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

 

 


Save Our Salmon – Free The Snake!

August 17, 2017

As mentioned last month, misguided and anti-environmental members of Congress are again trying to halt efforts to restore wild salmon in the Columbia and Snake Rivers. U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State – joined by Oregon Congressmen Kurt Schrader and Greg Walden – recently introduced legislation (H.R. 3144) that would stop action – including even studying possible actions – to aid endangered salmon in the Snake and Columbia Rivers. This bill must be stopped.

In the midst of some of the worst salmon and steelhead returns in recent memory, this legislation could hardly be more ill advised. For one thing, it would prevent federal agencies from increasing water “spill” to aid salmon or from studying removal of four aging, outdated, and expensive dams on the Lower Snake River. However, spill is a critical tool for helping to ensure the survival of young salmon on their way to the Pacific, as was recently detailed in a letter to decision-makers from dozens of scientists. A handful of non-scientist members of Congress simply have no place to try to obstruct the ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon earlier this year that extra spill is necessary for these fish.

H.R. 3144 also ignores tribes and Northwest commercial and sport-fishing economies, along with growing evidence that orcas are starving as their Columbia and Snake River salmon head toward extinction. H.R. 3144 is misinformed, counter-productive, and would be extremely damaging to salmon recovery efforts if passed. One has to wonder why Rep. Schrader would sign onto this bill that would both undermine the judicial process and be potentially devastating to fishermen and businesses in his district.

As detailed in Josh Mills’ clear-eyed piece in the Spokane Spokesman-Review, do we really want to rubber-stamp two decades of failed policies on Columbia and Snake Rivers?

No, we do not. Contact your representative today to make sure that does not happen and that H.R. 3144 goes nowhere.

And if you’re really inspired to help save Columbia and Snake River salmon, one other very fun thing you can do is head out to Clarkston, Washington, on September 8 and 9 to take part in the 3rd annual Free The Snake Flotilla! This event has been amazing for the last few years and the 2017 version promises to be bigger and better than ever. Get more information and register today!


Keep the Frack Out! Big Win at the Oregon Public Utility Commission

August 17, 2017

We set a record with the length of the meeting on Tuesday, August 8th . One of the PUC staffers said around 2 pm she had worked here for 40 years and this was the longest! And we didn’t wrap up until 3.40!

Everyone was so patient…Thank you so much to everyone who came out! 25-30 of us showed up in red!
PUC_20170808

The PUC essentially said NO, in every way that they could, to the 2 new fracked gas plants in Portland General Electric’s (PGE’s) energy plan (Integrated Resource Plan or IRP).

WAHOO!, we have these fracked gas plants nailed into that coffin!!

We still need for PGE to withdraw their permits for the Carty 1 and 2 gas plants at the DEQ and EFSC, but this is definitely an important win to celebrate, while at the same time continuing to hold PGE’s feet to the fire to make sure that they withdraw their permits, and that they don’t sneak gas purchase contracts into their energy plan.

We can use your help to spread the word in social media, and say:

“We stopped @PortlandGeneral’s #frackedgas plants. Time for #cleanenergy!”

Here are some photos and a news article you can use:
Carty 1 Gas Plant  See also the Article in the Eastern Oregonean :
http://www.eastoregonian.com/eo/local-news/20170808/regulators-deny-gas-plant-expansion
Activists in the steps of the PUC
Why PGE Flash Mob

This is a big win!

Stopping these fracked gas power plants continues the fight for 100% clean energy. It’s also a win for communities all over, from communities at the fracked gas drill sites, along pipelines, and in front-line communities of the climate crisis.

Thank you for clearing the pathway to 100% clean energy for all! 

Let’s celebrate this victory!


FERC Disses Oregon’s Big Three over Jordan Cove LNG Review Process

July 14, 2017

By Ted Gleichman

IMPORTANT: At the end of this post are two Action Items!

FERC-Francis Eatherington-September 2015

FERC Headquarters, Washington, D.C.  Francis Eatherington, a Landowner on the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline route planned for Douglas County, Oregon, participated in a fast and vigil at FERC in September 2015.  Photo: Ted Gleichman

What kind of a Federal agency ignores both Senators and the Governor of a state, rejecting a simple request from the top three elected officials, for a request it had approved quickly in the past? Tragically for Oregon, it’s an agency that was always generally terrible, and is now in the process of being taken over by the Trump Regime: the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Thirteen Years of Fighting

This is all about the bitterly-controversial new version of the proposed joint Jordan Cove Energy Project & Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline (JC/PC) in Southern Oregon. It consists of a plan to run a new 235-mile explosive 36-inch-diameter fracked-gas pipeline across four counties, linking from the Rockies and Canada, to transport the methane to a massive new industrial-plant export terminal in Coos Bay that would convert it to liquefied natural gas (LNG) to sell in Asia. This $8 billion-plus scheme by a Canadian energy speculator has bedeviled a broad coalition of Oregonians in opposition for more than 13 years, and is now into its third major attempt to win approval.

