The saga of the Jordan Cove liquified natural gas (LNG) facility started over a decade ago, well before Surfrider Foundation Coos Bay Chapter was established. The energy export facility, proposed for the north side of the Port of Coos Bay has been heavily opposed by local citizens, environmental groups, fishermen and many landowners whose property would be subject to the Pacific Connector Pipeline that would deliver gas to the facility. Surfrider’s Coos Bay Chapter joined opposition just over a year ago, no longer able to sit on the sidelines of the largest development threat to their beloved bay.
Surfrider Foundation’s environmental policy on LNG facilities, finds that due to their impacts on coastal and ocean ecosystems, air quality, including increased greenhouse gases and coastal access, LNG facilities in the coastal zone are not consistent with our mission for protection, conservation of and access to coastal resources. Despite Surfrider’s national policy, our local Coos Bay Chapter decided to spend a few years establishing themselves as a chapter and learning about the proposal before they outright opposed it. Understanding the need to build relationships in their local community, the newly chartered chapter was apprehensive about initiating a strong public campaign, especially with the local Citizens Against LNG group, landowners and tribal nations already established and playing a strong role. And in March of 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the key federal agency responsible for permitting the facility, denied the pipeline application, ordering that the proposal failed to demonstrate a need sufficient to outweigh the harms of the project.
But in early 2017, the Jordan Cove application came back as an appeal to FERC. Under the Trump administration, the company felt more optimistic about tackling the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline and ensuring a supply for the Jordan Cove LNG export facility. With the Coos Bay Chapter now established in the community for over 5 years, local chapter leaders felt the time was ripe for them to join their fellow Coos Bay citizens to support the fight against the “zombie” LNG proposal that just won’t go away. So in early 2017, the Coos Bay Chapter formerly established their oppositional position to the facility, pulling from the Surfrider national policy the chapter began with the following position statement:
Given the adverse impacts to our coastal and ocean ecosystems, to our air quality, the restrictions on coastal access and to the adverse affects to the livability in our coastal community, the Coos Bay Chapter Surfrider Foundation finds that siting a LNG facility in Coos Bay is not consistent with our Chapter’s mission of “protecting, improving, and promoting awareness of our local estuary and beaches”.
The first threat recognized by the chapter in 2017 (beyond the Jordan Cove appeal to FERC) was another application for channel modification to the Army Corps of Engineers. The proposal would deepen and widen the current channel to accommodate LNG tankers; but, the chapter recognized immediately that this would potentially destroy a couple of local surf spots. Furthermore, the environmental implications and impacts to bay infrastructure and private property from channel modification were being completely overlooked in the application. In August of 2017, the Chapter filed comments with the Army Corps, siting a myriad of these concerns. Then just a couple months later in October of 2017, the chapter formerly filed a motion to intervene in Jordan Cove’s FERC application and appeal, utilizing their unique stakeholder position as recreational users to highlight issues potentially not foreseen or addressed by other interested parties opposing the facility and pipeline.
Joining rallies, talking to decision makers and supporting coalition work has been a big part of the local campaign. Given the many hurdles both the pipeline and the facility have to go through from federal to local agencies, the Coos Bay Chapter is exercising as many opportunities as possible to influence the outcome of the Jordan Cove facility. In July of this year, the chapter filed water quality comments with the Department of Environmental Quality, another state agency that requires a number of boxes to be checked in the environmental scoping. The saga will continue, likely with some decisions from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission coming in 2019…stay tuned.