Imagine that in 40 years’ time you are hiking the Eagle Creek trail with your favorite children and teens. It is 85 degrees in early March, and you remember a time when temperatures were much cooler. You think back before greenhouse emissions started to level off, to the fire of 2017. That was the summer of smoke and ash. That’s when Portlanders got a reminder that clean air, never to be taken for granted, can change as quickly as the wind changes direction. The water still falls in cascades in the Gorge, past lichen that grows nowhere else on the planet. Although there are signs of devastation on the trail, you also see abundant green signs of a forest recreating itself.
One of the young people asks you about that year of the fire, the hurricanes, and the floods, when it became so clear that climate disruption was escalating. She says, “People knew about the dangers of fracked gas and methane then, right? Did you know?” She pauses, “What did you do to stop it from coming to Oregon?”
Here is how you can answer that hypothetical question, even if you don’t feel very hopeful about the future. “Hope is something we do, not something we have,” according to Barbara Ford, a member of 350PDX’s Arts team and coordinator of the Climate Odyssey Program. By adding your voice and submitting a comment to the Army Corps of Engineers (scroll down for details), you can become a part of the story of how you and others in Portland joined with people across Oregon to stop, for the third and final time, the proposed Jordan Cove Energy Project and Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline (JC/PC).
On September 22, 2017, Veresen, Inc., a Canadian energy speculating corporation, filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency (FERC) for a construction permit and eminent domain to build JC/PC. It is the largest and most dangerous energy project in the state, and a priority for Trump’s fossil fuel agenda. The President’s appointees to FERC are likely to rubber stamp this proposal. In it’s preliminary environmental impact statement, FERC did not take into account the possibility of forest fires. Fires could easily explode the highly flammable toxic methane escaping along the proposed route of the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline. It would run 232 miles from Malin to Coos Bay crossing Klamath, Jackson, Douglas and Coos counties. It would carry fracked methane gas from Canada and the Rockies to a Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) plant at Jordan Cove in Coos Bay. Built on a spit of land in the tsunami zone and the Cascadia Subduction zone, the plant would require enormous amounts of energy to produce 1.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day. Leaks are common with existing pipelines at every stage from fracking to shipping. Leaks put methane into the atmosphere, a greenhouse gas that traps heat 86x more potently over its first 20 years of life than carbon dioxide.
From Jordan Cove, LNG would be shipped to Asia in super tankers, exporting fracked gas that may not be the most economical way to meet future energy demands, while driving up the domestic cost of gas. This model encourages even more fracking in order for energy speculators to get a return on their investments. While coal is being phased out in Asia, the future markets for buying North American gas are uncertain. China could get LNG cheaper from Australia, Qatar, or Russia or they could tap their own vast shale reserves. The costs of developing renewable sources of energy are dropping rapidly and solar production is already growing fast in India. Soon there may not be a market to continue exporting LNG to Asia.
Since FERC won’t stop JC/PC, we must convince our State legislators, who have the ear of Governor Kate Brown, and Oregon’s Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to stop it by denying the necessary construction permits. Oddly, the three climate champions have remained non-committal about Jordan Cove. Versesen has made exaggerated promises of permanent job creation, and Southern Oregon needs new economic development, which could be in green energy or seismic retrofitting, not in fossil fuels. Stopping JC/PC would not eliminate existing jobs. Our elected officials don’t seem to take into account the jobs that would be lost if the JC/PC is built. Layoffs would occur in forestry, tourism, farming, and fisheries. Cutting a gash across public land, private property seized by imminent domain, and tribal lands, would leak poisonous and highly explosive methane anywhere along its length, much of it in fire country, sending toxic fumes and smoke into our atmosphere. Recently Portland has had a vivid reminder that our air quality depends entirely on which way the wind blows. The proposed pipeline would cross through the Coos, Coquille, Umpqua, Rogue and Klamath watersheds. Cutting trees along the banks of 400 streams could cause potential pipeline drilling accidents called “frack outs” and would raise the water temperature above the level that salmon could survive, and just as they are starting to make a comeback.
Even though the JC/PC is not proposed to be built in our backyards, people in Portland are committed to convincing the Governor and Senators to put a stop to this project. A coalition called Stop Fracked Gas/PDX formed to add Portland’s voice to end JC/PC. Seasoned activists have been collecting signatures in a secure neighborhood database. They have begun meeting with State legislators to educate them about JC/PC and to present them with lists of voters in their districts opposed to this project. The Portland groups include:
- Center for Sustainable Economy
- Climate Action Coalition
- Columbia Riverkeeper
- Portland Public Schools Climate Action Team
- Sierra Club
- Faith-based organizations
These groups are coordinating efforts with affected property owners and activists from southern and central Oregon, some of whom have actively opposed this project for over thirteen years. They included:
- Citizens Against LNG
- Rogue Riverkeeper
- Rogue Climate
- Klamath, Yurok, and Karuk Tribe
- Southern Oregon Rising Tide
- Hair On Fire – Oregon
- 350Salem, 350Corvallis, Central Coast 350
- Cascadia Wildlands
Action opportunity: People are putting pressure on Governor Kate Brown to deny permits in 2018. Add your voice by submitting a comment to the Army Corp of Engineers about the massive dredging that will happen if this project goes through.
- This comment period closed Oct 3rd. Stay tuned for the next action opportunity.
Follow the links to download talking points and for more background info on the Pacific Connector Pipeline and Jordan Cove LNG Export Terminal via our allies at Rogue Climate.
Written by: Guest Author Anne Bryant