Posts Tagged ‘Coos Bay’

Nov08

Coos Bay LNG Facility: An undemocratic process for a “bridge fuel” that leads us closer to environmental and economic doom

By Bob Ferris
 
The most recent elections sting all of us who care about the environment and the future of the planet like rock Inhofesalt gingerly applied to an open wound.  Part of that sting is the peril we face when anti-scientific types like James Inhofe (at right) and Ted Cruz are considered for important and knowledge-based leadership roles in the Senate.  And part of it comes from the dual democratic insult of voter suppression and the fact that 88 percent of these votes did not come from the folks who will be most impacted longest by the decisions in these two committees far into the future—the youth of America—who did not fully participate in this decision.  I am very bullish on science-driven decision making and also the democratic process so these developments above bother me significantly.
 
These two factors are also at play in the Coos Bay LNG process as well.  For instance on the science end, it has been argued that liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a so-called “bridge fuel” that helps us get from a fuel that is worse to a better, cleaner fuel on our pathway off fossil-fuels all together.  This is a nice concept but it seems in this instance that it is a little like a bartender switching an intoxicated patron from bourbon to beer only to find that the imbiber is using that beer to make boilermakers.  A bridge fuel is only a bridge fuel if there is a concrete plan for this fuel to displace other, more damaging fuels.  There is no such plan, ergo LNG is not a bridge fuel for this and other reasons.  And while LNG produces less in the way of acid rain components than coal it is still a carbon-based fossil fuel that contributes to climate change and ocean acidification.  
 
In terms of the democratic insults of this project there are many starting with the potential condemnation of private lands for the pipelines and reduction of pipeline safety measures in rural areas where the potential loss of “significant life” is lower.  But the one that is currently sticking in my craw is the process that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is using to collect comments.  It is purposely and artificially complicated.  Therefore, it is exclusionary favoring those who would help turn this country into a resource colony (read: Third World Country) for China and other competing/job displacing economies and creating a barrier to country-folk most impacted or put at risk by this project.   
Jordan CoveIf you are like me and have a little left-over election angst that keeps you edgy during the day and awake at night, my suggestion is that you follow this link below and fight your way through this complicated and ridiculous process to send FERC and others who would ignore science and an open democratic process a clear message: We believe that 1) climate change is real and needs to be addressed rather than ignored; 2) the rights of rural people should be considered; 3) the profits of the few—especially foreign interests—should not be more important than the impacts to those US citizens that will be affected by fracking, suffer from climate change, or lose their jobs through giving further competitive advantage to rapacious economies overseas.  
 
And when you are done please recycle.  Share this action with others and give them the opportunity to start the process of personal healing by taking positive and informed action.  Thank you for your help!

Apr23

Interior Department: The Need for a Gumption Pill

By Bob Ferris
 
gump•tion  [guhmp-shuhn]  noun Informal.
1. initiative; aggressiveness; resourcefulness: With his gumption he'll make a success of himself.
2. courage; spunk; guts: It takes gumption to quit a high-paying job.
3. common sense; shrewdness. 
From Dictionary.com 
 
There are times when I fantasize about products that I would like to see.  One of those products that is high on my list right now would be gumption pills.  For if this product existed I would send cases of !cid_0BAFA484-1336-41EC-865D-6D83DF8F3EE6these pills directly to 1849 C Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20240.
 
"The U.S. Department of the Interior protects America’s natural resources and heritage, honors our cultures and tribal communities, and supplies the energy to power our future." From US Department of Interior website.
 
What is there?  This is the address of the US Department of Interior whose mission is stated above.  And they could surely use this attribute of gumption at this point.  
 
Why would I say this?  Well let’s start with the fact that the Department in the form of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) just let an abusive and cantankerous cowboy parley his family’s $10 investment in 1948 in 160 acres of desert land with some water rights into a standoff of monumental proportion and consequence.  
 
