Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 28, 2020


Gabby Brown, Sierra Club, (914) 261-4626,
Susan Jane Brown, Western Environmental Law Center, (503) 914-1323,
Allie Rosenbluth, Rogue Climate, (541) 816-2240,
Jared Margolis, Center for Biological Diversity, (802) 310-4054,

Lawsuit Challenges Federal Approval of Jordan Cove Natural Gas Project

WASHINGTON— Conservation organizations filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline.

FERC’s approval of Jordan Cove in March was conditioned on the project qualifying for critical permits from the state of Oregon. Three of those permits have already been denied or withdrawn.

A group of Oregon landowners affected by eminent domain filed their own challenge to the project late last week. Many others, including the state of Oregon, multiple tribal governments, and fishers and crabbers, had also requested FERC revisit its ruling on the widely opposed project. These groups have 60 days from FERC’s May 22 denial of rehearing to file their own lawsuits.

The conservation groups’ lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, challenges FERC’s approval of the project under the National Environmental Policy Act and Natural Gas Act. The groups argue FERC failed to consider critical information about the proposed facility and that it is not in the public interest.

“Today, we’re standing up for the health of the Rogue River and the health of our communities in southern Oregon,” said Stacey Detwiler of Rogue Riverkeeper. “With two permit denials from the state of Oregon, Jordan Cove LNG should never have made it this far. Together, our communities will make sure that this harmful project is stopped once and for all.”

“FERC should not have burdened Oregon’s environment, communities and landowners by approving a pipeline that nobody needs and that Oregonians don’t want,” said Nathan Matthews, a senior attorney with the Sierra Club. “Jordan Cove has failed to obtain key permits from the state of Oregon because it is clearly not in the public interest. Had FERC done the full analysis the law requires, they would have come to the same conclusion.”

“Even though Jordan Cove failed to secure even one necessary state permit, that could change, and the project still requires federal approval,” said Susan Jane Brown, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center. “Federal approval is the keystone to the Jordan Cove Project, and because of the project’s glaring climate, clean water, and other ecological impacts, we want to knock out that flawed federal approval.”

“The Jordan Cove LNG project would devastate the local environment and weaken efforts to combat the ongoing climate crisis,” said Jared Margolis, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Trump administration can’t keep ignoring the harm fossil fuel development does to our climate and endangered species. This project should never have been proposed, and we’ll continue to fight it.”

“Jordan Cove LNG would harm recreation, our local fishing industry and the health of the bay, in addition to threatening the safety of thousands in Coos County,” said Jody McAffree of the Coos County organization Citizens for Renewables. “Over 15 years Jordan Cove LNG has not moved forward because people who live and work in the impacted communities have challenged the ill-conceived project at every turn. Now we’re taking our fight to the federal level and won’t stop until the project is gone for good.”

“This project was previously considered and rejected by FERC because there was not sufficient need for gas to justify the adverse environmental and landowner impacts,” said Daniel E. Estrin, Waterkeeper Alliance general counsel and advocacy director. “Since that rare rejection almost four years ago, global demand for LNG exports has dramatically decreased, yet FERC attempts to bring this frightening zombie back to life. This reversal is the epitome of unlawful, arbitrary and capricious agency action, and would be a disaster for Oregon’s waterways and our climate. It will not stand.”

“Over 40,000 people sent comments and hundreds turned out to hearings across the four impacted counties to ask FERC to deny Jordan Cove LNG, which would risk our climate, clean drinking water, public safety, and more,” said Allie Rosenbluth of Rogue Climate. “FERC has failed to listen to the people of southern Oregon who stand united against Jordan Cove LNG. Now, our communities' concerns about this project will get their time in front of a judge."

Wednesday’s lawsuit was filed by Rogue Riverkeeper, Rogue Climate, Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, Citizens for Renewables, Friends of Living Oregon Waters, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Oregon Wild, Oregon Women’s Land Trust and Waterkeeper Alliance. The groups are represented by the Sierra Club and Western Environmental Law Center.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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