With overwhelming public opposition to LNG projects on the Columbia River, and a regulatory hurdle that could prove insurmountable, the Bradwood Landing LNG terminal may soon become the first of a series of proposed LNG infrastructure projects in Oregon to meet its demise.
Bradwood Landing backer NorthernStar Natural Gas recently demanded the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality grant the permit for Bradwood Landing without access to critical data about the project’s environmental impact. In response, the DEQ has indicated it may deny the permit unless NorthernStar comes through with more information. And at a Wednesday night DEQ hearing on the fate of Bradwood Landing, opponents of high-carbon LNG projects packed into the Knappa High School gymnasium to support the DEQ’s refusal to back down to energy speculators.
Upwards of two hundred people, nearly all opposed to LNG, crowded into the gymnasium to stand up for Oregon’s clean energy future and say no to LNG. The largest new fossil fuel infrastructure proposed in the Northwestern United States, LNG infrastructure projects like Bradwood Landing would open Oregon’s doors to a new high carbon foreign fossil fuel, compromising our state’s ability to become a leader in clean energy and reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuels. On Wednesday night the DEQ got the message loud and clear from Oregon residents who attended the hearing: Oregon voters and taxpayers support the agency in holding NorthernStar to our state’s environmental standards, and urge the DEQ to deny permits for the Bradwood Landing terminal.
What was clear at the hearing was that opposition to LNG comes not just from landowners whose property stands to be immediately impacted by LNG infrastructure, but from a broad-based coalition that spans fishing families worried the Bradwood terminal will devastate salmon habitat, to rural jobs advocates standing up for jobs in the farming industry that stand to be lost to LNG pipelines, to environmentalists concerned about LNG’s carbon footprint and young people who will have to deal in years to come with the impacts of environmental decisions made today.
DEQ representatives there to take public comments heard from farmers who are dealing first-hand with the LNG’s lack of respect for landowners, families who have lived beside the Columbia River and enjoyed its natural beauty for decades, and environmental representatives from Columbia Riverkeeper and the Sierra Club who spoke about the devastating impact Bradwood Landing will have on salmon habitat. Despite the LNG industry’s frequent claims that projects like Bradwood Landing will benefit Oregon, Bradwood Landing’s backers failed to turn out more than a scattering of supporters who were completely overwhelmed by opponents of LNG. Based on who was willing to take time our of their evening and attend the DEQ’s hearing, where Oregon residents actually stand on LNG was quite clear.
This spring, the DEQ will likely make a final decision on whether or not to grant approval to Bradwood Landing. In so doing the agency can demonstrate its intent to listen to Oregon residents and not out-of-state corporations like NorthernStar, and set a precedent of denying permits to LNG companies that refuse to provided needed information about their project’s environmental impacts.
Though the DEQ’s final decision on Bradwood Landing is still pending, the agency’s insistence that NorthernStar must provide all the needed information about Bradwood Landing suggests the agency is truly willing to stand up for the rule of law. At least one thing is crystal clear: if the DEQ finally rejects NorthernStar’s application, state regulators will not only be doing the right thing to protect Oregon’s environment and economy, but will do so with the backing of a truly remarkable coalition of Oregonians determined to keep LNG out of this state.