Citizens and attorney meet over pipeline

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Opponents of the proposed 230-mile Liquified Natural Gas pipeline that would travel through the Upper Rogue held a meeting on Nov. 23 to remind residents the issue is far from over. If the project is completed, one billion cubic-feet of gas at 1,440 pounds of pressure per square inch would travel daily through the 36-inch pipe from Coos Bay into California, said Activist Attorney David Lohman. But it is estimated less than one percent of the gas would benefit Oregon.

 

Pipeline safety is a huge issue. Although Pacific Connector and Williams Pipeline Companies say the pipeline is a safe way to transport gas, Lohman told the audience of about 45 people there has been an accident almost every month in the three years he has fought against the project. There were 25 significant incidents between 2003 and 2007.

 

In 2008, a leak in the Appomattox, Virginia pipeline lead to a massive fire ball that was a quarter to a half-mile tall and at least that wide. Flames shot into the air in excess of 300-feet because pipes had not been adequately tested. The risk of wildfire in Oregon is high. Why are we taking this risk? What are we getting out of Pacific Connector Pipeline, Lohman asked?

Rogue Riverkeeper, Lesley Adams, one of 200 riverkeepers in the world, spoke of the dangers of drilling under the Rogue. The Rogue is the basis for the local economy and the safety of the horizontal directional drilling is questionable. Fraq-outs (leaks) of the lubricant, Bentonite Clay, could pollute the river and endanger already meager runs of salmon. A total of 383 streams and rivers will be crossed, impacting spawning beds. And 58 million gallons of water used to hydro-test the completed pipe will need to be released somewhere.

Watersheds are also at risk. Tom Dover, President of the Little Butte Watershed Council, said the pipeline would cut through the Little Butte Watershed. Dover, who stressed he was at the meeting as a citizen and not as a representative of the council, said, AIt (the pipeline) bothers me on a lot of levels.@

LNG is not a clean fuel. After cooling, heating and transporting, it is almost as dirty as advanced coal technology, said Lohman, who is part of the Southern Oregon Pipeline Information Project.

Six miles from Butte Falls, Mary and Dan Ceglia live a half-mile from where a compressor station will be situated. At the meeting, they learned a jet engine will be used to run the station. AWe will hear it,@ the Ceglias worried. And what is currently zoned farm land in that area will be re-zoned industrial.

A 230-mile long scar on the land will be seen from the space station. Shady Cove resident, Rick Mori, compared the potential scar to the Great Wall of China. Mori also addressed the possible impact on Old Ferry Road. Huge rigs will travel up and down the road possibly collapsing wells and maybe injuring someone such as a child.

A film shown at the beginning of the meeting on potential impacts to the Columbia River questioned the nation=s dependence on fossil fuel. The country needs to invest in renewable resources, said Robert AJake@ Jacobs, owner of the Cannery Pier Hotel in Astoria. The pipeline is not about energy but a pure business deal to make money.

The pipeline companies say demand for gas has gone up and they need to supply that demand, added Lohman. But since 2006, the use of gas has gone down. The United States has over 100-years of natural gas supplies. In the last five years gas sources have increased substantially in America and also Canada, Lohman pointed out.

The pipeline would connect us to the world market. Big users CJapan, South Korea, Taiwan, India and China will bid for the gas, causing prices to go up, Lohman said. The gas will be imported from countries such as Russia, Australia, Qatar, Oman, Peru, Indonesia or Papa Guinea, making us dependent on those countries.

Property owners impacted by the pipeline face the possibility of eminent domain. And property values could go down as much as fifty cents on the dollar, stated Bonnie Malepsy, wife of prominent realtor and developer, Mike Malepsy.


Lohman said the final Environmental Impact Study released in May 2009 is flawed. AWe have been trying to get the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to go back to the drawing board.@ Our only recourse is the courtroom if FERC approves this project. If the pipeline is approved, the fight is not over, stressed Adams.

AThis is primarily a political fight,@ added Diane Phillips of Azalea, the President of Oregon Citizens Against the Pipeline. The ball is in the court of the state because the application is currently under review. The comment period is open until Dec. 27. Elected officials can stop the pipeline and the governor=s race is starting upC a prime time to garner support.

Trail resident Howard Woods recently got notification from Pacific Connector Land Project Manager, Rodney Gregory, that core drilling on his property will begin July 18, 2010. Although he was assured by Lohman this could not possibly take place, those present were warned not to sign anything. The pipeline companies will send Aa nice guy around to get you to sign,@ said Lohman who also recommended hiring an attorney. He said not to believe anything unless it is in writing. And have the county survey property for easements.

Time is of the essence. Send comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to (michelle.e.hanson@usace.army.mil), Department of Environmental Quality (401publiccomments@deq.state.or.us) and Department of Land Conservation and Development (Coast.permits@state.or.us). Contact Senators Ron Wyden at (202) 224-5244, Senator Jeff Merkley at (202) 224-3753 and Congressman Peter DeFazio at (202) 225-6416. For more information call Lesley Adams at 448-5789 or Marcie Laudani at 878-3370.

By Margaret Bradburn

Of the Independent

 

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