BOCC expects Oregon to sacrifice environment to support GarCo economy

Artist's rendering Jordan Cove Project in Coos Bay, Oregon

Artist’s rendering of Jordan Cove Project in Coos Bay, Oregon

Garfield County is ranked among the top five oil-and-gas-rich counties in Colorado. Donning that emperor’s cloak of entitlement granted by such a distinction, whether it’s water rights or greater sage grouse, the GarCo commissioners have never hesitated to assert their illusion of power to state and federal officials. Now they are reaching beyond state lines and urging the federal government to force Oregon to support the west slope oil & gas industry.

This week GarCo commissioners approved a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) asking for speedy federal approval of the Jordan Cove Project in Coos Bay, Oregon, citing the economic benefits to western Colorado.

Jordan-pacific-connector-gas-pipeline-mapThe Jordan Cove Project is a proposed LNG (liquefied natural gas) export facility located on property controlled by the International Port of Coos Bay. Natural gas from Colorado (Piceance Basin) and Canada will be transported by a series of pipelines to the facility and then shipped to Asian markets (Japan). The Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline Project, the proposed Oregon section, will be 234 miles long stretching from Coos Bay southeast to Malin, Oregon, on the California border. Along that route, pipeline construction will plow through more than 400 private properties, bulldoze thousands of acres of forestland, and tunnel under hundreds of streams and rivers including the Coos, Coquille, Rogue, South Umpqua, and Klamath rivers.

I couldn’t find a copy of the BOCC’s letter on GarCo’s website. This Daily Sentinel article includes some of the letter’s contents.

Garfield urges quick federal approval of gas export site

… “We believe the Jordan Cove Project is essential to ensure that businesses in western Colorado have the opportunity to access overseas markets and enjoy the economic benefits of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports,” they say in the letter. “This project is the only proposed LNG export facility that would provide western Colorado businesses the opportunity to access overseas markets. We commend the Commission for its approvals and opportunities it already has given to eastern and Gulf Coast states to access overseas markets. We ask the Commission to follow suit and provide Colorado the same opportunity.”

Garfield County’s position is in line with the “Piceance Basin to Pacific Rim” concept unveiled in a white paper written last fall by John Harpole, president of Mercator Energy in Littleton. The paper was commissioned by the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, and the Center for Unconventional Energy at Colorado Mesa University helped underwrite it.

That papers points to opportunities to sell locally produced gas in Asian markets for prices lower than customers there now pay. Piceance Basin producers would be able to take advantage of unused pipeline capacity to ship gas to the Pacific Northwest, and the overseas exports could help bring some stability to local drilling and production levels that currently are subject to big swings depending on domestic gas prices.

In their letter, Garfield commissioners encourage FERC, in the socioeconomic analysis section of its draft environmental impact statement, to not only refer to benefits of the project to Pacific economies, but to “also focus on the direct and critical stimulation of upstream production and economic benefits in the form of jobs and local tax revenue to communities in western Colorado” …

So the Great 3-Headed Oz deems Jordon Cove to be economically beneficial for us and them. Surely all of Oregon is on board this ship of fossil fuel fools.

Not exactly.

The State of Oregon has asked FERC to revoke their approval of the Jordan Cove Project. Also named in support of the state’s appeal are the National Marine Fisheries Service, and a coalition of 18 environmental groups, represented by the Western Environmental Law Center including: Sierra Club, Rogue Riverkeeper, Friends of Living Oregon Waters, Citizens Against LNG and Landowners United.

In fact, an article just last week in Coos Bay’s The World paints a much different economic picture.

LNG — it’s both ‘if’ and ‘when’
Veresen remains optimistic, but some energy experts question Jordan Cove

… The United States’ rush to join the natural gas party began with a tragedy overseas: Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011.

“Afterward, Japan said, ‘OK, we’re done,’” said Art Berman, a petroleum industry expert with more than 30 years of experience in the energy industry.

Japan shuttered its nuclear power plants, but soon realized it had zero oil and gas resources. The Japanese decided to start importing liquefied natural gas — and the price shot through the roof (overseas LNG prices are indexed to crude oil prices; their decision to tap in to LNG came at a time when crude prices were exceptionally high).

Demand for LNG grew — and the U.S. wanted in. Companies saw an opportunity to turn LNG import terminals into export facilities, and applications began flooding in to build greenfield export terminals.

Jordan Cove was one of these, forgoing its plan to build an LNG import terminal on Coos Bay’s North Spit in February 2012. Instead, the company immediately started looking into building an export terminal.

Today, Jordan Cove is projected to export 0.9 billion cubic feet of LNG per day to east Asian markets. Althoff said one of Jordan Cove’s advantages is its relatively short shipping distance to the Tokyo harbor: nine days.

“Net LNG exports, primarily to Asia, increase by 3.5 (trillion cubic feet per day) from 2012 to 2030, then remain flat through 2040,” according to the EIA [U.S. Energy Information Administration]. “Prospects for future LNG exports are uncertain, depending on many factors that are difficult to anticipate.”

Other studies, including a detailed effort at the Bureau of Economic Geology [BEG] at the University of Texas, suggest the nation’s four major shale gas plays will peak in 2020, and then drop off.

The EIA and BEG provide different outlooks on the future of LNG — different, not conflicting, they noted in responses to “The Fracking Fallacy” in Nature last year.

“…we both consider future scenarios and perform sensitivity analyses to show how variations in input parameters affect production outlooks,” the BEG wrote in response to the Nature article. “The EIA result is, in fact, one possible outcome of our model.”

Berman worries that BEG’s conservative estimates will come true.

“Does the U.S. have enough natural gas to even consider export?” Berman said. “That’s the most important consideration.”

