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Our voices are still needed after state denies Jordan Cove clean water permit

Southern Oregonians have delivered another historic blow to the proposed Jordan Cove fracked gas export terminal and pipeline, showing that we can defeat this destructive project if we make our voices heard even more in the months to come.

On May 6, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality denied a Clean Water Act Section 401 permit because the massive liquefied natural gas project could not demonstrate that it would meet Oregon’s clean water standards. The Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and 229-mile Pacific Connector Pipeline cannot be built by Canadian fossil fuel company Pembina without the state permit.

With the denial, DEQ released 200 pages of detailed findings showing that “DEQ does not have a reasonable assurance that the construction and authorization of the project will comply with applicable Oregon water quality standards.”

Last year, a record-breaking 42,000 people submitted comments to DEQ raising concerns about the impact the Jordan Cove project would have on fishing, recreation, public drinking water, and jobs and small businesses in Southern Oregon.

Comments opposing the project came from affected landowners, anglers, small business owners, tribal members, health professionals, youth, and many other Oregonians.

This decision is a tremendous victory for everyone who attended a hearing, signed a petition, wrote a letter, made a call, donated time and money, took part in a rally or took other action to make our voices heard.

Pembina recently announced that it is cutting Jordan Cove spending for 2019 in half and is delaying the proposed launch date of the export facility by at least a year as it continues to have difficulties qualifying for necessary permits.

But we have learned in the past that with each step forward we have to redouble our efforts to keep from sliding back again. Pembina will likely re-apply to DEQ or could take this decision to court.

In 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission denied a federal permit for the Jordan Cove project, finding that “authorizing its construction would be inconsistent with the public interest.” Yet, Pembina re-filed its application as soon as a new administration took office.

If you are concerned about how Jordan Cove would affect our water, climate, and existing jobs and small businesses, there are two immediate steps you can take.

First, submit comments to FERC now on Pembina’s current application for a federal permit and attend FERC hearings in our region in June. For details, see RogueClimate.org.

Second, contact Gov. Kate Brown at 503-378-4582. Tell her how pleased Southern Oregonians are with the DEQ decision, and urge our state agencies to put the public interest over this corporate special interest as other permit decisions are being made.

The Oregon Department of State Lands, for example, should deny Pembina’s “removal-fill” permit application for the Jordan Cove project. In March, DSL announced a six-month extension because of the volume of public comments received.

Pembina needs DSL approval for one of the largest dredging projects in Oregon history to drastically alter the Coos Bay estuary, as well as for crossing Oregon waterways 485 times. DSL has the authority and responsibility to deny the permit if the project would harm waterways or affect navigation, fishing and public recreation.

In February, DSL received 50,000 comments in opposition to the project. More than 3,000 people spoke out against Jordan Cove in DSL’s public hearings, including majorities at hearings in Jackson County, Klamath County, Douglas County, Coos County and Salem.

Southern Oregonians from across the political spectrum have united for years to stop this export terminal and pipeline. If we continue to apply grassroots pressure, we can win once and for all.

Instead of backward steps like Jordan Cove, Oregon should be focused on creating good-paying jobs in renewable energy and greater energy efficiency. That’s the only way to create better jobs and improve our climate and air and water quality for all of us.

Allie Rosenbluth is the campaigns director for Rogue Climate, a Medford-based community organization that brings Southern Oregonians together for practical solutions to climate change.