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Opponents vow to take fight to governor's office

Landowners and activists opposed to the Jordan Cove and Pacific Connector Pipeline liquid natural gas project say they'll take their fight to Gov. Kate Brown's office. 

The LNG terminal near Coos Bay and 36-inch pipeline that would run through Jackson County lands received final environmental approval Wednesday from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

"Many people are opposed to the project. We need them to call, text and tweet the governor," said Deb Evans, organizer of a rally that drew about 40 protesters Wednesday afternoon to the corner of Crater Lake Highway and Owen Drive, not far from Pacific Connector's Medford office. "It's imperative that Oregonians understand the issue."

Protesters posted artwork and signs depicting possible environmental and safety impacts from the LNG project on windows outside the Pacific Connector office on Citation Way.

"We posted art on the building to let them know that we aren't interested in the destruction their pipeline is going to cause," Evans said. 

Evans said Brown and the state of Oregon are key to halting progress on the project, noting former Gov. Ted Kulongoski's role in 2010 in preventing a liquefied natural gas import hub as precedent.

"(Brown) has the authority to stop the project. Use it," Evans said.

Sarah Westover, who organizes anti-LNG efforts for Rogue Riverkeeper and Rogue Climate organizations, didn't attend the rally but shared Evans' sentiment that the next step is for Oregon residents to voice concerns to Brown.

“There’s no question whether or not the governor has power to shut this down. She does,” Westover said.

FERC's approval of the project wasn't a surprise to Westover, but she listed concerns she believes have been overlooked in FERC's final environmental impact statement.

"Some of the biggest impacts — climate, public safety and impacts to our streams and waterways — haven’t been evaluated at all,” Westover said.

Property owners who will be impacted by the pipeline were similarly not surprised by FERC's EIS, which clears a major hurdle for the LNG project but is not final approval.

“We certainly expected that FERC was going to issue this EIS,” said Bob Barker of Shady Cove. “The state needs to do their job in a very thorough review of the issues that are involved in the permit process.”

Even though the pipeline is one step further along, Barker hasn't lost hope.

“We’re not giving up easily on this because we think the fundamental facts of this are wrong,” Barker said. “Because we feel so strongly about this, the landowners who have gathered together to fight this for many, many reasons will continue this fight until the very, very end.”

Three pieces of Toni Woolsey's property near Shady Cove would be directly affected by the pipeline.

“Environmentally, it’s going to be really bad for Oregon,” Woolsey said. “I would feel this way even if it were not crossing my property.”

Among her concerns, Woolsey lists construction noise, noise of a meter station slated to be nearby, and dangers of the pipe leaking an odorless gas. Woolsey also wishes more local residents understood what she and others are opposing. (Corrected statement).

"You'll have this meeting and nobody shows up," Woolsey said. "Everybody wants to go home and watch a good movie and have a wine cooler."

Reach newsroom assistant Nick Morgan at nmorgan@mailtribune.com.

Correction: Amended a statement from Toni Woolsey. In the print edition it was written that she was concerned about noise the pipeline would make after construction was completed, but Woolsey was only referring to noise at a nearby meter station. The pipeline itself will be silent.

Protesters stopped along Highway 62 in Medford to rally against a proposed liquid natural gas pipeline that received final environmental approval Wednesday. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell