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The proposed 6 million ton per annum (mtpa) Jordan Cove LNG export facility in Coos Bay, Oregon has completed the front-end engineering and design and pre-construction phases, but if and when the project clears federal regulatory hurdles, it may still face political opposition at the state level.

Infrastructure firm Black & Veatch and construction and engineering company Kiewit announced completion of Jordan Cove’s FEED and pre-construction planning phases on Wednesday. “The facility will offer a shorter, less expensive transport route to high demand markets throughout Asia when compared to most other proposed North American export projects,” said Black & Veatch in a statement.

Jordan Cove is only one of more than 20 proposed projects, including three that have received Department of Energy approval to export to countries with which the US has no free trade agreement (non-FTA). Cheniere’s Sabine Pass facility at the Louisiana-Texas border is scheduled for start-up as soon as 2015. Freeport LNG, near Freeport, Texas, is not all that far behind, with an in-service date for its first liquefaction train planned for the first quarter of 2018.

Jordan Cove has yet to receive non-FTA export approval, but it has already begun the process of clearing the other major federal regulatory hurdle – Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval – having submitted its final application in May. Developers expect FERC approval in the third quarter of next year.

Jordan Cove has proceeded more quickly than many competing projects. And the state’s ports may offer a shorter route to promising Asia-Pacific markets, such as Japan, than their Gulf Coast counterparts. But the process of pushing a project from the proposal stage to actual implementation may prove longer than in states that have traditionally been more welcoming to the oil and gas industry, such as Louisiana and Texas.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has been an outspoken supporter of LNG projects in his state, as has Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Oregon state officials have not been as effusive about its LNG facilities.Oregon’s Department of Justice has been an outspoken opponent of both the Coos Bay import terminal and its conversion for export.

Former Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski and Former Attorney General John Kroger sought reconsideration of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval for the import terminal and associated pipeline in January 2010, citing “the unknown environmental impact of the pipeline”, and a FERC decision “based on woefully inadequate information that demands reconsideration”. In December 2011, the Oregon Department of Justice filed a motion to submit additional facts for consideration in its challenge to Jordan Cove, following the project’s application for Department of Energy approval to export LNG from the facility in addition to importing it.

Both the Governor and the Attorney General have been replaced. Current Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has released a ten-year plan for energy that includes LNG-fueled vehicles – not makes no mention of imports or exports – and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum appears to have steered clear of the subject thus far. But Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, has featured prominently in debates about allowing “unfettered” exports of LNG from the US, and generally appears to be in the “anti” camp.

DOE’s recent approval for non-FTA exports from a third proposed facility, in Lake Charles, Louisiana, seemed to augur well for DOE non-FTA approvals generally. But federal permits are not the only challenges these projects face, and it remains unclear how Oregon state officials will factor into its success.