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Facing denial, Jordan Cove LNG project withdraws application for key state permit

The backers of a controversial liquefied natural gas export terminal in Coos Bay withdrew their application for a key state permit Thursday rather than face denial after regulatorsrefused to extend their decision deadline and said the application was missing critical information.

The Jordan Cove Energy Project, owned by Calgary-based Pembina Pipeline Corp., had already applied for and received four extensions since filing an application with the Department of State Lands in November 2017. They sought a permit to remove material from the Coos Bay estuary and other bodies of water along the 230-mile route of the project’s feeder pipeline. The agency and company twice previously agreed to suspend the application.

The company said earlier this week that it was still submitting supporting material for other state permits and the Department of State Lands had requested that information be filed as part of its application for the removal-fill permit. It said it couldn’t submit that material in time for the agency to consider it and make a decision by its January 31 deadline.

According to a letter from Department of State Lands Directors Vicki Walker to Pembina earlier this month, however, the agency had been requesting other distinct information from the company for months.

State Lands spokeswoman Ali Ryan Hansen said the department was confident its request for additional information had been made both clearly and with sufficient time to respond. “The applicant was aware for a very long time of what we needed,” she said.

Jordan Cove can simply reapply for the permit when its ready and pay another $1,292 application fee. But Hansen said that would trigger an entirely new process, with a sufficiency review and a new public comment period. Last time around, the agency held five public meetings across the state attended by more than 2,000 people. It received some 49,000 comment on the application.

Jordan Cove said it would wait for a decision on its main federal permit for the project before deciding its path forward. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is slated to deliver its final environmental analysis of the project on Feb. 13.

Commissioners denied the project’s federal license in 2016, saying backers hadn’t demonstrated enough commercial support for the project to overcome the impact on landowners along the pipeline route. Pembina still doesn’t have signed purchase agreements with LNG buyers. But it does have a memorandum of understanding with Asian buyers and says it has reached easement agreements with 82% of landowners along the pipeline route.

Jordan Cove also needs permits from a variety of state agencies, including a water quality permit from the Department of Environmental Quality and a determination from the Department of Land Conservation and Development that the project is consistent with the state’s land use laws under the Coastal Zone Management Act.

Sen Jeff Golden, D-Ashland, sent out a news release Friday afternoon suggesting that Jordan Cove’s withdrawal of its application was part of a game plan to rely on the Trump Administration’s environmental deregulation to eventually win approval for the project. Part of Trump’s effort is to strip states of their authority to block energy infrastructure projects.

“This corporation has come to realize that their pipeline can’t come close to meeting Oregon’s environmental standards,” Golden said. “They believe their permit application has a better chance for approval if Oregon’s decision is delayed until after FERC makes its ruling.”

Ted Sickinger; tsickinger@oregonian.com

Soure: https://www.oregonlive.com/environment/2020/01/facing-denial-jordan-cove-lng-project-withdraws-application-for-key-state-permit.html

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