But the project manager for the Jordan Cove Energy Project said the action was expected after the project’s owners switched their plans from importing liquefied natural gas to exporting it.
Project manager Bob Braddock said that the company is refiling its application, this time for an export terminal, and that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s action on Monday shouldn’t even delay the project. “It doesn’t change the timeline at all,” he said.
Jordan Cove owners notified the federal agency in February that, because of market conditions, they planned to switch the planned terminal from importing LNG to exporting it, and that they would be refiling their application.
Braddock said Tuesday that the company expects to file the new application in September and expects FERC to issue a certificate of authorization by September 2013.
Opponents of the project, however, said FERC’s withdrawal this week of its authorization for the import terminal and a 223-mile pipeline across the Coast Range is a significant victory for those trying to stop the project.
A coalition of individuals and environmental groups opposing Jordan Cove on Tuesday described FERC’s action as a “milestone victory.”
“While Jordan Cove has already begun a pre-application process for an export facility, FERC has agreed with our coalition that an export facility serves a different purpose than an import facility, and requires its own full analysis of environmental and economic impacts,” a statement issued by the coalition read. Members of this group include Rogue Riverkeeper, Friends of Living Oregon Waters, Western Environmental Law Center, Rogue Flyfishers, Cascadia Wildlands “and thousands of Oregon citizens,” the statement said.
Jody McCaffree, executive director of Citizens Against LNG, also characterized FERC’s decision as a victory for opponents. “We’re elated,” she said.
Braddock said FERC representatives have told the company it doesn’t need to totally redo its earlier application, which had been approved by the federal agency in 2009.
FERC is the lead agency for the National Environmental Policy Act, Braddock said, and in that capacity “they have told us that the work we’ve done to date that is unchanged (by the new plan), you don’t have to do again. They want us to solely focus on the differences.”
Key among those differences, he said, are the added technical requirements and the expense of building an export terminal, which requires more equipment and a higher level of technology than an import terminal. That will more than double the estimated cost of the terminal, from an original $1.3 billion to $3.5 billion, boosting the total cost of the project — including the pipeline to Malin southeast of Klamath Falls — to $5 billion, he said.
(The pipeline itself would be unchanged under the new scenario. The only difference is it would carry LNG to the coast, to be shipped overseas, instead of from other countries to U.S. users.)
Jordan Cove probably would take on a minority investor, one of its customers, to help finance the added cost, Braddock said.
The export facility also would require a larger staff to operate it — more than 120 people — double what an import terminal would require, Braddock said. And average employment during construction would be about 1,000 people for 42 months, compared with 450 for 36 months for an import terminal.
McCaffree said she is not swayed by promises of job creation. First, she said, under the original proposal “maybe 39 local people would get jobs there.”
Second, she said, “It would have this huge footprint,” including a security zone around the terminal on the north spit and the ships in the bay. That would not leave space for other potential employers, said McCaffree, adding that a proposed wind energy project already has been downsized because of the proposed LNG facility.
Then there’s the potential environmental impact of the pipeline, the use of eminent domain to condemn private lands for the project and the potential hazards posed by the pipeline and facility, which would be close to the Coos Bay airport, she said.
Also, McCaffree said she likes the new proposal — to export LNG — even less than the original proposal to import it.
“If they export it … where’s the benefit? We can have higher energy prices?” she asked. Most of the company’s profits wouldn’t even stay in the United States, she said, because its majority owner is a Canadian firm.
“Why don’t they build this up there?” she said.
Similar sentiments were echoed by other opponents. “We’re not going away,” said Monica Vaughan with Rogue Riverkeeper. “We defeated the destructive LNG import proposal, and we’ll beat back the LNG export plan.”