Oregonians across the state responded today to the determination on Jan. 13 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline would not jeopardize protected species or adversely impact their habitat. Local experts and residents denounced the inadequate review process that ignored the inevitable major impacts on aquatic species from the 229-mile pipeline and major marine export terminal. Project opponents also expressed dismay regarding Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’s obviously political comments in the NOAA news release promoting the fossil fuel project.
“NOAA Fisheries’ decision and the statement from Secretary Ross demonstrate that this was a political decision, not a science-based one,” said Susan Jane Brown, staff attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center. “NOAA Fisheries’ decision is not even based upon accurate information. Oregonians will have to rely on Gov. Kate Brown, our Oregon agencies, and the federal courts to protect Oregon’s imperiled aquatic wildlife and to stand up to the Trump Administration’s political support for this project.”
“The NOAA biological opinion overlooked the importance of the upper Coos Bay area, where the Jordan Cove LNG plant will be situated, as a feeding area for federally listed green sturgeon,” said Steve Miller, a Coos Bay fisheries biologist. “The construction of the pipeline and terminal, the dredging of the bay, and the LNG tanker traffic are all threats to recovery of the green sturgeon. The information provided to NOAA by Jordan Cove also lacked site specific information on stream and wetland impacts, including increased water temperature and sediment as a result of Jordan Cove LNG’s actions, for both this species and coho salmon.”
The news came on the very same day that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) announced a prohibition on harvesting wild spring Chinook salmon in the Umpqua River due to low fish count caused by increased water temperatures. In its comments last summer and again in December 2019 to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, ODFW highlighted major information gaps and potential negative impacts on Oregon’s fish and marine wildlife, issues that remain unresolved despite NOAA Fisheries’ decision.
“The Jordan Cove LNG project threatens the economy and communities of the south Coast which rely on healthy estuary and ocean systems,” said Natalie Ranker with Coos Bay community group Citizens for Renewables, “NOAA’s decision ignores the impact of the project to our local fisheries.”
Communities throughout Oregon and Northern California have been speaking out against the Jordan Cove LNG project. They have urged Governor Kate Brown to publicly oppose the project, including on November 21st, 2019 when well over 750 people from across the region assembled for a rally and sit-in at the Oregon State Capitol to demand a stop to the project. Jordan Cove LNG would quickly become Oregon’s largest greenhouse gas polluter, equivalent to over 15 times the emissions of Oregon’s only remaining, soon-to-close coal plant in Boardman. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality denied Jordan Cove LNG their Clean Water Act 401 permit in May 2019, and the Oregon Department of State Lands is set to make their decision on the project’s “Removal-Fill” permit by January 31st, 2020. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will make its own determination soon after.