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Company gives up on natural gas pipeline

Mail Tribune / file photo Years of opposition appear to have paid off Wednesday when a company proposing a natural gas pipeline through Southern Oregon said it decided not to move forward with the project.
Pipeline through Southern Oregon faced fierce opposition

Opponents of a natural gas pipeline and export facility in Southern Oregon were jubilant Wednesday after the company proposing the project threw in the towel.

The Canadian-headquartered company Pembina filed a request Wednesday asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to cancel federal authorization of the project. That authorization had been contingent on Pembina being able to win state environmental permits for the project, which the company has failed to do.

Pembina said in its filing that it undertook a review of its prospects for getting state permits in the future and has “decided not to move forward with the project.”

Pembina said it remains concerned about its ability to “obtain the necessary state permits in the immediate future in addition to other external obstacles.”

“This is a great day for landowners along the pipeline route, and a great day for Oregon,” said Deb Evans, a Jackson County landowner whose property would have been crossed by the pipeline. “This has been a long time coming, and we are so relieved that the threat of eminent domain is no longer hanging over us.”

Pembina said it had made voluntary agreements for use of the majority of land along the 229-mile pipeline route through Klamath, Jackson, Douglas and Coos counties. But landowners who didn’t want the 3-foot-diameter pipeline running underground through their land feared they would be forced to allow use of their property through the eminent domain process.

Opponents of the project have long raised concerns about landowner rights, environmental damage, fire hazards, impacts to Native American communities and the furthering of the fossil fuel industry.

“The defeat of this project shows what communities can accomplish when we insist that public officials put the public interest ahead of the special interests of big corporations,” said Hannah Sohl of Rogue Climate. “Now, we need those same public officials to act with urgency to speed our transition to clean energy jobs and greater energy efficiency.”

Pembina had argued the $10 billion project would create jobs and pump money into Oregon’s economy. The company wanted to build the first natural gas export facility on the West Coast of the United States to ship Canadian and American gas to Asian markets. Pembina had said shipping more natural gas to Asia would reduce that region’s reliance on coal, which produces more greenhouse gas emissions than natural gas.

Various iterations of the natural gas project have been proposed for years, including an import project and then an export project. Different companies have handed off the project in hopes a business somewhere could get it approved. But the project has faced numerous hurdles.

Back in March, Pembina notified the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that it was pausing the project because it hadn’t been able to secure state permits. Opponents welcomed the news at the time, but said they hoped Pembina would eventually cancel the project altogether.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.