Jordan Cove & Pacific Connector: A Summer for Organizing — Key State Decisions This Fall

April 28, 2019

By Ted Gleichman

No-LNG-Sign

Here’s a quick update on the regulatory and grassroots status of the fight against the deceptive fracked-gas export scheme on Oregon’s southern coast, the Jordan Cove Energy Project, and the 229-mile pipeline necessary to feed it, the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has published its latest Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on Jordan Cove & Pacific Connector (JC/PC).  This opened up a comment period that will close Friday, July 5 (right in the middle of a long holiday weekend for a lot of folks).

In May and June, we will be providing guidelines on different ways to submit comments on the DEIS, highlighting key issues that the Trump FERC is ignoring, distorting, and failing to address.  (With all attachments and appendices, the DEIS comprises some 6,000 pages.)   FERC plans to produce a Final EIS late this fall, and is scheduled to vote on whether to approve the $10 billion JC/PC in early 2020.

In the meantime, here are some key push-points to keep in mind:

  1. We can’t trust FERC. 
    The Trump regime has taken a pretty lousy agency and made it much worse.  FERC officially ignores the climate crisis in every way that it can, and has fought back hard against every effort to bring its behavior in line with the science on fossil fuels, greenhouse-gas emissions, and environmental destruction.
  2. Fortunately, it’s not just about the Trump FERC.
    Federal power against the climate is terrible, but it is not the only piece of the puzzle.  States still have significant regulatory authority.  The State of Oregon has direct power over key permits that JC/PC must have to go forward.
  3. The Department of State Lands is scheduled to decide by September 20.
    Oregon DSL has authority to protect state waterways of all types from damage by dredging and filling — and JC/PC would require a lot of that, attacking 485 waterways: the five major rivers in Southern Oregon and hundreds of tributaries, streams, and wetlands, crossing both the Cascades and the Coast Range.  All the information that we have so far is that DSL is taking this responsibility really seriously.  This decision date may change, but the process generally seems to be operating with adequate integrity.
  4. The Department of Environmental Quality must decide by September 29.
    Oregon DEQ must decide by September 29  whether JC/PC complies with state approval authority under the Clean Water Act (Section 401).  As with DSL, all the information that we have so far is that DEQ is taking this responsibility really seriously.  This decision date is a hard deadline, and DEQ is working hard to meet.
  5. Our statewide coalition fighting JC/PC continues to grow.
    The struggle for climate sanity and a just transition continues to strengthen, among dozen of organizations.  We’ve reached critical mass among grassroots activists and climate leaders on an understanding of the insanity of new fossil fuel infrastructure like Jordan Cove.  Comment periods for DEQ and DSL, last year and this, generated almost one hundred thousand comments to the State of Oregon! — a totally unprecedented number.  Almost 60% came through Sierra Club.  Early this year, more than a thousand people attended DSL hearings in Southern Oregon and Salem — also unprecedented.
  6. Sierra Club plays a vital role.
    The Oregon Sierra Club has been a key part of this struggle for more than a decade, with critically-important assistance from National Sierra Club.  Sierra has been supporting the the front line groups, working for environmental justice, and staying deep in the regulatory and legal battles in various ways.  That won’t change.

For this summer, before these critical Oregon agency decisions in September, many of the most vital chores will focus on more community organizing.  We have a lot more work to do: both grassroots, and “grass-tops”: educating and persuading legislators and other leaders that their responsibility is to serve and protect.   Please stay tuned!

Proposed Jordan Cove Construction Site-OPB-EarthFix

The proposed site of the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal, in Coos Bay on the Oregon coast, in the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake / tsunami junction. Photo: EarthFix

Ted Gleichman is a policy advisor with the Oregon Sierra Club Beyond Gas & Oil Priority Campaign, and has been a member of the National Strategy Team for Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign.  He has been fighting against the export of LNG (liquefied natural gas) through Oregon since 2006.


BREAKING? BROKEN! Three Agencies Tackle Jordan Cove

May 29, 2018

Hot news: One key Oregon agency and two Federal have launched formal comment periods on the combined Jordan Cove Energy Project & Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline (together, JCPC).  So now Round Three of this abominable project, opposed by most Oregonians, gets real!

