Proposed natural gas pipeline in souther Oregon a concern for Tribe

By Danielle Frost

Grand Ronde Tribal staff have filed a motion to intervene in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s process regarding construction of a proposed natural gas pipeline in southern Oregon.

The Jordan Cove Energy Project would place a pipeline in areas that include the Tribe’s ceded territory from milepost 50 to 170 along Interstate 5 and span four treaty areas.

The project is currently in the environmental impact gathering phase.

“What we are doing is engaging in the process, partly with FERC and also with some of the state agencies responsible for permits,” Ceded Lands Program Manager Michael Karnosh said. “We have also met with different folks, such as the project proponents and consultants. At this point, we are gathering information and evaluating the big issues for the Tribe in trying to protect our resources that are down there.”

The Tribe’s primary concerns thus far are potential effects to cultural and natural resources the project may have.

“There are also cumulative impacts,” Karnosh said. “The construction of a pipeline and terminal has impacts, but also from infrastructure and increased carbon emissions.”

In September 2017, Jordan Cove and Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline filed applications with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the construction and operation of a liquefied natural gas export terminal in Coos Bay and a 234-mile buried pipeline connector that would transport natural gas from the Malin hub in southern Oregon to the export terminal.

The Malin hub is the main interconnection serving California and other western natural gas markets.

Jordan Cove and Pacific Connector are requesting that FERC issue a draft Environmental Impact Statement in 2018, according to the project’s website, that would place the project for a potential final investment decision in 2019 and an opening date in 2024.

Next steps include the Grand Ronde Tribal consultation team presenting updated information to Tribal Council, which was scheduled to occur on Wednesday, Feb. 28. The team includes employees from the executive level as well as Natural Resources, Legal and Tribal Lands departments.

“We are going to discuss our preliminary observations on what agencies and project paperwork was done right, and the gaps that they have,” Karnosh said. “We will continue to engage in the process.”

Once FERC issues the Environmental Impact Statement, the Tribal consultation team will review it and determine how best to proceed. The process also is open to the public and Karnosh encourages Tribal members to learn more about the project and submit comments or concerns for the record.

More information regarding the regulatory process can be found at www.jordancovelng.com/project/regulatory/.

“This will be a long and challenging process with a lot of agencies,” Karnosh said.