By: Greg Jacob
I grew up in Astoria, Oregon, and I spent many hours hiking, biking, fishing, and kayaking along the lower stretches of the Columbia River. As an adult, I taught for many years a Freshman Inquiry class called the “Columbia River Basin” at Portland State University. I consider the Lower Columbia River my extended back yard, it and holds special significance aesthetically, spiritually, ecologically, and economically.
I’ve canoed where Lewis and Clark made their winter camp in 1805, bicycled around Cape Disappointment, and kayaked among the dense spruce forests near Aldridge Point. I’ve observed the incredible wildlife that exists among the Columbia River estuary islands: gulls, herons, sandpipers, plovers, kingfishers, eagles, mice, weasels, rabbit, squirrel, coyote, White-tailed deer, muskrat, and otter. I’m keenly aware of the importance of the Bradwood site, in particular, for young salmon as they prepare for their ocean going voyage.
Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), whether at the Skipanon site near Warrenton or the Bradwood site, 20 miles upriver, threatens this rich and fragile ecosystem. It threatens people too–the likely harm done to those who make a living fishing on the lower Columbia and the potential for catastrophic explosion from human error or terrorist activity. Oregon landowners between the Skipanon and Bradwood sites will have their land cut up by a 36-inch pipeline, requiring an initial construction easement of 120 feet and permanent 50-foot right of way. The same havoc applies to the Mt. Hood National Forest if the LNG pipeline is extended to connect with the TransCanada pipeline near Madras.
LNG is not needed in Oregon because of natural gas reserves. Nor should it become part of Oregon’s energy future because of the proponents’ failure to build LNG terminals in California. The California State Lands Commission recently revoked NorthernStar’s application to convert an old oil platform off Ventura Harbor into an LNG import terminal. That is the fifth and final LNG terminal proposed for California over the last decade that has met its demise.
Who is pushing and backing LNG in Oregon? For Bradwood, it is two Texas businessmen, William “Si” Garrett and Paul Sloane. William Garrett is the chief executive of Northern Star Natural Gas, a Texas company. Paul Sloane is president of Northern Star Natural Gas. For the Skipanon site, it is Leucadia National Bank of New York, and their point man is Peter Hansen, chief executive officer of the Oregon LNG project. What is their commitment to the health and vitality of the lower Columbia River? What local knowledge do they have of the area? The goal in their eyes is profit at the expense of people, farmland, fish, and wildlife. The amount of money they have spent on their propaganda campaign to sway commissioners and the general public in Clatsop County is flagrant and offensive, but their push for LNG will not stop those of us who love our region and who know that energy alternatives and energy conservation are the right course of action.
Greg Jacob is a volunteer with the Sierra Club’s Anti- Liquefied Natural Gas Committee. You can learn more about the Sierra Club’s fight against LNG in Oregon at http://oregon.sierraclub.org/goals/lng.asp.