By Paul Fattig
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday withdrew its 2009 authorization for a company to build a liquefied natural gas import terminal near Coos Bay and a pipeline across northern Jackson County en route to a terminal in Malin.
The decision was the result of Jordan Cove Energy Project announcing its intention to export the gas to Asian markets, officials said.
“This means they no longer have the authority to construct the terminal and pipeline for importing purposes,” said FERC spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen.
To move forward as an LNG exporter, the firm must now receive authorization for that action from the commission, she added.
Jordan Cove had notified the commission on Feb. 29 that it no longer intended to import the gas, and sought pre-filing status to explore the feasibility of a liquefaction export project.
The commission has granted that status, Young-Allen said.
Earlier this year, project manager Bob Braddock said the company was switching from import to export because the former was no longer feasible economically.
If the export authorization is given, the proposed Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline would stretch 234 miles from the proposed terminal near Coos Bay to Malin where it would link to the Ruby Pipeline and draw on natural gas coming from Wyoming.
The pipeline to Malin would go through Klamath, Jackson, Douglas and Coos counties.
In addition to crossing a little more than 100 miles of private property, as well as state and county lands, the pipeline also would go through some 30 miles of national forestland and 40 miles of U.S. Bureau of Land Management land.
All told, about 675 parcels would be crossed by the pipeline.
If the pipeline is approved by FERC, the federal government could use its eminent domain authority to require property owners to allow their land to be used for the pipeline.
They would be compensated for use of their land.
Whether the gas is for import or export, the pipeline would still run roughshod over private property rights, said Shady Cove retiree Bob Barker, a pipeline opponent whose property bordering the Rogue River would be crossed by the pipeline.
“I don’t think this will really change anything,” he said late Monday. “It’s another step. It’s hard to say what the ramifications are. This is going to go on and on.”
Company representatives have insisted the 3-foot-diameter pipeline buried underground would be safe to both the environment and landowners. But many landowners and environmental groups have disagreed adamantly.
In February, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Springfield, introduced legislation aimed at protecting private property from the use of eminent domain in building a pipeline designed to export liquefied natural gas.
DeFazio noted the U.S. Constitution limits the use of eminent domain to actions necessary for “public use” but said that pipelines such as the one proposed from Malin to the proposed LNG terminal in Coos Bay fails that test. Instead, it would boost corporate profits while increasing domestic energy costs, he said.
“The Constitution is quite clear: The government can only authorize the use of eminent domain if the action serves the public,” DeFazio said in a prepared statement.
“Landowners should not be forced to give up their property so private companies and foreign manufacturers can ship low-cost natural gas overseas and spike energy prices here at home,” he added.
Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or email email@example.com.
This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.