Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



COURTESY RENDERING - A rendering shows part of the Jordan Cove liquified natural gas plant in Coos Bay, being developed by Veresen Inc.SALEM — Opponents of the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas project asked the State Land Board on Tuesday to decide whether the state should issue permits for parts of the project.

The interim director of the Department of State Lands, Stephanie Hallock Cummins, would normally make a decision on whether to approve two “removal fill” applications by developers of the Jordan Cove project and related pipeline. Under state law, the developers need the permits before any construction work in wetlands.

The State Land Board consists of the governor, secretary of state and Oregon treasurer. Gov. Kate Brown did not attend the meeting because she was traveling on the East Coast, according to spokeswoman Kristen Grainger. It was unclear whether Brown was traveling on state or personal business.

The other two members of the board did not agree to consider the permits.

Click here to see Versen Inc. project information.

Click here to read the state's project information.

Treasurer Ted Wheeler said he was not necessarily opposed to taking up the decision.

“Technically, the land board can pull anything from the (Department of State Lands) to the land board,” Wheeler said. “We want to respect that there’s a process underway and personally I want to be respectful of the process.”

“I’m not opposed to the land board taking this up,” Wheeler said. “Nobody has made the case that the process is broken, so let’s continue with the process we’d agreed to.”

Wheeler said there would be a public meeting in Coos Bay to gather input on the permit applications. The state has also extended by another month the public comment deadline, which is now Jan. 8.

Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins declined to comment on the situation. Molly Woon, a spokeswoman for Atkins, wrote in an email that “Secretary Atkins will be watching the Department of State Lands closely and will request ongoing briefings as they move forward in decision making.”

Several dozen opponents attended the meeting and dressed in red to distinguish themselves, although not all of them spoke. Many said they lived in Portland, and some were also from Coos Bay and Southern Oregon.

Emmalyn Garrett, who lives near Grant Pass, challenged Wheeler to take up the issue and pointed out that environmental issues are important in Portland. Wheeler is running for Portland mayor.

“Treasurer Wheeler, you’re looking at a powerful part of your constituency, if you’re planning on being mayor of Portland,” Garrett said.

Lili Clausen, from the Clausen Oysters farm in Coos Bay, said the state should block the LNG project.

“I’m here because I’m very concerned about the sustainability of the oyster businesses in Coos Bay,” Clausen said. “If that pipeline is getting the easement, that would potentially destroy most of the oyster production in Coos Bay because the digging up of the ground and the pipes would create a lot of silt.”

Hillary Borrud is a reporter with the Pamplin Media Group/EO Media Group Capital Bureau in Salem.

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