LNG Terminals and Pipelines Threaten Salmon Habitat

The Skipanon Peninsula, site of proposed LNG terminal.

Columbia Riverkeeper is working closely with communities who rely on healthy salmon populations to ensure that Oregon LNG’s short-sighted plans do not move forward and compromise the Northwest’s investment is salmon recovery. LNG speculators could not have selected a worse location for their mega-LNG terminal in Warrenton, Oregon. Building the proposed Oregon LNG terminal requires dredging 1.2 million cubic feet of river bottom in linchpin habitat for endangered salmon and other endangered and threatened species. While the Northwest invests billions of dollars in restoring habitat in the Columbia River Estuary, LNG speculators continue to charge forward with plans to destroy critical habitat and significantly increase LNG shipping traffic in fragile habitat.

 

“Critical” Habitat under Fire

The Estuary is home to thirteen populations of endangered and threatened salmon and steelhead. In fact, experts with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service designated the Estuary with the highest level of federal protection—“critical habitat”—because its protection is critical for the recovery of dwindling populations of iconic Columbia River salmon. To learn more about the life-cycle of salmon and steelhead and why the Estuary is vital for their survival, click here. The Estuary is also home to other endangered and threatened species, including green sturgeon and smelt, as well as a host of other bird, wildlife, and fish species.

LNG tankers and terminals would jeopardize the Northwest’s commitment to recovering endangered salmon. Oregon LNG’s plans call for deepening the Columbia River and building a massive industrial dock for LNG tankers than span the length of three football fields. LNG tankers expel hot water from their engines and chemically treated water from their re-gasification terminals. LNG tankers also discharge ballast water containing invasive species.

 

Government Scientists Asking Tough Questions

Thankfully, NMFS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—the federal agencies charged with protecting endangered species—are asking tough questions about the proposed Oregon LNG terminal and pipeline. Three years ago, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) asked NMFS to determine how Oregon LNG’s terminal and pipeline would impact Columbia River salmon. In March 2012, NMFS concluded that Oregon LNG and FERC had not submitted a clear, detailed proposal and asked FERC to withdraw its request for a review of the project. Read the federal agency’s critical letter on Oregon LNG’s proposal here.

Rather than fight the expert fisheries agency, FERC conceded that Oregon LNG is “reevaluating” its project and, in turn, FERC formally withdrew the project from the endangered species review process.