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Jordan Cove EIS must address alternatives

Jordan Cove EIS must address alternatives

As we all are aware, approval of the Jordan Cove project by FERC would have massive effects, both beneficial and detrimental, on our area. Therefore, it is extremely important that the planning process leading to a go/no go decision be comprehensive and objective.

Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 11.02.03 AMIn years past, decisions made by Federal agencies on projects of this type were based primarily on social and economic factors. Environmental considerations, if they played any role at all, were commonly afterthoughts often resulting in feeble attempts at mitigation.

In the Federal sector, this all changed in 1970 with the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act, commonly referred to as “NEPA”. This Act specifically instructs all Federal agencies, boards, and commissions to “insure that environmental amenities and values are given appropriate consideration in decisionmaking along with economic and technical considerations”. NEPA procedures are intended to insure that environmental information is available to both public officials AND CITIZENS before decisions are made and before actions are taken.

To make sure that all Federal agencies comply with this policy, NEPA includes an “action-forcing” mechanism that requires them to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for all plans and projects that could have significant environmental effects. An EIS must be objectively prepared and not slanted to support the choice of an agency or an applicant’s preferred alternative over the other reasonable and feasible alternatives.

It is important to recognize that a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for Jordan Cove is not a decision document. Rather, it is the first of a three-step process which ultimately leads to a decision.

Step one is the issuance of the DEIS followed by a time period during which members of the public may submit their comments relating to the adequacy and viability of the data collected and analyzed. Following this is step two which is the publication of the final environmental impact statement (FEIS). All substantive public comments received on the DEIS are to be attached to the FEIS along with the agencies response thereto. Following another public review period, step three takes place. This results in a record of decision (ROD) being issued which identifies all alternatives considered by the agency and documents how it balanced the effects of the social, economic, and environmental effects of each in reaching its final decision.

Individual citizen’s review of the Jordan Cove DEIS can and should play an important role within the overall process.

NEPA regulations are quite specific as to what information, and in what format, we are entitled to receive in the EIS. Agencies are urged to use the “standard format for EIS’s” unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise. To facilitate your review, here is a description of the various sections it should contain as well as the type of information to be included in each:

PURPOSE AND NEED: The EIS must specifically describe the underlying purpose and need to which the agency is responding in describing the proposed action.

ALTERNATIVE WAYS TO MEET THE IDENTIFIED NEED: This section is termed “the heart of the environmental impact statement”. It should present the proposal and all alternatives in comparative form, thus sharply defining the issues and providing a clear basis for choice among options by the decisionmaker and the public.

AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT: This section should succinctly describe the current status of the environment within the area affected by the proposal. This critical element describes the existing baseline conditions which serve as a starting point for the description of the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of the proposal.

ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES: This section should be devoted to a scientific analysis of the direct and indirect environmental effects of the proposed action and of each of the alternatives. It forms the basis for the concise comparison in the “alternatives” section, including a discussion of the probable beneficial and adverse social, economic, and environmental effects of each alternative.

It is critical to the long-term health and well-being of our area that we each take the time to review and comment on the Draft EIS for the Jordan Cove project when it is issued. As you undertake your review, keep the following questions in mind:
Does it comply with the purpose and intent of the NEPA regulations summarized above?
Has it overlooked any social, economic, or environmental considerations or information that you are aware of?
Does it attempt to justify a pre-determined decision?
Does it slant the analyses to favor a pre-selected alternative?
Does it include all elements of the proposal, including the changes to the 7.3 mile long Coos Bay waterway, the access channel and marine berth, the transfer pipeline, and the South Dunes power plant?

Responding to a draft EIS is not the time to attempt to vote for or against the proposal. Rather, it is time to demand that we get the comprehensive and objective analysis to which we are entitled under Federal law.

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2 Responses to "Jordan Cove EIS must address alternatives"

  1. the reminder  March 16, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    These legal processes take time. Which has benefited both sides in this fight. They get their I’s and T’s crossed with the help of the opposing lawyers, who point out all the flaws for them to fix and they get time to entrench their people for a complete take-over of a isolated community. This time delay was spent making even more progress getting things lined up for a complete take-over of the bay area and now we see that the taxes are going to be middle-manned by the same people who are working so hard to set this up.
    The anti-LNG folks are still in the fight as can be evidenced that they still haven’t built it yet and public opinion is turning against fracking, which has to happen to get enough gas to use this terminal to sell LNG overseas.
    The Fracking-fight is heating up and that result will decide the fate of Jordan Cove. Right now the Keystone XL pipeline is gathering opponents like wildfire. These activists will be turning our way when that battle is settled. They know that all life on this planet is facing the same fate of extinction sooner if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels. Both sides can’t win this fight and it will take more of what Jody has been doing to stop it. Protesting! This community’s fate will depend on the results of the national consensus from that battle. If fracking continues to increase nationwide, we will be the worlds LNG gas station.


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