DEQ issues a decision on a water quality certification for the Jordan Cove project
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has issued a decision on Jordan Cove’s application for a Section 401 Water Quality Certification. The certification is required for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue permits for the project.
DEQ’s decision is to deny the requested certification at this time. However, DEQ’s action is being made “without prejudice.” This means that the applicant may reapply for the certification, and submit additional information that could result in a different decision.
If Jordan Cove resubmits an application along with information addressing DEQ’s concerns, DEQ will work to keep the timing of its review in line with the overall federal schedule for the project, but this will depend on the applicant submitting the requested information in a timely manner.
DEQ had expected to make its decision on certification in September of this year. However, DEQ accelerated the schedule and is making a decision now in order to assure that it does not unintentionally waive Oregon’s authority to review the water quality impacts of the proposed project. The Corps initially instructed DEQ to complete its review by May 7, 2019. However, last fall the Corps extended that date to Sept. 24, 2019 following the applicant’s withdrawal and resubmittal of its application. Recent federal court and agency decisions have raised significant questions about whether this extension was valid. As a result, DEQ is making a decision by the date initially provided by the Corps – May 7, 2019.
DEQ is denying the requested water quality certification at this time because there is insufficient information to demonstrate compliance with water quality standards, and because the available information shows that some standards are more likely than not to be violated. Through further analysis, and possibly through project changes and mitigation, the applicant may be able to show the standards for certification will be met, but the current record does not allow DEQ to reach that conclusion today.
DEQ’s specific concerns, among others, include:
- Expected effects of the construction and operation of the proposed pipeline and associated road and work areas on water temperature and sediment in streams and wetlands
- The risk of release of drilling materials from the construction of the proposed crossing of the Coos Bay estuary
DEQ requested additional information from Jordan Cove in September 2018, December 2018 and March 2019 relevant to the project’s effect on water quality. Jordan Cove has provided some, but not all, of the information requested.
- Decision Letter, May 6, 2019
- Evaluations and Findings Report, May 6, 2019
- Additional information request dated Sept. 7, 2018
- Additional information request dated Sept. 25, 2018
- Supplemental information request dated Dec. 20, 2018
- Additional information request dated Mar. 11, 2019
- Additional information request dated Mar. 13, 2019
- JCEP response dated Oct. 8, 2018
- JCEP response dated Oct. 25, 2018
- JCEP response dated Jan. 22, 2019
- JCEP response dated Feb. 20, 2019
- JCEP Response Cover Letter dated April 1, 2019
- JCEP Response Attachment A dated April 1, 2019
- JCEP Response Attachment B dated April 1, 2019
- JCEP Response Attachment C dated April 1, 2019