Oregonians deserve a voice on Jordan Cove, not just industry

 

Today, June 1, the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee will hold a field hearing in Grand Junction to, in their own words, “examine opportunities for the export of natural gas from the Piceance Basin through the proposed Jordan Cove LNG Terminal in Coos Bay Oregon.”

As residents in southern Oregon, and landowners facing eminent domain by the Canadian company behind the Jordan Cove Project, we welcome open dialogue about this project and critical thinking about benefits and costs to our communities.

But looking at the list of witnesses who will be speaking at the hearing, it appears to be nothing more than a list of project boosters. We’ve gotten used to this kind of dog-and-pony show in southern Oregon, where communities have been facing down the ill-conceived Jordan Cove project for nearly 15 years: expect very little “hearing” involved and lots of talking by “invited” people in favor of this project.

These “experts” invited by members of Congress are paid to paint rosy pictures, but there are other sides to the story that Jordan Cove boosters have a habit of leaving out and we think Coloradans deserve to know the whole story.

Oregonians don’t want Jordan Cove. A new poll released this week found that only 22 percent of Oregonians support the Jordan Cove Project, while 57 percent are opposed to it. And they have plenty of reasons to think it’s a bad idea: devastating thousands of acres of old growth forests, crossing more than 450 water bodies, becoming the largest source of climate pollution in Oregon, and causing irreparable harm to Oregon’s agricultural, natural resource, tourism and fishing and oyster industries. It will leave southern Oregon a virtual environmental crime scene.

There’s also the issue of private property rights; hundreds of Oregon landowners like us will face eminent domain for the private profit of a Canadian corporation. Many of the landowners here in Oregon have been fighting this project since its inception in 2004. Colorado will feel the impacts with scarred lands, degraded hunting opportunities, damaged ranches, polluted air and toxic threats to your water health and supply.

Yet to listen to Jordan Cove and the project boosters, one would think we in southern Oregon are supportive of this proposal. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Similarly, it doesn’t take a lot of research to see that not everyone in Colorado thinks ramping up fracking and drilling in neighborhoods or around homes, farms and ranches is a great idea. However, not one of those Colorado voices is represented on the panel — nor from Oregon where the impacts will be huge! The list of witnesses for the field hearing features only project boosters and industry insiders; this isn’t a “field hearing” it’s a publicity stunt.

Jordan Cove and the Pacific Connector Pipeline that may run through our properties here in Oregon won’t do anything for our energy independence, even as prices in America are heading back up. Meanwhile generating power from other sources, including solar and wind, is becoming increasingly affordable. Doubling down on more fossil fuel extraction in western Colorado to pipe across three states to Oregon’s Pacific Coast for export sale to other countries is a high-risk proposition with ambiguous financial returns and devastating environmental consequences.

Coloradans deserve the whole truth; this project would be devastating to our communities in southern Oregon, and we will continue to fight this project tooth and nail. Our elected officials should be using their offices to try and get and the truth of these things, listening to those who would be impacted along the way.

A Congressional hearing should facilitate critical dialogue about the real impacts of proposals like Jordan Cove, as well as their honest prospects of success, rather than falling for the rosy-eyed panacea promises of Jordan Cove and its boosters. As seems too often the case, this “field hearing” appears to just be politicians pushing an agenda.

Stacey McLaughlin and Larry Mangan are landowners in Douglas and Coos County (respectively) in southern Oregon whose properties could be crossed by the proposed Pacific Connector pipeline as part of the Jordan Cove Energy Project.