This summer we expect Oregon LNG and the Williams Pipeline Company to file their applications with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to site and construct a massive LNG export terminal and over 200 miles of new pipelines in Oregon and Washington.
Williams’s Washington Expansion Project would deliver North American gas to the Oregon LNG pipeline and Oregon LNG export terminal. At the terminal in Warrenton, Oregon LNG plans to supercool the gas into a liquid form (LNG) and send the energy to high-priced Asian markets. FERC has twice approved LNG projects in Oregon, ignoring the concerns of local residents, state agencies, and other federal officials.
In April, Oregon LNG faced a major setback when the Oregon Supreme Court upheld the right of the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners to make a decision about the Oregon LNG pipeline. In 2011, the Board preliminarily decided that the project did not meet the County’s standards. We expect Clatsop County to announce new hearings in the coming weeks. Although Oregon LNG lacks a clear path forward without County approval, the company appears poised to engage in the FERC process regardless of overwhelming local opposition.
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To prepare for FERC’s review process, we will be holding events in the early summer to educate communities that would be impacted by the Oregon LNG and Williams Pipeline projects. The first of these events will be held in Longview, WA, on Monday, June 3rd at 6pm. We will facilitate a community informational meeting and discussion with our partners Landowners and Citizens for a Safe Community & the Northwest Property Rights Coalition. Click here for event details. Please join us to learn more about the progress we’re making to keep the Lower Columbia River LNG-free.
This summer we expect Oregon LNG and the Williams Pipeline Company to file their applications with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to site and construct a massive LNG export terminal and over 200 miles of new pipelines in Oregon and Washington. To prepare for FERC’s review process, Riverkeeper will be holding events to educate communities that would be impacted by these projects. The first of these events will be held in Longview, WA, on Monday, June 3rd. This will be informational meeting and discussion facilitated by Riverkeeper and our partners, Landowners and Citizens for a Safe Community & the Northwest Property Rights Coalition.
WHEN: Monday, June 3rd (6PM)
WHERE: Cowlitz PUD (961 12th Ave, Longview, WA 98632)
Oregon Supreme Court Rejects Oregon LNG Appeal
On March 28th, we moved one step closer to rejecting LNG. The Oregon Supreme Court affirmed the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners right to make a final decision on the Oregon LNG project and its pipeline through the county’s rivers, farmland, and forests.
In Spring 2011, after detailed, compelling, and heartfelt testimony from citizens all over Oregon and Washington, the Board voted to reject the Oregon LNG pipeline. Responding to the Board’s action, Oregon LNG sought to subvert the democratically elected Board by challenging their right to review the dangerous, polluting Oregon LNG pipeline project.
After the Supreme Court’s decision, Cheryl Johnson, Estuary Coordinator with Columbia Riverkeeper and Clatsop County resident, was quoted in the Daily Astorian saying “Oregon LNG has no future in our county, where people value local jobs, a healthy river, and the safety of our community much more than empty promises from Oregon LNG.”
The Supreme Court’s decision sets the stage for a final Board vote on Oregon LNG’s pipeline. Without approval of the pipeline, the proposal cannot move forward as currently proposed. We expect more information soon, and we will alert you when we learn of the schedule for upcoming hearings in Clatsop County.
On Thursday, March 28th, the Oregon Supreme Court reaffirmed Clatsop County’s right to make an important decision about the Oregon LNG project. In 2011, after hearing hours of testimony from Columbia Riverkeeper, local residents, landowners near the proposed Oregon LNG pipeline, and forest advocates, the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners rejected the Oregon LNG project. Oregon LNG took the extraordinary step of trying to block the County’s decision, and their long-shot legal challenge finally failed this week. The Supreme Court’s ruling upholds the County’s right to make a final decision in the coming months, and it represents a big victory for the residents of Clatsop County and beyond who have opposed the Oregon LNG project for years.
Read Riverkeeper’s press release.
Read coverage from The Daily Astorian.
Blog post by Brett VandenHeuvel, Riverkeeper’s Executive Director—
Bloomberg reported that “President Barack Obama is preparing to tell all federal agencies for the first time that they should consider the impact on global warming before approving major projects, from pipelines to highways. The result could be significant delays for natural gas-export facilities . . .”