Painting a different picture of U.S. LNG

David Hughes, a geoscientist and Post Carbon Institute fellow, conducted a similar study and came out with results close to BEG’s, saying that productivity has plateaued in most of the major shale gas plays.

“If you believe there’s any possibility that David and the bureau (BEG) are right, then we’re screwed,” Berman said.

He worries that the ever-changing industry will be a completely different animal by the time U.S. LNG export facilities get all of their required permits and are built, which in total can take several years for each project. Only one is expected to be operational by 2016: Cheniere LNG.

It’s already been nearly two years since Jordan Cove submitted its application to build an export terminal, and even if it gets FERC’s go-ahead later this year and a slew of other permits after that, officials expect it will take around four years to build.

“The folly of the U.S. model for LNG exports is that the world is holding its breath,” Berman said. “Well, guess what? The world has changed” …

It obvious the commissioners are representing the oil & gas industry with their support of Jordan Cove. As residents of Garfield County we ought to take a closer look at the project our elected officials are supporting on our behalf, which amounts to private property takings, more environmental destruction and greenhouse gas emissions for the enrichment of the oil & gas industries operating in the Piceance Basin. I certainly don’t support this fossil fuel folly.

Click here for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Jordan Cove Liquefaction and Pacific Connector Pipeline Projects

The following articles lay out the situation from the ground in Oregon.

Scientists say public safety hazards at Jordan Cove LNG terminal in Coos Bay are underestimated

A pair of scientists told federal regulators this week that safety measures incorporated in a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal in Coos Bay actually increase the chance of a catastrophic failure and present far more serious public safety hazards than those regulators have analyzed and deemed acceptable.

Jerry Havens, a chemical engineering professor at the University of Arkansas, and James Venart, an emeritus professor of mechanical engineering at the University of New Brunswick, filed a public comment Wednesday outlining their concerns with hazard modeling for the proposed Jordan Cove Energy Project.

Those results were summarized in the project’s draft environmental impact statement that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued in November.

The modeling addresses the project’s most fundamental public safety question – what will happen in the event of an accident, natural disaster or terrorist attack at the facility that results in a leak of natural gas or other chemicals.

FERC staff have concluded that since there are no homes within a mile of the facility, the resulting hazard would be minimal. But the question took center stage at public meetings following the release of FERC’s draft analysis. And it’s one that politicians say must be adequately addressed.

Regulators acknowledge that such leaks could lead to flammable and potentially explosive vapor clouds, liquid pool fires and other knock-on effects. So they require applicants to model various scenarios and demonstrate that they wouldn’t pose any risk outside the facility’s property line …


Federal report shows Coos Bay LNG terminal would be large carbon source
Proposed terminal could be biggest producer of greenhouse gases in state

PORTLAND — A proposed liquefied natural gas terminal in Coos Bay would become one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases in Oregon, federal data show.

The assessment came as the Jordan Cove Energy Project seeks permission to release 2.1 million metric tons of greenhouse gases annually, according to an environmental analysis from energy regulators.

At that level, it would have been Oregon’s second-largest source of greenhouse gases in 2013, based on reports from the emission reports from the state’s major polluters, The Oregonian reported Tuesday …


Landowners tell proposed LNG export terminal in Coos Bay: ‘Keep your pipeline off my property’

Bill Gow stands on a wooden platform perched high above a lush valley south of Roseburg, his Stetson tipped back as he surveys the 1,400-acre ranch where his family runs cows for a living.

“This is why I worked 24-7 my whole life, so I could wake up and have this,” he says. “This is all I ever wanted.”

It’s not hard, then, to understand Gow’s sense of violation, his creeping feeling of helplessness, with a Canadian energy company’s plan to carve a swath the width of freeway through his land and bury a 36-inch-diameter, high-pressure gas pipeline.

Calgary-based Veresen Inc. and its pipeline partner, Tulsa-based Williams Companies Inc., are not asking if Gow wants to host their gas line. They’re telling him. If regulators approve Veresen’s plan to build an export terminal for liquefied natural gas in Coos Bay, its Pacific Connector Pipeline is coming across his land.

The only thing left to settle is the price. And he may not have much say in that either.

It’s called eminent domain …


Read about the concerns of scientists, doctors, public officials, business people and citizens.

Opponents of Jordan Cove LNG Export Pack FERC Meetings in Southern Oregon Dec 8th – 13th 2014

… Despite the fact that the Trade Unions had bused in supporters from out of the area, the majority of the comments presented to FERC centered on problems with the DEIS and the Jordan Cove/Pacific Connector project in general. Many commenters expressed outrage at FERC’s final pipeline route. Testimony also raised issues about the DEIS not being in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and not properly addressing environmental concerns and issues. It was noted that the DEIS had not properly analyzed all project alternatives and completely lacked a required section known as the “Affected Environment.” Concerns were raised about the negative impacts of the project on the Coos Estuary. Clams, oysters, crabs and fish would all be negatively impacted. Commenters noted that the DEIS had not fully analyzed the impacts of all the proposed dredging. The project proposes to remove 5.6 million cubic yards of dredged material from the North Spit of the Coos Bay in order to build the LNG marine slip docking berth. In addition, pipeline dredging impacts would negatively impact 400 waterbodies across Southern Oregon, many of those being critical habitat for endangered fish. Proposed pipeline impacts include a 2.4 mile, 8 foot deep by at least 3 foot wide trench through the ecologically sensitive Haynes Inlet in Coos Bay …

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One Comment on “BOCC expects Oregon to sacrifice environment to support GarCo economy”

  1. maryinline Says:

    This is just wrong!

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