Had this agency been taking gumption pills, they would have solved this situation two decades ago rather than letting it linger and fester.  As it was they had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards resolution by lawsuits and then they dropped the situation like a super-heated spud ending with a greater mess than when they started.   In the absence of gumption the squeaky wheeled bullies prevailed, the cattle are still there, and the American public lost on so many levels.  
 
020213Minam_odfw-1But this is not the only symptom that might be treated by the gumption pills.  We also have the recent proposal to delist the gray wolves in most of the lower 48 states.  Here again the Interior Department agency involved—the US Fish and Wildlife Service—listened to noisy bullies in the form of state wildlife agencies and anti-wolf trophy hunters and came up with a “plan” that was universally criticized by the scientific peer-review team and by conservationists around the globe.  
 
Then there is Powder River Basin coal.  I get the “supplies energy to power our future” part of Interior’s mission but how in any rational system of thought is selling coal to foreign companies and global corporations at prices that make it profitable for them to ship it 7000 miles to China an element of powering our future?  The same goes for fracking and LNG export, particularly when it should be balanced with the “protect America’s natural resources” aspect of their mission.  
 
And what is true for cattle grazing, wolves, coal and natural gas is also true for trees and forests.  The BLM has control of more than two and half million acres of federal forest lands in western Oregon.  Here the chainsaws of the forest industry seem to be heard better by BLM than those in Oregon or coming to Oregon to work in industries that are actually growing rather than shrinking in terms of economic contributions.  Here again BLM is faced with the choice of listening to the noisy few or the quiet many who come and stay in Oregon because of the natural amenities not because of clearcuts, landslides, or their love of jake-braking logging trucks.  
 
Unfortunately I could go on and on here, but the catalyst for this rambling rant is that suction dredge miners in Idaho are notifying the BLM that they are planning a protest to be staged on BLM lands and mendoAu ripping up bankperpetrated in the waters of the iconic Salmon River.  The suction dredgers plan, as I understand it, is to assemble themselves and their suction dredges on the banks of the Salmon and then run those machines in the river in protest of their recent legislative failure to get the US EPA banned from Idaho.  The legislation failed because it was judged unconstitutional so the suction dredgers—who frequently and passionately invoke the US Constitution as well as the 1872 Mining Law—are basically protesting the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution which is exactly what they invoke when they say that that state or local efforts to exclude suction are trumped by the 1872 Mining Law, which incidentally, does not mention suction dredging anywhere in that 1872 act.  
 
Robin Boyce, acting manager for the Cottonwood Field Office, said the BLM is working on a response to the event planned on the Salmon River in central Idaho near Riggins around the Fourth of July, the Lewiston Tribune (http://bit.ly/QCPIVP) reported Tuesday.
 
"We are still trying to figure out how this would work and when and if it is possible on BLM property," Boyce said.  From the Idaho Statesman April 22, 2014
 
In any case, the BLM response to this above was gumption-less.  It was a “we have to talk to our parents” sort of response.  Had they had their gumption pills the response could have been something along these lines: We will not grant you permission to use the federal lands under our care to break federal pollution laws.  Or simply: Hell no.  The latter would be so refreshing.
 
Cascadia Wildlands and other similar organizations regularly sue the Interior Department agencies.  We do so not because we like to but when the Department—in its many guises—lacks the gumption to enforce their own laws or regulations.  We do so not in a casual and reflexive manner but after long discussions and many notices to the agencies involved.  And when in the end they fail to act as the laws and regulation proscribe, we in essence become the “gumption pills” they need.  
 
I would love for the US Department of Interior to suddenly develop gumption and bring constructive resolve to all of the above issues from the Bundy fiasco to the weak wolf plan and from energy to the suction dredger lawlessness.  I am ready and willing to be surprised by agencies following the law and maybe even doing a little bit more.  But I am also prepared—along with my colleagues and partners who represent the un-listened to public and the speechless critters and ecosystems—to be the gumption that this is lacking in this important federal department.
 

