About 150 people opposed to a liquefied natural gas pipeline that would cut across Oregon gathered Wednesday outside NW Natural's headquarters in Portland and called on Gov. Ted Kulongoski (who considers his political legacy to depend upon his record on climate change
) to oppose the pipeline and the LNG terminals proposed on the Oregon Coast.
"The idea of having one of the biggest fossil fuel import projects in Oregon history at a time when the world is finally waking up to the problem of global warming is both ironic and disappointing," says Brent Foster, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper.
Columbia Riverkeeper is perhaps the most prominent non-profit opposed to the proposed LNG terminals and pipeline in Oregon. They were joined at the protest by seven other non-profits as well as farmers, land owners, fisherman and other groups from Portland, Astoria, Forest Grove and other areas in northwest Oregon to protest a 220-mile pipeline that would transport liquefied natural gas held at terminals along the Oregon Coast through the Willamette Valley and Mt. Hood National Forest to Madras where, according to Foster, the pipeline would connect to a California bound pipeline.
"Oregon shouldn't be treated as California's gas tank," Foster, as well as many protest posters, said.
Liquefied natural gas (or "LNG") is natural gas that is cooled at -261 degrees Fahrenheit and converted to a liquid form. Cooling the gas to a liquid makes it easier to store and transport large amounts of the gas.
As WW last reported
, there are two LNG terminals proposed to be built along the Oregon Coast. One would be on the Skipanon Peninsula in Warrenton, Oregon, which is across Young's Bay from Astoria; another on Bradwood Landing, which is about a half hour east of Astoria.
Foster says that Oregon stands in no way to benefit from having the LNG terminals and pipeline in Oregon. The gas would primarily be used in California, meaning that Oregon would not see any of the natural gas. Building the LNG terminals along the Columbia River Estuary also poses, he says, a threat to salmon habitat and other wildlife habitats.
And the pipeline threatens farmers and other landowners as well. Sam Sweeney, a 68-year old farmer living in Dayton, Oregon was one farmer at the protest today who would be directly affected by the pipeline. Sweeney farms 1200 acres of farmland, growing vegetables, filberts, beets and other crops. The proposed pipeline would cut through, he says, 3/4 a mile of his property.
"Can you imagine trying to irrigate or plant a crop?" he says.
Allen Neuringer is another affected landowner. Neuringer, a Professor of Psychology at Reed College, owns 140 acres of forest land near Glenwood, OR, at the foothills of the Coast Range mountains. The proposed pipeline would cut through his property. A strip of 120 feet would have to be clearcut through his property to build the pipeline destroying, he predicts, 2,500 to 3,000 trees.
And because his property is on a steep slope, Neuringer thinks that a 100-foot swath would have to be cut to accommodate the pipeline.
"We get a hell of a lot of wind up there," he says. "I'm almost certain there will be mudslides below the cut."
During the protest, two NW Natural employees shouted "you need to do your research" as a protester was giving a speech. They would give no further comment to WW.
The protest marched around the block of NW Natural's headquarters, and then marched downtown to where Kulongoski was giving comments at a power planning council.
Neuringer thinks the only way that the proposed pipeline--as well as the LNG terminals--can be stopped is through politics.
Kulongoski has not taken a stance on LNG. Last week, he released a memo saying that he was open to the idea of LNG, but said that the state should “fully assert Oregon's concerns and interests” as the proposals are being considered.
Neuringer thinks if Kulongoski doesn't take a stance against LNG, Oregon's reputation as being a green state would go down the tubes.
"If Oregon becomes the entry point for LNG, we will immediately lose our reputation as being an environmentally friendly state," he says.