Backers of a combined liquefied natural gas (LNG) export and connecting major transmission pipeline project along the Oregon coast hailed the release of FERC’s draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) on Friday, calling it “another important milestone.”

Jordan Cove Energy Project LP is attempting to edge ahead in the crowded race to be the first LNG export project to break ground on the U.S. West Coast of North America.

The DEIS assesses the potential environmental impacts of the proposed export facility at Coos Bay, along the south-central Oregon coast, and the related 232-mile Pacific Connector transmission pipeline to Malin, OR, and major north-south interstate pipelines serving the Pacific Northwest and California.

The export project is backed by Alberta, Canada-based Veresen Inc. and the Pacific Connector project is owned equally by Veresen and Williams subsidiaries. Backers of both projects pledged to continue to work with local, state and federal agencies on the continuing permitting process, along with the general public, in the review of the FERC DEIS.

“Veresen is committed to building the Jordan Cove LNG facilities, which will provide significant economic benefits to Oregon, while ensuring responsible development and environmental stewardship,” said Veresen CEO Don Althoff.

Williams’ Allison Bridges, senior vice president for western operations, called the DEIS “a great step forward,” adding that the project has demonstrated it “will create important economic opportunities while also preserving and protecting precious natural resources.”

In addition to Jordan Cove, another company, Oregon LNG, is pursuing an export project at the mouth of the Columbia River with a shorter connecting transmission pipeline running northeasterly from the site across the Columbia River and into the state of Washington where it would interconnect with existing interstate pipelines.

The U.S. Pacific Northwest — unlike a half-dozen proposed terminal sites on the northern British Columbia coast in Canada at Kitimat and Prince Rupert — has access to abundant Canadian gas off long-standing export conduits in the pipeline networks of TransCanada Corp. and Spectra Energy that run from western Canada to California (see Daily GPI, Sept. 23, 2013).