State: Jordan Cove needs to address concerns

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MEDFORD — The state agency considering a digging permit for the proposed Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas pipeline project has distilled roughly 50,000 public comments into a dozen and a half concerns.

The concerns include that the project fails to demonstrate a public need, would hurt the waters of Oregon and would risk public health and safety, according to the Oregon Department of State Lands, which sent a letter to the Jordan Cove Energy Project last week asking the company to address the concerns raised.

The letter summarizes an estimated 49,000 to 57,000 comments received earlier this year regarding the proposal by Jordan Cove and parent corporation Pembina, of Canada, to build a 3-foot-wide, 229-mile pipeline through Jackson, Douglas, Klamath and Coos counties in order to export natural gas to Asian markets.

The state agency is solely focused on whether to grant a fill permit to move large quantities of soil beneath waterways across the state, DSL spokeswoman Ali Ryan Hansen said.

The pipeline will affect 342 water bodies, 79 of which will have water in them when the pipeline is installed, according to media affairs consultant Paul Vogel.

DSL asked Jordan Cove to respond to the 18 summarized concerns with a total of 40 delineated bullet points by May 6, according to Hansen, but Jordan Cove has the option to request a deadline extension.

The State Lands’ document is one procedural piece of one permit involved with the proposed project’s construction, according to Hansen. Other steps after May 6 include geological reviews and potential site visits as needed.

A natural resource coordinator among other technical staff will review the application, consult with State Lands Director Vicki Walker and decide on the permit by Sept. 20.

“It’s up to the applicant to thoroughly respond to our request,” Hansen said. The company will be required to say how it plans to mitigate accidents and environmental harm caused by potential natural disasters and to provide stronger analysis of alternatives and a more detailed analysis as to the necessity of the pipeline project.

The state further requested the agency to respond individually to another list of 17 “extensive” comments — some of which include the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Jackson County environmental nonprofit Rogue Riverkeeper, Jackson County residents Deb Evans and Ron Schaaf and their Medford lawyer Tonia Moro.

Rogue Riverkeeper’s comments, submitted by Conservation Director Stacey Detwiler, fill 752 pages.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said Jordan Cove hasn’t addressed fish passage for the project, according to DSL. “According to ODFW, applications for fish passage have not yet been submitted, and this is critical to the Department for impact analysis determinations yet to be made,” the DSL letter says. “Fish passage applications may need to include a contingency method for crossing each waterway.”

DSL paraphrased comments that the possible alternatives are underdeveloped in the Jordan Cove project’s permit application.

“Comments detail that through a flawed, overly narrow purpose and need statement, the resulting biased alternative analysis prevents the Department from considering a reasonable range of alternatives to the project,” the DSL document says.

Pembina spokeswoman Tasha Cadotte didn’t have direct responses to the myriad environmental concerns outlined by DSL’s nine pages last Friday, but she said that Jordan Cove intends to have its reply submitted on schedule.

Cadotte described the concerns outlined in the document as “all part of the process,” and the agency plans to reply by May 6 with responses that pool from the project’s research and engineering data.

Originally published by the Herald and News.

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