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) must evaluate JCPC under the Clean Water Act §401, which gives states broad, definitive authority to assess the risk of unacceptable damage to water quality.  If DEQ denies JCPC’s application for the §401 permit, it cannot be built.  Pacific Connector (PCGP) would cross almost 500 wetlands, waterways, streams, and rivers; Jordan Cove (JCEP) needs the largest dredging project for any coastal bay or estuary in Oregon history.  What could possibly go wrong with  that?

Proposed Jordan Cove Construction Site-OPB-EarthFix

The site of the proposed JCEP fracked-gas export terminal on (and in) Coos Bay.  Photo: Earthfix.

DEQ has struggled mightily in recent years, with undercutting by the Legislature and notable failures on air pollution especially.  But it seems to be on a better path now… Is it going to “break” under the pressure of the largest construction scheme of any kind in Oregon history? — or do its duty to fully protect Oregon’s people, land, and water?

Simultaneously, working in rough tandem with DEQ, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is tasked with assessing potential water quality damage by JCPC from removal and fill operations during construction, under the Clean Water Act §404.

The Corps is known for its by-the-numbers rigidity, but occasionally that has shown benefits.  Will they do the right thing?

And in a timing coincidence, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has launched a review of its fracked-gas pipeline approval procedures, as structured under the Natural Gas Act.  The new Trump-regime FERC wants comments from industry — but fortunately, by law, they also must accept comments from the millions of people and thousands of communities being damaged by fracking, pipelines, and that industry’s contribution to climate change.

FERC-Francis Eatherington-September 2015

Oregon activist Francis Eatherington participated in a protest fast at the FERC headquarters in Washington, D.C., in 2015.  Photo: Ted Gleichman

FERC has clearly been “broken” under Trump, and was designed to be inherently pro-industry.  It was only rarely helpful under prior presidents.  We are focused on a long slog toward reform into making FERC serve our true needs for the just transition; how much impact can we have on it now?

Sierra Club has been working actively, both locally and nationally, against fracked-gas infrastructure for years.  Please click here to help #FixFERC!

We have more than a month on each of these comment periods — we’ll stay in touch on how to get involved and write powerful comments to these agencies. 

Ted Gleichman
Policy Advisor, Beyond Gas & Oil Priority Campaign, Oregon Chapter
Member, National Strategy Team, Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign


Art Feeds Our Souls, Science Builds Our Wisdom, Unity Makes Us Strong

April 27, 2018

Coming Together Against the Fracked-Gas Pipeline & Jordan Cove Export Scheme
By Ted Gleichman

The struggle for a just transition toward sane culture moves on many fronts. Last week, I had the privilege of participating in a community TV discussion on the Jordan Cove Energy Project and the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline (JC/PC).

Host Jim Lockhart interviews activists on a long-time volunteer-staffed show, A Growing Concern, which airs live on public access channels.  Then he posts the interviews to YouTube.  He invited me to update him, and we asked outstanding Indigenous artist Ka’ila Farrell-Smith to join us.

Ka'ila Farrell-Smith

Ka’ila Farrell-Smith in Cienfuegos, Cuba, 2017. Photo: Cale Christi

Ka’ila is a member of The Klamath Tribes (and participated in Standing Rock). For years, she has used her superb artistic and presentation talents and skills to strengthen the heart and soul of the movement against Pacific Connector and Jordan Cove – and the quest for the essence of cultural and social health.

The Wocus Gathers-Ka'ila Farrell-Smith-2013

The Wocus Gatherers – Ka’ila Farrell-Smith, 2013, 90″ x 66″. This painting evokes the traditional Indigenous harvest of edible lotus bulbs in the Klamath-Modoc-Yahooskin wetlands and lakes.

The three of us dove deep in a 35-minute investigation, which we launched with a video from the brilliant students at Sunnyside Environmental School. We agreed that I would then frame the crisis, Ka’ila would share her heritage and examples of her work, and Jim would blend the dialogue. It was a lovely evening.

