The dangers of LNG for Southern Oregon

By Jody McCaffree of North Bend, Oregon. Jody describes herself as a homemaker who "became a citizen activist after researching the facts about a proposed LNG import terminal that would put our entire town at risk."

A multi-national consortium has submitted plans with the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee to build a hazardous liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal on the North Spit of Coos Bay and a 231-mile pipeline that cuts across Southern Oregon to the California border.

The main purpose of the project? Sell gas to the lucrative California market.

This scheme is one of the most dangerous and destructive in Oregon's history. The coastal towns of North Bend, Coos Bay (Empire), Bar view, and Glasgow all lie within the one to three-mile hazard zone should there be an accident or spill. That danger zone will continue for 1,800 feet across the 231 mile, 36 inch high pressure pipeline associated with the project. This will put many communities in Coos, Douglas, Jackson and Klamath Counties at risk.

If the pipeline is approved, the Williams Pipeline Co will have the right of eminent domain, meaning they can condemn private property to obtain the easements for the 95-foot clear-cut construction corridor and the 75 foot permanent easement the project will require.

As it stands, the pipeline is slated to cross 161 miles of private land and 70 miles of public lands including the Rogue River and Klamath National Forests, five major rivers (Coos, Coquille, Rogue, S. Umpqua and Klamath) and countless streams that are key spawning grounds for salmon and steelhead. The Fish and Wildlife Service have identified 14 fish species of concern within the project area.

Recently, California communities have rejected similar LNG terminal proposals because of the extreme increases in air pollution, global warming, noise issues, threats to migrating whales, and unacceptable public safety hazard risks. This is why the energy companies have moved North to rural and financially strapped coastal areas in Oregon where the fight to site these terminals will be easier. Gas then would be piped back to California. Even the project manager for Jordan Cove Energy Partners, Bob Braddock, was quoted in the Coos Bay World saying, 'A large amount of the gas is going to California, no question.'

Some say this is money on the table for the economically depressed coastal region, but groups from the Canyonville City Council, Douglas County Democratic Party and Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club call it fools gold. We want good paying jobs for people, but turning Oregon into a third-world energy colony is the wrong way to do it.

You can learn more about the project and how it impacts our communities by visiting our websites at No California Pipeline and Citizens Against LNG.

  • Kitty C (unverified)

    Keep that LNG terminal out of Oregon. If California doesn't want it, tough for them.

  • anonymous (unverified)

    Coos Bay/North Bend have been economically depressed since the early seventies. There have been several plans to put terminals for coal and other materials there which would have created hundreds of living wage jobs. This NIMBY attitude is what's keeping that area from prospering.

  • Liz (unverified)

    My mother in law lives on Puget Island on the Columbia River. There is a proposed LNG terminal within a mile or so of the island. They have been told if there is an accident it will cause massive casualities in the area. They are considered an allowable risk....LNGs are WAY TOO DANGEROUS for populated areas. The huge ships that will come down the river are also going to do damage to the area.

  • andy (unverified)

    nimby here, nimby there, everywhere a nimby. Lets see, no nukes, no coal, no hydro, no wind, but lets not change our lifestyle either. Tilt, doesn't compute.

    North Bend/Coos Bay seems like a decent place to put in some infrastructure. I vote yes.

  • Dan Serres (unverified)

    Jody: Great information here, Jody. This is not a NIMBY issue, alone, although people obviously develop a keen interest because of the huge safety implications in the immediate vicinity of these projects. As a broader issue, to the degree that the West Coast buys into LNG, it will be driving forward a global LNG market that is seriously damaging source communities in Russia, Peru, and other Pacific Rim LNG producing areas. To her credit, Jody has presented this information to audiences across SW Oregon and in Klamath Falls and was well-received by people across the political spectrum who question the wisdom of committing billions of dollars to another foreign fossil fuel. As a basic fairness issue, this terminal and pipeline (and two major proposals in Northern Oregon, as well) represent a huge imposition on rural Oregonians for the benefit of companies trying to gain entry into the CA energy market. Ratepayer advocates in California have critiqued LNG because of its potential to drive up energy prices. LNG is more expensive than domestic natural gas, but it does represent an opportunity for utilities and energy companies to gouge energy consumers. The safety issue is only the first of many important issues, and it is the one that instantly gets people's attention who live near the proposed terminal and pipeline route. Oregon, and to an even larger extent, Mexico are being used as a "back door" to hook the California energy market on an expensive foreign fossil fuel that will be extremely lucrative for the companies utilities (like PG&E) that are going to own a piece of this project. I have never seen so much opposition to a project in SW Oregon. It seems to cross all political lines, and leaves people wondering how any community would accept these risks for 50 jobs (or less).

    Thanks for your post, Jody.


  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)

    LNG termainal sounds very dangerous. If I lived in Coos Bay I'd say "no way" too.

    OTOH, a nuclear power plant somewhere on that bay would be a boon to the economy AND would be much safer than an LNG terminal.

    How about it, Judy?

