We need energy democracy in Coos County

President-elect Donald Trump and Secretary Hillary Clinton share some common views, not the least of which is their mutual support for the fossil-fuel industry. Emails obtained from the US State Department by The Intercept revealed how Clinton, who received twice as much in contributions from oil than Trump, during her tenure as Secretary of State worked to promote hydraulic fracturing, or ”fracking”, the highly controversial method of horizontal drilling for oil and gas, across the globe.

The whole point of mentioning this is that, in-light of Jordan Cove’s recent announcement to reapply with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and all the Sturm und Drang about the election results, opponents of the project would be in no better position to protect the environment and landowners even had Clinton won.

Unfortunately, affected landowners and environmental activists are no closer to permanently stopping Jordan Cove today than they were twelve years ago.

Trump and Clinton also agreed on something else. Along with their mutual admiration for fracking both concurred the communities affected should be able to say “no”.  Clinton told reporters in Colorado during the campaign, “I have long been in favor of states and cities within states making up their own minds whether or not they want to permit fracking.”

Trump claimed that “voters should have a say” on whether they want to prohibit fracking in their communities.

Trump’s right.  Democratizing local energy decisions, making up our “own minds” is at the heart of community rights efforts like Measure 6-162, the Coos County Right to a Sustainable Energy Future Ordinance set for the May 2017 ballot. The ordinance will legalize our right to be a sustainable economy. An economy not subject to or dependent upon boards of directors of foreign corporations unable or unwilling to transition beyond 19th century energy technology.

Consider that an October 2016 report produced by global banking executives, the Group of Thirty or G30, notes that the rise of affordable renewable energy along with increasingly stringent climate policies is making the oil industry obsolete. Another reason not to leave our future decision making in the hands of oil and gas executives is that the G30 report also concludes the industry is out of touch and more than half of the $2 trillion in long term debt incurred by the industry “…will never be repaid because the issuing firms comprehend neither how dramatically their industry has changed nor how these changes threaten to soon engulf them.”

The late University of San Francisco business professor, Oren Harari once remarked, “The electric light did not come from the continuous improvement of candles.”

The organization Trade Unions for Energy Democracy [TUED] states in a report entitled Resist, Reclaim, Restructure: Unions and the Struggle for Energy Democracy that the “business as usual” approach of the fossil-fuel industry does not benefit or protect energy workers and it “opposes the idea that the commodification of nature is key to solving the profound ecological crisis we face as a species. It regards the idea of putting a price on ‘natural resources’ in order to make capitalism green and sustainable as plainly false and deeply perverse.”

The clash in North Dakota between the Dakota Access Pipeline developers and the Standing Rock Sioux has demonstrated one thing very clearly.  Our current system of laws make saying NO to harmful, non-sustainable industrial practices that pollute air and water illegal and makes poisoning air and water perfectly legal. Protecting our own communities and homes is a crime.

Militarized police deployed to protect corporate interests from unarmed civilians trying to protect the land and water for future generations. Appalled by the unchecked use of rubber bullets, teargas canisters, percussion grenades and the use of water cannons on the Sioux in subfreezing temperatures, 4,000 US veterans arrived to act as human shields.  Combat veterans remarked that even in Iraq and Afghanistan there are “rules of engagement.” Organized in just three weeks, the Veteran Stand, as they called themselves, may be the largest unarmed militia in US history.

It is no coincidence that on December 4, the day of the veterans arrival to the Standing Rock camp, the Army Corps of Engineers, on a Sunday afternoon, issued a temporary stay blocking the company from drilling under the Missouri River pending further environmental review.

Indifferent to the tribe’s concerns, the company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, vows to drill anyway confident that the new administration and the law is on its side. In fact the company declares it has played by all the rules. Admirable, unless the rules are already stacked heavily on your side.

Remember, that our history is rife with citizens defying unjust laws, committing acts of civil disobedience and pushing to amend the government or revoke their consent to be governed. Thank goodness they did or there might still be no abolition or suffrage or freedom of speech or due process in this “democracy.”

TUED affirms what we in the community rights movement are fighting for across the country and here in Coos County.

“An energy transition can only occur if there is a decisive shift in power towards workers, communities and the public—energy democracy. A transfer of resources, capital and infrastructure from private hands to a democratically controlled public sector will need to occur in order to ensure that a truly sustainable energy system is developed in the decades ahead.”



A conspiracy so vast…

They are supposed to have invisible, unbreakable connections to the halls of government, where highly-placed co-conspirators pull the levers of power for them. And at solemn midnight meetings they march in hooded processions to honor Mother Gaia, to sing Kumbaya, and to hatch ever-more sophisticated conspiracies to stop all economic progress in Coos Bay . . . conspiracies so vast, even Joe McCarthy might have been short of words.

This, more or less, is the popular image of those whom Jerry Baron, the longest-serving (and probably the most rabid) editor of The World used to call the “antidevelopment quarter”. But his fulminations resonated with many of his readers, who eagerly bought the conspiracy theory – and still do. Now, I don’t mean to say conspiracies don’t exist. What I am saying is that the bigger and the more ominous they become, the less likely they are to be real. Consider the heroic assumptions that every big conspiracy theory requires: strict secrecy, oodles of money, a vast, invisible network of power, and a totalitarian agenda, possibly going back centuries. Very bloody unlikely, especially in combination. But this is how, to this day, many people in Coos Bay explain our area’s forty-year record of economic and social decline. Dozens of sensational proposals for new industries, one after another, turned out to be no more than flashes in the pan! Every one fizzled out! None ever happened! How can this be? It must be a conspiracy! It’s the almighty “antidevelopment quarter” that’s behind it all! It must be the NIMBYs! It’s the green watermelons! It’s the Audubon Society or the Sierra Club! Or, as a letter writer in The World of August 4 put it, it’s all because of the “naysayers”, the locals who pose as the champions of the “little people”, and the “protectors of our way of life,” but are really communists at heart. These people, she wrote, will “. . . block any large company attempting to establish itself anywhere near Coos Bay/North Bend. I invite any of you who have lived here for any length of time to think back over the history of the area and myriad of business to have run into the teeth of this opposition and finally given up and gone elsewhere.”

