Move now, FERC

The case for Jordan Cove grows — and reveals some wild inconsistencies in U.S. energy policy.

Just last month, a proposal to ship 7 million tons of Montana coal out of a port in Washington state received a favorable review from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

This despite five of six coal port terminals having been rejected or dropped because they’re either undue burdens on communities or there’s no market for coal abroad, as environmental advocacy groups have pointed out.

Meanwhile, Jordan Cove, a liquefied natural gas export facility on the Oregon coast that would allow for the transport of Piceance Basin gas to Japan, got hung up during the regulatory process on questions of demand.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a denial in March centered on a lack of customers for the connecting 232-mile Pacific Connector transmission pipeline bringing gas to the proposed export facility. Veresen, Inc., the Calgary-based company pursuing the Jordan Cove project, has since filed agreements representing 77 percent of the pipeline’s capacity.

On Wednesday, a Japanese company that wants to buy Piceance gas bolstered proof of market demand by urging FERC to promptly approve the project — a move celebrated by Colorado officials who continue to champion the project.

In fact, a delegation of officials from western Colorado were visiting Coos Bay this week in hopes of demonstrating support at both ends of the pipeline.

“With its proximity to Japan and its access to large natural gas reserves, the Jordan Cove Energy Project is well placed to make a positive contribution to enhancing the energy security for Japan over the long term,” Jera Co. Inc. President Yuji Kakimi wrote to FERC officials.

“While the uncommon letter is from Jera, the communication more broadly speaks on behalf of 125 million Japanese people who trust Colorado more than Iran when it comes to their families and future,” said David Ludlam, executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

Even before the letter, Jordan Cove’s CEO expressed confidence that the project would be reconsidered by FERC. On Sept. 29, Natural Gas Intelligence, a trade publication, summarized Elizabeth Spomer’s remarks to investors: “While she acknowledged that there is currently an LNG supply glut globally, Spomer said in Southeast Asia, energy demand is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 16% between 2016 and 2030.”

The evidence is mounting: This is a project, as Ludlam notes, “that makes Colorado and Oregon more prosperous and Japan more safe.” The U.S. Geologic Survey said this summer the Piceance contains 66 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Japan wants this U.S. gas to power Tokyo. U.S. LNG exports diminish the petro-power of producers in the Middle East, Russia and Venezuela, making it a national security issue as well as an economic one.

We urge FERC officials to expedite a rehearing of their denial and clear the way for this important project to move forward.


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