Blog post by Dan Serres, Riverkeeper’s Conservation Director—
This week, the Oregonian ran a major story chronicling Oregon LNG’s failure—again—to obtain state approval for its LNG terminal and pipeline. This in-depth investigative article highlights the emphatic 5-0 rejection of Oregon LNG’s project by Clatsop County’s Board of Commissioners, who concluded that Oregon LNG conflicts with Oregon’s land use laws.
Following interviews with state officials, Oregon LNG, landowners and Columbia Riverkeeper, the reporter describes Oregon LNG’s pie-in-the-sky ambitions and the long road ahead.
The $50 million Oregon LNG has spent to date—and fact that it lacks any major state permits—is a testament to all of your hard work and support. We are confident that the State of Oregon has the facts it needs to reject Oregon LNG. For Oregonians who have struggled to protect their farms, forests, and our River, the decision to reject Oregon LNG cannot come soon enough.
The Oregonian. January 9, 2014.
On Tuesday, November 12th, over 80 people from Astoria, Warrenton, Forest Grove, Yamhill, and Washington state urged Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to use its authority to reject the Oregon LNG project. We sent a clear message to DEQ: Oregonians and Washingtonians oppose Oregon LNG and the pollution it would create. Attendees asked pointed questions about how DEQ can use its authority to protect water quality, salmon habitat, and air quality in its review of the proposed Oregon LNG export terminal. The hearing occurred only weeks after Clatsop County Commissioners voted unanimously to reject the Oregon LNG pipeline. Oregon LNG cannot build its proposed LNG export terminal without air and water pollution permits and DEQ has the authority to deny them.
Check out Riverkeeper’s letter to DEQ on Oregon LNG’s proposed water pollution permit.
Oregon LNG’s Proposed Pollution Permits
- Stormwater Pollution Permit: This permit would authorize Oregon LNG to discharge dirty stormwater to the Columbia and Skipanon Rivers while building the terminal.
- Process Wastewater Permit: This permit would allow Oregon LNG to discharge millions of gallons of polluted water and stormwater every day of the year. This includes hot water, ammonia, copper and other toxic pollutants.
- Air Pollution Permit: This permit would give the green light for air pollution from compressors, vaporizers, ships, harbor tugs, support vehicles, gas-turbines, construction dust and a number of other sources. LNG tankers and the security vessels that accompany them are required to run their engines during the entire cargo loading cycle, spewing exhaust and air.
Commissioners Vote to Reject Oregon LNG Pipeline
On October 9, 2013, the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 to reject the Oregon LNG project. In particular, the Board concluded that Oregon LNG’s proposed 36-inch, high-pressure pipeline violated the county’s land use rules. The Board vote received a standing ovation from an overflow crowd in Astoria, most of whom were wearing red shirts to signify their opposition to Oregon LNG’s proposal. See next steps at the bottom of this page.
Cheryl Johnson, a retired school librarian and local activist, stated, “We are thrilled that our Commissioners have chosen to respect the overwhelming testimony of their constituents. The people of Clatsop County have been very clear: we value our farms, our forests, and our Columbia River, and we oppose the Oregon LNG export project.”
Oregon LNG spent over two years attempting to delay the hearing by the Board of Commissioners, but their legal efforts failed. In the meantime, Oregon LNG converted its project from a proposal to import natural gas to a proposal to liquefy and export gas. Without approval from the County, the project cannot be built.
“Oregon LNG has no place in Clatsop County or anywhere else in the Northwest,” added Dan Serres, Conservation Director with Columbia Riverkeeper. “As the Board noted, it’s clear that this project conflicts with local land use laws by damaging forests, harming fish habitat, and threatening local landowners. We expect state and federal officials to respect this decision, and to put an end to Oregon LNG’s energy export scheme.”
Note from local activist, Laurie Caplan, on last night’s hearing and major victory
The Commissioners voted 5 – 0, unanimously, to DENY the Oregon LNG Pipeline. The hearing lasted four hours, til about 7:30 pm. The commissioners deliberated over specific findings, county rules, Goals, and the Comprehensive Plan. They were intent on doing the hearing as thoroughly as possible, and according to law.
Some 80+ NO LNGers rallied on 9th and Commercial – many were there 30 minutes before our official start time! See the determined, upbeat, and enthusiastic NO LNGers in the photo.
At least 100 people – virtually all NO LNGers, except for county commissioners and staff – filled the hearing room to standing-room-only.
Columbia Riverkeeper attorney, Lauren Goldberg, was calm, composed, respectful, knowledgeable, and spot-on in her presentation to the county commissioners.
Stick with us as we go ONWARD TO VICTORY!”
Next Steps & Take Action
Is this the final straw for Oregon LNG? We hope so. The next step in the process is for Oregon to tell the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that the project violates Oregon’s management plan under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). FERC cannot approve an LNG license unless the state says the project is consistent with the CZMA. Here, the project is not consistent because Oregon’s coastal plan states very clearly that a project must comply with county land use laws. Therefore, Oregon must reject the project. The Clatsop County decision to reject LNG is a major victory that we’ve been working on for years. This will be very difficult for Oregon LNG to overcome.
What about preemption? Oregon LNG’s new favorite line is that Clatsop County’s decisionmaking is preempted by federal law. Not true. While the Natural Gas Act does say that FERC has the exclusive siting authority for LNG terminals and pipelines, the law expressly states that FERC cannot trump the CZMA. Practically, if Oregon LNG really believed that Clatsop County’s laws are preempted, Oregon LNG would have applied to the county in the first place.
