The company hoping to break ground on a project that would send western natural gas throughout the world through a terminal in Oregon says the project is gaining support.

The Jordan Cove project is an LNG export facility that would send natural gas from western Colorado’s Piceance Basin to a terminal in Coos Bay, Oregon, for international export.

Michael Hinrichs, a spokesman for Canadian Pembina Pipeline Corporation, based in Calgary, told Western Wire the project, which crosses into Oregon in Klamath County, and would proceed through Jackson, Douglas, and end in Coos County, has at least 36 major permits ranging from federal to state and local, with three of the counties having a say on permits.

Hinrichs said that recent hearings and even protests have presented an opportunity for the company to listen and to share what the process involves, including technical aspects.

“Actually, it’s been good,” he said, referring to a removal fill permit, now receiving comment at the Oregon Department of State Lands. “It’s one of the more technical based permits, because it is a little more straight forward with you know ‘here’s the design, here’s how you can avoid the water, if you can’t, here’s the mitigation that’s required, and then here’s our commitment to go above and beyond.’”

Hinrichs characterized the process as “civil”—“I’ve been doing this for 7 years, on this project, and so even though opponents and I at this point know each other, we’re friendly.”

But Hinrichs said the project has no lack of support in Oregon.

“We have local county commissioners, state representatives, state senators all who testified, mayors, business organizations, chambers of commerce, other issue advocacy organizations, so all in all we’re feeling good,” he said. The comment period ends February 3rd.

Hinrichs shared a list of Oregon State Legislature members, elected officials, and union supporters with Western Wire that includes State Sens. Arnie Roblan, Dennis Linthicum, and Dallas Heard; State Reps. Caddy McKeown, David Brock Smith, Gary Leif, and Werner Reschke; County Commissioners Derrick DeGroot (Klamath County), Donnie Boyd (Klamath County), Tim Freeman (Douglas County), Chris Boice (Douglas County), Melissa Cribbins (Coos County), and John Sweet (Coos County).

Mayors for both ends of the pipeline back the project—Joe Benetti of Coos Bay and Gary Zieg of Malin.

Oregon Building Trades’ Robert Camarillo and Boost Southern Oregon’s Todd Goergen and Rick Skinner also support Jordan Cove.

Gaining support by understanding Oregon, Hinrichs said, and going “above and beyond” in every aspect of the process, was key to earning the privilege of bringing Jordan Cove to fruition.

Part of that, Hinrichs said, is “working with federal and state agencies and cooperating with local universities as well as neighbors and cultural experts. We identified an area where instead of just rehabilitation 30 acres of a defunct golf course that used to be prime wetlands area, we have bought out all 100+ acres of it and we’re going to restore it back to prime Coho salmon habitat.”

Hinrichs pointed out that the salmon habitat restoration, as the fish are listed under the Endangered Species Act, represents “a huge opportunity to help de-list them as a threatened species, and the Coho is also a very important cultural resource not just for Oregon’s commercial fishing presence, but also cultural in terms of the tribes and the folks that settled the area.”

The restoration project will be in Coos County, at the northern end of the Coos Bay Channel, according to Hinrichs.

Pembina hopes to finalize a decision by November 2019, with ground-breaking anticipated in 2020 and completion and exporting to begin in 2024.

Jordan Cove Supporters, Opponents Weigh In

Other officials are eager to see the project gain approval and move toward exporting LNG, including those at the eastern end of the full pipeline in Colorado.

“Delaying Jordan Cove does not just mean a delay in $10 billion in private investment, it means delaying the ability to open up the Asian markets to western Colorado resources, which impacts economic development that contributes significantly to local job creation, tax revenue, community investment, and funding for education, healthcare and public safety,” Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese told Western Wire.

Pugliese added that the Jordan Cove project transcended just economic or government revenue concerns and represented a national security consideration that provided even more justification for its completion.

“Delays also compromise the national security of our country and our allies by forcing countries like Japan to extend their natural gas contracts with Russia and the Middle East instead of buying their natural gas from the United States,” Pugliese said.

At a House Natural Resources field hearing last summer, Pugliese called the discovery of what the United States Geological Survey (USGS) revealed in a 2016 report that increased the estimate of technically recoverable natural gas in the Mancos Shale deposit in Colorado from 1.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to 66.3 trillion, a forty-fold increase, a “game changer.”

“[O]ne of the largest upward resource assessment revisions in the agency’s history,” Pugliese said last June, makes the Jordan Cove project even more viable. “This new information further dispels the myth that we are running out of natural gas in this country and strengthens the case that the United States needs to export LNG, which is why we need federal approval of the proposed Jordan Cove LNG facility and associated connector pipeline in Oregon.”

At the time, Pugliese praised the bipartisan effort by Colorado’s elected officials to boost the project on the eastern end.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R) have both supported the project, as have elected officials across Colorado’s oil and gas producing Western Slope.

Gardner and Bennet have joined a bipartisan letter in 2016 and co-signed by 13 other Western state elected officials at the time, calling for a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rehearing for the Jordan Cove project.

Hinrichs estimated that the FERC hearing will take place in March or early April.

“The Jordan Cove project will make a positive impact on emissions, while at the same time providing Oregonians much-needed bountiful job and economic opportunities for decades. Oregon has an opportunity to lead as a good steward of both our environment and our economy,” Jonathan Lockwood, a spokesman for Republicans in the Oregon Legislature, told Western Wire.

“Emissions from Asia have infiltrated the air across the Pacific Northwest and Oregonians are potentially breathing in toxic mercury, nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide and other harmful matter—Jordan Cove will help alleviate this threat to our health by helping transition to cleaner energy,” Lockwood said.

Those benefits did not sway Jackson County commissioners, who voted unanimously this week to oppose the 229-mile pipeline in a seven-page letter to the Oregon DSL, highlighting concerns about soil health, water, and private lands.

All indications are that the benefits to Jackson county will be extremely minimal, while the costs to our wetlands and waterbodies appear to be high,” the letter read.

“There is tremendous public support for tapping into natural resources, especially when it helps our environment. Oregonians deserve the benefits of energy development, so we can help better fund our communities and be a more competitive state,” Lockwood told Western Wire in response to the Jackson County commission’s actions.

He added that projects this large take time to gain consensus. “I think there’s still hope for Jordan Cove and the benefits it will bring to all Oregonians,” Lockwood added.

Jackson County does not have a permitting role in the project, unlike the other three counties.

Hinrichs indicated that outreach was ongoing but did not have a comment on the Jackson County letter.