At the most recent open house in Medford, Oregon, the new proposal, providing for the exportation rather than the importation of gas, was presented at a public hearing.
The owners have again expressed their concerns about safety, but the issue is one which must be balanced by FERC. If FERC finds the danger so great as to overcome the congressional public policy supporting gas transport, the project could fail. However, given the history on the issue, it is unlikely such project abandonment will occur in this filing.
Project representatives insist the 3-foot-diameter, underground pipeline would be safe for the environment and landowners.
They indicated that concern expressed about a pipeline's potential use of eminent domain to obtain an easement across private property are overblown.
"It is important to point out here that while the right of eminent domain exists, it is not in Pacific Connector's best interest to use it, and it is a method that is used only sparingly and only in the most necessary circumstances," according to its current newsletter.
The pipeline has the potential to give regional natural gas customers better access to natural gas from domestic sources and Canada, it noted.
But opponents remain skeptical, citing safety, environmental and potential increased cost of domestic natural gas.
"There is a huge amount of profit to be had — there is a lot of money behind this," said Monica Vaughan, organizer for Rogue Riverkeeper, an arm of the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, an environmental group based in Ashland.
"But it would be a poor energy decision for our country," she said.
She is also concerned the pressurized pipeline would cross more than 300 streams, including the Rogue and other rivers, threatening salmon habitat.
"This pipeline would impact people's lives, from their backyards to public lands," she said. "People have questions about safety, use of eminent domain, increased cost of gas and clearcuts."