In the May 17 edition of the EcoNews Report, Waterkeeper Alliance’s Pete Nichols and Lesley Adams sat down to discuss the 13-year-old proposed Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline and export facility project in southern Oregon. LNG is primarily methane gas that’s been hyper-cooled and condensed for shipping purposes.
The current proposal involves a 230-mile pipeline that would span from an existing hub on the California/Oregon border to Coos Bay, where a terminal would be built to receive gas from the pipeline. From the terminal, the gas would be liquified and put onto massive tankers, then shipped to customers in Asia, where they would re-gasify the LNG to make it usable again.
The project is historically problematic. Originally proposed in 2005 as an import project rather than export, the argument at the time was that the United States needed more gas. The shift from import to export can be owed to the volatile oil market and the sudden accessibility to oil via fracking. During the fracking boom, when Lesley became involved, “It became clear that there was absolutely no need for [the United States] to import gas, and the company finally admitted to that in 2011 after we’d been legally challenging them for years. They withdrew their application, and said you’re right, never mind, we’re not gonna import gas—we would like to export gas.” The project was officially refiled as an export facility, proposing to take “surplus” gas from the Rocky Mountains and Canada and export it to countries willing to pay higher prices.
Another theory regarding the import/export flip-flop, according to Lesley, is eminent domain. Importing gas for the American people’s use seems like a business venture for the common good, right? Out of the 230 miles the pipeline proposes to cover, 150 miles are privately owned. While Pembina, the company behind the Jordan Cove LNG Project, offers relative pennies for the 150 miles of land under the guise of serving the greater good: Pembina is “spinning it[self] as an import facility for the greater good, when really a Canadian company is wanting to export gas and sell it for three times the price. Where’s the greater good in that?” asks Lesley.
The terminal and the pipeline are permitted separately, but the same company is behind both of them: Pembina. In efforts to combat corporate carbon powers, Lesley mentions bank divestment as a strategy in order to “communicate to these banks that they don’t want them funding these extreme fossil fuel projects.” Pembina is primarily financed by four Canadian banks, as well as J.P. Morgan Chase. The Jordan Cove LNG project is only one of many pipelines currently in process nationally.
The climate impacts of the Jordan Cove LNG are many. Establishing the kind of infrastructure that’s proposed in the pipeline would be “locking us into 20 to 30 years of more fossil fuels use”—the opposite direction we need to go in to stave off catastrophic climate change. LNG has an even heavier footprint than non-manipulated natural gas. LNG is fracked gas that’s liquified by cooling it down to -260 degrees Fahrenheit. It is more easily shipped in this super-cooled state. However, the carbon emitted in processing the gas into LNG causes it to be, according to some studies, even more harmful than coal. In a study by Oil Change International, it was found that the “project would emit over 37 million metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution—15 times the emissions of the Boardman coal plant, which is to be closed in 2020. Jordan Cove would be the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the state, which should be a primary concern for Oregonians—and the entirety of the West Coast.”
Although the project promises to provide economic revitalization to Coos Bay, Lesley shares that she’s “in support of economic revitalization that also is a smart move for future generations.” Pembina’s proposal, like many other pipelines, promises to introduce jobs to the area. Although a couple thousand workers will be hired for construction, only about 150 permanent jobs would be created.
As the third iteration of the Jordan Cove project, the current proposal will be evaluated for permitting by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) later this year. A public hearing and comment period will coincide with the release of an environmental impact statement (EIS) later in the year.
A coalition made up of organizations, landowners, businesses, climate activists, conservationists and concerned citizens is working together to keep fracked gas exports out of Oregon. The No LNG/No Pipeline Coalition members include Rogue Riverkeeper, Rogue Climate, Columbia Riverkeeper, Oregon Coast Alliance, and many more! Visit the coalition website at http://www.nolngexports.org to stay updated.
Take Action: To add your voice to the many who are calling for Oregon’s elected leaders to stand with communities to stop the fracked gas pipeline, and instead commit to speeding our transition to clean energy and greater energy efficiency, sign the petition at http://www.nolngexports.org/sign-the-petition/.