Feds block Oregon natural gas export terminal

Federal officials denied a permit Friday for a proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal, a rare rebuke of a gas project by the federal government.

In rejecting the Jordan Cove Energy Project on Oregon’s coast and the major pipeline to bring gas to it, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said that Veresen Inc., the company behind it, did not sufficiently demonstrate that the need for the pipeline outweighs the harm to local landowners.

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“We find the generalized allegations of need proffered by Pacific Connector do not outweigh the potential for adverse impact on landowners and communities,” FERC said of the pipeline in its Friday ruling, adding that “the record does not support a finding that the public benefits of the Pacific Connector Pipeline outweigh the adverse effects on landowners.”

Since the export terminal would have no source of gas without the pipeline, the body denied the facility’s permit as well. FERC is an independent agency whose members are appointed by the president, but no other agency oversees its decisions.

The decision was a rare win for environmentalists like Beyond Extreme Energy and the Sierra Club, who say FERC has acted as a “rubber stamp” for natural gas exports.

Greens have been fighting natural gas exports under the logic that the projects would increase demand for natural gas and hydraulic fracturing, to the detriment of the environment and climate.

“This historic victory is the result of over a decade of hard work by Oregonians and their allies across the environmental movement committed to protecting their communities from this dangerous proposal,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement.

“Allowing dangerous proposals like Jordan Cove to continue will only lead to more drilling and fracking, which in turn will further pollute our air and our water and bring about more climate-fueled weather disasters like the record droughts, wildfires, and superstorms we have witnessed in recent years,” he said.

Natural gas exports received increased attention from lawmakers in recent years as a way to increase the United States’ power internationally and hurt energy superpowers like Russia, while helping the domestic gas industry.

Only one such facility is currently in operation in the contiguous United States. It is in Louisiana, and shipped its first cargo last month.