Top Trump adviser calls for reviving controversial natural gas project on Oregon’s coast

A top adviser to President Donald Trump on Thursday appeared to throw the administration’s support behind a proposed controversial liquefied national gas terminal in Oregon that had been rejected by regulators during the Obama administration.

“The first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to permit an LNG export facility in the Northwest,” said Gary Cohn, chair of the White House National Economic Council. “Just think of the transport time from the Northwest to Japan versus anywhere else. Then we’ve got to put facilities on the East Coast to get from the East Coast to Germany.”

“The one place we’re going to permit in the Northwest, it’s been turned down twice already,” Cohn said in comments at the Institute of International Finance, in which he called the opportunity for exporting liquefied natural gas “enormous.”

While Cohn did not name a specific project, the White House confirmed Thursday that Cohn was referring to the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal, which would be sited in Oregon’s Port of Coos Bay. That’s where Veresen, the Calgary-based company whose subsidiary is proposing the project, wants to construct two massive, 160,000-cubic-meter storage tanks and other facilities that would receive natural gas from a pipeline, compress it into a liquid for transport, and then pipe it out to tanker ships for sale abroad.

It isn’t clear what Cohn meant in saying that “we’re going to permit” the project, because final approval actually falls to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an independent agency.

Yet Cohn’s remarks fit with a broader push in the Trump administration to permit more large energy infrastructure projects, such as the Keystone XL Pipeline.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission turned down Jordan Cove, as well as the proposed 232 mile Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline that would link to it, in a unanimous decision in March of 2016. The agency found that the project would be “inconsistent with the public interest,” chiefly because the pipeline would have significant “adverse effects on landowners,” many of whom did not approve it and could have their properties disturbed or otherwise affected through eminent domain if it were to be built. Because the export terminal would not serve a purpose without the pipeline to connect to it, it was rejected as well.

FERC also rejected a subsequent request that the pipeline be reconsidered in December of last year. However, the company promptly announced plans to re-file and in February – now under the Trump administration – started that process.

The only other proposed LNG export terminal besides Jordan Cove to have been rejected by FERC was a project in Maine that was also terminated last year, according to agency spokesman Craig Cano.

Cohn met with Don Althoff, the CEO of Veresen, in March. Interviewed after that meeting, Althoff said the project would generate 4,000…

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