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Proposed Pacific Connector Pipeline Files for Export with FERC

Concerns mount over increased domestic gas prices and impacts to private lands and clean water

Concerns mount over increased domestic gas prices and impacts to private lands and clean water

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Jun 05, 2012

Companies behind the proposed 234-mile Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline, which would run from Malin, Oregon to Coos Bay, Oregon, filed a pre-application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on June 4 seeking to build a pipeline to export natural gas through Oregon. FERC vacated the project’s previous certificate in April, 2012, because the project had flipped from an import facility to an export facility. 

The proposed pipeline would bulldoze a 234-mile-long right-of-way through about 150 miles of private property and 80 miles of public lands to export inexpensive, domestic natural gas accessed by fracking in Wyoming and the Mountain West. The proposal would ship North American gas to high-priced Asian markets via the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal in Coos Bay.

The new export plan has brought up statewide, and natural concern over the impact to gas prices, adding to the diverse coalition of LNG-opponents in Oregon concerned with property rights and impacts to salmon populations.

"LNG export has the potential to negatively impact gas prices for consumers, both here in Oregon and nationwide. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently predicted significant increases in consumer energy costs resulting from LNG export. Between 2015 and 2035, the impact on natural gas bills is projected to be between 3 and 9 percent, and the impact on electricity bills would range from 1 to 3 percent. These numbers are also only the average increase; the study indicates that higher export levels could lead to short-term price spikes of as much as 60% under certain market conditions in the earlier study years,” according to Gordon Feighner, Senior Utility Analyst with Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon. “The benefits of LNG export would go to foreign customers and project developers, while Oregon citizens would be faced with the environmental and cost impacts of the projects.”

The proposed pipeline would bulldoze a 234-miles right-of-way through about 150 miles of private property and 80 miles of public lands to move inexpensive, domestic natural gas accessed by fracking to Asian markets via the proposed Jordan Cove LNG terminal in Coos Bay. The pipeline would cross over 350 waterbodies, raising concerns over localized water quality and fish habitat impacts.

“Oregonians are working hard to restore valuable salmon runs, and the Pacific Connector would further harm them so they can get rich by exporting U.S. fossil fuels,” stated Lesley Adams, Director of Rogue Riverkeeper. “Their new export plan is not good for Oregonians or Americans.”

State Senator Alan Bates, who has been a vocal critic of the project, stated, “LNG export is bad for salmon, bad for landowners, and bad for business.”

The company has claimed that they want to work with landowners to negotiate easements. However, landowners along the pipeline, who are concerned about safety, the destruction and limited access to their property, say that the company has not been forthcoming with information or respectful of their interests.

For example, the company’s FERC filing states that there will be public hearing in all four affected counties during the week of June 11th, but landowners have not been informed of meeting details.

“If Pacific Connector Pipeline was really interested in working with the families that will be impacted by their project, they would give us a better notice of the meeting,” said Francis Eatherington, an impacted landowner in Douglas County. “It feels insulting to hold a public meeting before we are individually notified and can adjust our schedules so we can go. After all, a pipeline near our homes that can act like a bomb if the company makes a mistake is a meeting we all want to attend. But less than a week's notice is just not adequate.”

The company still has years of permitting process ahead of them and opponents are committed to stopping the project.

Big Picture

The flip to export is part of a larger national trend of LNG companies looking to capitalize on relatively cheap natural gas extracted through fracking and shipping the gas as LNG to higher prices markets in Asia. While US customers currently pay a rate around $2.5 per million Btus, prices in Asia are about $15 per million Btus. FERC currently has applications from six LNG terminals, existing and proposed, applying to export, while the Department of Energy has an additional three applications, according to Terry Turpin, Chief of LNG Energy Branch at FERC.

National industry interests have voiced concern over the impacts to natural gas prices if the U.S. begins exporting natural gas.

In a press release in February, 2012, Bert Kalisch, chief executive of the American Public Gas Association, stated, “The large‐scale export of natural gas via LNG will not only play havoc with the current supply/demand situation (and hence the price of natural gas) but also, because the price of LNG abroad is tied to the international oil market, will inevitably link the domestic price of natural gas to international oil markets”.

The proposed Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline is a project of Williams of Tulsa, Oklahoma and Veresen Power, Inc, based in Alberta Canada.

Public meetings will be held in Coos, Douglas, Jackson and Klamath Counties during the week of June 11, according to the filing document, although no specific locations or dates have yet been listed.


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