A local ballot measure in Coos County, OR, intended to block a long-proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) project was rejected on Tuesday by voters amidst heavy spending by project backers and concerns that the "sustainable energy" measure was unconstitutional. More than 75% of the votes cast were against the proposal.
The Coos County Right to Sustainable Energy Future Ordinance, or Measure 6-162, would have banned Calgary, Alberta-based Veresen Inc.'s proposed multi-billion-dollar Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and connecting natural gas transmission pipeline as a "non-sustainable energy system."
Although not specifically referring to Jordan Cove, the ballot proposition took direct aim at the proposed Coos Bay terminal and 232-mile connecting gas pipeline by banning the development of bulk transportation of fossil fuels in the county.
Backers of Jordan Cove donated $600,000 to the campaign to defeat the measure, saturating the county with advertising against the initiative in a an all-out effort to win over 41,000 registered voters, outspending the proponents by about 50 times as much. The advocates for the measure reportedly spent $12,000.
For the past decade Veresen has spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to win approval for the more than $7 billion project. It has met both federal and local rejections for its project, which was initially designed as an LNG import facility. The company reapplied in January in hope that the Trump administration would help put the project back on track.
According to local news reports, the ballot measure was too broadly written, and in the opinion of many observers, likely to be found unconstitutional. Elected county commissioners said they were reluctant to spend any taxpayer money defending it if passed as they considered the measure illegal. Even some of the most prominent opponents of Jordan Cove opposed the measure.
The Jordan Cove terminal and Pacific Connector pipeline are designed to pipe natural gas from Canada and the western United States onto the North Spit of Coos Bay where it would be liquefied and loaded aboard tankers for shipment to customers in Asia. It is a $7.5 billion construction project, with thousands of construction jobs and 150 permanent jobs at the terminal.
Earlier this year Jordan Cove'spre-filing application was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, allowing the project to work its way through the federal permitting process, something its backers thought they had accomplished until FERC rejected their application last March. FERC nixed arehearing request last fall.