UPDATE: HB 2700 passed the Oregon House on early March, and the Oregon Senate in late May, with strong bipartisan opposition due to the impacts of the bill on LNG pipeline siting. It now awaits action by the Governor, who is expected to sign the legislation.
HB 2700 – This bill allows companies seeking to build LNG pipelines and other ‘linear utilities’ to apply for state issued wetland fill and removal permits needed to build across wetlands, rivers and streams on property they do not own or have permission to build on. Under current law, only the owner of a property or someone they’ve given permission to can apply for a permit. While this bill apply to more than just gas pipelines, it will expedite the Department of State Lands permitting process to facilitate the development of hundreds miles of proposed LNG pipelines in northwest and southwest Oregon. This bill language was originally requested by the now bankrupt Bradwood Landing LNG company and the state of Oregon is currently being sued by the developers of the Jordan Cove LNG terminal in Coos Bay over this issue. There are other bills similar to this introduced this year ( SB 261, SB 265, HB 2206, HB 2589 ) but HB 2700 is the only one that received traction. It passed the Oregon House in early March, and the Oregon Senate in late May. Sierra Club position: Oppose
Because amendments were not adopted in the Senate to limit the scope of the bill to exclude LNG pipelines, HB 2700 creates a major threat for hundreds of landowners in the path of proposed LNG pipelines and pose great risk to rivers, streams, farm and forestland.
In northern Oregon, HB 2700 would have expedited the permitting and development of the 217-mile Palomar pipeline across the Mt. Hood National Forest and dozens of small farms, woodlots, streams and rivers in the Willamette Valley, as well as the 110 mile Oregon LNG pipeline. Though the Palomar pipeline project was cancelled last month by NW Natural Gas, it could emerge again in the future, and Oregon LNG is suing Clatsop County over its denial of necessary land use permits.
In southwest Oregon, HB 2700 could speed the permitting and potential development of the controversial 220-mile long Pacific Connector pipeline, which would cross dozens of rural properties, old growth forests, and important salmon-bearing rivers including the Rogue, Umpqua, Coquille, and Klamath. This pipeline is associated with the proposed Jordan Cove LNG import terminal in Coos Bay. The developers of this pipeline last year sued the State of Oregon for refusing to process wetland removal-fill permits until the company obtains permission from all affected landowners. If HB 2700 passes, the state would begin moving forward with processing the company’s permit application, disadvantaging affected landowners in potential eminent domain hearings, and bringing the Jordan Cove LNG facility and associated pipelines a major step closer to development.