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Environment, Energy and Transportation

Jordan Cove Among Projects Being ‘Expedited’ By Trump Administration

jordan_cove.jpg
jordancovelng.com
A digital visual rendition of the Jordan Cove liquified natural gas terminal proposed in Coos Bay, Ore.

The controversial Jordan Cove Energy Project in Southern Oregon is among dozens of infrastructure projects being fast-tracked under a presidential order meant to stimulate the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In June, President Trump issued an executive order directing federal agencies to “expedite” infrastructure projects. The Interior Department responded in mid-July with a list of more than 70 energy, mining and grazing projects that were being fast-tracked, including Jordan Cove.

But Jared Margolis thinks the president’s order will do little to help Jordan Cove. Margolis is an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, the conservation group that sued to force the release of the list.

"The fact that it’s been fast-tracked by the Department of the Interior for the federal analysis I don’t believe will affect the state review, and shouldn’t change the state’s position, which has really been to oppose this project,” he says.

Margolis notes that the executive order can only streamline the federal regulatory process. But he says nearly all the federal analysis has been completed and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has already approved the project.

There does remain some ongoing push-and-pull about environmental analysis between FERC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service. FERC approved a re-routing of a section of the 234-mile long pipeline that would bring natural gas from Malin, Ore, near the California border to Coos Bay to be liquified and shipped to customers in Asia. The wildlife agencies say they need to re-evaluate the pipeline to assess what environmental impacts the new route might have. FERC maintains the agencies have all the information they need.

Nonetheless, Jared Margolis says, at this point, the battle over Jordan Cove has moved from the regulatory arena to the federal courts. The project is currently bound up in litigation by conservationists, tribes, landowners and the state of Oregon. And, he says, Trump's executive order doesn't rule there.

Margolis sees another motive for including Jordan Cove on the list of expedited projects.

"I think it’s political," he says. "I think it’s just a matter of saying, ‘We attempted to fast-track all these different projects, even though, at this point for Jordan Cove, it’s a meaningless exercise.

Jordan Cove did not respond to requests for comment.