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Southern Oregon

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  • Contact Robyn Janssen at robyn@rogueriverkeeper.org in Southern Oregon.

Big Energy companies Fort Chicago and Energy Projects Development Ltd have targeted southern Oregon with a proposed Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in the Coos Bay estuary. Those companies, along with Williams, PG&E and Veresen, have plans for a new high-pressure gas pipeline called “Pacific Connector” that would run 234 miles from the proposed LNG terminal in Coos Bay across Coos, Douglas, Jackson and Klamath Counties. Click here to view a map.

Status of the project:

After nearly 7 years of proposing to import LNG through Coos Bay and the Pacific Connector pipeline, project proponents announced in late 2011 that they want to export U.S. natural gas from the Rockies through southwest Oregon and out of Coos Bay to overseas markets, which pay much more for natural gas than we do. The project is still a long way from getting all the state and federal approvals it would need to start any construction, and the bait and switch to export certainly changes the process for project approval at the county, state and federal level.

Jordan Cove LNG and the 234-mile Pacific Connector Pipeline received a FERC permit in 2009. FERC received three petitions for rehearing—from the State of Oregon, the National Marine Fisheries Service and an alliance of conservation and community groups including Citizens Against LNG, Rogue Riverkeeper, Friends of Living Oregon Waters, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association, Institute for Fisheries Resources and others. FERC sat on those petitions for three years. In 2012, when the energy companies made it clear they wanted to cancel their import application and re-apply for export approval, FERC vacated those petitions for rehearing.

In March 2012, Jordan Cove submitted a “pre-application” to FERC for LNG export and they intend to submit a full application by October 2012.

The project does not have any necessary permits under the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act or state permits for working in public waterways.

Communities and Places Impacted by LNG Development:

(Note: this summary of impacts is by no means a comprehensive list of the myriad of impacts and threats of LNG development)

Coos Bay/North Bend

Community leaders in Coos Bay have provided the strong leadership and vigorous research needed to protect Southern Oregon from LNG terminals and pipelines. Once you learn about the threats to their community, the leaders’ motivation is not hard to understand.

The Jordan Cove LNG facility and slip would sit on the North bend of the Coos River channel less than a mile from the City of North Bend. This area is in a red tsunami inundation zone, in the Cascadia subduction zone, meaning a likely spot for a large impending earthquake, and this area is known for high winds and ship disasters. In addition, the facility would be located directly across from the end of an active airport runway. This combination of features creates great concern for the safety of the community.

The construction of the terminal would require the removal of 100-foot high-forested sand dune and the largest dredging project ever proposed for the Coos Bay Estuary. The project would require the removal of 5.6 million cubic yards of riverbed and sediment across 53 acres of the Coos Bay estuary.

Coquille, Myrtle Creek, Shady Cove, Klamath Falls

Construction of the Pacific Connector pipeline would affect about 3,035 acres of forest and woodland, 623 acres of agricultural lands, 488 acres of grasslands-shrubland, and 131 acres of non-riparian vegetation.  Approximately 151 miles, or 66 percent, of the proposed pipeline route would cross private property.

Communities along the pipeline route between Coos Bay and Malin, Oregon are threatened with a 95-ft. wide construction corridor right-of-way through their private and public lands.  Farmers, ranchers, and timber harvesters are concerned about the disruption posed to their working lands, as well as the use of eminent domain the company is likely to use to acquire that land. A 60-ft. permanent easement on private land would likely disrupt irrigation systems and water wells, as well as other common uses of individuals’ lands.

Streams and fish

Fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts are concerned about the impacts of the pipeline on waterways.  The Pacific Connector Pipeline would cross or affect nearly 400 waterbodies between Coos Bay and Malin. The freshwater streams crossed by the entire pipeline route include six major subbasins of rivers in southern Oregon: the Coos, Coquille, South Umpqua, Upper Rogue, upper Klamath and Lost River.

Southwest Oregon streams are habitat for salmon and steelhead species, some of which are federally listed as threatened fish species. Many of these streams are designated as “Essential Salmon Habitat” by Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. Pipeline construction would remove important streamside vegetation, increase stream temperatures, dump sediment into creeks, destroy wetlands and as a result, harm fish.

Medford

While the land in Medford is not threatened by pipeline development, LNG in Oregon may impact the Medford community. The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the project states that the pipeline would cross or be adjacent to 11 public drinking water source areas, including the watersheds serving the Medford Water Commission.

Rogue River

There is at least one proposed Horizontal Directional Drill (HDD) under the Rogue River, near Trail. Major impacts to water quality and fish would result if substantial drilling muds seeped into the river in the event of a “frac-out.” The location of the proposed drill is an important Chinook spawning area on the Rogue.

Forest impacts

The proposed pipeline route would cross the Umpqua, Rogue-River/Siskiyou and Frement/Winema National Forests and in doing so, would degrade forest habitat for endangered species and riparian reserves. The current management plans for all three national forests, as well as the Coos Bay and Medford Districts of the BLM, would need to be amended to allow for pipeline construction since they currently do not allow such impacts to fragile habitats. A 95-ft. wide clearcut with associated habitat fragmentation would rip through southern Oregon forestland for 235 miles.

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