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Protecting Coos Bay's Estuary from Massive Dredging Project

Coos Bay, Oregon.

Coos Bay, Oregon.

Photo courtesy of Pat Kight

Case Overview

A coalition of local residents, grassroots environmental and clean-energy activists, represented by Earthjustice, have asked the Oregon Court of Appeals to put the brakes on a Oregon Department of State Lands’ dredging permit that paves the way for the Port of Coos Bay to export dangerous liquefied natural gas (LNG) or coal and other bulk commodities to Asia.

In January 2012, coalition members asked for reconsideration of the state’s initial decision to issue the dredging permit. The permit authorizes the single largest dredging project in an estuary that the state has ever approved. Additional infrastructure for pipelines and possibly for rail will be needed as well. The coalition raised the Port’s failure to conduct an environmental assessment of the whole project—the dredging of the channel for a large, new marine terminal and LNG pipeline—as a reason re-examine the permit. The entire project will increase marine traffic of immense ocean-going vessels, loaded with LNG or other commodities that could interfere with recreational boating and fishing in the region.

Coalition members pointed to harmful impacts of the construction and operation of the entire project on Coos Bay waterways, a view supported by comments from Oregon Fish and Wildlife. Coos Bay waters and shoreline are critical habitat for multiple species.

While a “multi-purpose” dredging permit was initially sought to develop an LNG import terminal, LNG backers have changed their plans to export domestic gas instead. The Port has also sought engagement with other commodities and fuel exporters, including coal.

Oregonians are concerned about potential economic and public health consequences of allowing fossil fuel exports at the Port of Coos Bay and other areas in the region and want the state to follow the rules when making decisions about and issuing permits for these massive projects. The proposed Pacific Connector LNG pipeline would run across 234 miles of Oregon, including through important forest areas, elevating the risk for gas spills, pipeline explosions, and other accidents. Exporting LNG could also result in significant increases in energy prices for Oregon families and businesses.

Earthjustice is representing Coos Waterkeeper, Friends of Living Oregon Waters (FLOW), the Sierra Club, and Greenpeace in this case.

Case ID


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