DOE approves Oregon natural gas terminal

 

The Energy Department said Monday it has “conditionally” authorized the planned Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal to export natural gas to countries with which the United States does not have a free trade agreement.

The Jordan Cove project in Coos Bay, Ore., is the seventh natural gas export terminal to get conditional Department of Energy (DOE) approval. Only one project has final approval from the federal government, and it will not start exporting natural gas until 2019.

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The approval comes as Republicans are pressuring the Obama administration to increase natural gas exports to Eastern Europe to reduce the influence of Russia, which controls most of the natural gas in that region. The GOP also sees it as a way to retaliate against Russia and President Vladimir Putin for recent efforts to annex the Crimea region from Ukraine.

“The Energy Department conducted an extensive, careful review of the application to export LNG from the Jordan Cove LNG Terminal,” the agency said in a statement. “Among other factors, the department considered the economic, energy security, and environmental impacts,” it added, saying that approval of the terminal “was not inconsistent with the public interest.”

Final approval for the project is still subject to environmental and regulatory review, the DOE said. 

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, welcomed the department's decision.

“Given the situation in Ukraine, this license sends a positive signal to our allies and to energy markets that the United States is ready to join the growing global gas trade,” Murkowski said in a statement. “While this license moves us in the right direction, I would be strongly opposed to any ‘pause for further study,’ as some have proposed.”

Environmental groups have called for the Obama administration to stop approving LNG export terminals. The increased demand for natural gas would spur more hydraulic fracturing, which is harmful to the environment and water supplies, they said.

Under the Monday order, the Jordan Cove project, owned by Veresen Inc., would be allowed to export 800 million standard cubic feet of natural gas per day for 20 years. The DOE must review and approve all applications to export natural gas to countries with which the United States does not have a free trade agreement.

When Veresen applied for the permit in May, it said it would take 42 months to construct the facility, which would put completion in September 2015, following the department’s action Monday. The facility will employ 900 people on average, and up to 2,000 for peak periods. 

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