It looks like the grassroots progressive movement that’s come together to oppose high-carbon liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Oregon is having an effect. In May, NorthernStar Natural Gas pulled the plug on it proposed Bradwood LNG terminal on the Columbia. Now comes news released yesterday, that the Palomar LNG pipeline, which was originally supposed to connect to Bradwood, is for all practical purposes suspended.
Palomar Gas Transmission has placed the permit for its pipeline on indefinite delay. The company has pointed to Bradwood’s failure, which calls into question where exactly the gas for Palomar was supposed to come from, as a primary reason. In my own opinion, the activism of hundreds of Oregonians concerned about Palomar’s impact on forests, farmland, endangered species, and the climate also doubtless has something to do with the suspension. Companies supporting Palomar, such as NW Natural Gas, have felt more and more heat from activists in the last several months as it becomes increasingly apparent Palomar is an economically unwise project.
Granted, this delay in the permitting process for Palomar doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the pipeline—yet. Palomar Gas Transmission claims to be looking for new ways to keep Palomar afloat, in light of Bradwood LNG’s collapse and other obstacles. But it’s going to be hard for the company to find financial support for a project that’s already proved to be such a nightmare. According to Mount Hood conservation group Bark, initial construction for the Palomar pipeline was originally supposed to have begun by this summer. As it is, the project is nowhere near breaking ground.
Any company that wants to try and revive Palomar will have to ask itself whether it’s worth risking a major public relations disaster. Palomar has precious few friends left in Oregon: farmers, timber growers, fishers, conservationists, and climate advocates have all raised their voices against LNG pipelines. These groups won’t go away until the Palomar project is officially dead.
The suspension of Palomar marks a victory for activists who have been working hard to defeat the pipeline, and is another testament to the power of grassroots organizing in Oregon. Palomar is looking less and less viable all the time. Now can we go ahead and cancel it already?