In a suprising turn of events, Coos County's hearings officer recommended that the land use application for the Jordan Cove LNG terminal be rejected. She previously recommended that a second application for a different part of the project be approved. Her decision could mark a turning of the tide in the fight against LNG in Southern Oregon.
Public comment was skewed 10 to 1 in opposition to the project during hearings in September in Coquille. Citizens Against LNG, Umpqua Watersheds, Friends of Living Oregon Waters (FLOW), the Southern Oregon Pipeline Information Project, Oregon Shores, and Sierra Club all worked to persuade the hearings officer that the project was a threat to the public safety, economy, and environment of the Coos Bay Area. Congratulations are in order to Jody McCaffree and so many others in Coos Bay and North Bend who have fought this proposal and its associated 223-mile pipeline (called the Pacific Connector).
A similar recommendation was made against the NorthernStar Bradwood proposal, but so far that county has failed to heed its own staff, attorneys, and hired experts. Deliberations for the Clatsop County Commission's final decision begins on December 13th. It will be interesting to see whether Coos County Commissioners follow the example of the Planning Commission in Clatsop County, who voted 4-3 (in a rigged vote) to ignore their staff, attorneys, and experts and gave NorthernStar a positive recommendation to the County Commission.
Both Clatsop and Coos counties have an opportunity to stop these terminals and pipelines. Expert staff in both counties have recommended AGAINST the terminals. It's now up to the County Commissions to do the right thing and listen to the advice of its hired staff and the public.
Here is a press release from nocaliforniapipeline.com:
HEARINGS OFFICER RECOMMENDS COOS COUNTY COMMISSION DENIES PORT PERMIT FOR LNG SLIP
In a just released letter to the Coos County Commission, Hearings Officer Anne Corcoran Briggs has recommended that the Commission deny the International Port of Coos Bay's application for a conditional use permit to dredge out a 45 acre slip in the North Spit of Coos Bay for docking 900-foot long tanker ships at a massive liquefied natural gas terminal.
Briggs, who was hired by Coos County to evaluate the permit application submitted by the Port, wrote that her denial recommendation was based on the applicant "not demonstrating that all applicable approval standards have been met."
Specifically, Briggs wrote she "agreed with opponents that the applicant has not satisfactorily quantified the benefits to the public that justify the development of the marine terminal as proposed."
"The applicant relies on economic studies that show the proposal, when combined with the LNG facilities, will provide an economic benefit to the county. However, neither the impacts nor the benefits to be derived from the proposed port slip have been independently quantified."
"The fact that the proposed slip will generate some generic economic benefits over an unspecified timeframe is not enough to show that there is a need for this terminal configuration," Briggs continued.
Briggs went on to say she agreed with opponents that "the Port has not adequately justified the impact of the proposal on commerce, namely commercial fishing within the bay, and recreation.
"There is evidence that the loss of the eelgrass and the loss of 40 acres of shallow water will adversely affect local fisheries."
Briggs' conclusion about the impacts the LNG project on existing commerce and other uses of Lower Coos Bay was, "I cannot say that the applicant has met its burden of demonstrating the Public Trust Rights have not been unreasonably affected."
Also cited by Briggs as reasons to deny the Port's permit application were insufficient information from the applicant about the potential impacts of development on Henderson Marsh, and the impacts of redirecting storm water on Coos Bay.
To read the entire report, visit www.nocaliforniapipeline.com/nopipelineblog.
Coos County Commissioners are slated to begin discussions about the permit at 1:30pm tomorrow at the Coos County Courthouse in Coquille. They will not be taking any public comment during this time.