  • Cassie (unverified)

    Keep spreading the word Jody. LNG Terminals and pipelines can and do blow up. They are dangerous and most definitely should not be located in anyone's backyard. Pipelines are being targeted by terrorists. The most recent just revealed in the weekend news about JFK Airport pipeline. (That's not the first.) All Oregonians should be doing their homework about this issue. It has nothing to do with providing jobs for Southern Oregon, it is about money and greed! (Ever heard of Enron?) LNG Terminals are stock driven. And if you really want one in YOUR backyard, and to give up your own land for the good of California and Nevada's over populating states, I'm sure the pipeline company would be glad to take your land. Thanks Jody, keep up the fight!

  • liz (unverified)

    I'm sorry that I don't want an LNG to blow up my mother in law. Or my kids or me when we are out there visiting. So, yeah, I guess I am a least this time and I'd guess you would be, too.

  • Tim (unverified)

    Hey rocket is not LNG in the is plain ole natural gas. Should we just get rid of ALL of those natural gas pipelines in Oregon? Stock up on candles people!

    LNG too dangerous for populated Puget Island? Please. I guess that LNG terminal in Boston harbor is a real threat to the millions who live there, otherwise they would not have put it there.....Oh wait, they did put it there and it has not had any problems. Don't confuse the truth with the facts folks. This is all about NIMBY, just like the folks in The Dalles who don't want to see the wind turbines cause they are ugly.

  • Tom M. (unverified)

    Sure forget the pipline. Instead put in a new freeway and rail line from Coos Bay to Idaho and beyond. Make the Port of Coos Bay what it could be and give the area and our State a boost. The west coast needs new port capacity and Coos Bay is the perfect port. It's forward thinking would be a boom to our economic future.

  • nutmeg (unverified)

    could someone please provide relevant data concrning a recent LNG terminal explosion or leak? There has been an LNG terminal outside Savannah, GA for about 20 plus years w/out explosions or leaks. The most recent pipeline explosion I'm aware of was 7-8 years ago outside Bellingham, WA and that was a liquid fuel pipeline.

  • Range Bayer (unverified)

    Another troubling aspect to the Coos Bay LNG proposal is that the general public was not included in the Port of Coos Bay's decision to pursue it. Since the Commissioners were all appointed by Governor Kulongoski, there is no direct local oversight of the project by an elected official. The State is sponsoring the LNG facility as it provided $15 of the $25 million needed to purchase the land for the LNG facility. Without that land, the LNG facility would not be viable. See Has the Port Commission of Coos Bay Handled Shipbreaking, Their Land Deal for the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Terminal, and Other Issues with Due Diligence? Finally, Oregon Senate Bill 21 is seeking $60 million in State funds for dredging that the LNG tankers will need ( Sounds like corporate welfare...

  • sara byers (unverified)

    Well said, Jody! Since this is a Dem Party blog, folks will be interested to know that our 4th C.D. Congressman, Peter DeFazio, is introducing legislation to restore citing authority to not only states but also to localities. That authority was taken away in the 2005 Energy Bill, thanks to Cheney and his buddies in the oil and gas industry. Also, Senator Ron Wyden has recently written a 2 1/2 page letter to FERC outlining a long list of what he considers major problems with the terminal and pipeline. Not just about the Coos Bay project, but Bradford Landing as well. Even Cong. Walden said, "So why would we want this?", referring to the pipeline that would go through part of his congresional district, including the HIGHLY SEISMIC Klamath Lake area. People get stars in their eyes (or dollar signs, to be more accurate) thinking about jobs, economic development. What jobs? Estimates are from between 6 and 60, and NO GUARANTEE from anyone on how many of those will go to locals. Plus a few short-term construction jobs, with again no guarantees of how many for our people. If Coos Bay needs energy, how about jobs for Oregon farmers growing canola and other crops for bio diesel to run electric turbines? Oregon jobs all the way. Also wave energy. Coos Bay certainly has plenty of it, and that technology development is just around the corner. The biggest ruse of all is that Coos Bay or southern Oregon would even get any of this gas. No way. It's bound for the Califoria market. Our Douglas County Democratic Party is taking a active role in fighting this project, and we thank DeFazio and Wyden for their leadership on this issue. We encourage others to contact their county commissioners and congressional reps, also the Governor, and let our voices be heard loud and clear. Dean Byers, Chair, Douglas Co. Democratic Party

  • (Show?)

    Nutmeg asked: could someone please provide relevant data concerning a recent LNG terminal explosions or leaks?

    In October 1979, an explosion occurred within an electrical substation at the Cove Point, MD receiving terminal. LNG leaked through an LNG pump electrical penetration seal, vaporized, passed through 200 feet of underground electrical conduit, and entered the substation. The natural gas-air mixture was ignited by the arcing contacts of a circuit breaker resulting in an explosion. The explosion killed one operator in the building, seriously injured a second and caused $3 million in damages (1979 $s).

    There have probably been other leaks, perhaps explosions, but this is the only one causing loss of life at this end of the fuel cycle.

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