LNG flew the surrender flag on April 15, 2016, dropping plans to build an Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export terminal on the lower Columbia River. Oregon LNG could not overcome intense local opposition, which sustained for over ten year. Not only is this an inspiring story of David versus Goliath, but an incredibly important victory for our climate and environment.
The Victory Over Oregon LNG prevents:
- 1.2 billion cubic feet per day of fracked natural gas sent to Asia. That’s twice as much gas as the entire state of Oregon uses each day. Oregon LNG would have shipped a stunning volume of carbon.
- A huge new driver for more fracking across the west. An LNG terminal is a regressive investment that locks us into fossil fuel transport for decades, which our climate cannot afford.
- A bridge to nowhere. Natural gas is not a bridge fuel. We are moving aggressively toward renewables, and natural gas fracking and burning takes us in the wrong direction.
- The destruction of critical salmon habitat by dredging a huge hole in the Columbia River for LNG tankers. Oregon LNG proposed the largest dredging by a private company in the history of the Columbia River, over 700,000 cubic feet across 135 acres. And the filling of 34 acres of wetlands.
- A giant industrial scar and militarized zone in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, the Columbia River estuary.
- LNG vessels competing for space with salmon fishing boats. LNG vessels have large security zones that would push fishers off the river.
- The threat of eminent domain to take land of family farmers. If approved, Oregon LNG would have the power of eminent domain to construct a pipeline on private land without landowners’ permission.
“After 10 years of fighting, we protected the Columbia River from dirty gas export. This is yet another huge victory for clean water and our climate. Tens of thousands of people stood up to protect clean water, public safety, and our climate. What an amazing effort and result!” – Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director, Columbia Riverkeeper
By Dan Serres, Conservation Director
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) finally did something that people can celebrate. For the first time in recent history, FERC – often nicknamed the “Federal Energy Rubberstamp Commission” – denied an LNG terminal and its connecting pipeline. In its decision, FERC said that Jordan Cove LNG had “presented little or no evidence of the need” for LNG export. FERC determined that the project’s benefits did not outweigh the impacts to private landowners and communities along the pipeline route, noting “significant opposition from directly-impacted landowners.”
The Oregonian explained the decision, quoting long-time LNG activist Jody McCaffree, rancher Bill Gow, and local landowner John Clarke. And the News-Review in Roseburg detailed how an unusual coalition of conservative landowners and environmental activists stood firm in their opposition to the Pacific Connector Pipeline.
First of all, this is a huge victory for the hundreds of local activists in Southern Oregon who have worked for over a decade to protect Coos Bay, family homes, forests, rivers, salmon habitat, and our global climate from a major destructive proposal. We are proud that Oregonians – both along the Columbia River and in Southern Oregon – have maintained solidarity in opposing all LNG projects in Oregon. Although Jordan Cove’s parent company, Veresen, will undoubtedly challenge FERC’s decision and attempt to revive its dying project, FERC’s decision is a devastating blow from which the proposal is unlikely to recover.
Where does that leave Oregon LNG and Jordan Cove LNG, now?
Oregon LNG faces the same obstacles at FERC that defeated Jordan Cove. Namely, Oregon LNG has little on-the-ground support, and it has failed to secure any customers for its exported fracked gas. Using the same logic it applied in Jordan Cove’s case, FERC could deny Oregon LNG.
Remarkably, just a week before FERC denied Jordan Cove LNG, an impartial City of Warrenton hearings officer ruled that the Oregon LNG project would interfere with public trust rights, violate local laws to protect salmon, and periodically block public access to traditional fishing grounds. Oregon LNG appealed the hearings officer’s final order to the Warrenton City Council, and the Commission will hold hearings on May 4 & 5 at the Warrenton Grade School. Please plan to join us in Warrenton for one final hearing on Oregon LNG!