Now On Tap: A New EIS

So now it is time for FERC to manage a new Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). A month ago, FERC suddenly announced 30 days to receive “scoping” comments, and set three narrowly-constrained public hearings to launch that scoping process: taking advice on what the scope of the DEIS should include.

When this was done before in 2012, the agency began with a 30-day comment period, but scheduled open public hearings in all four “affected counties”: Coos, Douglas, Jackson, and Klamath, with a total population of almost half a million people. That ultimately led to a Final EIS (FEIS) for the Federal eminent domain and construction permit approval process that FERC finally rejected twice, in 2016.

Ruby Pipeline Clearcut-Klamath County

The clearcut in Klamath County above the path of the Ruby Pipeline, delivering fracked gas from Wyoming and Colorado to Malin, Oregon, where Pacific Connector would begin its 235-mile run to the Pacific Coast.  Photo: Ted Gleichman

Oregon’s top elected leaders then requested more time – 90 days – for residents and stakeholders to evaluate and comment on thousands of pages of documents concerning the largest proposed construction project in state history. FERC quickly agreed.

What’s Jackson County?  Chopped Liver??

This year, when FERC abruptly launched scoping again with a 30-day window, they also left out Jackson County, which includes almost half of the total population of the four counties – and has been the heart of the resistance to the pipeline.  And they changed the process from open testimony at a microphone in front of all the attendees to private testimony to a court reporter — so no one else attending can hear others’ thoughts, and build on them or avoid repetition.

Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Governor Kate Brown then formally told FERC that Oregonians deserved 90 days, and Jackson County deserved its own hearing. Others, including the Jackson County Commissioners and the Medford Mail Tribune, joined in.

These requests for a cleaner, more open process, allowing genuine input, were almost completely ignored by FERC.  To be fair, the agency said that they would continue to review new scoping comments after the July 10 deadline they’d set.  But they also emphasized that an open scoping process is entirely voluntary on FERC’s part, not required by law but only an operational procedure to allow community input that they are not required to consider.  FERC cannot be sued for ignoring scoping comments, for example.

Why Does “Inside FERC” Matter?  Because Here Comes the Trump Regime!

This pruning of the process does not bode well for Oregon’s future relationship to the agency, as Trump nominees will be coming in to take it over this summer. Therefore, with FERC looking strongly like it is now already in the pocket of the Canadian energy speculator and the fossil fuels industry for JC/PC – the way FERC has behaved traditionally for almost every other project! – we need to be extra vigilant.

It seems increasingly likely that our work to stop this dangerous and destructive project is going to depend on state and local action. As usual: stay tuned!

Two Opportunities For Action Right Now!

First: Statewide.  We appreciate the Big Three advocating for a better process.  But it would be even better if Wyden, Merkley, and Brown actually came out against this terrible project.  Please ask them to take a stand against the Trump fracked-gas export agenda for Oregon!  They cannot be “climate champion” and “pro-Paris Accords” if they let Jordan Cove / Pacific Connector happen on their watch.

Tell them to take a stand for Oregon and the planet:

https://sierra.secure.force.com/actions/Oregon?actionId=AR0082644&id=70131000001Lp1FAAS&utm_campaign=addthis&utm_source=email&utm_medium=recruit#.WVUUWGv-K80.email

Second: In the Portland Metro area.  We are helping to lead the development of a broad new coalition in Portland to help stop Jordan Cove.  Please come to our  organizing meeting if you can:

WHAT: Portland Area Stop Jordan Cove Organizing Meeting
WHEN: Wednesday, July 19th, 7:00pm – 8:30pm
WHERE: Multnomah Friends Meetinghouse, 4312 SE Stark, Portland
MORE INFO: 503-705-1943, goto350pdx@gmail.com

Please RSVP:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeVqG0jYfUMBLkPyde8qRf-MarZiiDu6bM_2oCzfdvxxp05bA/viewform

Please join us to protect Oregon and block this dangerous climate wrecking project.

Ted Gleichman is policy advisor for the Oregon Chapter Beyond Gas & Oil Team and a member of the National Strategy Team for Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign.

 


Legislative Update: Free At Last!

July 13, 2017

We wrapped up the 2017 Oregon legislative session on July 7, and it’s safe to say the session wasn’t a rousing success for the environment. We had a few major victories that we should be very proud of, but many, many things were left undone. Here’s a wrap-up of some of the accomplishments and failures of the 2017 session.