So, if Oregon LNG continues the slash and burn approach to endless legal challenges, they might now challenge Oregon’s denial of the coastal zone certification. Or they might challenge Clatsop County’s pipeline denial to the Land Use Board of Appeals. Is the fight over? No. But Oregon LNG clearly faces an uphill battle.
Get Informed, Speak Out!
For years, we have waited for the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners to move towards a final vote on the proposed Oregon LNG project – a key step in determining the future of Oregon LNG. After years of desperate legal attempts by Oregon LNG to delay a vote, a new hearing is now scheduled for Wednesday, October 9th. Prior to the hearing, on October 3rd, Riverkeeper and Columbia-Pacific Common Sense are planning to have a community meeting at the Warrenton Community Center to share information about the Oregon LNG project and other dirty fossil fuel proposals on the Columbia River. Please plan to join us on both October 3rd and October 9th!
Click below for more information about the events:
Blog post by Dan Serres, Riverkeeper’s Conservation Director—
On a picture-perfect day at the end of the Fourth of July weekend, 25 Oregonians from Portland, Elsie, Astoria, and Jewell met up to learn about the proposed Oregon LNG pipeline, a controversial and destructive piece of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) export puzzle. If approved by the federal government and the state of Oregon, Oregon LNG’s proposed 36-inch,high-pressure, non-odorized pipeline would ship natural gas to a proposed terminal in Warrenton, Oregon for export to high-priced overseas markets.
After a brief introduction and discussion at the Elderberry Inn, the group caravanned to a viewpoint on forestland owned by the Oregon Department of Forestry. The area is the location of streams and a spring that provides water for the homes below, including the home and farm of Patrick Dooney and his family. Next, the Dooney family graciously invited our group to walk along the proposed pipeline route through their property. Coming within roughly 100 feet of the Dooney home, the proposed Oregon LNG pipeline would disrupt the water supply of the Dooney family and its neighbors. Nearby, we walked down to the Nehalem River as it was explained how a proposed horizontal direction drill for the pipeline could impact the Nehalem River and nearby land.
To end the day, Pearl Rasmussen, with the North Coast Forest Coalition, led the group to a beautiful patch of state-owned forest near the pipeline route. There, we ate lunch as Pearl described the impact of the proposed pipeline on state-managed forest lands. A new pipeline and right-of-way would exacerbate forest fire risks for residents of Clatsop County and western Washington County.
You can read the Daily Astorian’s coverage of the July 7th pipeline tour — “LNG pipeline raises red flags: fire safety and lost land” — here.
Oregon LNG is pushing hard to gain approvals for its LNG export scheme. Riverkeeper will continue to work with people throughout Oregon to put a stop to LNG exports.
To get involved in the fight to protect the Columbia River from dangerous, dirty LNG projects, contact Dan at email@example.com.
Daily Astorian. June 21, 2013.
Daily Astorian. June 12, 2013.
The Oregonian. June 11, 2013.
On Monday, June 10th, Oregon LNG announced that it had filed a new application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to site and construct a massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility and associated pipeline. Read Riverkeeper’s press release regarding this announcement.
Oregon LNG’s new proposal represents a significant departure from its previous LNG import scheme. As part of its project, Oregon LNG intends to supercool and export North American natural gas, some of it sourced through the newly proposed Williams Washington Expansion Project – a proposal for 140 miles of new, 36-inch, high-pressure pipelines through Washington.
You can help! Scroll down to learn how you can take action to help stop LNG export proposals.
Thumbing Its Nose at County and State Laws
As reported in The Oregonian and the Daily Astorian, Oregon LNG is hoping that it can ignore local and state laws while seeking FERC’s approval. Oregon LNG spent two years attempting to sidestep the authority of Clatsop County’s Board of Commissioners after the Board took a preliminary vote to reject the pipeline project in 2011. Now, with a final vote looming this summer, Oregon LNG is arguing that a federal approval should override local and state authority. Despite spending years to seek the County’s approval, Oregon LNG CEO Peter Hansen now says, “It’s quite clear that a local county does not have jurisdiction over an interstate pipeline.”
Regardless of Oregon LNG’s newfound distaste for county land use rules and the Coastal Zone Management Act, local activists and Columbia Riverkeeper plan to continue our fight to hold Oregon LNG responsible for meeting Oregon’s laws, including those that protect our water quality, forests, public safety and salmon. Riverkeeper will continue to work with landowners and community groups who are impacted by the Oregon LNG project. We plan to intervene in the FERC process, and we continue to urge the states of Oregon and Washington to stand up for our communities and to defend vigorously the rights of each state to review and, if appropriate, deny the Oregon LNG proposal.
See Riverkeeper’s comments on the Oregon LNG and Washington Expansion Project proposals.
Tell the Governors of Washington and Oregon to protect farms, forestland, and salmon from the Oregon LNG terminal and pipelines. Urge them to defend the right of Oregon and Washington to review proposed LNG projects and their pipelines!
ADDRESS:Governor Kitzhaber Attn: Citizens’ Representative 160 State Capitol 900 Court Street Salem, Oregon 97301-4047
Washington Governor Jay Inslee
ADDRESS:Governor Jay Inslee Office of the Governor PO Box 40002 Olympia, WA 98504-0002
Contact Dan Serres, Riverkeeper’s Conservation Director, at 503-890-2441 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to get involved.