We hope that you too will find meaning in the video of our exploration:

A Growing Concern: Jordan Cove LNG Project & Pipeline

Thanks to all who care!

Ted Gleichman
Policy Advisor, Beyond Gas & Oil Priority Campaign, Oregon Sierra Club
Member, National Strategy Team, Beyond Dirty Fuels Priority Campaign
tedgleichman.oregon.sierraclub.org

After Boarding School-In Mourning-Ka'ila Farell-Smith

After Boarding School: In Mourning. Painting, Ka’ila Farrell-Smith, 2011, 36″ x 24.” Permanent Collection, Portland Art Museum.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Jordan Cove / Pacific Connector: Welcome Back to the Wild Wild West!

February 26, 2018

By Ted Gleichman.  First of a Series.

Part One:
What in the Bloody Blue Blazes is Really Going On With the LNG Push?

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

Image: Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=640516

As we fight the constant brutality of the fossil fuels industry, feeling stuck in perpetual whack-a-cockroach mode, we are confronted with the fact that there is no honor among cannibals.  These exploiters know full well that we are in the throes of climate breakdown, and yet they continue at breakneck speed into the apocalypse.

Fracked gas (and oil) exploitation and export are the second-largest 21st Century energy revolution on the planet — second only to renewables.  Here’s a simplified framing for what we face: Globally, there has never been more turmoil in the present and future of the political economy of energy than there is now.  Locally, the Jordan Cove Energy Project (JCEP) & Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline (PCGP) scheme exemplifies a couple of the reasons why this is happening — and shows how.

As to why:

First, the industry knows that the projects that will be stopped first are those that haven’t started yet.  As the momentum for “Keep It In the Ground” builds, human psychology and standard political operating procedures dictate that — except for traditional emergencies like explosions — shutting down existing fossil fuels infrastructure (FFI) will be hardest and happen last.  So they are getting as much new FFI under construction and putting it into service as fast as they can.  They see this as their best way to protect market share, cash flow, and stock value.

Second, they are cut-throats — not just to front-line communities and the global atmosphere, but to each other.  Again, they know the climate science and they know that stranded assets are coming (see: coal).  They also know that demand for their products will fall — so they need to be the fastest guns in this new Wild West at piling up cash now.

And part of the how:

The Jordan Cove & Pacific Connector (JC/PC) project set is a perfect example.  The last of three proposals for Oregon, and now the only one still alive on the US Lower-48 West Coast, JC/PC has fought with no scruples to market itself both as inherently good and as inevitable.

Both these claims are completely bogus, but the level of desperation within the LNG / fracked gas export industry is so high that this form of vulture capitalism fights dirty by its very nature.  This political / scientific pseudo-wizardry dovetails with the JC/PC efforts to game the federal, state, and local permitting processes to push the new agenda of the Trump regime down our throats here.

“Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain…” {The Wizard of Oz}

No Parking on the Yellow Brick Road-Wizard of Oz-Wikimedia

Photo: Smallbones-Own work, CC0, commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18353293

Tomorrow, two subcommittees in the U.S. House of Representatives (motto: “The Best Gerrymandering Big Money Can Buy”) are holding relevant hearings.  The Energy Subcommittee of the Committee on Energy & Commerce hearing is “State of the Nation’s Energy Infrastructure.”  Fracked gas and LNG will be part of the package.  Simultaneously, the Energy & Mineral Resources Subcommittee of the Committee on Natural Resources hearing is “Liquefied Natural Gas & U.S. Geopolitics.”

Globally, we need to pay attention as the Republicans in the House work to drive the atmosphere into further paroxysms of overheating and weather distortion.  Simultaneously, locally, we have learned that JC/PC has fallen a bit behind on their plan to have all construction permits in place this year, and now is aiming to be able to begin construction in March 2019.

So this may be a good time to review where we are, around the planet and in Oregon, as part of keeping on keeping on in our struggle for political and energy sanity and the Just Transition.  My hope is that this little series of short blog posts, over the coming weeks, will be useful as we Davids take on (and ultimately defeat!) these Goliaths.

