(CN) — U.S. Senator Ron Wyden vowed Friday to fight the Canadian company behind a proposed liquified natural gas export terminal as it begins to try to take the land of locals who oppose Jordan Cove.
Meanwhile, the company’s boosters plan a full-page ad in the Sunday Oregonian telling Oregon Governor Kate Brown the pipeline will help Oregon recover economically from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Federal Energy Regulatory commission released an order Friday refusing to revisit its decision to approve the Jordan Cove Liquified Natural Gas Terminal and 229-mile Pacific Connector Pipeline.
In its order, FERC denied requests for rehearing on a wide range of concerns from Oregon, tribal governments, environmentalists and landowners who pointed to the project’s expected harm to spotted owls, snowy plovers, marbled murrelets, salmon, whales, wetlands and the eel grass beds that serve as tidal nurseries for countless ocean species.
The issues brought up also involved cultural surveys of lands sacred to area tribes, landowner’s claims that the project doesn’t justify taking their property, worries that the pipeline will inhibit efforts to increase prescribed burns to combat the area’s rampant wildfires and numerous objections from the state of Oregon.
FERC reiterated its stance that the project is in the public interest even though its estimated 2 million tons of carbon emissions each year “could impact the state of Oregon’s ability to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals.”
The commission said it can’t even require Jordan Cove to plant trees or buy renewable energy credits to offset the project’s electricity use because it is unable to determine the project’s greenhouse gas emissions.
But it granted several requests from Pembina, the company behind Jordan Cove. The company had asked the federal commission to drop its requirement that it secure several key permits that the state of Oregon had denied.
FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee said in a commission hearing Thursday that Pembina can’t begin construction or clear land until it gets all necessary state permits.
But the commission clarified in today’s order that an override from the U.S. Secretary of Commerce would satisfy the need for a federal consistency review from the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development.
And it said it would consider in a separate order whether it would grant Pembina’s request that it waive the requirement for a state permit under the Clean Water Act.
That could have something to do with new Trump administration rules expected to be released imminently that would make it harder for states to enforce regulations under the Clean Water Act.
In March, Governor Brown called FERC’s approval of the project “stunning,” given that it was issued during a national and state emergency.
“I have asked the state’s lawyers to consider all appropriate legal action to assure that Oregon permitting processes will be followed,” Brown said at the time.
Chairman Chatterjee said Thursday that Pembina was free to move forward with eminent domain proceedings to take the land of locals who oppose the project.
Landowners along the pipeline route immediately challenged the order in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, claiming the project “is authorizing a foreign company to take our citizens’ land for foreign profit.”
U.S. Democratic Senator Wyden said Friday that he will fight Pembina if it tries to start taking locals’ land. Wyden’s spokesman, Hank Stern, said that legislation is one way Wyden might do that.