“Astoria may take sides in Oregon LNG clash”

Daily Astorian. Sept. 1, 2015.

Overflow Crowd Packs Warrenton Hearing to Oppose Oregon LNG

Warrenton, OR (September 3, 2015) – Last night over 200 people, the vast majority opposed to the Oregon LNG project,

Oregon LNG opposition wore red. Photo by Bonnie McKinlay.

Oregon LNG opposition wore red. Photo by Bonnie McKinlay.

packed the City of Warrenton’s public hearing about the proposed Oregon LNG terminal and pipeline.  Before the hearing, local activists rallied outside with signs, banners, and a mock-up of the proposed pipeline. And an overflow crowd presented hours of testimony urging a Hearings Officer to deny the Oregon LNG terminal and pipeline because it conflicts with the City’s local land use laws.  Because so many people wanted to testify, the Hearings Officer scheduled a second hearing on Thursday evening.

“Tonight’s hearing demonstrated that people who live in this area fiercely oppose Oregon LNG’s proposed terminal and pipeline,” said Dan Serres, Conservation Director with Columbia Riverkeeper.  “It’s hard to imagine a project that would be more incompatible with the safety of local residents and health of the Columbia River Estuary – a linchpin for salmon survival and recovery.”

“This has always been an outrageously risky and speculative venture,” said Tessa Scheller, a Warrenton resident and founder of the Skipanon Watershed Council. “My family and this community have poured countless volunteer days and years, our treasure and time into restoring the Skipanon River’s health. We have planted thousands of trees, replaced culverts and educated ourselves and this community while working together to remove dams, improve water quality, fish and wildlife habitat. LNG is a risk to everything we do.”

Dozens of activists spoke about how Oregon LNG would threaten public safety, damage wetlands and other fish habitat, restrict public use and access to the terminal site, inhibit boats on nearby waterways, snarl local and regional transportation, and pollute air and water quality.  Others expressed frustration that Oregon LNG had submitted an application to Warrenton after being dealt a defeat in a property dispute with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns a dredge disposal easement on the terminal site.

Cheryl Johnson, a retired school librarian, said, “Oregon LNG doesn’t have the right to use the site for an LNG terminal because the Army Corps has an easement there.  But Oregon LNG is more than willing to waste everyone’s time with a dead-end project.  We are urging the City of Warrenton to protect this community’s public safety, economic future, and River by rejecting Oregon LNG.”

Some participants traveled from far away to register their opposition to Oregon LNG. Bonnie McKinlay, with 350 PDX and Portland Rising Tide, said, “We are engaged in this fight because we don’t want Oregon to become a trafficker of liquefied fracked gas and carbon pollution, but tonight we also learned about the immense hazards from this reckless project.  It’s a bad idea all around, and it’s long past time for the State of Oregon to reject this project.”

The hearing was conducted by a hearings officer hired by the city of Warrenton.  Because of the huge interest in the issue, the Hearings Officer scheduled a second hearing on Thursday, September 3 to receive additional oral testimony.  The Hearings Officer is expected to make a decision in coming months.

Later in September, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will hold its own hearings in Astoria, Vernonia, and southwest Washington to take input on its draft review of the Oregon LNG terminal and related pipelines.

“Feds say Oregon LNG’s environmental impacts are manageable”

Oregonian. Aug. 5, 2015.

Oregon LNG Update: Groups Call on Governor Brown to Deny State Permits

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Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. led a rally on the steps of the Oregon State Capitol in Salem, Ore., on May 26, 2015, against Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports in the state. There are currently two proposed LNG export terminals, one for Coos Bay and the other at the mouth of the Columbia River in Warrenton. Call Oregon Governor Brown at 503-378-4582 and ask her to take a stand against LNG today!


