Southern Oregon commissioners say pipeline too risky

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — A Southern Oregon county board is telling the federal government that a proposed natural gas pipeline violates environmental laws and would provide only short-term economic benefits for the area.

The Mail Tribune reports Jackson County Commissioners Rick Dyer, Colleen Roberts and Bob Strosser said they unanimously oppose the project in a letter sent this month to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is reviewing the project.

They asked the regulatory commission to deny the proposal for a 229-mile (368-kilometer) underground pipeline that would stretch to a proposed export terminal near Coos Bay.

The Canadian company Pembina hopes to ship Canadian and American natural gas overseas, primarily to Asian markets.

Pembina said in a statement it has received a copy of the commissioners' comments and look forward to addressing them in upcoming meetings.

"We're reviewing these along with many other comments of note and look forward to addressing them in upcoming meetings with the Commission," Pembina said.

Commissioners said Pembina is offering assurances the project won't harm the environment because it will follow environmental laws — but Pembina is asking for regulations to be changed.

Pembina wants exemptions to federal regulations meant to protect soil, riparian areas, rare species, old-growth forests and productive timberland, according to the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

Pembina has touted the economic benefits of the $9.8 billion construction project, which would generate more than $5.3 million annually in property taxes for Jackson County government, schools, fire departments and other local agencies.

Workers in the trades have spoken out in favor of the project, which they said would provide good-paying jobs with benefits.

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Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/