by Bethany Cotton, Campaign Director
What a wonderful week for Cascadia!
On Tuesday, the proposed Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and 230-mile Pacific Connector pipeline was dealt what we hope is a fatal blow by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which – in a surprise but welcomed move – denied the fossil fuel company’s request to strip Oregon of its Clean Water Act authority. Oregon previously denied Jordan Cove this essential permit – a decision that now stands. Cascadia’s staff, allies, and supporters like you have fought Jordan Cove for 15 years: it’s long past time the threat of this dangerous proposal is lifted from our rural communities, affected Tribes, remaining old-growth, imperiled species, waterways, and our climate.
Later in the day, Washington’s Department of Ecology denied a key permit for the proposed Kalama methanol refinery in Kalama, Washington, effectively killing the project. The proposed refinery would have tied this Washington community to a dirty fossil fuel project for a generation and undermined progress to address climate change.
These two victories — rooted in sustained grassroots activism — demonstrate the power of advocacy, of working across difference: landowners, students, conservationists, Tribes, all coming together in common cause to realize a better, cleaner future.
Then came Wednesday when we woke to a list from the incoming Biden-Harris administration of over 100 anti-environment regulations it intends to review, including the removal of Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves, the stripping of 3.4-million acres of critical habitat for the northern spotted owl, exemption of the Tongass National Forest from the 2001 Roadless Rule, dangerous regulations limiting or eliminating public engagement on projects that imperil our environment, like reckless timber sale planning. Some of these efforts will take time, but they are a very positive signal that the administration intends to prioritize undoing much of the harm done over the past four years.
A few hours later, once formally in office, the administration withdrew the Keystone XL pipeline permit, rejoined the Paris Climate Accord (effective in 30 days), ended the construction of the border wall, placed a moratorium on leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and ordered a review of the shrinkage of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Marine Monument. The new White House Press Secretary explained these were just the initial actions and noted the need to study the “social cost of greenhouse gas emissions,” clearly acknowledging the existential threats posed by climate change.
And yesterday, we learned that in response to our administrative protest, the Bureau of Land Management withdrew the 62-acre Beaver Creek timber sale in the Umpqua Field Office of the Coos Bay District along with the entire Environmental Assessment. The proposed logging was in potential nesting habitat for the imperiled marbled murrelet and northern spotted owl in forest areas with trees up to 129 years old. The project had potential negative cumulative impacts with the proposed Pacific Connector pipeline and additional timber sales, as well as increasing fire risk to a rural community, and impacting residential water sources. The agency will now engage in new environmental analysis.
As National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman said at the presidential inauguration, “there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”
Thank you for being the light these past four years, these past two-plus decades. We are looking forward to holding this administration accountable to its promises, to pushing it to do more to conserve and recover the wilds of Cascadia and beyond, and to celebrating more victories with you all.