Dredging Permits Denied for Jordan Cove LNG Terminal
Oregon Court Strikes Down Two Additional Permits for Jordan Cove LNG
The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals reverses two local dredging permits for the fledgling Jordan Cove LNG project citing impacts to the Coos Bay Estuary
On May 4, 2021, the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) handed down another win for opponents of the controversial Jordan Cove LNG export terminal at Coos Bay, overturning two local permit approvals, one by Coos County and one by the City of Coos Bay, that would have allowed major dredging in the bay.
On behalf of our long-time client Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition, Crag appealed the two approvals. The lead petitioner in the Coos County decision was the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition, with Citizens for Renewables intervening. In the City of Coos Bay appeal, the lead petitioner was the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians. Intervenors in support of the Tribe’s Coos Bay appeal included Citizens for Renewables, Rogue Climate, Jody McCaffree, and Oregon Shores.
In the last year, LUBA has overturned 8 permits that were wrongfully approved by Coos County, Douglas County, the City of North Bend, and the City of Coos Bay.
What Was at Stake
The land use permit approvals by Coos County and the City of Coos Bay would have allowed the Canadian corporation, Pembina Pipeline, to dredge protected areas in the Coos Bay estuary in order to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from its proposed export facility on the North Spit. LUBA reversed these permits because the company had not justified why the areas to be dredged, which are designated for natural and conservation uses under the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan and local zoning laws, should be converted to deep draft navigation.
“LUBA’s ruling sets an important precedent on how Oregon’s land use laws protecting estuaries should be applied, and shows that changes to estuary designations must be exceptional, not commonplace.”
Strong rulings against Jordan Cove
It is important to note that these LUBA decisions were outright reversals of the local permit approvals, which means they were found to be prohibited as a matter of law. This is a stronger ruling than a remand, which indicates that the decisions could be corrected with further analysis or information.
These rulings are another nail in the coffin for the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and fracked gas pipeline. Earlier this year, the State of Oregon’s critical denials of the Clean Water Act and Coastal Zone Management Act permits for Jordan Cove LNG were upheld by the Federal government. In February, Pembina announced a $1.6B write-down on the project. In April, Pembina requested a pause on the lawsuit challenging their Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval.
“These land use reversals are further major barriers to Jordan Cove LNG. They show that yet again Pembina has failed to demonstrate the value of this project outweighs its impacts. LUBA has upheld the regulations that protect estuaries in Oregon, and we don’t think the Jordan Cove scheme can get around them. We hope that Pembina will accept the reality that Jordan Cove should never be built.”
May 11, 2020 – Orcas feeding on harbor seals in spring of last year on the west side of Coos Bay. LUBA overturned local permits that would have allowed Jordan Cove LNG to dredge this site to facilitate LNG export. The fracked gas company repeatedly characterized this site and others it proposed for dredging as being of “low ecological value.” Photo courtesy of Dr. Jan Hodder and Mike Graybill.
Crag represented Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition as the lead petitioner in the Coos County decision, with Citizens for Renewables intervening.
In the City of Coos Bay appeal, the lead petitioner was the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians. Crag represented Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition as intervenor. Other intervenors for the Coos Bay appeal included Citizens for Renewables, Rogue Climate, Jody McCaffree.
Citizens for Renewables, Rogue Climate, and Jody McCaffree were represented by attorney Tonia Moro.
“It was so good to see that the high standards necessary to protect the integrity of the Coos Estuary were upheld and maintained by the LUBA,” said Jody McCaffree, Executive Director of Citizens of Renewables and Coos County resident. “Our fishing, crabbing, clamming and oyster industries can now breathe a sigh of relief that critical habitat areas necessary for their vitality will not be destroyed for the speculative and unnecessary Jordan Cove LNG project.”
“Our community values the Coos Bay estuary as a rich natural asset for economic, recreation, and cultural resources. This decision affirms that the city and county failed to uphold the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan to protect our key resources,” saids Mike Graybill, retired manager of the South Slough Estuary Research Reserve and Coos County resident. “These decisions have a direct impact on our fisheries which are a sustainable economic asset and another reason to advocate for a healthy estuary.”
“Meeting after meeting, hundreds of people turned out to raise their concerns about Jordan Cove LNG’s proposal to dredge in protected parts of our bay. With this new ruling from LUBA, all of that has paid off,” said Ashley Audycki, Coos County Field Organizer with Rogue Climate. “There’s no hope for Jordan Cove LNG and it’s time for Pembina to give up and cancel this project outright. After 16 years of empty promises, our coastal community needs to focus on creating jobs supporting our fisheries, clean energy, and energy efficiency instead.”