Colorado Officials “Optimistic” about Jordan Cove Following FERC Testimony
Colorado officials are “optimistic” about progress with the Jordan Cove LNG Terminal and say the project is “moving in a great direction” after testifying in front of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) late last month in Medford, Ore.
A contingent representing Northwest Colorado, Utah and Wyoming traveled to Oregon to express their support for the Jordan Cove project, which would allow for natural gas produced in the region to be exported to Asian markets. FERC held a series of meetings with stakeholders impacted by the pipeline to solicit feedback on the project as a part of the last round of public comment on its Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
“It’s extremely important for our economy and economic development,” Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, who was a member of the regional cohort, told Western Wire. “…I’m optimistic about it. I think it’s on track, it’s moving forward.”
The Jordan Cove project has existed in several different iterations for more than a decade and first applied for FERC approval in 2007. It faced a setback in 2016 when it was rejected under the Obama Administration, but has since reapplied for federal permitting.
Wyoming is the latest state to join the Western States Tribal Nations agreement, a group of state and tribal representatives collectively advocating for exporting the region’s resources from Oregon’s Coos Bay to international markets.
A recent report released by Consumer Energy Alliance estimated that opening up the Piceance-Uinta Basin for export could produce $6 billion in increased revenue and 38,000 jobs for Colorado while Utah could see a $4 billion boost and 15,000 jobs.
“Expediting the development of those reserves would create massive economic benefits for the states of Colorado and Utah, and tribal nations. The limiting factor for development in the Piceance-Uinta Basin is not geologic potential but the lack of market access for incremental gas supplies beyond the Rockies,” reads the report.
But even more important, according to Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese, would be the economic security stable markets would bring to Northwest Colorado. The region has lagged behind the rest of the state and struggled to generate the same amount of growth seen in the rapidly expanding Denver-Metro area.
“When I got involved in this project for me, for my community, it was all about the economic benefits. You contract with the Japanese, will be 20-year contracts at a good market rate, and will help stabilize my local economy from fluctuations in commodity prices from natural gas,” Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese, who testified in front of FERC last month, told Western Wire.
Japan is the world’s largest LNG importer, with South Korea and Taiwan following suit.
“If we were able to take that [natural gas] and export it and have a stabilized rate, that would be very beneficial for our economy,” Pugliese added.
Jankovsky put a similar emphasis on the importance of economic certainty in a region that is highly dependent on oil and gas, and consequently, sensitive to market swings. Garfield County relies on oil and gas for half of its property taxes, while several districts in the western end are almost entirely dependent on industry revenues to fund vital services like fire departments, schools, hospitals and parks and recreation.
“We’re used to the boom and bust aspect of this industry. We have enough reserves to last well over 100 years and to supply the nation and to drive that sector of our economy for well over 100 years. But there is a boom and bust cycle and right now we’re kind of in the trough of that cycle,” Jankovsky told Western Wire.
The U.S. Geological survey estimated in 2016 that the Piceance Basin contains 66 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. However, a drop in prices has depressed production in the area to just four active drill rigs, leaving major pipelines leading out of Western Colorado operating at just 30-50 percent capacity.
For Pugliese, the anticipated benefits are not just confined to economic activity but are global in scope.
“When we talk about geopolitical stabilization, the fact that Northwest Colorado could play a huge role in the geopolitical stabilization of our allies, the fact that we could play a role in helping to clean up our global environment by getting places like China from burning dirty fuels into the environment and instead switch over to clean natural gas, that’s a huge priority,” Pugliese told Western Wire.
Asia is hungry for natural gas and LNG, as countries like China and India look to transition away from coal to cleaner burning natural gas to fulfil their rapidly growing energy needs and combat air pollution issues. Jordan Cove’s prospective location in the Pacific Northwest has the advantage of proximity to meet these needs over established terminals in the U.S. Gulf.
Pembina Pipeline Corp., the Canadian company spearheading the project, is working concurrently on securing state and federal approval. The company says more than 80 percent of landowners across the proposed 229 mile pipeline route to Coos Bay are on board with the project. FERC has wrapped up its public commenting period and is expected to issue a decision in early 2020.