Since a myriad is a large number, traditionally 10,000, I sense that the author of this jeremiad of myriads may be exaggerating a weensy bit. She is one Lois Buerer, from Bandon. If nothing else, she demonstrates that indignation, ignorance and illiteracy make a heady broth whose wildly rising foam may end up on the editorial page. But the underlying reasons for Lois’s indignation are, first, her personal support for the Jordan Cove LNG proposal and second, her dread that the same dismal fate may befall that scheme that has killed all the other industrial plans before it, meaning that the vast “antidevelopment” conspiracy will strike again.

Does distance make the heart grow fonder?

I might point out first that Lois confirms an observable fact of human nature, which is that those who favor an obnoxious industrial scheme for Coos Bay are more likely to live at some distance from it than are its opponents. In fact, we may well find that opposition decreases as mileage increases. Jon Barton lives in Hauser, probably far enough away from Jordan Cove to escape the holocaust set off by the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that are both overdue. John Stephens, the Port President who in 1990 was going to site a Japanese pulp mill on the North Spit (“We are not here to make friends,” he told a large gathering of indignant opponents) lived in Bandon. As does Lois Buerer today. As does David Koch, the Coos Bay port manager who got his job as a political payoff. It’s a curious trend of advocacy without personal risk that makes it understandable why many police departments and school districts and city councils require their employees to live within the city they are pledged to care for, so they will have a stake in it. In contrast, the core of the LNG opposition consists mainly of local people who care about what happens in their back yards, people who live in the blast zone, like Jody McCaffree and many others who don’t speak out as much as she does. This, incidentally, is why today’s derogatory acronym NIMBY – Not In My Back Yard – should be a badge of honor. Since when is caring about what happens in your back yard a bad thing? And that question especially applies to the Coos Bay area, which is rich in peace and quiet, in scenic beauty and fresh air and other assets that make it a good place to live, even though according to the industrial promoters, all such things are no more than coins we must drop in the offering box for their idea of progress.

All that now being said, Lois Buerer’s sweeping opinions deserve to be skinned, eviscerated and disemboweled; not a trace must be left, for they are utterly false. That’s because during twenty years of research into the forty-year history of Coos Bay’s failure to thrive, I have found nothing to support the notion that our economy has been stifled by our NIMBY’s or any similar deprecating designations. All the evidence points the other way, as documented by 2,232 footnotes and a similar number of documents used in my book, “The JOB Messiahs”, a title which accurately describes the mentally ossified ecodevo prophets whose “economic development” mania has done our area so much harm. They are the activists at the Port, the Chamber, SCDC, B.S. Oregon, Oregon Business, etcetera, some twenty ecodevo agencies who have never achieved anything except prolong their own useless existence, and are quite desperate by now for results, any kind of results. If I could take any of those ecodevo dignitaries aside for a tête à tête – a very unlikely prospect – and ask them why they favor an insane proposal like Jordan Cove, their final answer is bound to be: “If not Jordan Cove, what else?”

Who benefits?

But before I list the evidence, let us ponder the question that attorneys and political scientists like to ask about any political issue: cui bono? Which is Latin for: “who benefits?” In whose interest is it to preserve the fairy tale that it’s people like today’s LNG opponents who have turned Coos Bay into the only truly economic laggard in all of western Oregon? The answer is: there are two groups that benefit.

The first one consists of the big, professional environmentalist groups: the Sierra Club, Earth First, the Audubon Society, and many more. They may not have actively encouraged the development of that image of power, but they are not going to object getting some credit for “killing” some dreadful industrial project in a place like Coos Bay, even when the truth is quite different. After all, it may help their fundraising. People like giving money to winners.

The second but more important beneficiaries are our JOB Messiahs, who have even less interest in acknowledging the truth. That’s because they, not the LNG opponents, are the true communists, as ignorant and as inflexible as the economic planners of the former Soviet Union who posted signs at their labor camps: “With An Iron Fist, We Will Lead Humanity To Happiness.” Don’t they like free enterprise? Hell, no; that would imply unpredictability, which they abhor. What they do like is subsidies, corporate welfare, important-sounding jobs for themselves, generous expense accounts, and overseas trips for vague business reasons. Oh, and BIG THINGS. True central planners only love BIG THINGS, which is one reason why (as even Lois Buerer noted) a lot of smaller businesses have given up on Coos Bay through the years. Nevertheless, the naysayers and the NIMBY’s make awfully handy whipping boys for the JOB Messiahs, or fig leaves if you will, fig leaves that they can blame for their flops, all forty years of them. The JOB Messiahs NEED the naysayers and the NIMBYs. In a perverse way, they are their job security.

A litany of self-inflicted disasters

So, what really caused our successive economic planning wrecks?
The short answer is: the Central Planning mentality of our “economic leaders”, which made them blind to alternative developments that could have prospered by now; their obsession with BIG THINGS; their blindness to our area’s real assets; their utter ignorance of how markets work; and their hostility to free enterprise.