Part of what we will see is that it is crazy out there — and even crazier here in Oregon.  Fracking was invented in Texas, and the West Coast of North America is key to the prospects for Jordan Cove.  So welcome to the new era of the Wild Wild West.

Coming next:

Part Two:
Making Canada Great Again?  Where Would the PCGP Fracked Gas Come From?

Ted Gleichman serves as Policy Director for the Oregon Sierra Club Beyond Gas & Oil Priority Campaign, and is a member of the National Strategy Team for the Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign. 


Mike Brune Cracks the Methane Myth, Hits Jordan Cove / Pacific Connector

January 17, 2018

By Ted Gleichman

How many times have you heard the meme “Natural gas is the bridge to the future”?  We’ve known for years that is not true, but now we can quantify exactly how much ‘natural’ gas — that is, fracked gas or fossil gas — can contribute to solving the climate crisis.  It’s an important number: Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. A Goose Egg. A Shut Out. In fact, a complete myth.  Let’s call this fallacy the Methane Myth, and it is past time to end it.

A top national leader in fighting this obsolete belief for many years now, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune just struck a blow in the national press against Oregon’s own worst, most dangerous, most destructive fossil fuel exploitation project: the scheme to bring fracked gas from Canada and/or the Rockies through Southern Oregon for liquefaction in Coos Bay and export to Asia.

Michael Brune

Mike Brune.  Photo credit: Sierra Club

Brune used his January 12 Huffington Post article to highlight a comprehensive new national report on Jordan Cove & Pacific Connector by Oil Change International (OCI).  OCI is a top national ally to Sierra Club, and focuses on state-of-the-art deep analytical work, “exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the … transition to clean energy.”

Brune created his own brilliant framing on the Methane Myth in a 2013 debate on fracking sponsored by The Economist, when he summed it up: “Natural gas is not a bridge: it’s a gangplank.”  Sierra Club has long been the top eco-group fighting coal, and on Brune’s watch has dramatically expanded its national leadership as one of the key players against oil and gas as well.  Brune, working with leadership from the Member-elected national Board of Directors and with strong support from the seasoned executive team he’s built and strengthened,  and the rapidly-diversifying national and local staff, has also led the Sierra Club into its most innovative and ground-breaking evolution yet: a deep commitment to environmental justice and its growth, social justice and immigration, and the fight against income inequality and for green jobs.

The OCI report on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the proposed Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline & Jordan Cove Energy Project (JC/PC) is the best assessment that has ever been done and is summarized in this press release.  The OCI evaluation of the climate devastation that this Canadian fracked-gas export scheme represents includes three key components:

  • It is comprehensive.  It includes and charts every aspect of fracked-gas extraction, distribution, processing, liquefaction, shipping, and overseas consumption — all based specifically on JC/PC.
  • It is conservative.  OCI used the numbers provided by JC/PC for their own direct in-state emissions, from the JC/PC application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a federal construction license and eminent domain approval, taking them at their legally-binding word.  Then they added in the best peer-reviewed science available for other emissions.  This approach means that the analysis is solid: it cannot be attacked as puffed or overblown.  It is intentionally on the low-end of the damage assessment.
  • It is completely damning.  OCI shows that there is no “climate benefit” whatsoever in mining fossil gas, shipping it across the Pacific, and burning it in Asia.  The Canadian developer’s continued claims that this is good for planet are just another climate-denier distortion in the Methane Myth.
    My simple summary is this:
    There is no fossil fuel solution to the fossil fuel crisis.
    The only solution is to keep it in the ground and build the just transition.

IMPORTANT: Please download this vital report.  And please distribute it and Brune’s analysis of it far and wide!  Generations to come thank you!

Ted Gleichman, Policy Advisor, Beyond Gas & Oil Team, Oregon Chapter

Ruby Pipeline Clearcut-Klamath County

The end of the Ruby Pipeline near Malin, Oregon, bringing fracked gas from the Rockies to the interstate interconnection point where the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline would begin.
Photo: Ted Gleichman

 


Thirteen Years of Fighting to Stop the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline

October 27, 2017

By Ted Gleichman

Thirteen years! This week is the 13th anniversary of the brutal fracked-gas export scheme assaulting the families, farms, ranches, woodlands, public lands, rivers, watersheds, mountains, estuaries, and coast of Southern Oregon.

