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

 


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!