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Pipeline project revived

Backers of the proposed Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline between Coos Bay and Malin on Monday filed a pre-application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build the estimated 230-mile project.

In April, the commission withdrew its 2009 authorization to allow a liquefied natural gas import terminal to be built at Jordan Cove near Coos Bay and a pipeline across northern Jackson County en route to Malin after the backers announced they wanted to export the gas instead of importing it as originally planned.

Vacating the authorization meant the firms had to obtain a new FERC certificate as LNG exporters before moving forward, according to a commission spokeswoman.

The proposal has met with vocal opposition from private property owners whose land the pipeline would cross as well as from environmental groups and others.

Representatives of the Jordan Cove Energy Project have insisted the 3-foot-diameter, underground pipeline would be safe for both the environment and landowners.

A complete application for the pipeline is expected to be filed with FERC by the end of the year, said Michele Swaner, spokeswoman for Williams Pacific Connector Gas Operator, a Salt Lake City firm proposing the project along with Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. and Fort Chicago Energy Partners. FERC already has accepted a pre-filing application for the Jordan Cove terminal, she noted.

The plan calls for pipeline construction to begin during the first quarter of 2015, while construction of the Jordan Cove terminal would begin in 2014, she said. The goal is to have both operating by the end of 2017, she added.

An open-house meeting to allow residents to learn more about the project will be held in Medford the week of June 25, she said, adding that similar sessions will be held that week in Klamath Falls, Roseburg and Coos Bay. Specific information about the time and place of the meetings was not available Tuesday.

"We'll provide more information as we move forward," she noted in an email message to the Mail Tribune.

But opponents of the Jordan Cove terminal and pipeline have vowed to stop the project. In addition to concerns about eminent domain issues, they say the project could increase the cost of domestic natural gas, threaten salmon fisheries and pose a danger to nearby residents.

"LNG export is bad for salmon, bad for landowners and bad for business," said Sen. Alan Bates, D-Medford, in a prepared statement.

"Oregonians are working hard to restore valuable salmon runs, and the Pacific Connector would further harm them so they can get rich by exporting U.S. fossil fuels," added Lesley Adams, head of Rogue Riverkeeper, an arm of the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center in Ashland. "Their new export plan is not good for Oregonians or Americans."

Gordon Feighner, senior utility analyst with Citizens' Utility Board of Oregon, agreed.

"The benefits of LNG export would go to foreign customers and project developers, while Oregon citizens would be faced with the environmental and cost impacts of the projects," he said.

In February, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Springfield, introduced legislation aimed at protecting private property from the use of eminent domain in building a pipeline designed to export liquefied natural gas.

DeFazio noted the U.S. Constitution limits the use of eminent domain to actions necessary for "public use," adding that pipelines such as the one proposed from Malin to the proposed LNG terminal in Coos Bay fail that test. Instead, it would boost corporate profits while increasing domestic energy costs, he said.

The proposed pipeline would stretch from the proposed terminal near Coos Bay to Malin, where it would link to the Ruby Pipeline and draw on natural gas coming from Wyoming. The pipeline would go through Klamath, Jackson, Douglas and Coos counties.

In addition to crossing more than 100 miles of private property, as well as state and county lands, the pipeline would go through some 30 miles of national forestland and 40 miles of U.S. Bureau of Land Management land.