The Oregon Chapter’s top legislative priority was to pass the “Clean Energy Jobs bill” to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions and create a “cap and invest” program. Unfortunately, neither the Senate version (SB 557) nor the House version (HB 2135) reached a floor vote in their respective chambers. But over the course of the legislative session, the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the House Energy and Environment Committee convened a number of meetings to work through the policy details for the best version of a Clean Energy Jobs bill, resulting in the creation of Senate Bill 1070. Introduced in the waning days of the 2017 session, this bill synthesized much of the analysis done over the intervening months and incorporated many suggestions from our community. We believe SB 1070 will provide an excellent jumping-off point in the 2018 session, so that we can hit the ground running and not have to spend time analyzing policy details.

Our other top priority was to pass legislation to help solve the ongoing conundrum with the Elliott State Forest. After the State Land Board voted in May to keep the Elliott in public ownership, the focus shifted to finding a pathway to $100 million in bonding to begin the process of buying out the Common School Fund obligations of the forest. We also prioritized passing Senate Bill 847, the Trust Lands Transfer bill, to prevent future Elliott-like situations. And in one of our biggest victories of the 2017 session, we succeeded in doing both! See the separate blog post here for the exciting details.

And as was evident to anyone paying attention to the legislature this year, the transportation package was a primary focus for lawmakers. We worked in the Capitol to support our partners’ efforts to create a package that invests in the infrastructure and services that most meet Oregonians’ needs: rural and urban transit, safe walking and biking options, clean air solutions, and public accountability. Here again, after much wrangling – including over continued efforts to roll back the Clean Fuels Program in our state – we succeeded in passing a transportation package that met all those needs and kept the Clean Fuels Program intact!

One other real victory in the 2017 session was Senate Bill 3, which will go a long way toward limiting the impacts of suction dredge mining on our state’s waters. Governor Brown signed the bill on June 14 and then held a ceremonial signing with our coalition and key legislators on June 22 (see photo above). This victory was a long time in coming and it will have real benefits to salmon habitat in Oregon. Our coalition worked for years to make it happen and we should all be proud of our accomplishment!

Unfortunately, there were also a number of missed opportunities in the session as well. As already mentioned, the failure to move a Clean Energy Jobs bill was a major shortcoming. House Bill 2020, which would have reformed the Oregon Department of Energy and explicitly brought climate change into the agency’s purview, failed in the waning days of the session. Our coalition’s package of bills to address the critical issue of oil trains in our state (HB 2131 and SB 7) did not end up passing. And while Senate Bill 1008 was intended to create more stringent standards for diesel emissions in Oregon, the final bill was so watered down that it will hardly accomplish anything useful.

So, clearly, there is still much to do in the 2018 session and in the interim leading up to it! The successes we did have this year were, of course, due to the support from you – our members and supporters. It was your calls, e-mails, and visits to your legislators’ offices that made the difference, and for that, we thank you very much. We now have our marching orders for the 2018 session, so please stay tuned for ways you can help us do much more next year!


$100 Million: A first big step on the Elliott State Forest!

July 13, 2017

by Rhett Lawrence, Conservation Director

After many years of doubts about the future of the Elliott State Forest, we may finally have turned the corner on saving it, thanks to Governor Kate Brown, Treasurer Tobias Read, and the Oregon Legislature. As you will read below, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Governor, the Treasurer, and the legislative leaders who came together to find a solution for the forest.

Like many of you, I breathed a sigh of relief in May when the State Land Board voted to keep the Elliott open and accessible to all. But even after that, we knew there was one further huge hurdle that we needed to get over in the 2017 session of the Oregon Legislature. In order to ensure a solution for the Elliott that works for everyone, we needed for legislators to approve the $100 million in bonding proposed by Governor Brown to withdraw the most sensitive areas of the Elliott from its obligations to generate revenue for the Common School Fund. And in an era of constrained budgets all around, we knew that getting $100 million was a tall order indeed. But wonder of wonders – the Legislature approved a bonding package in the waning days of the 2017 session that did just that!

Appropriating that $100 million was a huge accomplishment, no doubt, but in many ways, it is just a down payment on the future of the Elliott. Under Governor Brown’s plan, the bonding money will be used first to end the state’s obligation to excessively log the most sensitive areas of the forest to fund our schools. Next, the Governor’s plan would establish a “Habitat Conservation Plan” for much of the rest of the land, developed in partnership with tribal governments, conservation groups, and other community members. This would allow some logging to occur, while also protecting endangered and threatened species such as spotted owls and murrelets.