Columbia Riverkeeper · Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility · Northwest Property Right Coalition · Northwest Guides & Anglers Association · Association of Northwest Steelheaders · Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition · Food & Water Watch · Columbia Pacific Common Sense · Sierra Club · Wahkiakum Friends of the River · Northwest Environmental Defense Center · Center for Biological Diversity · Save Our Wild Salmon ·
Landowners & Citizens for a Safe Community · Oregon Citizens Against the Pipeline · Forest Grove Oregon Citizens Against Pipelines · Willapa Hills Audubon Society · Waterkeeper Alliance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


PUBLIC HEALTH, FISHING, AND CONSERVATION GROUPS BLAST FERC’S DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW FOR PROPOSED COLUMBIA RIVER LNG TERMINAL, CALL ON GOVERNOR BROWN TO DENY STATE PERMITS


August 5, 2015 (Portland, OR) – A coalition including fishing, public health, property rights, and conservation groups criticized a draft environmental review issued today by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the Oregon LNG terminal and pipeline. FERC has a history of approving liquefied natural gas (LNG) developments, including the Bradwood LNG project on the Columbia River, which filed for bankruptcy in 2010. The groups called on Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown to deny key state permits for the project in light of FERC’s failure to consider the best available science on LNG’s impacts to public health and safety, endangered salmon, and the economy.

Cheryl Johnson, a Clatsop County resident and retired school librarian, stated, “Our community has spoken loud and clear in opposition to LNG. We are looking to Governor Brown to stand up for the best interests of Oregonians and deny state permits for this misguided project. FERC’s rubberstamp approach to LNG development demands bold leadership to protect what we value: safe communities, strong salmon runs, and clean water.”

Oregon LNG proposes building an LNG terminal on the East Skipanon Peninsula near Warrenton, Oregon, to export North American natural gas overseas. In the draft environmental impact statement, FERC concludes that the project would cause adverse impacts to the environment, which the company can reduce through mitigation and engineering. FERC’s conclusions contrast starkly with those reached by Clatsop County, Oregon, which denied key permits for Oregon LNG’s pipeline based on significant threats to public safety and local rivers.

FERC’s draft environmental review also ignores the outcome of a significant court ruling issued last week in Oregon LNG’s lawsuit against another federal agency: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). According to the court’s ruling, the Corps has a valid legal right to use the proposed terminal property to deposit dredge spoils. Unless the Corps is willing to forfeit the right, Oregon LNG cannot build the proposed terminal. “The Corps vigorously defended this lawsuit to protect a valuable public property right and the court got it right,” stated Miles Johnson, Clean Water Attorney for Columbia Riverkeeper. “The court’s ruling could spell the end to Oregon LNG’s ten-year effort to site one of the most destructive, dangerous projects we’ve ever seen proposed on the Columbia River.”

In addition to last week’s court ruling, FERC’s draft environmental review ignores detailed comments to the Corps from state, federal, and tribal agencies that highlight the project’s significant risks and inadequate mitigation. The Corps must decide whether Oregon LNG can build a new industrial dock for LNG tankers and dredge an area the size of 102 football fields in the Columbia River estuary. Oregon LNG cannot build the terminal and gas pipeline without permits from Corps.

“Putting a massive LNG terminal in the heart of the lower Columbia’s most popular commercial and recreational fishery undermines decades of work to protect fishing opportunities in the lower Columbia River,” said Dan Marvin, a longtime Columbia River commercial fisherman. “On top of this, our region has invested billions of dollars in restoring salmon habitat. FERC has its head in the sand when it concludes this project won’t have a significant impact on our livelihoods.”

Oregon LNG’s dredging alone would destroy critical habitat for twelve stocks of endangered and threatened salmon and steelhead. The project also requires taking private property using eminent domain to build the gas pipeline from the U.S.-Canada border to Warrenton.

“This project flies in the face of good science and good public policy,” said Columbia Riverkeeper Conservation Director, Dan Serres. “From the stand point of destroying salmon habitat, Oregon LNG’s project is at a scale unlike any other private project in the Columbia River estuary. So it is not surprising that biologists and other scientists looking at this project are raising red flags. And FERC—with its history of approving LNG—is ignoring and downplaying those valid objections.”

Background information
Currently, there are two LNG facilities proposed in Oregon: the Jordan Cover project on the Oregon Coast and the Oregon LNG project on the Columbia River. Both projects require hundreds of miles of new gas pipelines through Oregon and Washington. Oregon LNG has faced a rocky path over the last ten years since first leasing the property, including: Oregon LNG was the subject of a criminal investigation into its illegal action to obtain the lease; Oregon LNG sued the Port of Astoria when the Port wanted to get out of the questionable lease; and Oregon LNG sued Clatsop County after the County rejected the LNG pipeline application.


