In another state-level setback for the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas project, an Oregon official has denied the project’s request for more time to provide additional information to a state department before it issues a decision on a key permit.
Instead, the Oregon Department of State Lands plans to stick to a Jan. 31 deadline to release a decision on Jordan Cove’s application despite not having yet received what it calls “critical information” from the applicant, at least as of Tuesday. That’s when the department’s director informed Jordan Cove LNG of her decision in writing.
Vicki Walker wrote that the department had indicated last fall that it was possible it would revisit its decision timeline, but subsequently “has not received timely and sufficient information to address all outstanding questions.”
As a result, it will issue its decision next week “based on the record in front of us,” she wrote.
Jordan Cove — a project that could provide access to global markets for natural gas drilled in western Colorado — is pursuing a permit from the department covering removing and filling of material in waters. A 229-mile pipeline in Oregon would have to be built and cross waters to supply the LNG facility, and dredging also is required in Coos Bay.
As of Tuesday, Walker wrote, her department hasn’t received “critical information” pertaining to wetlands and stream impacts and mitigation, and other issues.
Earlier this month, Coos Bay City Council approved Jordan Cove project’s local land use application in a 4-3 decision, giving the project the last of 14 county and city approvals it needs. Mesa County commissioners had written the city in support of Jordan Cove’s application, saying in part that it could boost and stabilize rural economies in western Colorado and Coos Bay.
The project also is hoping for approval next month from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has rejected the project before. But state approvals are proving to be something of a challenge, with Jordan Cove LNG having recently acknowledged “the significantly protracted and uncertain state regulatory process.”
Last spring the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality denied Jordan Cove’s application for a water quality certification due to concerns about potential impacts, but said the project could reapply and submit more information. One thing Walker’s department has been asking for before making its decision is Jordan Cove’s new application to the Department of Environmental Quality, which Jordan Cove told the department won’t be finalized until late this month. It asked for a two-month extension on the removal-fill permit decision.
Jordan Cove LNG is owned by Pembina Pipeline Corp. Project spokesman Paul Vogel said it sought the extension on the permit decision because “requests for new information from other Oregon agencies that were only recently communicated to Jordan Cove” made it unable to meet the state lands department’s requirements in the current time frame.
“As we seek to fully understand the information contained in Director Walker’s letter, we are working to determine our path forward,” Vogel said by email.
More than 2,000 people are estimated to have attended five public hearings on the removal-fill permit application, and the department received more than 49,000 comments.
Walker’s letter to Jordan Cove outlined extensive communications between the department and the project and multiple instances in which the department received only partial responses to questions it had. She wrote that the department had long worked with the project to establish reasonable timelines for the permit review process and clearly and regularly communicated with Jordan Cove about what information was still needed.
Department spokesperson Ali Ryan Hansen said in an emailed request for comment, “Since the application was submitted in November 2017, the Department has agreed to multiple extensions. When extensions are provided, we expect applicants to work toward agreed upon deadlines.”
Larry Mangan is a Coos County landowner who would be impacted by the project. In a statement released by project opponent Rogue Climate, he said the project “has been hanging over our heads for over 15 years. We are extremely relieved to hear that Director Walker and the Department of State Lands aren’t going to kick the can down the road, and will be making a decision next week.”