Liquefied natural gas, like oil is a finite resource and investing in infrastructure to support a limited resource has no lasting benefits. One need only look to the economic boom and bust of the Baku, Azerbaijan oil fields or the dormant pumps in California and Texas as examples of wasted infrastructure and the devastating impact to the environment.
Tuesday night a public hearing addressing land use for the proposed LNG terminal was held in Coquille. Proponents spoke optimistically about creating badly needed jobs, economic growth and an increased tax base to fund education, health and social services.
Coos County is tanking economically because it is dependent upon outside resources to survive. With only enough arable land to feed 15,000 of its 64,000 occupants, Coos County has a trade imbalance importing more goods, food and oil for example, than it exports in timber and fish. The proposed LNG terminal, a sort of bonded warehouse for foreign natural gas awaiting transport elsewhere, is not going to change this imbalance. If anything it will make Coos County even more dependent.
As consumers of power we have become used to the traditional corporate model of producing huge amounts of power at a central location. Dams, coal powered facilities even renewable sources like wind farms produce megawatts of power which are then transmitted hundreds of miles to the end user with millions of electrons lost along the way.
A 200 megawatt wind farm in Klickitat County, Washington State provided employment for 200 locals during the construction phase and dwindled to less than a dozen after completion. Every electron produced is sold to California and the profits distributed to shareholders of PPM Energy, a Scottish wind developer. Like Jordan Cove and the LNG terminal an economic boon was promised to the local communities.
New technologies exist and are emerging that allows distributed power generation, power produced at the point of consumption. Highly efficient wind turbines capable of 3KW at 15mph winds can be mounted on rooftops. Coos County has an abundant renewable wind energy resource and 1,000 of these turbines tied to the grid would be the equivalent of a 3MW wind farm.
Publicly owned and managed utilities could enter the power generation business inexpensively selling excess power back to the grid and those profits used to fund local services, health care, youth centers and education without charitable handouts from companies like Jordan Cove. Manufacturing could be established locally providing long term jobs. Oregon is committed to obtaining 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. Investing tax dollars and fragile natural resources in a depleting resource such as LNG in a county as rich in wind resource as Coos is foolish.