File3603g Emery Hanson and the Crosline, onn land• The early prototype that set the pattern for all the ecodevo disasters that followed was the Crosline Ferry episode of 1975/77. The Port bought the old wooden vessel without engines purely on a whim, with a lot of vague talk about “developing” it as a tourist attraction by renting it to various businesses including a restaurant. But they had no contracts with potential lessees, and they had done no homework to see what would be required to bring the vessel into usable condition. In the end they just dumped it, losing $100,000.
• Between 1977 and 1982 the Port of Coos Bay, having recently been tasked with “developing” the area, was obsessed with cashing in on the fish market. So they financed a fish processing plant and a fish waste plant in Charleston, both of which were pushed through the local approval process by intimidating and bullying local critics. But then it turned out that both fish facilities were run by irresponsible profiteers without qualifications, who paid themselves big salaries with the money lent by the Port and the State, until they skipped town. The Port also had dreams of creating its own fish processing empire on the North Spit, but the voters turned them down for a $10 million bond issue to pay for that. So they decided to pursue the same plan “on a shoestring” by building a dock on the North Spit instead. Still known as the T-dock, it was supposed to attract fish processors who would build their own plants nearby, but none ever came. The North Spit fish processing plan never made any sense anyway, because the fishermen preferred to come into Charleston, where they could easily tie up at the waterside plants’ docks and unload their catch. Even worse, while the first pilings were being driven for the T-dock, the fish market was tanking but the Port forged ahead without giving it a thought. Altogether they wasted several million dollars of borrowed money on these irresponsible investments for which they did no homework. The NIMBYs and their allies had very little to do with any of it.
I should perhaps add that the disastrous turn of the fish market at that time was also due to government mismanagement, albeit at a higher level. First, the federal government had offered easy loans for building fishing boats, so many more people had gone fishing, and they had big payments to make. Meanwhile oil prices rose steeply, increasing the fishermen’s fuel costs, and inducing them to fish even more. The combination of an oversupply and a recession caused prices to fall. Alarmed by declining fish stocks, the federal government then instituted quotas and other fishing restrictions, which made things even worse for the fishermen. The end results were a lot of repossessed boats and financial troubles for the Port, which only avoided insolvency thanks to bailouts by the State of Oregon.

Marvin Judd, coal export promoter (The World Photo)

Marvin Judd, coal export promoter (The World Photo)

• Inspired by the same oil price boom of those days, promoters worked west coast ports with a plausible solution: export American coal to the far east, because power plants in places like Taiwan wanted to switch from oil to coal, a cheaper alternative. Coal export fever seized several northwest ports including Coos Bay. Locally there was concern about coal dust blowing into town 24 hours a day off the North Spit, but they were ignored. But requirements for environmental impact studies could not be ignored, since the project might affect federal lands on the North Spit; even so, they were waived under political pressure. At heated public meetings, excited people clamored for the coal terminal jobs while the JOB Messiahs urged action on the promoter’s scheme. So the Port promised the promoters financing in the form of $150 million in tax-exempt bonds. Finally, a couple of years after the promoters had first hit town and after they had sold stock in their venture, it was revealed that coal could not be shipped economically from Coos Bay because of the long train trip required. To some extent the same thing was true of other ports; both Portland and Kalama, on the Columbia, suffered substantial damages thanks to their own coal export promoters.
• The mid-‘eighties saw a lot more ecodevo activity by the Port, but none that produced any jobs. The North Spit saw the establishment of an Enterprise Zone, a Foreign Trade Zone and an Urban Renewal District, none of which have achieved anything except financial waste. There also was a lot of big talk about making Coos Bay the headquarters of a venture to mine the ocean floor, about building a superhighway to Roseburg, about building a shipyard, and many other things that never came to pass but kept the ecodevo fever high. A much-feted promoter came to town, allegedly to build a chromium smelter. This drew opposition from locals worried about smelter pollution, but the reasons for the plan’s failure were that the promoter didn’t know what he was talking about, and was mainly hoping to sell stock; the same situation as with the coal export promoter five years before – and with others. As long as the chromium smelter plan was alive, the Port told a lot of lies to placate the worried locals. The Port also dug a $1.5 million barge slip on the North Spit because it was convinced a big steel equipment fabricator would site a plant there, for assembling oil field “modules” to be shipped to the Alaskan North Slope. The gullible city councils of North Bend and Coos Bay even advanced the money for the slip. But one again, the Port had no contract with the fabricator, and the barge slip has sat unused for almost thirty years.
• Also in the mid-eighties, the voters were sweet-talked into giving away their right to vote for (and recall) the Port Commissioners, to let the governor appoint them instead. This was done by means of phony promises of more ecodevo money from the State of Oregon. I have no doubt that it was really done to put the irresponsible Port officials with their unpopular but always failing plans out of the reach of the voters. Since then the governor has appointed the port commissioners, who have become about as responsive to the public as a rock can be to a goat – and considering their record, that’s saying something.
Pulp Mill meeting April 4, 1990

