DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER: The Return of the LNG Pipeline
This Halloween the scariest monster in southern Oregon is the LNG pipeline. Like a zombie that won’t die, the proposed pipeline continues to come back again and again, even though the townspeople vanquished it repeatedly.
The proposal is to place pipeline that will run diagonally all the way from the California border near Klamath northwest to Coos Bay, to carry liquefied natural gas (LNG) to a terminal at the Oregon coast. Over the past couple years, under the Obama administration, construction permits were rejected twice before by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). But shortly after Donald Trump was elected in November, word began to circulate that Veresen, the Canadian company proposing the pipeline, planned to resubmit its application to the FERC for approval of the pipeline again—apparently hoping that a change in the federal government’s attitude towards energy sources and global warming may provide an opportunity.
With an unsettling sense of deja-vu—like the 13th installment of the “Halloween” movies—this damn thing just won’t go away.
Earlier this summer, those fears that the pipeline may be resurrected took a step towards a frightening reality when the Trump White House weighed in. White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn all but promised that the administration would approve the permit, saying that it would offer a big economic boon to the U.S. economy. Moreover, in August, two empty positions on the agency were filled by Trump appointees. The agency had been at a stalemate since February because it lacked a quorum to make official decisions, but those appointees—and their approval by the Senate—now allows the FERC to consider Veresen’s proposal.
There are so many things wrong with the LNG, it impossible to know where to start. Sort of like listing the moral, ethical and criminal infractions of Dracula. Really, choose your argument.
There are the environmental arguments: It will be a major greenhouse gas contributor; the pipeline bisects waterways, etc. There is the economic argument, with its several wrinkles. For starters, the argument put forward by the Trump administration that this pipeline will make America strong is laughable: Veresen, the company that would own the pipeline, is Canadian. Second, any local jobs created by the pipeline are temporary, at best.
The LNG pipeline is so wrong that at a protest against it in the last spring environmentalists and ranchers, who don’t routinely line up on the same side of arguments, joined forces to voice their opposition at public hearings.
“They’re stealing American property to benefit foreign countries,” one Roseburg-area rancher told the Messenger at the time. He said he was offered $14,000 for a two-mile section of his land, which he scoffed at the low-ball offer. He has plans to pass his land down to his son and grandchildren, and is concerned about the future property value generations from now.
Although FERC seemed inclined a year ago to deny the permit request, under the Trump administration, it is bizarro world and most likely that decision will be turned inside out.
But fortunately, there are several lines of defense past this first permit. Like laying out barrier after barrier to keep out the monsters, the federal and state permits and permissions for a major project like this are many.
Last week, the deadline for comments came and went for the Army Corps of Engineers, which will need to approve dredging permits to make the area deep enough for cargo ships to come and go.
And if that permit doesn’t stop the LNG pipeline, then there are state and local environmental and building permits.
Really, with the impacts to clean water, tourism, fishing, land rights, etc. there are plenty of ways to stop the LNG pipeline—and the Messenger encourages each of our readers to support the organizations doing great work to do just that, and encourages each of our readers to talk with state representatives and to send Governor Kate Brown emails requesting her to say “no” in any fashion to the LNG pipeline.
Really, it seems as if this one will require a silver bullet, a stake-through-the-heart and to be buried 12 feet under before it will finally stop harassing Oregon, our climate, our economy and our land rights.