Mar21

Forests, Fracking and LNG: Francis Defending People and Places

francis

 
 
Francis Eatherington, Cascadia Wildands' Conservation Director was recently interviewed on a broad range topics relating to Oregon's precious coastal forests and the problems with allowing liquefied natural gas exports through Coos Bay. Please listen to what she has to say in this engaging and thoughtful interview.    Click here to listen to the radio interview.
 
 
 
 
 

Feb24

BLM Announces More Meetings on Resource Management Plan Revision

trapper

The Bureau of Land Management will be holding a series of public meetings to discuss potential changes to the Resource Management Plans for BLM forest lands in Western Oregon. These important meeting are billed as opportunities for the public to provide input about their desires and provide feedback on proposal elements.  Please find your city below and mark your calendars.  
Date
Location
City
Time
March 3, 2014
PSU Native American Center, 710 Jackson
Portland
5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
March 5, 2014
BLM Eugene District Office, 3106 Pierce Pkwy
Springfield 
5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
March 6, 2014
Croison Room Salem Convention Center, 200 Commercial Street S
Salem
5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
March 10, 2014
Floral building at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2110 SW Frear Street
Roseburg
5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
March 11, 2014
Red Lion Hotel Ballroom, 1313 N. Bayshore Drive
Coos Bay 
5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
March 12, 2014
BLM District Office, 3040 Biddle Road
Medford 
5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
March 13, 2014
Shilo Inn, 2500 Almond Street
Klamath Falls
5:00 to 8:30 p.m.  

 

May29

Natural Gas Export Plan Unites Oregon Landowners Against It

Jeff Brady NPR
May 29, 2013

 
A radical shift in the world energy picture is raising environmental concerns in the United States.
 
Until recently, the U.S. had been expected to import more natural gas. But now, because of controversial technologies like "fracking," drillers are producing a lot more domestic natural gas; so much that prices are down, along with industry profits. And drillers are looking overseas for new customers.
 
Whether the United States should export some of its newly abundant supplies of natural gas is a controversial issue before the Department of Energy. About two-dozen applications have been submitted to the agency for exports to countries that don't have free-trade agreements with the U.S.
 
Environmentalists are concerned that exporting gas will lead to more drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." Some chemical companies have argued against approving all of the export proposals; they want plenty of cheap natural gas here in the U.S. to fuel manufacturing. And, individually, some of the export proposals have proven controversial in the communities where companies want to build them.
 
One such plan, the Jordan Cove Energy Project, would sit on the North Spit of lower Coos Bay in Oregon. About 2 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the proposed site isn't much more than sand, tall grass and shrubs now. But if all goes according to plan, there will be two huge storage tanks next to a 45-foot-deep berth for ships. Nearby, a new power plant would run the refrigeration necessary to turn natural gas into the much-easier-to-transport liquefied natural gas (LNG).
 
To read full story and listen to audio story featuring our own Francis Eatherington click the link below:
 

Mar14

Coal Train Slowing at Port?

Eugene Weekly by Camilla Mortensen March 14, 2013 

The recent announcement that two foreign investors have pulled out of the International Port of Coos Bay’s coal export proposal doesn’t mean the coal train plans have been entirely derailed. The announcement leads to even more questions, says Bob Ferris, executive director of Cascadia Wildlands, one of several Lane County groups working to stop the fossil fuel exports. 
 
Objections to the coal trains range from concern over the dust dispersed along the routes as well as the larger issue of feeding global warming-inducing coal plants overseas. “The best use for the deepwater port at the Port of Coos Bay is to export locally produced Oregon goods such as farming produce and timber products,” Lisa Arkin of Beyond Toxics says. She says it is “nefarious” as well as “unsustainable and truly harmful” to mine coal in Montana and haul it through dozens of communities, the Columbia River Gorge, the Willamette Valley and “much of Oregon’s fragile coastline.”
 
According to documents posted on the port’s website in response to a public records request by Oregon Public Broadcasting, both Mitsui, a Japanese company incorporated in New York, and Korean Electric Power Corp. have terminated their agreements with the port. A third investor, Metro Ports out of California, has until March 31 to make a decision, the documents say. 
 