Pulp Mill meeting April 4, 1990

• The years 1990/91 saw a lot of excitement about a Japanese-owned pulp mill to be built on the North Spit. The Port spent a couple of million dollars for water studies for this proposed mill, which would use several million gallons a day, and decided that damming Tenmile Lake would be the best way to provide all that water. As with other potential polluters, this proposal raised the ire of the locals because of its potential for blowing massive amounts of rotten egg odors into town. But once again the Port and the politicians told terrible lies, promising no pollution of either water or air, which even the company itself didn’t support. This time, however, the local opposition was led by retired people with political savvy, and they succeeded in passing a ballot initiative that outlawed pulp mills on Port-owned land.
On its face the pulp mill story may be the biggest arrow in the quiver of those who feel entitled to blame the “naysayers” and NIMBYs for our ecodevo failures. But it’s hard to understand how, when a ballot measure passes by about 3 to 2, the pulp mill’s failure can be blamed on a small, noisy minority. More plausibly it was a majority decision. Aside from that, the real story is far more complicated: Coos Bay was used for corporate blackmail. The company, Daishowa Paper, was never serious. It had thrown out its bait to play off Coos Bay against Port Angeles, WA, where Daishowa wanted concessions to expand an existing mill but had run into opposition. This explains why Daishowa’s plan for Coos Bay never amounted to more than a few scribbles on the back of an envelope, and the company avoided spending any of its own money for preparations. One year after its first Coos Bay announcement, Daishowa got what it wanted in Port Angeles. At that same time it announced the abandonment of its Coos Bay plan, due to the difficulty “of securing an adequate source of water”. Coos Bay has been played this way several times since. And, maintaining another ecodevo tradition, the Port never seems to have studied the pulp market, just like they never studied the fish market or the coal market or oil prices or railroad economics. When the Daishowa plan was first announced, pulp prices were already slipping due to overcapacity. Since then foreign competition has led to the closures of most domestic pulp and paper mills.
• 1997/98 saw the Nucor Steel episode, from the usual initial boosters’ gushy excitement to fizzing out like a stale beer. Just like Daishowa and the other heavy industries, Nucor wanted to site on the North Spit, but – just like them too – it let the locals do the spending for preparations. Those were substantial because the company had neither land, nor natural gas, nor enough local power for its production process. With so many essentials lacking, you wonder if they had done any homework, a question which leads to the next one: whether they were ever serious. But Nucor’s advocates organized big public rallies to promote the plan, at which the company was elevated to divine status. In addition a lot of government money and time was spent planning a new 500 kV power line from the interior to Coos Bay, just for Nucor. That line was never built, and once again you wonder if Nucor was at all serious because the federal government owns about half of the land in Oregon, which made it inevitable for the new power line to cross it; and that being so, expensive and lengthy environmental studies would have to be done, as is always the case when federal land is affected. But the company’s reaction was a mix of annoyance and surprise. In any case, those federal requirements were hardly the fault of the local NIMBY’s.
Nucor was a very well-run company that liked to locate in smaller towns because those provided the best “incentives” (= subsidies). So the Oregon legislature was induced to pass a subsidies bill for Coos Bay which, between a 15-year local property tax exemption (which came on top of the 5-year enterprise zone exemption) plus a huge income tax break, would give Nucor somewhere between $57 million and $137 million in subsidies. Divided among 225 projected jobs, that came to between $200,000 and $600,000 per Nucor job. It was the biggest corporate welfare bill passed in the state’s history, and the legislature sweetened it even more by passing a bill promising $20 million to build a natural gas line to Coos Bay, especially for Nucor. But as soon as the subsidies were in the bag Nucor, much to the disgust of the craven politicians, approached the legislature of the State of Washington, asking if they couldn’t do better than Oregon. Washington declined, and the Nucor issue sort of drifted until in the spring of 1998 they seemed to be losing interest; the company was no longer returning telephone calls. Later that year it also became obvious that they were not terribly interested in acquiring land for their mill. And by mid-1999 BPA, which had been conducting the environmental power line studies, refused to go any further because Nucor had not supplied any of the information they needed. Finally, in July 1999 Nucor announced they were no longer interested. Since then the company has expanded substantially, not by building new plants but through a very active acquisitions policy.
Did Nucor vanish from the Coos Bay stage because it was chased off by the local NIMBYs? Hardly. What is clear is that the company was fishing for subsidies and used Coos Bay as bait, to obtain bigger chunks of corporate welfare elsewhere. And if not for the Coos Bay ecodevo crowd’s stubborn, mindless obsession with the area’s destiny as an industrial center, Nucor might have never come. So all that was achieved was the enabling of the kind of brazen blackmail scheme that big corporations have become very good at.
• There is no need to dwell on the 2005 arrival and demise of the Jordan Cove LNG import proposal, except that it was again made unviable by changing market conditions. The world is always more dynamic than ecodevo officials can imagine, and it’s quite possible that the marketplace will dash their dreams for an export terminal as well. Jordan Cove certainly seems to consider it a possibility. But around the time the LNG import terminal was losing its luster, in 2007, we suddenly got all the hoopla about the Maersk container import terminal. Once again, that was a corporate ploy to use Coos Bay’s gullibility. As is standard practice, the company threw out its bait in three places: a site in Baja California, where labor would be much cheaper; a recently-built new container port in British Columbia, which was non-union; and finally Coos Bay. Personally, I never believed Coos Bay could qualify because the purpose of bringing containers here would not be to leave them but forward them, by train, to places east of the Rockies. 2005 South of town. Still like thisThat’s where the major distribution centers are located. And there was no way the existing railroad from Coos Bay to Eugene was up to that job, since it was never built for that kind of traffic, and in poor shape besides. It could be rebuilt, yes, but at a cost of hundreds of millions, and any smart corporation would avoid that expense if a good alternative was available. One such alternative was the Prince Rupert site in B.C. which had outstanding railroad connections to Chicago. Like the other companies before it, Maersk did not spend very much money or effort exploring Coos Bay. Maersk officials were also very silent during an August 2007 party on the Coos Bay boardwalk during which the politicians performed a circular congratulation ritual, to celebrate the governor’s signing of a bill to allocate $60 million to dredge Coos Bay for Maersk. A mere five months later the company announced thousands of layoffs due to the slump in container shipping. There was no more talk about building any container ports; instead Maersk leased an existing, underused facility in Vancouver, B.C.

