Clatsop County’s Board of Commissioners rang in the new year Wednesday by withdrawing a permit for the controversial Oregon LNG pipeline on the Skipanon Peninsula. This is a big setback for Oregon LNG, an energy company that wants to turn Oregon’s rural counties into a throughway for a mega-pipeline designed to deliver foreign fossil fuels to the California gas market. The decision to reexamine the pipeline permit is a victory for grassroots activists who have been fighting for years to stop this misguided project.
Oregon LNG’s proposed liquefied natural gas terminal in Warrenton is one of two LNG import projects currently on the table in Oregon (a third proposal, Bradwood LNG, was abandoned last year when the company behind the project filed for bankruptcy). In November of last year the Clatsop County Commission approved an essential permit for the pipeline that would connect to the proposed LNG import terminal. It was one of the last major acts of the old commission, as all three incumbents running for re-election had lost to their opponents in May.
Probably not coincidentally, the three losing incumbents were supporters of Oregon LNG, which is quite unpopular with Clatsop County residents. The three new commissioners—Scott Lee, Debra Birkby, and Peter Huhtala—all promised to oppose Oregon LNG’s terminal. Lee, Birkby, and Huhtala took office this week, and one of the first acts of the new commission was to withdraw Oregon LNG’s permit. Commission Dirk Rhone, sole dissenter in the permit’s earlier approval, joined all three new commissioners in voting the permit down 4-1.
Officially Clatsop County is now going to “reexamine” the issue of the LNG pipeline. The commissioners may hold additional public hearings in February and March, but things don’t look good for Oregon LNG. Residents of Clatsop County have made their feelings clear: they voted out three commissioners who sided with corporate energy interests over concerns of the community. Now the newest members of the commission seem determined not to make the same mistake. Without access to land on the Skipanon Peninsula, Oregon LNG will have a hard time building their pipeline or penetrating the Northwest’s gas market.
LNG is a foreign fossil with a lifecycle carbon footprint comparable to that of coal, and building the Oregon LNG project would damage salmon fisheries, sensitive wildlife habitat, and valuable farmland in Oregon’s rural areas. It’s a project any well-functioning democracy should naturally be expected to reject outright. Accordingly Clatsop County citizens used their power at the ballot box to change the guard on a County Commission that originally sided with the LNG industry. Here’s to the new Board of Commissioners putting another nail in Oregon LNG’s coffin.