“...the FERC denial is not based on environmental concerns. The Jordan Cove project has exceeded the environmental regulations. So, the federal government had to take a new angle for stopping responsible energy development by citing demand as an issue, regardless of the fact that two major Japanese companies have contracts ready to buy the natural gas produced in western Colorado that will be exported out of Coos Bay.”
EDITORIAL by Rose Pugliese
We have been attacked…again. No, not by Russia. We have been attacked by our own federal government. So much for the long-standing principle of “by the people, for the people.”
On Friday, December 9th, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) rejected a rehearing of its March decision denying permission to build a 234 mile-long interstate liquefied natural gas pipeline that would allow natural gas to be extracted in western Colorado before being exported to Coos Bay, Oregon. This proposal, known as the Jordan Cove project, would have created hundreds of local jobs and would have aided in stabilizing our rural Western economies for two decades.
There are several communities at each end of the pipeline, including Mesa County and many of our neighboring counties, which could have financially recovered if the Jordan Cove project was approved. Congress, and our federal agencies, has the power to determine if Mesa County and our neighboring counties have a strong and viable economy.
The federal government, once again, chose partisan politics over people. The economic attacks on rural Western counties continue.
Over the past year, many elected officials from Western Colorado and Oregon have put their hearts and souls into promoting this project. I was fortunate to be asked to testify before Congress’s House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources on the Opportunities and Challenges of Developing the Mancos Shale Resource, which included the support of the Jordan Cove project as an opportunity for our region.
Commissioner Bolton from Rio Blanco County and I recently visited Coos Bay to tour the Jordan Cove project site and have begun building solid relationships with local elected officials and business members in the Coos Bay area.
In the past four years that I have served as a Mesa County Commissioner, I have never seen the robust level of bi-partisan support for any project, let alone an energy project, in Colorado as I have seen for the Jordan Cove project. Jordan Cove has support at all levels of government, namely, Governor Hickenlooper, Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, and County Commissioners from several Colorado counties.
What is ironic to me is that the FERC denial is not based on environmental concerns. The Jordan Cove project has exceeded the environmental regulations. So, the federal government had to take a new angle for stopping responsible energy development by citing demand as an issue, regardless of the fact that two major Japanese companies have contracts ready to buy the natural gas produced in western Colorado that will be exported out of Coos Bay.
Several prospective Japanese natural gas customers visited the Piceance Basin in Western Colorado to further express their desire for the Jordan Cove project and renewed their commitment to the area that would supply the liquefied natural gas.
The Jordan Cove project has, since last week’s denial, been re-filed. So, the process begins again. I, along with my colleagues, will continue to be a strong voice for our Mesa County economy and our interests in this important project. We appreciate the leadership Senator Gardner has shown on Jordan Cove and are confident that this process will be expedited under the Trump Administration.
Mesa County is 72% federal lands, which means the federal government controls our economy and the economies of our neighboring western Colorado counties. In Mesa County alone, we have lost over 10,000 jobs, largely due to layoffs in the natural gas industry.
Some people will say we need to diversify our economy. While we can continue our efforts to diversify, the true issue is that the economies of rural counties in the Western continue to be attacked from all angles by our own federal government.
In the final days of the job-killing Obama Administration, I take solace in knowing it will soon all come to an end. The Trump Administration will bring an end to the fighting with the federal government and the beginning of a true partnership between the interests of our local governments and our federal government, on behalf of all our constituents. I believe the restoration of our fundamental principles of government is on the horizon. Welcome back!
Rose Pugliese was elected as the Colorado County Commissioner of the Year for 2016. She is a dedicated member of the community who is committed to transparent, accessible government and is accountable to the people she serves. In addition to serving as a Mesa County Commissioner, Rose, is an advocate for the community and is involved in many of the organizations that work together to grow the economy in Mesa County, Colorado.