That happened in January 2008. But a couple of years later you could still read opinions in The World like the one below:
“The container business will not stay down forever folks. This is why we need the railway, a deepened channel and along the way, a better US 101 (4-lane). . . . Our port is a great resource potentially . . . ”

As the skinny man said: “Fat chance.” Even if container shipping reaches its former levels, the enlargement of the Panama Canal, to be finished a year from now, is likely to move container loads coming from Asia from the west coast to places like Houston or Charleston or Charlotte. That’s because, railroad transportation being more expensive than water, shippers will take the opportunity to shorten the rail part of the trip by lengthening the move by sea.

Anybody else want to claim that it’s all the fault of the darn NIMBYs and environmentalists and their evil conspiracies?

Jody McCaffree protects Blue Ridge pipeline route landowners

For more than twenty minutes Jody McCaffree locks horns with Coos County hearings officer and Portland land use attorney Andrew Stamp to defend property owners along the proposed Blue Ridge alternative pipeline route. This is one activist who knows her stuff and she deserves our gratitude and support. Stamp probably hobbled all the way home to Portland. The clip starts at [1:30:30]

Oregonian: Jordan Cove LNG creates big divisions in Coos Bay

The Oregonian, in its second of a series of articles about the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal, exposes more about the nature of the divide between the proponents and opponents of the project.

The author, Ted Sickinger, does a great job of sharing both sides of the story and quotes many familiar names. Timm Slater offers a very unscientific risk assessment and betrays a new found faith in “our regulators”. BS Oregon spokesman Mark Wall says Jordan Cove LNG will put Coos Bay on the map.

“I look to Jordan Cove to be the catalyst that starts a new era for Coos Bay and a more prosperous future,” says Wall.

From the “boy, have we heard that before” side of the divide, Wim de Vriend gets a well deserved plug for The JOB Messiahs.

De Vriend literally wrote the book on local economic development, a phone book-sized commentary called “The Job Messiahs” that he sells from behind the counter.

The book chronicles 40 years worth of taxpayer-funded efforts to rekindle Coos Bay’s industrial past, an effort De Vriend equates to a continuous “recycling of pie-in-the-sky thinking” that he says has compiled “an astonishing record of failure.”

De Vriend’s list of phantom projects and short-lived flameouts include a company that wanted to construct oil drilling platforms for the North Slope, a fish waste processing plant, a coal export terminal, a pulp mill, a chromium smelter, a steel mill and a garbage burning plant.

Two consultants have already been paid to study the feasibility of a container terminal in Coos Bay and found it unlikely. De Vriend believes the temporary boom from terminal construction would be followed by an economic hangover. Some jobs would leave, while the LNG project would preclude other, more sustainable economic development from happening.

The article also touches on the “bloodless coup” known locally as the Community Enhancement Plan

[Photo Ted Sickinger/The Oregonian]

LNG – An Enemy of the People

Following a long and loathsome tradition, the arguments put out by Coos Bay’s LNG lobby have become increasingly shrill – and increasingly ridiculous. A prime example of their silliness appeared in The World of May 17. It was written by Richard Leshley, the owner of Yellow Cabs and a fervent B.S. Oregon booster, whose taxicabs carry signs for that Jordan Cove-funded lobby that our local paper persists in calling “grassroots”.
On a recent visit to Boston, Mass., Mr. Leshley had noticed the presence of “a large LNG facility” in that city. He had also observed that Boston is a crowded place, with busy restaurants and a stadium that was totally packed during the World Series. Conclusion of the Leshley Fact-Finding Mission: those who have predicted that LNG will turn Coos Bay into a “ghost town” are totally wrong, and Boston proves it. Don’t y’all worry yo’ purdy li’l heads ‘bout no LNG, chillun!


Speaking for myself, I have not used the expression “ghost town” to describe what Coos Bay may become due to Jordan Cove’s presence.

Boom and bust town

Boom and bust town

But I won’t rule out the possibility that it has been used, as the kind of hyperbole common in political disputes, like a Knife River goon calling a female LNG critic “a piece of crap.”
What I HAVE predicted is that rather than fostering economic growth in this area, the LNG plant is likely to discourage it, because of its false promises and its many drawbacks. One of Jordan Cove’s false promises is that its presence will bring in other, gas-dependent industries. We’ve had natural gas here for twelve years, and it has not brought in any new industries. How would Jordan Cove’s gas change that? Will it smell better? And the LNG terminal’s many drawbacks come in two kinds: physical and psychological. The physical ones include the expected monopolization of navigation in the bay, which is bound to discourage many other economic activities, and the 24/7 production of noise, lights and pollution. Dominating the psychological drawbacks will be the fear factor of what looks, to those with some education and a conscience, like a ticking incendiary timebomb.
A “ghost town” is a place where no one lives, which Coos Bay is unlikely to become unless it’s made uninhabitable. But the difference is only one of degree. Add up all the bad effects, and it’s hard to see how Jordan Cove could possibly reverse the decades-long trend of out-migration and population decline in the Coos Bay/North Bend area. I personally know people who have sworn to move away if it is built, and I know others, solid property owners in North Bend, who would never speak up but would love to sell out and move away but can’t, because of the depressed real estate market. I can’t see any reason why Jordan Cove’s presence would change that, even though there are always wild-eyed promoters with a different view, like the Ocean Grove bunch.