Bloomberg’s article is referring to new guidance that the White House is expected to release that may force all federal agencies to do a more consistent job in evaluating carbon pollution under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). For Oregon LNG, the new guidance could tell the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to evaluate the impacts of fracking for natural gas and the carbon cost of supercooling gas for export. We believe that once these impacts are disclosed, the project is even less viable. New guidance from the White House would be promising, but we are not holding our breath. Stay tuned…
Blog post by Dan Serres, Riverkeeper’s Conservation Director—
On Saturday, January 12th, over 50 people joined to walk along a Warrenton City trail near the Skipanon Peninsula – site of the Oregon LNG export terminal proposal. On a frosty morning, families, dogs, and long-time LNG activists gathered to familiarize themselves with the area that has been targeted by Oregon LNG and its New York-based funder, Leucadia National, for a massive LNG export terminal. The walk was led by Jim Scheller, a local expert who has worked for years to protect and restore wetlands and salmon habitat in the Warrenton area. Oregonians from four counties joined the walk, sharing thoughts and ideas about how we can organize to stop the LNG export threat on the Columbia River.
We will be holding more events in coming months to educate, engage, and empower people to stop LNG export in Oregon. To learn more about our fight to stop Oregon LNG’s export proposal, please contact Dan Serres at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More Photos from Saturday’s Event
In a detailed comment letter submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the State of Oregon argued that the Oregon LNG project will prompt an increase in domestic gas prices as well as an increase in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for natural gas. Oregon wrote, “the proposed construction and operation of an export LNG terminal and pipeline will likely result in the increase of hydraulic fracking.” FERC has indicated that it has no intention to look at the broader impacts of LNG exports. In response, the State of Oregon is siding with hundreds of Oregonians and Washingtonians who object to FERC’s tunnel vision. For over a year, Columbia Riverkeeper and our allies have insisted that LNG exports would expand fracking, and the State of Oregon’s letter to FERC strengthens our case. Read the State’s comments, Riverkeeper’s comments, and many others.
After a long delay, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a study last month that falsely exaggerated the benefits of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports. Largely ignoring concerns about increased energy prices and harm to natural resources, DOE concluded that benefits to the gas industry outweighed negative impacts on consumers, manufacturers, farmers, and the environment. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden responded quickly and forcefully, stating, “The shortcomings of the (study) are numerous and render this study insufficient for the Department to use in any export determination.” Echoing the concerns of hundreds of Oregonians and Washingtonians who submitted comments opposing the Oregon LNG project, Senator Wyden urged DOE to revise the study and pay more attention to the potential for LNG exports to harm the U.S. economy and the environment. Read Senator Wyden’s letter.
Please contact Senator Wyden and urge him to use his new role as Chair of the Senate Energy Committee to prevent LNG exports in Oregon, and to investigate the LNG industry’s dishonest bait-and-switch from LNG imports to LNG exports. Oregonian article: “Will Senator Ron Wyden take a stand on the chair?”
SENATOR WYDENPhone: (503) 326-7525 Online: http://www.wyden.senate.gov/contact/
Blog post by Lauren Goldberg, Riverkeeper’s Staff Attorney—
Columbia Riverkeeper and community groups in the Estuary are challenging the Coast Guard’s decision to rubber-stamp liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker traffic for the proposed LNG terminal in Warrenton, Oregon. LNG tankers are not your average ship. One LNG tanker alone is bigger than three football fields and towers 20-stories high. Why so big? Each departing tanker would carry a staggering 8% of total U.S. daily gas consumption. And they are dangerous. The consequences of an accidental or terrorist-induced ignition of a vapor cloud from an LNG tank or tanker would be devastating.
Yet the Coast Guard gave the green light to Oregon LNG’s tanker traffic before complying with laws designed to protect public safety, commerce, and endangered salmon. We think this is dead wrong.
With the help of a talented team of attorneys and law students at the Earthrise Law Center, we are challenging the Coast Guard’s decision. Not surprisingly, the Coast Guard wants our lawsuit kicked out of court. On January 11th, we filed a brief explaining why we have a right to hold the Coast Guard accountable for protecting the public. With the support of community members in the Estuary, we are working hard to protect Columbia River communities from LNG.
To learn how you can get involved, email Dan Serres, Riverkeeper’s Conservation Director, email@example.com.
Blog post by Christina Skirvin, Riverkeeper’s Program Administrator—
It’s been a busy 2012 here at Riverkeeper. Thanks to all who have donated, volunteered, and rallied alongside us in the fight for our right to clean water and to protect the mighty Columbia. As we head into 2013, it’s time to reflect on some of this year’s major accomplishments, events, and milestones. Join us from December 27th until the New Year as we share a different 2012 highlight each day.
Cheers to the New Year!