“It seems that Mitsui found that coal exports at Coos Bay doesn’t pencil out economically,” Laura Stevens of the Sierra Club says. “We already know it doesn’t pencil out for our health, environment and local communities all along the rail line.”
 
Ferris says while the Korean power company and Mitsui have not given any reasons for “bailing” on the coal export plan, he suspects it has to do with coal exports being politically unpopular and that the plan will result in legal challenges. 
 
He also says the only reason it has been economically worthwhile for Asia to import coal from 7,000 miles away is because it’s being sold so cheaply. “A buck a ton, you can’t even buy dirt for a buck a ton,” Ferris says.
 
Ferris explains that under the first Bush administration the Powder River Basin was “decertified.” So even though it produces 40 percent of U.S. coal, it’s not considered a coal-producing region and it’s not subject to the same rules and environmental regulations. As a result, the coal is sold for much less. 
 
But Ferris says with Sen. Ron Wyden calling for an examination of the possible millions in royalties lost from the mining of coal on public lands due to out-of-date regulations, he thinks “those two companies saw the writing on the wall.” He also points out that in February Mitsui agreed to pay $90 million for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act in the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
 
Ferris says if the Coos Bay coal proposal to export Powder River Basin coal went through, it would export 10 million tons of coal a year and be giving away something like $50 million in subsidies and natural resources to two foreign companies and competing economies, “which doesn’t make sense.”
 
In addition to Coos Bay, Oregon faces two other coal export proposals in Morrow and St. Helens. Oregon will decide whether it will approve the Morrow Pacific coal project on April 1. For more info go to http://wkly.ws/1fu
 
At 5:30 pm March 14 No Coal Eugene, Oregonians for Black Mesa and other groups will celebrate the investors pulling out of the Coos Bay project upstairs at the Growers Market at 454 Willamette St.
 

Sep04

Coos Bay Coal Terminal–Look at the Jobs and Money Closely

There are things in life that make no sense when exposed to the light of day.  Many of these are offered by charlatans selling items like cattle magnets to improve gas mileage and some of them are foisted on the American public by the very “military-industrial complex” Dwight Eisenhower once warned us about.    Perfect examples of the latter are the proliferation of coal port proposals being jammed down our throats in the Pacific Northwest.  

These projects are generally sold on the two points of private investment and jobs.  Project proponents often intone: Private investments in the half-billion dollar range are so rare…we cannot afford to ignore this opportunity to put people back to work.  Anyone brave enough to ask questions about this equation are immediately branded job-killers and even communists by folks who buy into this hogwash.  
 
But what is really going on here?  To truly understand this dynamic you have to ask yourself why Asian countries like China and Korea want to by our low BTU, thermal coal regardless of the transport costs when there are much closer and higher BTU coal reserves in Asia and Malaysia?  The answer is simple: Our federal government is willing to sell our shared natural resources way too cheaply.
 
The “why “to this is complicated however.  Back in the early 1990s no one wanted to buy the low BTU coal from the federal lands in the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming.  As a consequence, George H.W. Bush de-certified the Powder River Basin as a coal producing region.  This arcane procedure was designed to make it more attractive—from financial and environmental compliance perspectives—for coal companies to buy and mine coal in the region.  But what made sense more than twenty years ago to develop a market for PRB coal does not make sense today now that 41% of our domestic coal comes from the PRB.  
 
Now as world coal prices hover in the $110-$120/per ton range, this de-certification situation is leading to coal leases in the 25 cent to $1/ton range.  As citizens we hope that the federal government is doing all that they can to get fair market value for our shared natural resources—particularly when they are for export—but here they are likely missing the amount by more than $4/ton.  
 
Four dollars a ton does not sound like much until you look at projects such as the Coos Bay Coal port and apply this across 10 million tons a year.  Then it constitutes a $40 million annual gift from the American public to the coal industry and their partners.  Project proponents will argue that the subsidy makes perfect sense when you consider the jobs created.  Really?  
 