Thirteen years. Thirteen years of fighting to stop the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline from slashing a three-foot diameter explosive methane-filled pipeline, 230 miles from the Klamath River basin to Coos Bay. It would rip a clear-cut the size of an Interstate Highway through back yards and national forests; through five rivers and more than 400 streams and wetlands; through our public lands and the fragile homes of dozens of endangered and threatened species; through Indigenous burial grounds and historic and prehistoric archaeological artifacts.

Thirteen years. Thirteen years of exposing the greed and insanity of the Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas Export Terminal plan to build on a sand spit right on the fracture line of the largest and most dangerous earthquake and tsunami zone in North America, on the edge of Coos Bay. They are aiming to run massive LNG tankers filled with explosive Canadian methane to Asia – tankers officially classified as “terrorism magnets,” so dangerous that the entire Port must be shut down by the Coast Guard when these monster ships move, disrupting recreational boating, commercial shipping and fisheries, and tourism — and costing jobs.

Thirteen years. Thirteen years of Canadian energy speculators exploiting the Cheney loopholes for fracked-gas pollution, now scheming with the Trump Regime take-over of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to shove eminent domain down the throats of hundreds of Landowners along the pipeline route.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_237f

This has gone on too long. The good news is that together, we can stop it! No matter where you live in Oregon, you can easily link up with neighbors and activists to bring this insanity to a halt. The Sierra Club has developed strong plans, solid legal and economic analysis, and tight alliances with like-minded organizations to stop Pacific Connector and Jordan Cove.

Together, we will stop these pig-headed greedy speculators and work for healthy sustainable change in our society.

Thanks so much!

Ted Gleichman
Policy Advisor, Oregon Sierra Club Beyond Gas & Oil Priority Campaign
Member, National Strategy Team, Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign
ted.gleichman@oregon.sierraclub.org


Fighting Fracked Gas, 334 Miles Away

September 19, 2017

By Ted Gleichman, Beyond Gas & Oil Team

Can Portland leadership help stop the largest, most dangerous, and most devastating fossil fuel scheme in state history?  

We are in “round three” of trying to stop Canadian energy speculator Veresen, Inc., from slashing a clearcut through 235 miles of public forest land, farms, ranches, homes, and communities for an explosive fracked-gas pipeline, Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline.  This 36-inch diameter monstrosity would carry Canadian fracked gas from the interstate gas pipeline hub near Malin to Coos Bay, on the coast.  (The Malin pipeline hub is 334 miles from the Oregon Chapter office in Portland.)

Nature's nurtured bounty in Southern Oregon-September 19 2017

Today’s organic harvest by an “Affected Landowner.”  Their land includes a sustainably-harvested woodlot that Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline would tear through.  Photo: Ted Gleichman

In Coos Bay, Veresen plans a massive industrial terminal to export this Canadian gas to Asia as LNG (liquefied natural gas): the Jordan Cove Energy Project.  Pacific Connector/Jordan Cove (PC/JC) would become the largest greenhouse gas polluter in Oregon.  Oregonians have been fighting to stop this for almost 13 years now.

This scheme is the Trump Regime’s top energy priority now, after Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline.  So how can we who live in Portland make a difference?

Easy! … and hard: basic grassroots organizing.  Here’s the deal: Two-thirds of the Democrats in the Oregon Legislature live in the Portland Metro area.  They need to be part of this fight, and you can help!

Oregon Chapter and Columbia Network are key leaders in developing a new multi-organization action team, Stop Fracked Gas/PDX.  We are asking Sierra Club Members and supporters to join us in educating and persuading our State Representatives and Senators on how they can make a difference.  Down the road, we expect to work with other stakeholders as well.

To join in, please email me for the simple details for the next step.

Portland Democrats must not support the Trump fossil fuels agenda !!!

Thank you!  Email: ted.gleichman@oregon.sierraclub.org