But wait! All this overheated talk about community foundations and tax payments and enterprise zones appears to be designed to remind us that Jordan Cove will add to the prosperity of local government officials of all kinds, and probably to their numbers too. Plus, it will give a couple of years of prosperity to Knife River for pouring a Hoover Dam’s worth of concrete, and to Yellow Cab for ferrying alcohol-filled LNG construction workers from one sleazy bar to another. After that – well, we don’t worry what happens after that. We’ll have made our bundle, and to hell with Coos Bay.
Of course, besides Yellow Cab and Knife River, there will be a few more temporary beneficiaries of Jordan Cove, nearly all of whom ardently support B.S. Oregon. But not all of those hoping for a payoff will get one. For one thing, there doesn’t seem to be much chance of the construction project hiring locals. And it seems not to have dawned on our City Fathers that Jordan Cove’s plan to create temporary housing for its construction workers has ruined a real chance of improving our real estate market by turning our numerous empty homes into paying assets, even if only for a couple of years.


So now, let us contrast Leshley’s news about Boston’s LNG terminal with some we have found on that same topic. The information was not difficult to secure, but maybe Mr. Leshley has not heard of computers or the internet. A brief Google search tells us that Boston’s Everett LNG terminal has been there since 1971, when LNG imports had just begun and public concern about its safety was negligible. Since then, the 9/11 calamity has caused Boston to be listed among the country’s top-10 terrorist targets by the U.S. Congress and by FERC, and also by Al-Qaida, the main reason being its LNG terminal’s vulnerability to a terrorist attack that could produce an urban firestorm and the live cremation of thousands of trapped Bostonians. 8317covatanker.tifcxdIn response, Boston’s long-time mayor Menino repeatedly tried to get the Everett terminal closed. He couldn’t do it, despite his argument that all of Boston’s emergency services could not possibly handle an LNG “pool fire”. Neither could the state of Massachusetts, according to State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan, who added: “. . . and I don’t think that you can train for that type of an incident.”
(Explanatory note: a “pool fire” is the technical term for a liquid gas spill onto a waterway which, especially if it has a current, will cause the cold liquid to warm and rapidly turn back into gas which, with the aid of one spark, becomes a floating inferno, capable of burning people one to three miles away. For further information, Google “pool fire”, “Jerry Havens” and “Sandia Laboratories.”)
Taking all this into account, it should not be surprising that Boston Magazine asked (and answered) the following question:

“Why is Boston the only major city with an LNG terminal?
Because nobody else wants one. When the Everett terminal was built in 1971, many viewed it as a step toward the future — an important energy source at the hub of a region. Since then, environmental and security concerns have scared off other cities, including Providence and Long Beach, California.”

But instead of talking to Boston officials, Mr. Leshley visited restaurants and the Boston stadium, and concluded that all was well.


Which brings me to my next topic: stadiums. Archeologists have found an extremely well-designed, 2,000 year-old one from which even Boston’s stadium builders could have learned something. Designed to maximize crowd flow, public safety and convenience, it’s located in the excavated city of Pompeii, Italy, where life went on normally in August of the year 79 AD, just like in Boston today. And then the volcano blew, covering the city and its stadium with hot ash while killing an estimated 16,000 people.
With very little imagination we could attach different dates to this kind of scenario. Take the beautiful morning of 9/11/01 in New York, for instance, with everybody at work in the twin towers. Or think early March 2012 in Fukushima, Japan, at the local nuclear plant. Or, maybe, quiet Pearl Harbor on a Sunday morning in December 1941.


Besides the Boston LNG terminal, Mr. Leshley cited a second piece of evidence favoring his cause, which is the LNG tank in the Newport harbor. Wrote Leshley: “If you have tried to find parking in Newport during the summer near the waterfront, you know that Newport does not have a tourist issue with LNG. . . . ” And then he quotes our local “tourism officials” who have assured him Jordan Cove will not harm tourism.
To start with those “tourism officials”, Timm Slater, the manager of Coos Bay’s tourist information center, has for decades been part of the local eco-devo mafia, and today is part of the secretive group that runs B.S. Oregon. Of course he is going to toe the party line.
And just like Boston’s LNG terminal, the Newport tank’s presence proves nothing; both facilities landed below the radar, which they could not do today. It’s essential to remember that our present-day awareness of the extreme geologic hazards along the Oregon coast solidified only twenty years ago. Back in the ‘seventies there was a general assumption, soothing but wrong, that the angles and the direction of the geologic subduction process along our coast were different from those along highly-earthquake prone coasts like that of Chile, and that hence we had nothing to worry about. One shaky pillar supporting this assumption was that no major quakes or tsunamis had hit the coast since its settlement by people who kept records. It wasn’t until the late ‘eighties when geologists dug up evidence of major quakes and tsunamis in the distant past. Finally, around 1995, they determined that in the last 10,000 years 41 major quakes had hit the coast, all accompanied by big tsunamis. Divide 10,000 by 41, and you get an average interval between quakes of 244 years. Of course, geologic events are not like clockwork, but any of these blowhards who call people concerned about the next disaster sissies should know that the most recent one occurred in 1700. Going by the 244 year rule, that makes the next big earthquake/tsunami overdue.

