Sen. Jeff Merkley and Gov. Kate Brown went to COP23 (U.N. climate change conference) in Bonn, Germany, and in a Nov. 11 video on Facebook congratulated themselves on how Oregon is doing its part to live up to the Paris Climate Accords. Really? Neither of them has come out to oppose what will be the largest greenhouse gas emitter in Oregon — the proposed Pacific Connector Pipeline and Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility — a project the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied in 2016.
Since then, Trump has made this project a priority. The plan that was rejected in 2016 has been resubmitted and most likely will be approved by FERC in 2018. Merkley calls climate change "the biggest threat to humankind and we must fight this battle on every single level." Brown says, "We are still in" to the Paris Accords.
Right. "We are still in" to approve the most dangerous climate-warming, water-polluting project in Oregon because neither Merkley nor Brown has the wherewithal to stand up to their constituents in Southern Oregon who support these proposals in order to bring jobs and taxes to their depressed economies.
Here's what's wrong with that. First, natural gas is not "natural." It is fracked gas consisting of methane, which is highly flammable and 86 times more warming in the atmosphere than CO2 over a 20-year period. Methane leaks at all stages of its use, from extraction to transport, liquefaction and burning for electricity.
Future markets for buying North American fracked gas are uncertain. British Columbia already has scrapped one proposal for a pipeline and liquefying plant because they found it economically unfeasible. Soon there may not be a market to continue exporting LNG to Asia. Jordan Cove may well become a stranded asset.
Jobs supporting fracked gas are not good for Oregon. Oregon needs jobs in seismic safety, renewable energy and coastal/inland infrastructure.
The proposed pipeline, carrying highly flammable toxic methane, would pass through fire-prone forests on its way to the LNG plant planned at Jordan Cove in Coos Bay. Built on a spit of land in the tsunami zone and the Cascadia Subduction Zone, the plant would require enormous amounts of energy to produce 1.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day.
This project is backed by Pembina, a Canadian corporation. They have applied for "eminent domain" to force nearly 600 private landowners, 90 percent who disapprove of the pipeline, to either sell their property or have it taken by the government for the "public good."
So, what's good about gas explosions causing fires and destroying our carbon-sequestering trees, polluting water that will be uninhabitable for salmon and oysters, and dredging Coos Bay to allow three supertankers a day to fill their tanks with fracked gas?
Sen. Merkley, is this how we achieve clean air and clean water?
Gov. Brown, is this what you had in mind when you said, "We must do what we can to tackle global climate change"?
We urge Oregon citizens to stand up and call Gov. Brown, 503-378-4582, and Sen. Merkley, 503-326-3386, and tell them to oppose the Pacific Connector Pipeline and Jordan Cove LNG plant.
Anne Bryant of Portland is a retired counselor and climate activist. Eileen Fromer is a Portland native, retired Realtor and 350PDX activist.