proved to be small potatoes, as it was in competition with a display by the Oregon Cattlewomen’s Association — who were offering up cooked beef to lawmakers. Hard to compete with lunch.

Notably missing from last week’s demonstration were members of the Klamath Tribes, who had turned out in force for a Department of State Lands public hearing earlier in the year. Perhaps it was due to spring break, but more likely Klamath Indivisible didn’t seek out the tribes to participate.

At any rate, the staff of Jordan Cove were on hand to answer questions and hand out water bottles to the protesters if they wanted.

“We talked to about 10 of the protesters and answered their questions to the best of our ability,” said Tasha Cadotte, manager of media and community affairs for Jordan Cove. “A few actually left and took down their signs after speaking with us.”

More hearings on the way

Despite the small protest, the topic will likely be heating up again in the next few months, now that a federal draft Environmental Impact Statement on the project is out.

There will be several public hearings set by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this spring before the comment period comes to a close July 5. One may be in Klamath Falls. A final EIS is due out in October. And if approved, a certificate of approval would be out in January 2020.

There is still a long way to go. Jordan Cove has to obtain a variety of state permits, including one each from the Department of State Lands and the Department of Environmental Quality.

DEQ will be holding public meetings and a public comment period, too. If it is anything like the DLS hearings, the state can expect thousands of comments from Oregonians all along the proposed pipeline route. At the earliest, state permits may be approved by September.

If all falls into place, construction could start next January. That could mean a few hundred, temporary jobs for the Basin and a ripple effect throughout our economy.

The main pipeline backer and operator is Pembina Pipeline Co. of Calgary, Canada. The reason the project is here is that two main gas pipelines come together at Malin. And the distance to the coast is far less than other areas.

Paul Vogel, consultant for media affairs by Jordan Cove, noted that Coos Bay is one of the few, deep water bays that make it an ideal site for a liquid natural gas plant. (The gas is destined for the Pacific Rim).

“If you can cut off nine days of shipping expenses, that’s a lot. The other large port in the country is in Texas, on the Gulf and those ships have to travel through the Panama Canal,” Vogel said. (See related editorial).

For now we would encourage anyone, with any concern about the project to visit the offices at 901 Main St. in the historic Oregon Medical-Dental building.