Oregon Wants To Benefit From The Energy Game, Without Getting Played

by | May 21, 2014

“Priority one for me has always been ensuring American jobs and employers see the full benefits of the natural gas renaissance.” -Oregon Senator Ron Wyden

Energy is often produced in rural areas for the benefit of urban dwellers, who sometimes live and work hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the source. Meanwhile, citizens of rural communities do not begrudge the arrangement—they are hungry for work and the prosperity that comes in the form of high-paying jobs, energy leases, corporate taxes and so on.

Today, in southern Oregon this drama is playing out, as it is in communities across the nation. The proposed Pacific Connector Pipeline, would transport liquefied natural gas, or LNG, 232 miles from Malin, Oregon—where an existing pipeline terminates—to Coos Bay, where an export facility would be built.

southern oregon lng pipeline

The export facility is a $7.7 billion proposal in its own right. Jordan Cove, which is owned by Calgary-based Veresen Inc., and its associated infrastructure will be the single largest private investment in Oregon’s history. According to The Washington Examiner, Jordan Cove is the seventh and latest natural gas export terminal approved by the Energy Department. The Obama administration supports exporting more natural gas.

If it gets built, Jordan Cove would be the first U.S. export terminal on the West Coast, giving it prime real estate to tap into Asian markets thirsty for natural gas.

Naturally, there are forces opposed. “Jordan Cove still needs a slew of federal and state permits to begin construction,” said Zack Malitz of San Francisco-based environmental group Credo, which is opposed to exports because it could lead to more drilling. The Oregon Sierra Club is also squarely against.

The Jordan Cove export terminal at Coos Bay would require the largest port dredging project in Oregon’s history in habitat important for marine species and the fishermen that depend on them. A 230-mile-long pipeline would be built to deliver gas to the terminal, crossing nearly 400 streams in the Klamath, Rogue, Umpqua, Coquille, and Coos watersheds.

In related news, there are greener energy developments brewing along the Oregon coast. The state of Oregon has invested more than $10 million in the Oregon Wave Energy Trust, to fund research and other projects to accelerate the development of wave power in Oregon.

In 2012, Ocean Power Technologies, a Pennington, N.J.-based wave energy company, appeared set to build America’s first grid-connected wave energy project, a 1.5-megawatt power station composed of 10 “PowerBuoys” in waters near Reedsport, Ore. Sadly, they abandoned the project earlier this spring.

In yet another development, Principle Power Inc. is a Seattle company with a permit from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for a wind project off the Oregon coast, near Coos Bay.

“We like what Coos Bay has to offer,” said Kevin Banister, vice president of business development and government affairs for Principle Power. “It’s in the middle of a really rich band of offshore wind.”

Principle said it could have five massive turbines spinning by the summer of 2017.