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Oregon Gov. Kate Brown delivers her inaugural speech in the Capitol House chambers in Salem in 2016. At left is Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney and at right is House Speaker Tina Kotek.

I’m surprised that Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, hasn’t taken a stand for Oregon’s environment and against the Jordan Cove LNG Export project. She was recently with world leaders in Germany for the United Nations climate talks, but has not publicly opposed this fracked gas project in Oregon. Her opposition is critically important for Oregon and our planet.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, exporting natural gas from the United States to Asia could end up being worse from a greenhouse gas perspective than if China simply built a new power plant and burned its own coal supplies. The terminal would also become one of the largest sources of climate pollution in the state. Fracking wells that would supply this project have been documented to leak substantial amounts of methane — a powerful greenhouse gas that can make natural gas projects worse than coal in a 20-year time frame.

Out-of-state energy speculators want to build the Pacific Connector pipeline across public and private lands in Jackson County and many other communities to transport at least 1.2 billion cubic feet of fracked gas per year from Canada and the Rockies to Coos Bay, where it would be shipped overseas from a giant new terminal. Veresen, a Canadian energy company would make massive profits, while the rest of us would pay the price.

If landowners along the pipeline route don’t accept a small, one-time payment for permanent use of their land for the pipeline, the government will grant Veresen the power of eminent domain.

Cultural resources, traditional tribal territories and burial grounds are threatened by both the pipeline route and the export facility.

LNG facilities and natural gas pipelines are highly explosive. For example, in 2014, the Plymouth LNG facility in Washington exploded, injuring workers and forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate. The Jordan Cove terminal would be built in a region vulnerable to tsunamis, while the pipeline, full of high-pressure gas, would pass through an area with a high risk of wildfire.

The pipeline will affect farms and fishing businesses as it disturbs more than 400 waterways and damages salmon and steelhead habitat. “Horizontal directional drilling” would happen under the Klamath, Rogue, Umpqua, and Coquille Rivers, threatening our rivers with accidents called “frack outs.”

Each dollar invested in clean energy creates two to seven times as many jobs as spending that dollar on fossil fuels. Businesses, elected officials, and community residents in the Rogue Valley have been working together to speed our transition to cleaner energy and to greater energy efficiency. This project threatens all our progress. 

We Oregonians are proud of our history with what is called the Thin Green Line. This began to form in 2010 with opposition to a coal export proposal at Longview, Washington, on the Columbia River. Since then, a network of allies and engaged citizens has successfully fought off all six coal schemes for Oregon and Washington. Our people have been Goliaths in face of the giant fossil fuel industry.

Opposition to coal exports has been the blueprint for a fight that has continued successfully against oil trains. It is one we will continue to use against oil pipelines and fracked gas. With the demise of the major coal exports terminal proposals and other fossil fuel projects, the Thin Green Line will focus on the fossil fuel giant still remaining: the Jordan Cove LNG Export project. Our history in Kalama is of tireless opposition by residents, landowners along the proposed pipeline route, faith leaders, doctors, and fishermen.

The proposed Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline and the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal threatens to dramatically impact salmon fisheries, water quality, and our climate. While we intend to build a coordinated and intractable opposition to the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal, we would certainly like Gov. Brown to join us.

Elizabeth Waldron is a retired physician from Corvallis, a birdwatcher and a member of the Audubon Society. She will be attending a planned rally at the Oregon State Capitol against the Jordan Cove project at noon Jan. 11.


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