As a high school government teacher I always try to present the full picture to my students. It’s important to recognize all sides of policies and actions. However, if we listen to all sides of an issue and work together, we can determine a path that will have a positive impact on the community.
Having served in a variety of public service roles, including mayor of Reedsport, Port of Umpqua commissioner and chair of the governor’s South Coast Solutions Regional Advisory Team, I’ve always sought comprehensive solutions with community-wide benefits. The Jordan Cove LNG terminal and pipeline provide such an opportunity.
Let’s look first at what the project can do for Douglas County and Southern Oregon as a whole:
The economy: Jordan Cove could be a catalyst for the type of economic growth our part of the state has craved since the timber industry began declining more than three decades ago. The 6,000 construction jobs and 8,500 related employment opportunities that economists forecast during pipeline and terminal construction would provide much more than temporary jobs. Existing businesses would be able to expand because of the additional revenue brought in during construction. Once the project is completed the 215 permanent employees would support 1,500 spin-off jobs, according to economic projections.
Infrastructure: The project also would create important infrastructure that would help boost the economy. Improvements at the Port of Coos Bay, including navigation enhancements and a safer bar, would allow the port to attract new customers in addition to servicing the ships that export LNG from the terminal. Port officials expect a 300% increase in traffic.
Schools and public services: Tax revenue from Jordan Cove would enable local governments to boost spending on schools and other services. Douglas County alone would see an annual increase in tax collections of $4.6 million because of Jordan Cove, and more than 80% of that money would go to public schools. The rest would pay for much-needed infrastructure, additional firefighters and enhanced law enforcement, as well as other public services.
Now, let’s look at some of the objections raised by those opposing Jordan Cove.
Safety: The pipeline and terminal will be engineered to withstand earthquakes and other natural disasters, and Jordan Cove’s owner Pembina would provide 24/7 automated safety monitoring along the entire length of the pipeline. But that’s only part of the safety story. Right-of-ways and access or maintenance roads would serve as fire breaks. Construction would clear brush and other wildfire fuels. It’s likely that these pipeline-related solutions would help fight wildfires, which would contribute to healthier air in our region.
Eminent domain: Building the pipeline will require Jordan Cove to cross some private land in our region. I understand the concerns about use of eminent domain, which should be a last resort. But Pembina has made it clear that it wants to do the right thing when it comes to working with private landowners, and, as a result, Jordan Cove has signed voluntary easement agreements with private landowners and timber companies along 82% of the pipeline route.
Environment: Those who oppose natural gas on environmental grounds fail to see the full picture and net environmental benefit the use of natural gas can have on global greenhouse gas emissions. By replacing dirty coal and oil-generated electricity in Asia with clean-burning natural gas, we are shifting toward cleaner energy sources, resulting in a significant net environmental benefit.
Long-term economic impact: Opponents of the project treat the 215 projected permanent jobs as a paltry sum. Anyone who sees 215 as a small number does not understand Reedsport, Roseburg or other small Southern Oregon communities. We don’t have a Nike headquarters or any Intel manufacturing facilities. Jordan Cove would be a major employer in our region, providing family-wage jobs that increase economic opportunity for our residents.
The emotions on each side of this issue are understandable. We all are passionate about preserving the beauty and livability of a special part of Oregon. But, a careful examination of all the facts shows that Jordan Cove can be built without endangering the natural environment we value so much, while actually decreasing global greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, the project can provide economic stimulus that will raise the standard of living of many Southern Oregon residents. Jordan Cove is a rare opportunity to provide both environmental and economic benefits.
The pros of this project far outweigh the cons. It’s time to give Jordan Cove all necessary regulatory approvals and start building for the future.