A casual look at the projected employment numbers for the Coos Bay Coal project indicates that when they are running at 10 million tons per year that the project will support 165 jobs and yield $24.2 million in pay.  If we accept those figures then we are giving up $40 million dollars in assets annually to create roughly half that number in yearly salaries.  But there are good reasons not to accept those figures.  
 
The Cherry Point Coal Terminal near Bellingham, Washington is projected to ship 54 million tons of materials including 48 million tons of coal and create 430 direct jobs.  That means that they will produce about 8 jobs for every million tons shipped.  In contrast, the Coos Bay proposal is projecting 165 jobs for 10 million tons or more than twice the direct jobs per million tons shipped.  Both projections were calculated using “industry standards” so why the 100% discrepancy?  Of interest also is that the Cherry Point projections are considered by many to be too high and include significant numbers of non-local jobs.
 
If you think it is hard to find the “good deal” in here for the American people of taking 40 million out of savings each year to provide half that much in salaries that “needle in the haystack” becomes even more elusive when it is realized that massive federal investments in rail infrastructure all along the delivery route are also required to accommodate these mile and third long, 17,500 ton trains.  This latter could mean hundreds of millions of dollars of increased tax payer debts.  The job news only gets worse when you consider that selling discounted raw materials to a competing economy only enables them to create more manufacturing jobs thus killing many more jobs in the US than this project will ever create.  And then you look at the potential jobs losses associated with the business isolation and the package becomes even more grim.
 
Project proponents will try to portray this project as a gold-coated winner for all concerned, but please look closely at the elements and understand that we are sacrificing our collective assets, incurring debt, and suffering impacts that are way, way out of scale of any benefits we receive.  This is another prime example of the few causing pain to the many to make themselves richer.  
 
Ways to Get Involved:
 
 
 

Aug17

Thanks too to Senator Wyden for his Message to FERC–Longer Comment Period For Pacific Connector Pipeline and Listen More to other Federal Agencies

Thank you Senator Wyden.  

Click here for copy of letter

Aug16

Rep. DeFazio Requests that FERC Increase Transparency and Extend Pipeline Comment Period

Click here to read Rep. DeFazio's letter to FERC.

 
 

Aug15

Coos Bay Gas Pipeline Puts Much at Risk–Get Engaged

Gabe Scott in Alaska

by Gabe Scott
 
Last week’s massive refinery fire in Richmond, California should serve as a wake-up call. Not that we needed another to remind us of a basic fact: oil and gas infrastructure is dangerous. When things go wrong, they go very wrong, very quickly.
 
Add this to the list of reasons why the Pacific Connector Pipeline and LNG export terminal at Coos Bay is a bad idea: it’s not safe. 
 
I’ve been participating lately in a nationwide citizen committee on pipeline safety, put together by the Pipeline Safety Trust (http://www.pstrust.org/initiatives_programs/New-Voices-Project/). The opportunity to share information and learn from activists, landowners, industry and regulators has been astounding, and has opened my eyes to the downsides of natural gas infrastructure that, as an environmentalist, I admit I hadn’t given enough thought to. 
 
Here’s the thing about gas pipelines and LNG plants — they blow up.  They blow up a lot. They blow up big. And the people who you might expect would put safety first, don’t. 
 
Liquefied Natural Gas, like natural gas, is highly flammable. When spilled, it can easily go “boom.” As a matter of fact, because of its physical properties, spilled LNG also goes “boom” when it comes in contact with water, a phenomenon called “rapid phase transition” (see below video). In 2004, an explosion at an Algerian LNG liquefaction facility killed 27.
 
 
The Pipeline phase of the project would transmit natural gas through a 36” diameter transmission pipeline. Gas pipeline explosions can be massively destructive. In 1994, a 36-inch gas distribution line in Edison, New Jersey broke, threw rocks and debris more than 800 feet, and exploded in a blaze over 400 feet high— hot enough to ignite and burn several nearby apartment buildings. Last year, five were killed in Allentown, PA when a gas explosion flattened a rowhouse neighborhood, sending flames hundreds of feet into the air. It took workers another five hours to figure out how to shut off the gas flow. 
 