Most importantly, Oregon’s own agencies have critical decisions to make in coming months. After hearing from thousands of Oregonians, Oregon’s Governor and state agencies could deny Oregon LNG and Jordan Cove LNG, regardless of any federal actions by FERC or Warrenton. Because the two projects would be Oregon’s largest climate change polluters if they were built, and because both projects threaten to harm water quality and salmon habitat, Oregon is well-positioned to deny both proposals outright. Oregon’s Department of State Lands could deny key permits for the Pacific Connector Pipeline as soon as May 2016.
Help Send a Clear Message to Governor Brown, Call Her Today: 503-378-4582
- Tell her who you are and why you are opposed to LNG
- Urge Gov. Brown to use her power to protect Oregon from LNG
“Oregon LNG’s final environmental review pushed back: Federal government sought more information from company”
Feb. 10, 2016. Daily Astorian.
“Oregon LNG refiles case against Army Corps: The energy company says the decision is to maintain its legal options”
Jan. 15, 2016. Daily Astorian.
Jan. 11, 2016. The Oregonian.
Jan. 11, 2016. Daily Astorian.
Dec. 29, 2015. Daily Astorian.
Statement by Columbia Riverkeeper’s Executive Director, Brett VandenHeuvel:
“We call on Governor Brown to deny the Oregon LNG project in light of today’s decision from the City of Warrenton. Warrenton’s Hearings Officer denied critical land use permits for the Oregon LNG terminal and pipeline. Under Oregon law, the state cannot issue permits without local land use approvals.
“Liquefied natural gas (LNG) development flies in the face of Governor Brown’s commitment to combat climate change and promote clean energy. With Warrenton’s decision today, combined with Clatsop County’s rejection of the LNG pipeline, the Governor and the agencies she oversees have ample authority to send Oregon LNG packing.
“The Governor has heard loud and clear from people across Oregon. Livelihoods are on the line. From farmers who would lose productive cropland to fisherman who would lose access to important fishing grounds, people are looking to Governor Brown’s leadership to end this decade-long cloud of uncertainty.”
- City of Warrenton Hearings Officer Final Order on Oregon LNG 2016.03.04
- Notice of Hearings Office Decision on Oregon LNG 2016.03.04
An impartial City of Warrenton Hearings Officer ruled that the project would interfere with public trust rights, violate local laws to protect salmon, and periodically block public access to traditional fishing grounds. Oregon LNG has the right to appeal the hearings officer’s final order to the Warrenton City Council. The City of Warrenton ruled:
“[T]he project will unreasonably interfere with significant public trust rights in the form of adverse impacts to fish habitat in this portion of the Lower Columbia River Estuary . . .” Final Order at 30.
The Hearings Officer noted the proposed dredging of the Columbia River for LNG tankers and the extensive filling of wetlands:
“Regarding the significance of the project’s impact, again, the Officer cannot credit the applicant’s attempts to minimize the impacts of the 109-acre dredge footprint and ~35-acre permanent wetland impact, which state and federal environmental agencies regarded as significant.” Final Order at 47.
The Oregon LNG company proposes building an LNG terminal in Warrenton, Oregon, and exporting North American natural gas to overseas markets. The project requires building over 200 miles of new, high-pressure gas pipeline through Oregon and Washington that would cross salmon-bearing streams, the Columbia River, farms, forestland, and close to homes. LNG uses fracked gas, recognized as a significant contributor to climate change.
Among the project’s many regional impacts, the company proposes dredging an area the size of 102 football fields in the Columbia River. Oregon LNG selected the most popular sport and commercial salmon fishing area on the Columbia for its massive dock and ship turning basin (i.e., the area proposed for dredging). The gas pipeline requires using eminent domain and restricting how landowners can use property within the pipeline easement. In 2013, Clatsop County denied a 41-mile long segment of gas pipeline to the terminal. The state has not acted on multiple permits to build and operate the LNG project.
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 10,000 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.
Daily Astorian. Oct. 30, 2015.