Oregon authorities deny water quality certificate to Jordan Cove LNG

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has denied a Section 401 Water Quality Certification to Pembina’s Jordan Cove LNG project.

The approval of such a certification is required for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue permits for the project.

DEQ said on Monday that the denial was made “without prejudice” which means that the operator may reapply for the certification and submit additional information that could result in a different decision.

If Jordan Cove resubmits an application along with information addressing DEQ’s concerns, the organization will work to keep the timing of its review in line with the overall federal schedule for the project, but this will depend on the applicant submitting the requested information promptly.

DEQ expected to make its decision on certification in September of this year. However, it accelerated the schedule and already made a decision to ensure that Oregon’s authority to review water quality impacts of the project was not waived.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initially instructed DEQ to complete its review by May 7, 2019. However, in fall 2018, the Corps extended that date to September 24, 2019, following the withdrawal and resubmittal of the application.

DEQ added that recent federal court and agency decisions raised questions about whether this extension was valid. As a result, the Department made its decision by the date initially provided by the Corps.

“DEQ is denying the requested water quality certification at this time because there is insufficient information to demonstrate compliance with water quality standards, and because the available information shows that some standards are more likely than not to be violated,” the Department said.

Specific concerns, among others, include expected effects of the construction and operation of the proposed pipeline and associated road and work areas on water temperature and sediment in streams and wetlands as well as the risk of release of drilling materials from the construction of the proposed crossing of the Coos Bay estuary.

As for the project, it is for an LNG export facility in Coos Bay which will include a 229-mile, 36-inch diameter pipeline from Malin in Klamath County to the facility in Coos Bay.

It is worth reminding that Pembina pushed back its Jordan Cove LNG project with an expected start-up date now set for 2025.