Update: HB 2700 passed the Oregon Senate in late May with bipartisan opposition. Multiple Senators voting ‘no’ registered their strong concerns over the impact of this bill on proposed LNG pipelines, including the Pacific Connector which would cross Oregon’s Rogue River to ship overseas gas to California or export domestic natural gas from Wyoming. HB 2700 now awaits action by the Governor, who is likely to sign the legislation.
Background on HB 2700:
For the third session in a row, a bill to change how state-issued wetland removal-fill permits are granted for LNG pipelines and other ‘linear projects’ was introduced. After successfully blocking the bill twice over LNG concerns, it passed the House and Senate in 2011 despite efforts to amend it to exclude LNG. The bills was one of the top ‘jobs’ bills promoted by Oregon industry groups this year.
While the bill applies to more than just gas pipelines, it was originally introduced at the request of LNG companies seeking to expedite the Department of State Lands wetland removal/fill permitting process for the development of hundreds miles of proposed LNG pipelines in northwest and southwest Oregon. Pipelines connected to proposed LNG import terminals would cross hundreds of the state’s wetlands, rivers, streams, farms and forests.
In northern Oregon, HB 2700 would have helped expedite the permitting and potential 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. The Palomar pipeline was associated with the now-bankrupt Bradwood Landing LNG terminal, and the eastern portion also could have connected to the pipeline proposed to serve the Oregon LNG import terminal near Astoria. In early March, the Palomar pipeline proposal was formally withdrawn, a major victory for now, but the threat of the 110 mile Oregon LNG pipeline and eastern segment of Palomar still exists.
In southwest Oregon, HB 2700 will speed the permitting for the controversial 220-mile long Pacific Connector pipeline, which would cross rural properties, old growth forests, and important salmon-bearing rivers including the Rogue, Umpqua, Coquille, and Klamath on its way to ship gas to California as soon as the pipeline developers apply for permits. They’ve been previously blocked from applying due to opposition from hundreds of affected landowners. This pipeline is associated with the proposed Jordan Cove LNG import terminal in Coos Bay. The developers of this pipeline sued the state of Oregon in 2010 for not allowing them to apply for wetland removal/fill permits without first having permission from over 200 affected landowners. With the passage of HB 2700, state permits needed for this speculative and damaging project can move forward.