Washington DC - Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today pressed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to hold more public meetings and extend the public comment period as the agency considers the proposed Jordan Cove LNG project and Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline.
In a letter to FERC Acting Chair Cheryl LaFleur, Wyden and Merkley requested the agency extend the public comment period from 30 days to 90 days—the typical length of public review for a project of this size and complexity—and schedule more than three meetings on the proposed Jordan Cove facility and pipeline, which would be sited in Coos Bay, Oregon. During the scoping process for the previous Jordan Cove application in 2012, FERC allowed 89 days for public comment.
Last week, FERC announced it would hold public meetings in Klamath, Douglas, and Coos counties, but not Jackson County, which would also be directly affected by the proposed Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline.
“As United States senators, we understand the importance of public discourse, which is a longstanding tradition in our state,” the senators wrote in their letter today.
“In order to give members of the public in affected communities the opportunity to voice their perspective regarding the project, we strongly believe that FERC must hold additional town meetings.
“Therefore, we request these public scoping meetings be open and transparent, and afford the public the opportunity to ask questions and receive adequate answers. We are concerned that meetings consisting of individual, one-on-one comments with a court reporter do not adequately respect the spirit of openness that Oregonians have come to expect from public meetings. It is crucial FERC does everything possible to engage all affected stakeholders in this process, including landowners and tribal communities,” they wrote.
Earlier this month, Wyden voted in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee against Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson, two nominees to be commissioners of FERC, after receiving inadequate answers from them about how they would remain independent from political interference from the White House and work to gather local input when making decisions on proposed energy projects like Jordan Cove. The nominees have not yet come before the full Senate for consideration.
FERC is an independent federal regulatory agency responsible for evaluating natural gas and hydroelectric projects.
Read the full letter here.