Haiti after the earthquake

Haiti after the earthquake

And that is why the geologists and oceanographers at Oregon State concluded that chances of such a catastrophe hitting the southern Oregon coast during the next fifty years were 37%. Plain logic suggests that as time goes on, that probability will rise.
For a very readable if worrying history of the growth of earthquake/tsunami awareness, see this excerpt from “Cascadia’s Fault” by Jerry Thompson, in http://discovermagazine.com/2012/extreme-earth/01-big-one-earthquake-could-devastate-pacific-northwest
The Newport facility was built in 1977, when none of this was known; and the present tsunami wave height predictions for Yaquina Bay talk in terms of 80-feet waves. Anybody who has visited Newport will understand what that means for the low-lying tourist area where boat basin and the aquarium and the science center are located, along with Mr. Leshey’s LNG tank. That tank has a storage capacity of only 14% of Jordan Cove’s terminal. It’s not an import or export terminal but it holds a back-up supply for Northwest Natural’s pipelines. When consumer demand is low, excess gas in the line is chilled and kept in LNG-form in the Newport tank, thus reduced 600 times in volume. When demand is high, the LNG is re-gasified and sent back into the system. As a result, the Newport tank is rarely full; even so, it poses a serious risk, and I doubt that today Northwest Natural could locate it in a vulnerable, built-up area like that. I would hope not, anyway.
The Newport LNG tank is one of four such facilities in the Northwest. Another one is the LNG plant in Plymouth, WA, where an unexplained explosion in April caused one death and a two-mile radius evacuation. Is the one in Newport supposed to set us at ease?


And of course, the biggest elephant-in-the-room that Mr. Leshley ignored was that Boston does not face the virtual certainty of a massive earthquake and tsunami during Jordan Cove’s lifespan. The earthquake/tsunami in Japan two years ago set two oil refineries on fire and damaged an LNG import terminal enough to close it for a year. The main reason it was not damaged worse was its protected location, which reduced the height of the tsunami. Jordan Cove has no such protection, although it claims in its government documents that a tsunami, because it will enter Coos Bay through the harbor entrance, will be largely spent by the time it reaches its plant. Watch one or two of the Japanese tsunami videos to see how ludicrous that is. Instead of being a good boy and nicely entering between the jetties, the tsunami will roll right over the North Spit to hit Jordan Cove head-on. And this will be right after the earthquake has done Lord-knows-what to the LNG terminal, which sits on a glorified sand shoal, subject to liquefaction and being tilted or lowered several feet.
Should the earthquake/tsunami fail to damage the terminal, causing a breach, the odds are even better that it will breach the tanks of an LNG tanker docked at the terminal. That’s because, with only 15 to 20 minutes between the earthquake and the tsunami, it will be impossible for this tanker to make it to the deep ocean, where it will be safe. Just prior to the tsunami it will be grounded in the bay due to the customary drop of the water until the big waves hit, and it’s likely to be tossed onto shore then. Large ships, including LNG tankers, are not built to take that kind of treatment; the resulting spill and pool fire could incinerate the entire Coos Bay/North Bend peninsula.


We now know that when the Fukushima nuclear plant was hit by the tsunami of March 11, 2012, 90% of the workers at that plant fled for their lives. I see no reason to expect that the scenario at Jordan Cove will be any different. The terminal’s vaunted firefighters will have abandoned their stations and fled west for their lives – if they can find a dune high enough, that is. The human survival instinct trumps many others. So does the desperation of those who will have lost everything thanks to that disaster. There will be no communications and no law, but there will be desperate people roaming around, people who have lost everything. And they will be looking for the blood of those who foisted this corporate atrocity on us.
Many, many years ago one of our amateur ensembles put on a play by the Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen, called An Enemy of the People. If its performance had been repeated annually in Coos Bay, it might have done us a world of good. Written at a time (1882) when “taking the waters” was frequent doctors’ advice for all kinds of maladies (It still is in Germany, where stays at places with mineral waters are paid for by health insurance), the play was about a small town where a spring of health-giving water is discovered. Great excitement down at the Chamber of Commerce: prosperity is just around the corner! Big investments are made! Then the chief character in the play, a doctor, discovers that the healthy water actually contains poison. He tries to stop the gold rush, but B.S. Oregon – I mean, B.S. Norway – wants to suppress his information, and when he persists, he is fired from his job, ostracized, and officially declared “An Enemy of the People.”
I suppose you could say he was lucky. A couple of centuries earlier they would have found a way to burn him at the strake.

Community enhancement plan the downfall of Jordan Cove?

Violation of the National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA will feature prominently in this post so I encourage everyone to read Ron Sadler’s detailed explanation particularly as it relates to the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal as background for this piece.

Thanks to the gleeful optimism and insurgent “our community” marketing from BS Oregon an informal poll of downtown Coos Bay merchants indicates a seemingly widespread perception that Jordan Cove LNG is a done deal. “When the gas gets here, this town will be hopping,” gushed one shopkeeper. “Construction will start next year,” remarked another. “Thank goodness for Jordan Cove.”

While there is nothing wrong with unbridled enthusiasm or starting a group to promote a controversial project the lead permit agency, FERC, has yet to publish a draft EIS. Sadler explains –

An EIS is meant to “serve practically as an important contribution to the decision making process and will not be used to rationalize or justify decisions already made”, and it “must be objectively prepared and not slanted to support the choice of the agency’s preferred alternative over the other reasonable and feasible alternatives”.
NEPA regulations at 1506.1 state that until a record of decision is issued, the federal lead agency shall insure that no action concerning the proposal “shall be taken which would limit the choice of reasonable alternatives”. At 1506.1b, it is stated that “If any agency is considering an application from a non-Federal entity and is aware that the applicant is about to take an action within the agency’s jursdiction that would (limit the choice of reasonable alternatives), then the agency shall promptly notify the applicant that the agency will take appropriate action to insure that the objectives and procedures of NEPA are achieved”.

