Jordan Cove Pipeline Hearing Draws 200 Comments

This article was in Friday’s (June 28th, 2019) Herald and News
Written By: Francisca Benitez, H&N Staff Reporter

Supporters and opponents alike showed up to voice their opinions at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hearing for the Jordan Cove Pipeline Project at the Klamath County Fairgrounds on Thursday.

In 2014, a similar project was denied by FERC, but now Jordan Cove’s parent company, Pembina of Calgary, Canada, is attempting what the previous company failed to do…to bring a 32-inch gas pipeline and liquefied gas conversion plant to Southern Oregon.

The pipeline would extend about 229 miles from Malin through four Oregon counties, with the shipping terminal located in Coos Bay. The pipeline would transport Canadian and American natural gas to be shipped to buyers in Asia.

Supporters of the project are excited about the millions of dollars the company would pay Oregon counties in taxes, and the thousands of temporary jobs the construction project would create.

Those opposing the project worry about the environmental impacts.

One Klamath County resident, Deb Evans, owns land that Jordan Cove needs to cross for its pipeline. There are several hundred such parcels that Jordan Cove is attempting to secure with easements from these landowners.

“We thought, and we still think that it introduces too much risk. It messes with how we handle the timber, we can’t cross heavy equipment over that pipeline so it restricts how we manage that property,” she said.

She said Jordan Cove is threatening land owners with eminent domain, and using questionable tactics to try to get people to sign easements.

“It’s frankly atrocious that this company would continue to knock on their doors over and over again trying to convince them, in some cases with misleading information about how many people have signed, to convince them to sign an easement. They have said no,” she said.

Jordan Cove maintains that 82% of landowners are on board with easements and that the company values community, but protesters dispute the numbers.

Klamath Falls resident John Longley said he’s studied the issue a long time. As an affected property owner, he agreed to have the pipeline cross his land, he said, and that the company paid a fair price and was agreeable to negotiating where the pipe would ultimately be buried.

“I felt I was treated entirely fairly by the company,” he said.

Klamath Falls Mayor Carol Westfall supports the project, although she was representing only herself, as the city council has not been polled on its support for the project.

City Councilor Todd Andres was also in attendance, lending his personal support.

“Honestly, this is proven technology,” said Andres. “It’s not something new, untested. I have faith that our government will watch this closely as it’s put in. And the economic benefits will help the city, especially with the ripple effect from the tax dollars.”

“This would be a boom for this community,” Westfall said. She said that Jordan Cove is mindful of the environment, and she believes the project does not have a lot of risks opponents are claiming.

As for the community members attending in opposition she said, “I think there’s a lot of misinformation. They really need to think about what they are protesting.”

Local artist Natalie Ball was in attendance opposing the project. She said she believes that those in support of the project are the ones who are misinformed.

Ball is part of the Modoc and Klamath tribes native and a Yale graduate.

“I access our water and our land for art supplies, for our well being, for cultural purposes,” she said. She said she “doesn’t buy the hype” about the money that the project could bring to the community, saying buying into that idea is shortsighted.

“I’m just really interested in the long run, like for my grandkids,” she said.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Heather Tramp, was among the supporters. She said the Chamber has supported the idea of a pipeline for more than a decade.

“It is one of the largest economic development investments that has hit southern Oregon in history, so we think that is really important,” she said.

She said the project would bring about $5 million in taxes to Klamath County, which could be used for schools, hospitals and public safety.

Tramp also said she believes that the majority of people in the community are in support of the project.

“I think people are paying attention and they want this for our community,” she said.

It was hard to say if there were more in support or opposed in attending. By 5 p.m., almost 200 people had given statements to FERC, officials said.

Those opposed gathered for rallies with speakers and wore red t-shirts.

The supporters of the project also listened to speakers and enjoyed refreshments provided by Jordan Cove in a separate building.

Inside the building where the hearing was taking place, people milled around, spoke with one another, and peacefully waited their turn to give their statement to FERC.

There were armed police officers in attendance for security purposes, but the event remained peaceful.

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