One-on-one hearings for public on Jordan Cove project

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MEDFORD, Ore.– A federal agency is holding public hearings in several southern Oregon counties over the next few days about the controversial Jordan Cove LNG Project and pipeline.
The first of the four meetings took place in Coos County on Monday however things are being conducted a little differently. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is using a fairly new process to gather comments – one they say is much more efficient.
With such a controversial topic, the agency wants to gather as much public comment as it can to ensure everyone has a chance to speak.
“People would go to the meetings and there would be a long, long list of people to testify or wanted to be able to get up and comment but they wouldn’t be able to do it,” said Mary O’Driscoll, director of media relations for FERC. “The time would run out. It got late.”
This new process which was implemented just over two years ago changes up the normal meeting. Instead of a large public hearing, people who would like to comment this week can sit down and get a one-on-one session with the agency and a court reporter.
“These comments that are put into the record are all become part of the actual record on which FERC analyzes and assesses and does all the work to look at what the project does,” said O’Driscoll.
It’s an effort for efficiency and to gather as many public comments as possible on a controversial issue. The Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas project and pipeline has been in the works for over a decade.
The 229-mile pipeline, which would run from Mahlin to Coos Bay, has been denied by FERC in the past. But executives with Pembina, the Canadian company, overseeing the pipeline are feeling much more confident this time.
“Over a year we’ve had incredible amount of success on acquiring land and having landowners sign up with us,” said Harry Andersen, chief legal officer for Pembina.
The company says 82 percent of landowners have now signed on with the company. But the opposition says there are many more people against it.
“I think Pembina has really stepped up their pressure on landowners in the last year and there’s still really a concentrated core of landowners who have significant concerns about this project from the private property rights issues to all the environmental impacts,” said Stacey Detwiler, conservation director with Rogue Riverkeeper.
That’s where FERC is stepping in to hear from everyone it can to learn more about the public concerns. The information will help aid the decision on whether this pipeline moves forward or not.
The agency says once all the data is gathered, it will be used to help form part of an environmental impact statement on the project. No timeline was given on when that statement might be released.
The next meeting will take on June 24 in Douglas County at South Umpqua High School. On Wednesday, the hearing will come to Jackson County at the Ramada Hotel near downtown Medford. It will wrap up at the Klamath County Fairgrounds on Thursday. Each day, the hearing will run from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.
If you can’t make the meeting, you can go the FERC’s website and leave a comment. Click here for the link.
NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.
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