Treasurer Tobias Read has also presented a complementary plan that allows Oregon State University an option to buy the Elliott for the $121 million remaining after the $100 million bonding down payment in order to manage it as an experimental forest. And whether we now move forward with the Governor’s plan or the Treasurer’s plan – or some combination of the two – we at the Sierra Club also welcome the possibility for some of the lands to be returned to the Tribes who occupied the area long before it came into state or federal ownership. But by getting the bonding approved, we have taken a big first step toward preserving and protecting the Elliott for all of us – the hikers, hunters, anglers, bird watchers, and Oregon’s diverse communities.

In addition to finding the bonding money for the Elliott, the Oregon Legislature also passed Senate Bill 847, establishing a Trust Land Transfer program in Oregon for the first time. This program could help prevent future Elliott-like situations by providing a mechanism by which money could be appropriated over time to purchase encumbered lands. Washington State has had a similar program since 1989 and has moved nearly 120,000 acres of encumbered trust lands out of the trust to benefit school kids and the environment. We are excited by the passage of SB 847 in Oregon and we hope it can help us replicate many of the successes of the Washington program.

So, obviously, much more work remains to be done on the Elliott. But we should be very happy with the successes we did achieve in the 2017 legislative session – and in the years leading up to it, where we were always teetering on the edge of having the forest sold off to the highest bidder. We are thrilled that we have taken the first steps toward a solution that results in a forest that is preserved for all of us – the hikers, hunters, anglers, bird watchers, and others. And importantly, the Sierra Club is hopeful that Tribes can be a part of that solution and that past injustices regarding the seizure of their ancestral lands can be remedied in part.

No one believes that any of the rest of this will be easy, but we now at least have reason to believe that we are headed in the right direction and for that we should all be thankful.


Legislative Update: We’re in the home stretch!

June 16, 2017

As we enter the final month of the 2017 Oregon legislative session, it’s becoming clear that this year won’t be notable for its environmental successes. We’ve had a few victories and are hoping for a few more, but right now, it may be all we can do to stave off some real rollbacks! We need your help to save the Clean Fuels Program and get us to the finish line on the Elliott State Forest, among other things. See below for ways you can help!

This year the Oregon Chapter’s top legislative priority has been to pass the “Clean Energy Jobs bill” to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions and create a “cap and invest” program. House Bill 2135 currently sits in the House Rules Committee, as the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the House Energy and Environment Committee have held periodic informational hearings to sort through the details of the proposal. It’s still possible we can move a bill in the 2017 session and you can help by contacting your legislators to tell them it’s time to act on greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon.

(Photo by Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands)

Our other top priority continues to be passing legislation that can help to solve the ongoing conundrum with the Elliott State Forest. After the State Land Board voted in May to keep the Elliott in public ownership, the focus has now shifted to finding a pathway to $100 million in bonding to begin the process of buying out the Common School Fund obligations of the forest. We would also like to pass Senate Bill 847, the Trust Lands Transfer bill, to prevent future Elliott-like situations. Take action here to contact your legislator and help find a real solution to preserve the Elliott for all of us.

As many of you know, the transportation package is one of the major focuses for the Oregon Legislature this year. We have been supporting our partners’ efforts to create a package that will invest in the infrastructure and services that most meet Oregonians’ needs: rural and urban transit, safe walking and biking options, clean air solutions, and public accountability. Unfortunately, that transportation discussion has again been hijacked by an effort to roll back the Clean Fuels Program in our state. We need for you to contact your legislator today to tell them we need BOTH transportation improvements and the Clean Fuels Program.

We do have one real victory already in this session in the form of Senate Bill 3! That legislation will go a long way toward limiting the impacts of suction dredge mining on our state’s waters. Governor Brown signed the bill on June 14 and will be holding a ceremonial signing of the bill very soon, so keep an eye for our pictures from that event. This victory was a long time in coming and it will have real benefits to salmon habitat in Oregon. Our coalition has worked for years to make it happen and we should all be proud of our accomplishment!

We are also still working on a package of bills to address the critical issue of oil trains in our state. House Bill 2131 and Senate Bill 7 will help to improve safety and cleanup standards for the trains that are coming through Oregon. SB 7 is in the Senate Rules committee and HB 2131 is in the Ways and Means committee and we are hopeful one or the other can move this session.

Senate Bill 1008 would have created more stringent standards for diesel emissions in Oregon. Unfortunately, that bill has been largely gutted and no longer really does much of anything useful. We are supporting our allies’ efforts to make it stronger in the Senate Rules Committee. This legislation will also pave the way for Oregon to receive $68 million in Volkswagen settlement money to fund clean air work in our state. So we hope that we can get the bill back to the point where it will also get dirty diesel out of our air.

So we’ve got lots to do in these last few weeks of the 2017 session! As always, our success depends on you, so keep calling, writing, and e-mailing your legislators and making a difference for Oregon!