What can you do?

“Judge rules against Oregon LNG in land dispute”

LNG World News. Aug. 3, 2015.

“Army Corps prevails over Oregon LNG on easement”

Daily Astorian. Aug. 3, 2015.

Court Delivers Major Blow for Oregon LNG Project on Columbia River

IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Federal Judge Rules against Oregon LNG in Property Dispute over Proposed Terminal Site


July 31, 2015 (Portland, Oregon) –
A federal judge handed Oregon LNG a significant setback today. Oregon LNG proposes building a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the East Skipanon Peninsula near Warrenton, Oregon, to export North American natural gas overseas. According to today’s ruling, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a valid legal right to use this property to deposit dredge spoils at the proposed terminal site. Unless the Army Corps is willing to forfeit the easement, Oregon LNG cannot build the proposed terminal.

“The Corps vigorously defended this lawsuit to protect a valuable public property right and the court got it right,” said Miles Johnson, Clean Water Attorney for Columbia Riverkeeper. “Today’s ruling could spell the end to Oregon LNG’s ten-year effort to site one of the most destructive, dangerous projects we’ve ever seen proposed on the Columbia River.”

Clatsop County gave the Army Corps an easement to place dredge spoils on the East Skipanon Peninsula in 1957. Since then, the Army Corps placed hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of dredge spoils there. Oregon LNG claimed that the easement was never valid. Citing the federal Quiet Title Act’s statute of limitations, the judge dismissed Oregon LNG’s suit and held that any challenge to the Army Corps’ easement should have been brought years ago.

“Without this easement, Oregon LNG cannot build their terminal in Warrenton. This news is a major victory for the estuary. We’ve been fighting over ten years to save our homes and community,” said Cheryl Johnson, a retired school librarian and local activist representing Columbia Pacific Common Sense.

Local residents and conservation groups have fought against Oregon LNG because the project threatens community safety, salmon habitat, farms and forestlands. According to a 2014 U.S. Department of Energy report, the climate change impacts of LNG export to Asia are worse than coal. Natural gas for LNG export comes from fracking in the western U.S. and Canada, and the long, energy-intensive supply chain of LNG exports releases enormous amounts of climate changing pollution. The project requires hundreds of miles of new gas pipelines to send the fracked gas overseas.

The Army Corps and Oregon LNG have tried unsuccessfully to resolve the property dispute since 2009. “If the Corps keeps its easement, Oregon LNG will not have a place to build,” said Dan Serres, Conservation Director for Columbia Riverkeeper. The court’s Order Granting Motion to Dismiss is available on Columbia Riverkeeper’s website.

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Background information
Currently, there are two proposals to locate LNG facilities on the Oregon Coast and the Columbia River, coupled with associated proposals to construct hundreds of miles of new natural gas pipelines throughout Oregon and Washington. Oregon LNG has faced a rocky path over the last ten years since first leasing the property, including: Oregon LNG was the subject of a criminal investigation into its illegal action to obtain the lease; Oregon LNG sued the Port of Astoria when the Port wanted to get out of the questionable lease; and Oregon LNG sued Clatsop County after the County rejected the LNG pipeline application.

LNG Development Company v. Army Corps of Engineers, Case no.: 3:14-cv-1239-AC:

About Columbia Riverkeeper
Columbia Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean. Representing over 8,000 members and supporters, Columbia Riverkeeper works to restore a Columbia River where people can safely eat the fish they catch, and where children can swim without fear of toxic exposure. The organization is a member of Waterkeeper Alliance, the world’s fastest growing environmental movement, uniting more than 200 Waterkeeper organizations worldwide. For more information go to columbiariverkeeper.org.

About Columbia Pacific Common Sense
Columbia Pacific Common Sense was formed in 2009 to oppose the Oregon LNG and Bradwood Landing LNG projects planned for sites along the Columbia River.


PDF of Press Release

“State land use board upholds Clatsop County ruling on Oregon LNG”

Daily Astorian. April 29, 2015.

“State board upholds county denial of permit for Oregon LNG pipeline”

The Oregonian. April 29, 2015.