#1: Salmon Return to the Free-Flowing White Salmon River
Once abundant in the White Salmon River, salmon and steelhead passage had been blocked by Condit Dam for almost 100 years until dynamite blasted a hole in the bottom of the dam in October 2011. The final remnants of Condit Dam were finally removed by PacifiCorp this September. The White Salmon River runs free – and the salmon and steelhead have returned! Children now get the thrill of watching salmon and steelhead power up waterfalls. Whitewater enthusiasts can enjoy a new stretch of the river. And Native Americans will fish from the falls like their ancestors did for thousands of years as the natural way of the river returns.
Brett VandenHeuvel’s, Riverkeeper Executive Director, was one of the first people lucky enough to paddle the river after it was opened to the public this fall. Read his first-hand account.
Donate to Riverkeeper today to help support victories like this for our watershed, fish, wildlife, and communities.
#2: Columbia River fish contain toxic levels far-exceeding EPA safe levels for consumption
This year Riverkeeper began a compelling new study, Is Your Fish Toxic?, that takes a close look at toxics in Columbia River fish and the individuals and communities reliant on these fish. In our study, we met fishermen on the River and tested fish bound for the dinner table. Three fish were tested, including a bass near Hood River, a sturgeon near Astoria, and a sucker in Portland. Meet the fishermen who participated in the study.
We released the results of our study in October, which revealed shocking levels of toxic pollution. We detected PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) concentrations 27,000% and mercury levels 300% above Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) safe levels for consumption as well as heavy metals and toxic flame retardants (PBDEs). PBDEs are known endocrine disruptors that can increase the risk of cancer and disrupt hormone function. Learn more about the toxics found.
People have the right to eat fish from the Columbia without the fear of getting sick.
Help us study more fish, tell more stories, and protect our right to toxic-free water and fish by donating today. Contact Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Director, Lorri Epstein, to get involved in the study (firstname.lastname@example.org).
#3: Hanford: Radioactive Pollution Concerns Intensify
- In early 2012, lead engineers on the Waste Treatment Plant acted as whistleblowers, raising serious questions about the efficacy and integrity of plans to immobilize highly radioactive waste into glass form.
- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) revealed that one of Hanford’s double-shelled tanks had begun to leak this fall.
- This December DOE released its final Tank Closure/Waste Management Environmental Impact Statement, which leaves the door open for more nuclear waste shipments to Hanford.
Clean-up plans at Hanford, the Western Hemisphere’s most radioactively polluted site, will pose a serious challenge for decades to come. The developments of 2012 reminded the entire region of the challenges we face.
In October, Riverkeeper was fortunate enough to add a new staff member solely dedicated to Hanford. As Riverkeeper’s Hanford Coordinator, Theresa Labriola will work to address the extremely difficult nuclear and chemical contamination problem at Hanford. But, we need your support to do this work. Contact Theresa directly (email@example.com) to get involved.
#4: Legal Victory Paves the Way for Clatsop County to Reject LNG Pipeline
In October 2012, after years of appeals by Oregon LNG, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled in our favor that Clatsop County had the right to revoke its liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline approval. Learn how we arrived at the October 2012 victory. The unanimous court decision marks a turning point for Oregon LNG. Without a pipeline through Clatsop County, Oregon LNG has no way to send natural gas to its export terminal proposed in Warrenton, Oregon. And the court decision is only one of many hurdles that Oregon LNG still faces. What’s next? Oregon LNG continues its attempt to block a County vote by appealing to the Oregon Supreme Court. Riverkeeper is asking the Supreme Court to not hear this appeal and allow the County to finalize its vote. When they finally get a chance to vote, we’re hopeful that Clatsop County will deny the LNG pipeline.
Riverkeeper is one of only a handful of non-profit organizations in Oregon that takes on complex land use challenges like the Oregon LNG pipeline case, and we know first-hand how critical these cases are to protecting the Columbia and the communities, families, fish and wildlife dependent on it. We will continue our legal and organizing work to stop the Oregon LNG proposal and Washington Expansion Project in 2013, but we need your help. Please donate and get involved today to help ensure these proposed LNG projects go the same direction as NorthernStar’s Bradwood LNG proposal: nowhere.
#5: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Rally against Exporting Coal through Pacific Northwest to Asia
On May 7th, hundreds of concerned citizens gathered in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square, alongside Waterkeeper Alliance President, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., in one of Oregon’s largest demonstrations against coal exports. Riverkeeper’s Staff Attorney, Lauren Goldberg, emceed the rally and introduced Mr. Kennedy. Kennedy stated, “coal is poison, do not let it into your communities.” Political leaders and members of Power Past Coal gave impassioned speeches about the extreme dangers to our health, communities, and environment if these coal export proposals are given the green light. In 2012, Riverkeeper used our legal skills, community organizing, and on-the-river knowledge to thwart dirty coal – so far. We will continue to work hard and depend on your support in 2013 to stop coal export. Read more