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

 

 


Jordan Cove LNG: The Empire Strikes Back

May 18, 2017

By Ted Gleichman

We have complex Jordan Cove news, so I will overstrain this Star Wars metaphor right from the get-go.

Proposed Jordan Cove Construction Site-OPB-EarthFix

View of the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal site on Coos Bay.
Credit: Jes Burns, Oregon Public Broadcasting / EarthFix

We all remember the temporary victories of last year: the valiant Rebel fighters in Southern Oregon brought down the Empire’s local Death Star: the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal plan and the fracked-gas Pacific Connector pipeline necessary to serve it.

Technically, the Rebels persuaded a key Empire directorate, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), to go rogue briefly, for the first time ever on LNG, to deny federal permits to the Death Star (twice).

Then Darth Vader was anointed to take over the Empire, in a structural coup that displaced the assumed new Empress (even though she was supported by more of the Empire’s electorate). And FERC – never a true friend to the Resistance – emphasized that the Death Star owner (Veresen Inc., from the key Empire fossil fuels province of Canada) could re-apply for a new Death Star any time. And so they did, saying that Emperor Vader would save them….

Ok, enough Star Wars…. This 13-year battle now has moved into a blend of old and new terrain. We continue to work to build local and state support, while restructuring how to fight through the new FERC process and defeat state permits. Here are the highlights:

  • Veresen and Jordan Cove get strong support from the Trump Regime
  • Senators Wyden and Merkley try to play both sides with Trump and FERC
  • Merkley proposes a Full-Renewables Policy, with a Jordan Cove Loophole
  • Veresen agrees to a Sweetheart Merger with Pembina Pipeline Corp.
  • The Trump Regime announces new FERC Nominees – Wyden is key
  • Jordan Cove defeats a controversial local-control ordinance in Coos County
  • Coming next: Outreach to Wyden, Merkley, Governor Brown, and others

Veresen and Jordan Cove get strong support from the Trump Regime

Three days after President Trump’s inauguration, leaders of major construction unions met directly with him and top aides (including Steve Bannon) at the White House to promote Jordan Cove. They received a pledge of support: they were told that Jordan Cove would be the third energy infrastructure project on regime list for approval, immediately after the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline. Veresen CEO Donald Althoff was also incorporated into a major Trump corporate sales pitch and is claiming White House support.

Senior Trump aide Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council and a top advisor to the President on infrastructure plans, spoke recently to a key globalization think-tank, the Institute of International Economics. He stated bluntly, “We’re going to approve an LNG export terminal on the West Coast.”

Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive, made it clear that he was speaking specifically about Jordan Cove. He was definitive on Trump’s power to approve it, despite the fact that legally FERC is an independent agency.

Senators Wyden and Merkley try to play both sides with Trump and FERC

In response, Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley issued a joint warning to the White House, saying in essence, ‘Don’t mess with FERC, but we still like Jordan Cove.’

This remarkable letter has, for me, a ‘split the baby’ feel, and is a perfect example of the conundrum facing all of us: A huge percentage of the Democratic Party base opposes Trump on every level. Another traditionally-Democratic set of constituencies, portions of Labor and other rural and blue-collar voters, were vital to Trump’s Electoral College victory.

Both senators have been supportive of Jordan Cove – sometimes strongly supportive – through many twists and turns as the facts on the ground have evolved and opposition has grown.   But now Jordan Cove is a first-tier Trump agenda item.

And in Oregon, the power of the Building Trades in Democratic Party politics and the desperate need for high-wage jobs in Southern Oregon have been the key factors in preventing formal Democratic elected-official opposition to a pipeline and terminal that are terrible for landowners and communities, the local ecology, and the planet.

Furthermore, FERC has been a truly brutal agency, forcing eminent domain abuses on landowners on pipeline routes across the country before the pipelines have even received other mandatory approvals. FERC denied Jordan Cove twice last year because it is one of the worst and weakest LNG export projects in the United States – not because there is anything admirable about FERC’s management of fossil fuels exploitation as we live in climate crisis.

