MEDFORD — Local county officials in Southern Oregon are asking the federal government to reject a Canadian company’s bid to build a 229-mile underground natural gas pipeline in the area, saying the project would violate environmental regulations and provide only short-term boost to the regional economy.
County commissioners in Jackson County said in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this month that they unanimously oppose the proposed pipeline, which would run through four southwest Oregon counties with a planned terminal near the port town of Coos Bay. Pembina, the Canadian-based company behind the project, has floated the proposal as one of the largest investments in rural Southern Oregon saying it would bring new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars to the area, according to The Medford Mail Tribune .
But local officials dispute that claim, saying in a joint letter that the project would only bring temporary construction positions that would dry up once the pipeline’s constructed. Commissioners add that they also take issue with Pembina’s assurances that it would follow environmental regulations, saying in the letter that the company is lobbying to become exempt from federal law.
“If the agencies must amend their environmental rules to allow the project, then it is perplexing how the laws and regulations of those agencies will somehow limit impacts (to the environment),” the commissioners wrote.
The project would transport natural gas from Canada and the American Rockies to the Coos Bay terminal, where it would be liquefied and shipped overseas to primarily Asian markets. If constructed, the project would become the state’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
A previous incarnation of the proposal was rejected under the Obama administration, but the plan was resubmitted shortly after President Donald Trump took office in 2017. Federal regulators will decide whether to approve the project by early 2020.
Pembina told the Mail-Tribune that it has received a copy of the commissioners’ letter, and that it hopes to address their concerns in future meetings.