Science Shows Vital Fish Habitat Threatened by Proposed Oregon LNG Terminal

Columbia Riverkeeper, local and state agencies, and tribes recently submitted detailed comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), and to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality that describe why Oregon LNG’s project would violate environmental laws. Over two dozen fishing, landowner, community safety, and conservation organizations joined Riverkeeper on these comments:

Youngs Bay photo courtesy of "Salmon for All."

Youngs Bay photo courtesy of “Salmon for All.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SCIENCE SHOWS VITAL FISH HABITAT THREATENED BY PROPOSED
OREGON LNG TERMINAL


Experts and Agencies Flag Major Problems in Massive LNG Export Proposal


Feb. 5, 2015 (Portland, OR) – Fisheries experts and agencies are raising serious concerns about how a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at the mouth of the Columbia River would impact endangered salmon and commercial and sport fishing. The Oregon LNG project proposes dredging an area the size of 102 football fields in critical salmon habitat and building a pipeline that would cross over 100 streams and rivers – a combination that is drawing sharp criticism from fisheries experts and agencies weighing in on the first major public comment opportunity for Oregon LNG’s project.

Commercial fishermen fishing on Youngs Bay, photo by "Salmon for All."

Commercial fishermen fishing on Youngs Bay, photo by “Salmon for All.”

“This project flies in the face of good science and good public policy,” said Columbia Riverkeeper Conservation Director, Dan Serres. “From the stand point of destroying salmon habitat, Oregon LNG’s project is at a scale unlike any other private project in the Lower Columbia River. So it is not surprising that biologists and other scientists looking at this project are raising red flags.”

Columbia Riverkeeper, local and state agencies, and tribes recently submitted detailed comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), which is considering issuing permits for the pipeline and terminal. In addition, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is collecting public comments until February 16, 2015. Oregon LNG cannot build the terminal and gas pipeline without permits from DEQ and the Corps.

Not only would the project harm salmon habitat, but it also presents a risk to a vibrant local fishing industry. Because the Oregon LNG project could disrupt access for fishers, crabbers and other boaters in the Astoria/Warrenton area, several fishing associations joined comments that urged the Corps to deny the Oregon LNG proposal.

“Putting a massive LNG terminal in the heart of the lower Columbia’s most popular commercial and recreational fishery undermines decades of work to protect fishing opportunities in the lower Columbia River,” said Bob Rees, Columbia River fishing guide and Executive Director of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders. “On top of this, our region has invested billions of dollars in restoring salmon habitat. And a lot of this money is focused in the Columbia River Estuary near Oregon LNG’s project. The contradictions beg for bold action from regulators to protect the Pacific Northwest’s fishing heritage.”

Cheryl Johnson, a Clatsop County resident and retired school librarian, stated, “Our community has spoken loud and clear in opposition to LNG, and we are thrilled to see new evidence from experts that supports our long-standing support for a clean, healthy, LNG-free estuary.”

Key expert agency comments submitted to the Corps:

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) raised concerns for the project to harm fishing, writing, “…the application does not adequately characterize the potential for substantial disruption of this socially and economically important fishery during construction and operation of the marine terminal complex.”

The Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce (CREST) explained that Oregon LNG undermined ongoing, important restoration efforts in the Estuary, stating, “The proposed project will impact limited and fragmented habitats and ongoing salmon recovery efforts. The entire peninsula has a high potential for restoration, is close to the mouth of the Columbia River, and is hydrologically connected to ongoing restoration work in the Skipanon River, Youngs Bay, and Youngs Bay tributaries.”

Richard N. Williams, a Ph.D. Fisheries expert who reviewed the Oregon LNG proposal, concluded that “…it is clear that construction and operation of the proposed OLNG project would negatively impact ESA-listed salmonids of a variety of species and life stages throughout the entire year.”

ABOUT COLUMBIA RIVERKEEPER
Columbia Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean. Representing over 8,000 members and supporters, Columbia Riverkeeper works to restore a Columbia River where people can safely eat the fish they catch, and where children can swim without fear of toxic exposure. The organization is a member of Waterkeeper Alliance, the world’s fastest growing environmental movement, uniting more than 200 Waterkeeper organizations worldwide. For more information go to columbiariverkeeper.org/our-work/lng/.


PDF of Press Release
Columbia Riverkeeper: Our Work: LNG