Jackson County commissioners unanimously oppose Jordan Cove Pipeline project

Jackson County commissioners are saying "No thank you" to the proposed Jordan Cove Pipeline project that would span across four southern Oregon counties.

The 229-mile pipeline was proposed by Canadian pipeline corporation Pembina, which plans to use the line to export North American natural gas to Asian markets.

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On Thursday, Jackson County commissioners sent a seven-page letter of concerns to the Oregon Department of State Lands, including worries over the health of soil, water and private lands.

"All indications are that the benefits to Jackson county will be extremely minimal, while the costs to our wetlands and waterbodies appear to be high," the letter read.

The commissioners continued to detail worries over exporting energy resources, which they said contradicts "the longstanding United States energy policy" to reduce reliance on foreign energy supplies.

Another major factor described in the letter-- the fact that there's no outline on how to mitigate wildfires while the pipeline would be constructed. Commissioners said that would likely happen during the peak of fire season.

If the pipeline were to fail or cause environmental damage, commissioners said the current pipeline project also lacks a plan to financially cover the damage, placing prospective burden on the county.

"As with PG&E recently filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in response to the massive California wildfires, this shows that the State or County are offered no assurances that environmental damage to sensitive wetlands and waterbodies will be restored or funded," the letter said.

Deb Evans, a timber property owner, is particularly concerned about the impact the project would have on her land off of Clover Creek Road near Lake of the Woods in Klamath County.

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She said the pipeline would cut a half-mile through her property and would require a 95-foot clear cut of trees to do so-- permanently impacting her timber business.

"We are very much opposed on three accounts," said Evans. "We believe that eminent domain is wrong for private corporate gain, we believe that energy-security should be paid attention to."

"We also worry about the effects on the environment," she added.

Evans started battling the proposed project shortly after she bought her land 13 years ago. She said she's happy to see the Jackson County commissioners on her side.

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While the commissioners saw red flags within the project, Pembina said the pipeline would be beneficial for Jackson County.

According to the company, the project would generate $60 million a year in tax revenue for the southern Oregon counties.

That's on top of creating an estimated 1,400 temporary jobs during the pipeline's construction, 1,000 jobs while the export terminal is being built in Coos County and more than 200 permanent jobs once construction is done-- most of which would be at the export terminal.

An Environmental Impact Statement on the pipeline should be submitted next month.

In the meantime, Evans said she will continue the fight against the project.

"Not giving up at all," she said. "This is the wrong project to be betting on."

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