Merkley proposes a Full-Renewables Economy, with a Jordan Cove Loophole

Simultaneously, Senator Merkley was the lead sponsor and prime mover for a massive new bill that (if eventually approved) would constitute the most ambitious federal reform plan yet for our long-term energy use: the 100 by ’50 Plan: 100% renewables in the U.S. by 2050. The 319-page bill, S. 987, is designed to reform every section of the U.S. energy economy. Although controversial in many ways, it is a serious effort…

….EXCEPT the section prohibiting most new fossil fuels infrastructure, Section 501, would not take effect until 2021, for reasons that are unclear. This apparent loophole moves this crucial component of “Keep It In the Ground” past the time when Jordan Cove now expects to receive federal and state approvals and begin construction.

Many in Southern Oregon fighting to stop Jordan Cove and the pipeline see Senator Merkley’s actions as hypocritical.

Veresen agrees to a Sweetheart Merger with Pembina Pipeline Corp.

At the same time, Veresen agreed to a sweetheart merger with another Canadian fossil fuels company, Pembina Pipeline Corp. The two companies expect Canadian regulatory approval this fall, and the merger would make Pembina one of the largest Canadian fossil fuels companies (although still only medium-sized by U.S. and global standards).

The Pembina CEO praised Jordan Cove as a key opportunity, apparently forgetting the 2015 defeat of their $500 million propane export terminal proposal in Portland.

The Trump Regime announces new FERC Nominees – Wyden is key

FERC has been unable to approve any major new project since early February, when the five-member commission fell to two members and lost the ability to constitute a quorum. Under strong pressure from the fossil fuels industry, the Trump regime announced two new nominees last week: both are reliable supporters of all oil and gas projects.

One of Trump’s nominees is the top energy aide to Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The other has been the top state manager of the fracking boom from the Marcellus shale-gas region in Pennsylvania, where many of the worst fracking abuses have happened.

The new nominees must be approved by the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee before the full Senate can move them to re-start FERC. Senator Ron Wyden is a former chair of that committee, and will be one of the most important Senators reviewing theses nominees and the new role of FERC under Trump.   Stay tuned!

Jordan Cove defeats a controversial local-control ordinance in Coos County

On May 16, an ordinance initiated by petition by grass-roots activists in Coos County to promote sustainable energy and stop Jordan Cove was defeated 3-1. The proponents of this initiative were outspent by Jordan Cove more than 50-1.

The long-term impact of this valiant effort remains to be seen, although Jordan Cove proponents will claim it as definitive (wrongly, I believe). The measure, a “community rights” proposal developed in conjunction with the controversial Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, is seen by most legal observers to be unconstitutional when applied solely on a local level, and court challenges to date have borne that out.

But the well-meaning fervor of these local activists to make change will, I believe, rebound and restore itself over time.

Coming next: Outreach to Wyden, Merkley, Governor Brown, and others.

So: what is to be done? Watch your email action alerts: we will be presenting you with opportunities to help educate our Senator and Governor Kate Brown on the fallacy of allowing the Jordan Cove Energy Project fracked-gas export terminal and the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline to proceed forward.

This project will never be built.

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.

 

 

 

 


Activists Pack Hearing to Tell the DEQ: No Permit for Bradwood Landing LNG

March 5, 2010

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. 

Dan Serres of Columbia Riverkeeper testifies against the Bradwood LNG terminal

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.


Tell FERC “No” to both Palomar Pipeline Alternative Routes!

July 6, 2009

Though the legislative session has just closed down for the year, the fight against LNG terminals and associated pipelines is still in full swing! The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has opened a Supplemental Scoping Period to gain public feedback on two alternate end routes for the Palomar Pipeline.

As it stands, the pipeline would extend from the Bradwood Landing LNG Terminal site on the Columbia River, through the Willamette Valley, and across Mt. Hood National Forest, crossing hundreds of waterways in its path.  The two “alternative routes” do not provide any further protections to Mt. Hood National Forest, and would impact still more waterways in Oregon.  The Maupin Bridge alternative puts the pipeline directly through the City of Maupin, while the Warm Springs alternative routes the pipeline through Warm Springs Reservation, including large areas of Crooked River National Grassland.

The introduction of two new alternative routes for the pipeline so close to the initial deadline for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) raises concerns that FERC will not adequately address the environmental impacts of the pipeline on the areas that the newly-introduced routes pass through.  Just within the new alternatives, the problems of human health and safety, soil disruption in fragile scablands areas, threatened species’ habitat destruction, and conflicts with pre-existing land management plans, are all raised.

