Jordan Cove & Pacific Connector: A Summer for Organizing — Key State Decisions This Fall

April 28, 2019

By Ted Gleichman


Here’s a quick update on the regulatory and grassroots status of the fight against the deceptive fracked-gas export scheme on Oregon’s southern coast, the Jordan Cove Energy Project, and the 229-mile pipeline necessary to feed it, the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has published its latest Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on Jordan Cove & Pacific Connector (JC/PC).  This opened up a comment period that will close Friday, July 5 (right in the middle of a long holiday weekend for a lot of folks).

In May and June, we will be providing guidelines on different ways to submit comments on the DEIS, highlighting key issues that the Trump FERC is ignoring, distorting, and failing to address.  (With all attachments and appendices, the DEIS comprises some 6,000 pages.)   FERC plans to produce a Final EIS late this fall, and is scheduled to vote on whether to approve the $10 billion JC/PC in early 2020.

In the meantime, here are some key push-points to keep in mind:

  1. We can’t trust FERC. 
    The Trump regime has taken a pretty lousy agency and made it much worse.  FERC officially ignores the climate crisis in every way that it can, and has fought back hard against every effort to bring its behavior in line with the science on fossil fuels, greenhouse-gas emissions, and environmental destruction.
  2. Fortunately, it’s not just about the Trump FERC.
    Federal power against the climate is terrible, but it is not the only piece of the puzzle.  States still have significant regulatory authority.  The State of Oregon has direct power over key permits that JC/PC must have to go forward.
  3. The Department of State Lands is scheduled to decide by September 20.
    Oregon DSL has authority to protect state waterways of all types from damage by dredging and filling — and JC/PC would require a lot of that, attacking 485 waterways: the five major rivers in Southern Oregon and hundreds of tributaries, streams, and wetlands, crossing both the Cascades and the Coast Range.  All the information that we have so far is that DSL is taking this responsibility really seriously.  This decision date may change, but the process generally seems to be operating with adequate integrity.
  4. The Department of Environmental Quality must decide by September 29.
    Oregon DEQ must decide by September 29  whether JC/PC complies with state approval authority under the Clean Water Act (Section 401).  As with DSL, all the information that we have so far is that DEQ is taking this responsibility really seriously.  This decision date is a hard deadline, and DEQ is working hard to meet.
  5. Our statewide coalition fighting JC/PC continues to grow.
    The struggle for climate sanity and a just transition continues to strengthen, among dozen of organizations.  We’ve reached critical mass among grassroots activists and climate leaders on an understanding of the insanity of new fossil fuel infrastructure like Jordan Cove.  Comment periods for DEQ and DSL, last year and this, generated almost one hundred thousand comments to the State of Oregon! — a totally unprecedented number.  Almost 60% came through Sierra Club.  Early this year, more than a thousand people attended DSL hearings in Southern Oregon and Salem — also unprecedented.
  6. Sierra Club plays a vital role.
    The Oregon Sierra Club has been a key part of this struggle for more than a decade, with critically-important assistance from National Sierra Club.  Sierra has been supporting the the front line groups, working for environmental justice, and staying deep in the regulatory and legal battles in various ways.  That won’t change.

For this summer, before these critical Oregon agency decisions in September, many of the most vital chores will focus on more community organizing.  We have a lot more work to do: both grassroots, and “grass-tops”: educating and persuading legislators and other leaders that their responsibility is to serve and protect.   Please stay tuned!

Proposed Jordan Cove Construction Site-OPB-EarthFix

The proposed site of the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal, in Coos Bay on the Oregon coast, in the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake / tsunami junction. Photo: EarthFix

Ted Gleichman is a policy advisor with the Oregon Sierra Club Beyond Gas & Oil Priority Campaign, and has been a member of the National Strategy Team for Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign.  He has been fighting against the export of LNG (liquefied natural gas) through Oregon since 2006.

Version of the Events in Salem Yesterday

June 4, 2009

Hey everybody!

I’m one of the Sierra Club summer interns, and I would like to update you, the fabulous readers of this blog, about an awesome event that happened yesterday in Salem.

Well, yesterday was an epic day down at Administrative building in Salem. The Oregon Board of Forestry was meeting to determine fate of the Tillamook State Forest.

This was a MAJOR decision, and Hunter/Angler point person Jeff Hickman organized a whole rally down there. So next time you see him, give him a round of applause because he did an AWESOME job.

Jeff walking in to the meeting

Jeff walking in to the meeting

Over 30 anglers and 12 boats were present, as well as many other volunteers and supporters. We parked the boats on the lawn and draped them with banners that made it clear that we did NOT support the plan under discussion.

Salmon DO mean business. A fact the Board forgot

Salmon DO mean business. A fact the Board forgot

Look how many people were there!

Look how many people were there!

The statue of a Civilian Conservation Corps member all decked out

The statue of a Civilian Conservation Corps member all decked out

There were also two wild salmon and one Sasquatch present, to represent their habitat.

The Sierra Club summer interns with Salmon and Sasquatch

The Sierra Club summer interns with Salmon and Sasquatch

After setting the stage and getting everybody in matching T-shirts, we went in and took up most of the seats in the conference room.

There then followed a long meeting during which I understood about half of what was going on but here’s the gist:

1. The Department of Forestry people presented a lot of “scientific” information about how the proposed plan (increasing clear cutting by 20%, salmon anchors and buffer zones gone, BAD stuff, etc) was not detrimental to the health of the forest and how it was actually economically beneficial.

2. This is NOT true. And as a student of science it goes against all of my principles to see such blatantly biased information presented and accepted.

3. Many people spoke to the board saying they did not agree with the plan and were highly opposed.

4. Multiple conservation organizations were represented, as well as concerned citizens, anglers, and residents of Tillamook.

5. Not a SINGLE logger stood up to support this plan.

6. The board then talked about what to do, with State Forester Marvin Brown recommending that they adopt the proposed plan. I would like to comment that this plan was not approved by any independent scientific peer review, nor is it good for anyone in the long term, nor is it actually thought out and it ignores everyone except the county commissioners.

7. Things were looking up when two of the board members brought up excellent points about the plan, such as carbon storage, permanent value of the forest, fish habitat, citizen concern and involvement, the very way the Board makes decisions, and limits on the plan.

8. The board then voted to approve the plan.

9. There were five board members present, three of whom are directly employed by the timber industry. One of the board members who was going to vote our way at the last minute voted to approve the plan. The other member who would have voted in our benefit was on vacation. If he had been there the vote would have tied.

We were all then shell-shocked and angry.

So we went outside and had a barbeque, and dismantled everything.

Here’s what the plan means:

1. 20% more of the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests are now on the table to be clear-cut. This amounts to 103,600 acres.

2. The salmon anchors that are currently in place may change or expire, but no firm decision was made.

3. County residents, fish, animals, and basically the entire state of Oregon is going to suffer.

4. And for what? So that more timber can be exported because logs are at record low

Basically, now we are working on what to do next.

There is still leeway in this, because this decision started the ball rolling to implement the plan, but it is not over yet. The Board has until April to debate about how to define Greatest Permanent Value for the forests, and the terms of two members are almost up, so hopefully in April the Board will vote to do something different. Until then, keep writing those letters, sending emails, and making your voice heard!