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Be heard at Jordan Cove hearings despite strange format

Southern Oregonians have just been given yet another reason to turn out to upcoming June 26 federal hearings in Medford on the Jordan Cove pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal proposed by a giant Canadian corporation called Pembina.

The hearings are being held across Southern Oregon by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which in 2016 rejected a permit application for Jordan Cove because “authorizing its construction would be inconsistent with the public interest” and would hurt Southern Oregonians like us who live close to the proposed route.

Unfortunately, the commission has been stacked since then with new White House appointees who have made a career of representing the interests of big energy companies, and Pembina has asked them to approve its “new” application.

At past federal or state hearings on Jordan Cove, up to 1,000 Southern Oregonians at a time from across the political spectrum have turned out to peacefully show united opposition to Jordan Cove because it threatens our landowner rights, water quality, existing jobs and small businesses, climate, and tribal territories.

FERC and Pembina obviously don’t want to hear or see that opposition. So these new “hearings” are in a most peculiar format.

FERC isn’t holding a true public hearing where residents can listen to what others are saying and where media coverage would show a huge turnout opposing Jordan Cove.

Instead, each individual who wants to speak against the project will be taken, one at a time, in front of a court reporter who will record their comments.

As the Mail Tribune reported, this strategy of isolating project opponents is approved by Pembina, which said the format avoids the “public spectacle” of over a thousand residents listening to each other in one room at one time.

FERC and Pembina may be hoping that Southern Oregonians will be discouraged by this odd format and won’t show up at all.

We can’t let that happen.

These “hearings” are not only a chance to send a message to the federal government. A large turnout of commenters will also remind Gov. Kate Brown and our state agencies that the state needs to stand with our communities and not with giant corporate special interests and their lobbyists. We need a faster transition to clean energy, not backward steps like Jordan Cove.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality recently denied Jordan Cove a Clean Water Act permit because the project would increase erosion and landslides and harm waterways and fish, but Pembina is expected to reapply. Meanwhile, the Oregon Department of State Lands has to decide on the company’s application for a permit to dam, dredge, and dig below more than 485 rivers and streams.

FERC’s so-called “comment session” will be 1-8 p.m. Wednesday, June 26, at the Ramada Medford Hotel and Conference Center, 2250 Biddle Road.

Members of the public can give their individual comments at any time during those hours. In addition, a press conference will be held at noon, and rally will be held at 5:30 p.m. with music, art and speakers.

If you want more information, or for details on the comment sessions in other Southern Oregon counties, see nolngexports.org.

Written comments can be mailed to Secretary Kimberly D. Bose, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First St. NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426. Reference the project docket numbers CP17-494-000 and CP17-495-000 with the submission. Comments can also be submitted electronically.

Larry and Sylvia Mangan live in North Bend on one of the proposed pipeline routes. Joyce Puccini Chapman lives in Shady Cove, downriver of the proposed Rogue River crossing.