MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — Jackson County commissioners are asking the state to block a proposed natural gas pipeline that would ferry gas over 229 miles of southern Oregon to an export terminal near Coos Bay.
The Oregon Department of State Lands is considering whether to grant the project a key permit and is taking public comment until Feb. 3. There is broad opposition to the pipeline in Klamath, Jackson, Douglas and Coos counties, The Mail Tribune reported Wednesday.
Pembina Pipeline Corporation, a Canadian company, wants to use the pipeline to export North American natural gas to Asian markets. But county commissioners have long been opposed to the project because of the possibility that eminent domain could be used against property owners unwilling to have the pipeline cross their land.
"All indications are that the benefits to Jackson County will be extremely minimal, while the costs to our wetlands and water bodies is high," the letter says.
Pembina says the project would create 1,400 jobs during the pipeline's construction and 1,000 jobs while the export terminal is being built. More than 200 people would have permanent jobs once construction is done, mainly at the export facility, it says.
The project would generate $60 million annually in tax revenue for the southern Oregon counties, according to Pembina.
In their letter, Jackson County officials said there is no guarantee that Pembina would cover the costs of restoration if the pipeline is damaged or fails.
They point to the example of PGG&E. The power utility announced it will go through Chapter 11 bankruptcy after its equipment was implicated in 2017 and 2018 wildfires that burned 24,600 structures and killed more than 100 people in California.
The letter says Pembina wants to use water from reservoirs, a lake and an irrigation canal in Jackson County to fill the pipeline and test its strength.
"These water sources are important for irrigation, fire suppression and livestock watering," the letter says. "Considering the drought conditions of the last several years, and extreme fire conflagrations in Oregon and this region of the country, removing water from these sources is detrimental to our ranching community and a life-safety issue when reducing water supply available for wildland fire suppression."
The pipeline would cross 87 waterways and wetlands in the county, including the Rogue River, and cross beneath the Rogue River two miles north of Shady Cove.
County officials say in the letter the crossing is too close to homeowners, who would be subjected to construction and drilling noise and other effects. They also worry about the leakage of drilling fluid into the river.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is reviewing the project at the national level. The commission denied a previous iteration of the project in 2016, saying potential harms outweighed potential benefits.
Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/