Federal panel deals another blow to Jordan Cove pipeline project

By: - January 19, 2021 3:02 pm

A detail of a rendering of the proposed Jordan Cove Project liquefied natural gas terminal at at the Port of Coos Bay in Oregon. (Courtesy Jordan Cove LNG)

A pipeline project long championed by natural gas producers on Colorado’s Western Slope was dealt another setback on Tuesday when a federal panel upheld the denial of a permit by state-level regulators in Oregon.

The Jordan Cove Energy Project, a proposal to build 234 miles of pipeline and a new liquefied natural gas export terminal in Coos Bay, Oregon, would represent a major new opportunity for Colorado producers to market their natural gas abroad. But the project has faced fierce opposition from environmental activists who argue that building new fossil-fuel infrastructure is incompatible with global efforts to transition to clean energy and battle climate change, and officials in Oregon have denied it several key permits.

Jordan Cove’s backers had sought to overturn Oregon’s 2019 denial of a water-quality permit through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which signaled its support for the project last year. But that effort ended in defeat for pipeline supporters on Tuesday, with FERC denying the petition in what opponents celebrated a “potentially fatal blow” for the 15-year-old proposal.

The proposed Jordan Cove LNG project would allow Colorado producers to export large quantities of natural gas extracted on the Western Slope. (Data from Jordan Cove Energy Project, U.S. Energy Information Administration)

“It is time to put the final nail in this bad idea: Jordan Cove belongs on the ash heap of history,” Pete Kolbenschlag, a Paonia-based climate activist and longtime opponent of the project, said in a statement. “The string of false promises that its proponents peddled to wishful oil and gas boosters have produced nothing but delay and distraction from building an economy that brings both prosperity and a sustainable future. Jordan Cove would provide neither.”

The latest setback for Jordan Cove comes amid a slew of denials and cancellations for similar projects as the global transition to clean energy accelerates. President-elect Joe Biden is expected to rescind federal approval for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline shortly after being sworn in on Wednesday.

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Chase Woodruff
Chase Woodruff

Reporter Chase Woodruff covers the environment, the economy and other stories for Colorado Newsline.