If energy giants and their allies in the legislature thought the defeat of Bradwood LNG would lull No-LNG activists into complacency, they were proven wrong on Thursday. Close to 300 people of all ages and diverse backgrounds rallied outside the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, while Northwest Natural Gas held its annual shareholder’s meeting. Our message was loud and simple: LNG (liquefied natural gas) is bad for Oregon, and has no place in a progressive clean energy agenda.
Rather than sit back and relax now one piece of LNG infrastructure has been knocked out, the coalition to bar LNG from Oregon is stepping up the pressure to harness this momentum and stop destructive LNG projects for good. Thursday’s target was the Palomar LNG Pipeline, originally supposed to connect to the Bradwood LNG terminal proposed on the Columbia River. The pipeline’s financial backers, including Portland-based NW Natural, apparently think they can figure out a way to make Palomar work without Bradwood—perhaps by connecting it to another proposed pipeline or terminal. We showed up at their shareholder’s meeting to tell them differently.
Farmers, fishers, and foresters joined with environmentalists and clean energy advocates Thursday afternoon as we heard from speakers including former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and current State Representative Chuck Riley. Bradbury cruised in on his Segway amid cheers, and took the speaker’s stand to reiterate his opposition to LNG and his belief that Oregon can do better than opening our doors to another imported fossil fuel. Next the megaphone went to Riley, who spoke of his efforts to protect Oregon from LNG within the legislature.
After winning the Democratic primary for Oregon Senate District 15, Riley is gearing up for a showdown with incumbent GOP Senator Bruce Starr in November. Starr, for those who don’t know, has been a consistent supporter of the LNG industry and a “no” vote on important environmental initiatives. Unseating Starr and replacing him with Riley would be a major victory for progressives, and a blow to the LNG industry and other corporate polluters. Hearing Riley speak to the crowd today, I was proud to be voting from his prospective senate district.
I’m sure clean energy and environmental activists across the state would agree that we’re privileged to have political figures like Riley and Bradbury on our side in the LNG fight. Yet like all good progressive movements, this one draws its greatest strength from the grassroots. How Oregon responds to the threat of LNG—a high-carbon fossil fuel imported from regions like Russia and the Middle East—could be the defining environmental challenge of our era. It will be a test of the state’s commitment to a clean energy future, and of the ability of Oregon progressives to stand up to energy giants of the same caliber as those now wreaking havoc in the Gulf of Mexico.
Companies like NW Natural have cast their lots in with polluters and mega-energy conglomerates. Yet our elected leaders still have the chance to stand up to corporate power. Is it time to drop the Palomar Pipeline? This afternoon, nearly 300 Oregonians took to the sidewalks to say yes.