Federal energy regulators released the final environmental impact findings Friday for the proposed Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas terminal and pipeline.
This is the last major permitting document that will be published before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission makes a final decision on the southern Oregon project.
Canadian energy developer Pembina is proposing to build a 230-mile natural gas pipeline across four Oregon counties. The gas would be liquefied at a terminal facility near Coos Bay before being exported to Asia.
The project has been vociferously opposed by private property owners along the pipeline route, environmental groups that oppose further fossil fuel development, as well as by community organizations that say the dangers posed by the facility are not worth the local economic benefit. Opponents are planning a rally in Salem next Thursday.
Local lawmakers, unions and business development boosters argue that the local economic benefits are too good to pass up.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) responds to environmental and safety concerns raised earlier this year by members of the public.
At that time, the state of Oregon submitted feedback on the project's expected impacts. The state argued the company and FERC did not adequately address how the project would withstand natural disasters, ensure no net loss of wildlife habitat and account for the fossil fuel project's contribution to climate change.
In the FEIS, FERC staff concludes “that approval of the Project would result in a number of significant environmental impacts; however, the majority of impacts would be less than significant because of the impact avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures proposed by Jordan Cove and Pacific Connector and those recommended by staff in the EIS.”
This is virtually the same as findings released in a draft environmental document earlier this year, before public concerns were submitted.
A final FERC decision on the Jordan Cove project is expected in mid-February.
If approved, developers still need several other federal, state and local permits before the project can go forward.
In looking to the state permits ahead, a Jordan Cove spokesperson said in an email that the final EIS "sets an important standard and proof-point that the Jordan Cove Project is environmentally compliant and in the public interest."
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality denied Jordan Cove a required water quality certification in May. The company says it intends to reapply for that certification in January.
Environmental groups have focused their efforts to block the project on state agencies where permits are still pending.
"FERC continues to gloss over Oregon’s findings that this project will harm the streams and rivers that our communities rely upon for drinking water and fishing," Stacey Detwiler of Rogue Riverkeeper said in a statement.