The Canadian company behind the Jordan Cove Energy Project has officially pulled the plug on their natural gas export terminal and pipeline planned for Southern Oregon. In a brief to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the project’s manager wrote Wednesday that they’ve “decided not to move forward with the project.”
That marks the end of a years-long permitting saga that began back in 2004, when a fossil fuel company later acquired by the Calgary-based Pembina Pipeline Corporation proposed a terminal near Coos Bay to import liquefied natural gas from Pacific Ocean trade routes.
Roughly a billion cubic feet of gas per day would be transported to a substation near Malin by a 229-mile pipeline across the Coast and Cascade ranges. In 2011, thanks to a boom in North American natural gas production, the project switched to an export terminal handling fracked gas from Canada and Wyoming.
Tribes, landowners and environmental groups in the region organized against the terminal and pipeline, concerned about the project’s impact on ecosystems, cultural resources and private land, organized in opposition. They appeared before local and state permitting boards and submitted comments in federal proceedings, contributing to the denial of a host of authorizations, including those under the Clean Water Act and Coastal Zone Management Act.
FERC granted authorization under the Natural Gas Act to Jordan Cove in March 2020, allowing the company to use eminent domain to seize land slated for pipeline construction from unwilling property owners. However, construction could not begin unless Jordan Cove received the required local and state permits.
The past year and a half brought mostly defeats for Pembina — local permits they had received were overturned, and FERC upheld Oregon’s denials of key state permits. Pembina placed the project on pause in May, and FERC announced in November that they would consider staying project’s federal approval, requesting briefs from Pembina and other interested parties to inform their decision.
On Wednesday, citing those obstacles, Jordan Cove officially pulled out of Southern Oregon in a brief submitted to FERC. They requested that the commission revoke their federal authorization.
“Among other considerations, applicants remain concerned regarding their ability to obtain the necessary state permits in the immediate future in addition to other external obstacles,” the brief read. “Applicants respectfully submit that, following the filing of this brief, the Commission need not expend further resources considering the issue of the appropriateness of a stay.”
The coalition of project opponents, led by advocacy group Rogue Climate, celebrated the development. The Klamath Tribes, in particular, had expressed concerns regarding the pipeline’s impact on burial and cultural sites, increased carbon emissions and the Klamath Basin’s already poor water quality.
“This is amazing news,” said Klamath Tribal Chairman Don Gentry. “We knew the project wasn’t viable because of all the risks that it brought to our communities ... “this is a significant relief for our members who have been so concerned about the impacts for our members and the region as a whole.”
Though some private landowners along the pipeline route did voluntarily enter into easements with Jordan Cove, residents who resisted the company’s activities on their land breathed a sigh of relief that, barring the official revocation of the pipeline authorization, Pembina would not be able to seize easements under eminent domain.
“This is a great day for landowners along the pipeline route, and a great day for Oregon,” said Deb Evans, who owns land in Klamath County along the planned pipeline route. “This has been a long time coming, and we are so relieved that the threat of eminent domain is no longer hanging over us.”
Though Jordan Cove did not specifically cite local opposition in its brief, Rogue Climate Director Hannah Sohl said grassroots organizing contributed to its downfall.
“The defeat of this project shows what communities can accomplish when we insist that public officials put the public interest ahead of the special interests of big corporations,” she said.