One of our concerns with the Pacific Connector pipeline is that the safety regulations are even weaker in rural areas than in populated neighborhoods, so families living along the Pacific Connector pipeline are at even greater risk. Getting blown up isn’t usually on our safety list when hiking and camping in wild lands, but the pipeline would make that risk real. In 2000, 12 campers were killed by a gas pipeline explosion near Carlsbad, NM.
 
These aren’t isolated examples. Leaks and explosions on this sort of pipeline are disturbingly common. In an average year, looking only at gas transmission pipelines (which is what Williams proposes), there are 113 reported incidents causing 2 fatalities, eleven injuries, and over $132 million in property damage. (Source: PHMSA http://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/comm/reports/safety/AllPSI.html?nocache=1948#_ngtrans)
 
Oil and gas companies are fond of touting a “safety first” mentality. This is not just propaganda spin. Give credit where it’s due: they really do devote immense energy to safety, and their engineering know-how is breathtaking.

 

 

 
The trouble is there are so many things that can go wrong. Pipes corrode. Valves leak and get stuck. Unknowing construction workers dig into unmarked pipelines. People make mistakes. Equipment fails. Earthquakes and floods happen. There are a thousand and one things that can go wrong, any one of which can kill you. 
 
While one should give the industry credit for taking the engineering aspects of safety very seriously, their record on risk management and public process is dastardly. They are secretive, competitive, and selfish. They make the same “mistakes,” over and over again. 
 
After the 2005 explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery, which killed fifteen, a blue-ribbon panel was formed to investigate, headed by former Secretary of State James Baker. The panel’s recommendations centered on what they termed a “safety culture” and “process safety.” Details quickly get complicated, but the underlying notion is simple: when trying to make complex industrial systems safe, you need to analyze and address the whole ball of wax, not just this and that component. 
 
After the 2010 explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon, another blue-ribbon panel was formed. Their conclusions were damning. Process safety and safety culture were still not being implemented. And, the Commission found, these problems were not unique to BP, but endemic in the oil & gas industry. 
 
As we look at the Pacific Connector Pipeline and LNG terminal, familiar warning signs are everywhere. I’ll leave you with just one example. As Cascadia’s staff digs into the details, we have hit a roadblock. The company won’t share its maps, even with landowners along the proposed route. Their excuse is the preposterous claim that exact locations of the proposed line must be kept secret, to keep it out of the hands of would-be terrorists. 
 
That’s hogwash. Fundamental to pipeline safety and planning is everyone needs to know where, exactly, the line is. This information is needed whenever anyone digs a hole, whenever there is a leak that needs to be investigated, whenever a wildfire fighting crew is planning their attack on a blaze. You need to plan to avoid flooding streams, landslide areas, and places planned for other kinds of construction. You need to site the line to allow regular access for maintenance and surveillance. 
 
Terrorism IS a real fear. But hiding maps from landowners does nothing to prevent it. Far from requiring gas pipeline locations be kept secret (as if that were even possible), federal regulations require gas pipelines be clearly marked with bright yellow signs. 
 
The supposed security rationale is so absurd, so wrong-headed, that it calls into question the company’s basic trustworthiness. It suggests that Williams views this as their project, none of anyone’s business. That’s a pretty arrogant line to take when you’re forcibly appropriating other people’s private land through eminent domain. 
 
Far from putting safety first, indications are Williams is putting it’s own pocketbook first, last, and in the middle. That’s not just selfish. It’s also very, very dangerous. 
 
Please join Cascadia Wildlands in sending the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a message on the Pacific Connector Pipeline.  Click here to comment and do not be concerned when you get a message from FERC that your comment may not be considered.  We will make sure that your support of our concerns and any additional comments you provide will go to the appropriate place and be heard.  They will get our collective message.

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