Senator Wyden fields questions on Jordan Cove

This article is from November 25, 2013 publication of The World
Written by Chelsea Davis

 

IMG_1983NORTH BEND — The Jordan Cove Energy Project dominated U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden’s town hall on Sunday.

Wyden, one of Oregon’s two Democratic senators, was barraged with questions from both sides of the natural gas debate on the Southwestern Oregon Community College campus Sunday afternoon.

The auditorium was packed and the majority were wearing bright green shirts supporting Jordan Cove. But a couple of rows of Jordan Cove critics also came, decked out in red, and were vocal about their disappointment that Wyden wanted to give the project a chance.

“I want it understood in this community that I believe with efforts I’ve made as chairman of the [Senate’s] Energy and Natural Resources Committee … I believe I have now made it possible for Jordan Cove to get full consideration as a facility for export,” he said to a standing ovation from Jordan Cove supporters and boos from its critics.

But there are a lot of issues that still need to be addressed, he said, including potential environmental problems and its effects on neighbors and communities. One issue Wyden especially wants to examine is the connection between natural gas and methane emissions.

IMG_1991“The issue right now for the federal government is essentially whether we want to cut off consideration for Jordan Cove,” he said. “I do not. I want it understood.”

Bay Clinic senior physician Dr. Joseph Morgan has concerns that there would be significant negative health effects from air pollution.

But natural gas is 50 percent cleaner than air emissions from power plants, Wyden said, a statement backed up by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“No matter how much we do right now in terms of renewable energy, we’re going to need to bring in energy from other sources. That’s what brings front and center this debate about natural gas,” he said. “Now folks, if we do this natural gas debate right, we can have it all.”

Wyden said the project wouldn’t only bring temporary construction jobs.

“There would be a commitment to have additional port facilities and others that could really be quite valuable,” he said.

A potential training facility attached to the Jordan Cove project would give the community’s youth a shot at apprenticeships that could lead to jobs starting out at $17 or $18 an hour, another supporter said.

Coos County Assessor Steve Jansen said if Jordan Cove goes forward, it would double the county’s real market value from $6 billion to $12 billion and would bring an extra $500 million to $600 million in property taxes.

North Bend school board chair Megan Jacquot spoke up in support of Jordan Cove, noting the direct and adverse effect poverty has on a child’s performance in school.

“There’s no anti-poverty program as good as a good-paying family wage job,” Wyden said.