Along with several marshes, sand dunes and bodies of water is a wide variety of wildlife in Southern Oregon. Tourists flock to Coos Bay for the area’s abundant sea life, including Chinook salmon, tuna, lingcod and halibut. While some tourists may take advantage of the area’s rich fishing opportunities, others will gaze at the city's sea lions and harbor seals in awe.
Sadly, those enjoyments may be short-lived. Canadian company Pembina hopes to install a liquified natural gas facility near the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport. Under Pembina’s Jordan Cove Energy Project, a pipeline will stretch 229 miles across Coos Bay. Critics of the project believe it will jeopardize sea life, as well as threaten tribal land among other issues.
After Oregon’s government denied Jordan Cove’s permit to build, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission members voted two-to-one to postpone deciding on a federal approval. Jordan Cove supporters are now scrambling to gain the federal government’s approval. However, Oregon’s decision to reject Pembina’s permit application was moral and logical. In order to protect the sea life, tribal land and avoid further gas emissions, the federal government must disapprove of the Jordan Cove project.
By constructing its 229 mile pipeline and fracked gas export, Pembina will threaten sea life. The Jordan Cove Project’s dredging — the removal of materials from the bottom of water — may harm Coos Bay’s estuary by leaving residue in the water. Dredging often deposits sediments in the water, such as metals and pesticides, which increases the water’s turbidity and threatens fish and other species. Moreover, the project entails directional drilling: inserting a pipe through a hole drilled under the stream. As a result, mud or fluid can penetrate the drilled bedrock, reaching the surface and nearby bodies of water.
The Jordan Cove Project runs through and threatens tribal territories. The Round Valley Indian, Karuk, Yurok and Klamath Tribes oppose the pipeline, and for good reason. The Klamath Tribes cited the project’s failure to obtain a Clean Air Act permit from Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality as grounds for opposition. In addition to the DEQ’s report of Jordan Cove’s failing to meet water quality standards, the project intrudes on traditional tribal land. It besmirches tribal sovereignty and harms their estuary.
If the federal government opts to reject the natural gas export project, it will not be the first administration to do so. Under President Barack Obama, federal regulators rejected Jordan Cove twice. In 2017, Canadian company Versen (which ran the Jordan Cove project before Pembina bought them out) re-submitted its applications for the natural gas terminal. Jordan Cove’s CEO, Betsy Spomer, said the political shift from the Obama administration to Donald Trump’s government could see the applications approved. She saw FERC’s rejection of Jordan Cove’s permit under Obama as politically motivated. Regardless, the project will threaten water quality, hurt sea life and trespass on tribal lands.
With Southeast Oregon’s estuaries compromised and the pipeline’s intrusion into tribal territories, the federal government must reject the Jordan Cove project. If Oregon can decide against Pembina, surely the federal government can follow suit. In a time where climate change is ravaging our world, there must be no more postponements on deciding Jordan Cove’s future — the environment in particular cannot wait.