The good news is, you can do something about it. Submit a comment to FERC today using their online form, and make your concerns about the Palomar Pipeline heard.  Comments are due July 13th, so please take action as soon as possible.

Below are sample comments, which you should feel free to copy and paste wholesale – consistency is the name of the game when submitting comments on Environmental Impact Statements.

Thanks for taking action, and stay tuned for further action points and events – we’re planning outings to the proposed terminal and pipeline sites at Bradwood Landing and in Mt. Hood National Forest in the coming months, and hope to see you there!

Filing Instructions:
https://ferconline.ferc.gov/QuickComment.aspx
Clicking on the above link will bring you to the FERC “Quick Comment” page; you will need to enter your name and email address, FERC will send you an email very quickly, and you will need to click on the link within that email to continue the filing process.  Enter the docket number in the appropriate field, click “Search,” and then “Select” for Docket Number CP09-35-000.

Click here to learn more about the Sierra Club’s efforts to stop reckless LNG terminals and pipelines.


Sample Comments:  Feel free to cut & paste any or all of these comments!

Docket Number: CP09-35-000

I am writing today as a concerned citizen to submit comments to the Supplemental Scoping Period for the Palomar Gas Transmission (Docket No. CP09-035-000).  I see significant problems with the Palomar Pipeline’s proposed routes, and cannot condone the construction of a pipeline with such massive environmental and public safety impacts.  These so-called “alternatives” are just two different ends the same bad story of needless degradation to the environment and to Oregonians’ quality of life.

The Maupin Bridge alternative route attempts to avoid crossing of the Deschutes River in a designated “wild and scenic” area.  However, it’s shocking that the “alternative” route is right through the center of the city of Maupin.  Maupin residents are concerned about how the pipeline would affect their quality of life – from the standpoints of safety, effects on tourism and recreation, and property values.  And the second alternative – the Warm Springs route – presents devastating effects on Crooked River National Grassland.  The pipeline would disrupt fragile scablands soil composition and threaten already-vulnerable species’ habitats in ways that cannot easily be restored.  Furthermore, the Northern Warm Springs Alternative Route would place the Palomar pipeline outside of a designated utility corridor.  This conflicts directly with the priorities and policies outlined in the Crooked River National Grassland Land Management Plan, which requires that all utility lines be within preexisting utility corridors.

In summary, neither of the two proposed alternatives truly mitigates the harm that the Palomar Gas Transmission pipeline would cause.  This eastern section of the pipeline is still proposed to go through Mt. Hood National Forest, which is unacceptable to the people who rely on the National Forest for recreation; furthermore, both “alternatives” raise serious questions about the safety of the people and ecosystems that the pipeline would pass by and through.  It is my hope that FERC will be able to adequately address these concerns in the DEIS.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]


LNG Bill set for hearing

April 16, 2009

HB 2015, the LNG Public Protection Act, is up for its first public hearing in the Oregon Legislature on Thursday, April 16.

Your help is needed to make sure the House Sustainability and Economic Development Committee passes this bill. Send a quick email to your legislature in support of HB 2015 by clicking here.

LNG is different from domestic natural gas. Its 20 – 30% more greenhouse gas intensive, and it would be imported from far way, and sometimes unfriendly, places like Russia, Qatar and Iran.

Oregon is currently threatened by three proposed LNG import terminals and hundreds of miles of pipelines that would cross high value farmland, forests and dozens of rivers and streams. The Palomar pipeline would cut a 47-mile swath across the Mt. Hood National Forest including the Wild and Scenic Clackamas River, the Deschutes River, and Fish Creek, recently designated as Wild and Scenic by the Omnibus Public Lands Act signed into law by President Obama.  LNG pipelines have proven highly controversial among local citizens and goverments.

Its time for Oregon to stand up for itself in the debate over LNG by passing HB 2015.


LNG Public Protection Act Introduced!

March 6, 2009

The LNG Public Protection Act, HB 2015, has been introduced. Click here to send an email to your legislator.

This bill would protect Oregon from the multiple LNG terminals and hundreds of miles of pipelines that threaten Oregon’s rivers and streams, farmland, and forests.  Find our more information on the threats that LNG poses to Oregon here.