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Natural Gas Permit Draws Hundreds To Hearing In Southern Oregon

April Ehrlich | JPR News
Protestors raise their hands in support of people speaking against a natural gas project at a state hearing in Central Point on Tuesday night.

Nearly two-thousand people crowded outside the Jackson County Expo Center in Central Point Tuesday night to protest a proposed natural gas project that needs a state permit to proceed.


The Jordan Cove Energy Project aims to build a natural gas export terminal on the coast and 230-mile pipeline across Southern Oregon. But before doing that, it needs a state permit to dredge about 400 waterways and wetlands.

The Oregon Department of Lands is hosting a series of public hearings about the permit before its comment period ends Feb. 3.

There were only a couple hundred chairs available at the Expo Center on Tuesday, so most people chose to leave written comments before leaving. Those who stayed largely spoke against the dredging and the project altogether, like Talent city councilor Emily Berlant

“I’m very concerned that this pipeline, were it to be built, would devastate the lifeblood of our community,” Berlant said at the hearing. “Our clean water from drinking and for recreating.”

The proposed pipeline would cross through the Coos, Rogue and Klamath rivers.

The massive opposition at the hearing came as a surprise to Mike Henneman of Jacksonville. He said Jordan Cove representatives offered to buy the rights-of-way on his land to build the pipeline through it.

“To me, it just looks like progress,” Henneman said. “It’s moving forward. It’s bringing benefits to the county and to the state. I don’t see why there’s so much opposition to that, I just don’t.”

Jordan Cove representatives still need state and federal permits before they can build the LNG pipeline through Southern Oregon and the export facility on the coast.

April Ehrlich is JPR content partner at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Prior to joining OPB, she was a regional reporter at Jefferson Public Radio where she won a National Edward R. Murrow Award.