Only someone stranded on a desert island hasn’t seen the advertisements touting the benefits of the Jordan Cove LNG project. They say Pembina is new and different and wants to be friends. The proof of their intentions, however is found in the Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS), where the company lays out in specific what they intend to construct, how they are going to build it and how they will deal with the environmental issues in the path of the project.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released this DEIS for the LNG Terminal and Pipeline last month. This DEIS can only be read online, there are no hard copies or CDs available. I have been trying to work through it but it is not easy reading; there are eleven pages of the abbreviations used in this very dense technical document, for example. Don’t take my word for this; go to www.ferc.gov and look it up for yourself. It takes a little searching but if I can find it, you can too.
Many of the rural citizens in the path of the pipeline either don’t use computers or they have a poor dial-up connection so the most impacted citizens have a very difficult time reading what is proposed. In addition, the deadline to make comments is July 5 the day after the 4th of July holiday.
Thousands of trees toppled over in this winter’s snows; and all along the pipeline route we are working to get these trees to market. Farmers will be handling their spring lambs and cattle as well as putting in their hay. For rural people the late spring until fire season is our busiest time of the year; certainly not the time to try and wade through a densely written technical DEIS.
I have had personal interactions with representatives of Pembina as a member of the board of an irrigation district. Pembina wanted to buy almost a million gallons of water from us as well as to lease some property with a very generous offer.
The members of the board asked many questions, such as how this water would be used and then returned to our system. When we asked them if they had spent any time in the Coast Range they said “No, we have been busy in Portland but we want to go out and take a look.” Two months later they came to us again and said they didn’t need our water or lease our land.
Pembina bought Veresen and inherited this project. I think Pembina knows very little about what is actually on the ground or what the weather in the coast range might do. Nor do they want to face knowledgeable citizens where they can be questioned.
Say what you want about Williams, but they knew the terrain. Pembina will promise the moon to get their approvals and then hire the low bidder.
Now the company is adopting a much lower profile hoping to quietly gather approvals out of the public’s sight, with time to buy the support of local politicians and see who is elected president. They want to avoid public events because it is obvious while they do not know the details of this project; they do know the vast majority of Oregonians are opposed.
Forest fires and clear cuts heal in time and there is nothing new about landslides in a wet Oregon spring but this LNG terminal and attendant pipeline is a permanent and irretrievable commitment of the lands and water of Southern Oregon.
A person could be very much in favor of this project and be upset with a clearly inadequate DEIS leading to a poorly designed project. This process should not be hurried and citizens who have the on the ground knowledge are a wise investment to be included. This sort of injustice is what leads to protests, demonstrations, lawsuits and disturbances in general. Here is what you can do.
Demand that our county commissioners stand up for private property rights. We should hold hearings in front of the planning commission for Pembina’s new application for a Conditional Use Permit over Wildcat Ridge. An administrative back room process or a hearings officer is not good enough.
Hearings before the planning commission are when we can demand fire protection for our forests and waters and a lot more money than the small change of property taxes.
Call or write Governor Brown and encourage her to listen to the scientists at OSU and her state agencies such as the DEQ and DOGMI as they challenge the assumptions and vague assertions offered by Pembina. Insist our governor defend the lands, waters and communities of Oregon from foreign corporations and Federal overreach.
Oregon, recognized for our natural beauty and environmental leadership throughout the world, deserves better.