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FERC Fails its Responsibility to our Natural and Human Environment

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FERC Fails its Responsibility to our Natural and Human Environment

In closing remarks about the impact of the Jordan Cove Pacific Connector Pipeline project on global warming, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) indicates: “Although the Project emissions would contribute to the overall amount of atmospheric [greenhouse gas] it is impossible to quantify the impacts that the emissions of [greenhouse gas] from construction and operation of the Project would have on climate change.” With that conclusion, the report closes consideration of this issue.

“The science of global warming is as clear as science ever gets” asserted Southern Oregon Climate Action Now Co-facilitator Alan Journet. He was referring to the scientific understanding that the planet is warming being as certain as is possible. Emissions of gases resulting from human activity are the primary contributor to a warming trend that is causing climate chaos across the planet. The climate consequences pose a threat to natural systems across the globe and also to our agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, and even directly to human health. Journet continued: “The math on greenhouse gas emissions tells us that within about thirteen years globally we must have completely switched from all use of fossil fuels if we wish to keep global warming below the critical 2⁰C (3.6⁰F) that has been agreed internationally. This means we must leave most known fossil fuels in the ground and minimize or eliminate emissions whenever possible.”

It is the position of SOCAN that prudent planning now must include assessment of one paramount critical criterion: the impact any proposed project has on the emission of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. “Is the public good served best by minimizing greenhouse gas emissions or by generating profits for fossil fuel corporation executives?” asked SOCAN Co-facilitator Kathy Conway.

SOCAN argues that if there were just one issue that FERC should have evaluated in it DEIS it is the potential impact of the project on global warming. But after brief consideration, this issue is dismissed as incalculable. Since there are no authors or reviewers listed with expertise in atmospheric or climate science, there is no surprise that the issue gets minimal consideration.

Southern Oregon Climate Action Now urges area residents to attend the FERC Hearing on the Jordan Cove terminal and pipeline scheduled for December 11th at 6:00 pm in the Central Medford High School auditorium to demonstrate or express opposition to the project. A rally will be held outside the school starting at 5:00pm

According to the FERC DEIS released November 7th evaluating this project among its responsibilities is: “the identification and assessment of the potential direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts on the natural and human environment that would result from implementation of the proposed actions.” Additionally, FERC states that the DEIS: “also analyzes the potential environmental impacts resulting from non- jurisdictional connected actions….[that] support the FERC jurisdictional facilities.” It is surprising, therefore, to find that in its analysis the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from the pipeline itself, the associated Coos Bay export terminal, and the extraction of the gas, are barely considered and certainly not evaluated.

Anyone concerned about the livability of our planet for future generations should be incensed by the cavalier disregard for global warming shown in this analysis. Federal agencies with a responsibility to evaluate projects in terms of the public good, should focus on public cost/benefit analyses. They should not commit themselves, as this analysis apparently does, to finding a justification for allowing exemptions to federal rules that are designed to protect us.