Briefline

Natural gas company cancels pipeline project championed by Colorado drillers, politicians

By: - December 1, 2021 2:43 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 proposal to build a major new natural gas pipeline and export terminal in southern Oregon has been officially dropped, its backers told federal regulators on Wednesday, finalizing the defeat of a project that had long attracted support from Colorado’s oil and gas industry and politicians on both sides of the aisle.

The Jordan Cove Energy Project and Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline, backed by Canadian energy giant Pembina, proposed to connect existing natural gas infrastructure in the western United States to markets in Asia by constructing 234 miles of new pipelines and a liquefied natural gas terminal in Coos Bay, Oregon.

But the project appeared to grow increasingly unlikely in recent years following repeated permit denials from state-level regulators in Oregon, and its attorneys told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in a Dec. 1 filing that the proposal is officially dead.

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“Applicants … have decided not to move forward with the Project,” the filing read. “Among other considerations, Applicants remain concerned regarding their ability to obtain the necessary state permits in the immediate future in addition to other external obstacles.”

First proposed in 2004, the Jordan Cove export facility would have been the first of its kind on the West Coast, and it received strong support from natural gas producers on Colorado’s Western Slope, who were eager for the chance to export their product to emerging markets across the Pacific.

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)

Over the years, the project had been championed by many Colorado business and political leaders, including prominent Democrats. Despite Oregon’s permit denials, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is now Colorado’s junior U.S. senator, repeatedly urged federal regulators to move forward with the project. Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet also voiced support.

But the project also drew fierce criticism from environmental activists. Opponents decried the risks that new pipeline infrastructure would pose to ecosystems, agriculture and water quality in southern Oregon. Critics of the oil and gas industry on the Western Slope, including organizations like the Colorado Farm & Food Alliance, also spoke out against the project.

The defeat of Jordan Cove is the latest in a string of cancellations and setbacks for new pipelines and other fossil-fuel infrastructure in recent years, as climate activists and energy experts continue to warn governments that long-term investments in fossil fuels are incompatible with global emissions targets.

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Chase Woodruff
Chase Woodruff

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

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