In other words, the applicant must not engage in activities that prejudice the decision and NEPA requires federal agencies to consider reasonable alternatives to the proposed action, including the alternative of no action. Through its representatives and lobbyists, Jordan Cove Energy Partners is providing guidance, direction and leadership to BS Oregon to promote the project as the only alternative for achieving the general goals and proving a need beyond the aspirations of the proponents. Citizen and environmental groups regularly file and win federal lawsuits over provable NEPA violations. Lobbyist Ray Bucheger freely acknowledges that in addition to guidance and direction Jordan Cove or its parent company Veresen, Inc., provides funding for BS Oregon’s marketing campaign, a clear violation of NEPA.

…the Federal agency “must notify the applicant that the agency will take strong affirmative steps to insure that the objectives and procedures of NEPA are fulfilled. (Section 1506.1(b). These steps could include seeking injunctive measures under NEPA (which could include the agency) advising an applicant that if it takes such action the agency will not process its application.”

dohThe roll out of the so called community enhancement plan that was developed in secret and would funnel public funds into private hands was revelatory for a number of reasons. One it again punctuates how little regard local civic leaders have for public input. It also demonstrates, and not for the first time, the risks of any one company/employer having undue influence over the aforementioned leaders.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if in their zeal to subvert public process, collect council resolutions, exaggerate jobs numbers, ignore the public cost of providing services to such a project as well as the risk and hazard of siting Jordan Cove LNG in a tsunami zone, all so select individuals can get their grubby little fingers on millions of public dollars in advance of an EIS, the BS Oregon steering committee inadvertently forced FERC to vacate the permit?

Note: Role of the NEPA process
Of course, an agency’s purpose and need statement cannot be defined so narrowly as to preclude consideration of reasonable alternatives to the proposed action.33 However, so long as it is reasonable, the agency may incorporate the proponent’s objectives into its purpose and need statement, thereby using the proponent’s goals to help define the range of alternatives. The Tenth Circuit has ruled, for example, that where “the action subject to NEPA review is triggered by a proposal or application from a private party, it is appropriate for the agency to give substantial weight to the goals and objectives of that private actor.”34 The D.C. Circuit has observed that “Congress did expect agencies to consider an applicant’s wants when the agency formulates the goals of its own proposed action.”35

At least one court – the Seventh Circuit – has ruled that the proponent’s objectives play a far more limited role in preparing the agency’s purpose and need statement and in defining reasonable alternatives. It has ruled that “the evaluation of ‘alternatives’ mandated by NEPA is to be an evaluation of alternative means to accomplish the general goal of an action; it is not an evaluation of the alternative means by which a particular applicant can reach his goals.”36 The Seventh Circuit has set aside an EIS that defined its purpose and need as the proponent’s objectives.37 And despite the rulings by the courts set forth in the preceding paragraph, CEQ guidance states that “[r]easonable alternatives include those that are practical or feasible from the technical and economic standpoint and using common sense, rather than simply desirable from the standpoint of the applicant.”38

Port wants Jordan Cove to apply for 15 year tax abatement. Here's why

Port of Coos Bay CEO David Koch along with Commissioner John Sweet and city managers Terence O’Connor and Roger Craddock have concocted a workaround to the State’s “Long-term Rural Enterprise Zone” incentive program to put themselves in charge of almost a $100 million in the name of “waterfront revitalization”. Koch revealed the plan at January 8, 2014 chamber luncheon. Power point materials quote in this story can be found here and here

From a perspective of improving the revenue potential for nine local taxing districts the siting of the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal could not be less advantageous. The North Spit location sits in the middle of the Bay Area Enterprise Zone which is a legislative device approved by local taxing districts that exempts businesses from local property taxes, typically for three to five years but sometimes even longer on new investments. To make matters worse the site is also situated in an urban renewal district. When the abatement period ends 99% of the tax revenue from the $4 to $6 billion project, an estimated $40 to $60 million of general government funds and $20 to $30 million in educational funds annually, would flow into the Coos County Urban Renewal District (CCURA) because somewhere along the line it was decided the North Spit was both urban and blighted requiring funds for investment in projects to generate growth.

Affected Taxing Districts

4-H Service District

North Bay Rural Fire Protection District

Coos County Airport District

Port of Coos Bay District

Southwestern Oregon Community College District

Library Service District

Coos County

Bay Area Health District (Collects no taxes)

Coos Bay School District

Education Service District

As we have discussed here before there is absolutely no empirical or statistical evidence that enterprise zones result in the net creation of jobs or that the cost of those jobs to the taxpayer shows a positive return. According to the State of Oregon, enterprise zones are designed to encourage business investment in troubled areas through property tax relief yet there are no peer reviewed published studies supporting the use of enterprise zones as a local economic driver. (There is evidence such zones create a competitive disadvantage to existing businesses outside the zone). In fact, the original enterprise zone architects never even devised a mechanism by which the benefits of these exemptions could be analyzed in order to justify the cost to the taxpayer, nevertheless there are now 64 enterprise zones in Oregon.

Long-term Rural Enterprise Zone

Presumably, enterprise zones are created to encourage companies to locate in areas they would not otherwise consider without the tax exemption. In the case of Canadian owned Jordan Cove, this particular argument holds even less water than it did for the Australian chromite miners, ORC but in any event David Koch represented the possibility of a fifteen year property tax exemption as the company’s “right” should it choose to apply.

Removing property from the tax rolls for extended periods of time would seem to be counter intuitive to community revitalization when you consider that “a minimum of 10 new employees suffices in most relevant zones, if the investment exceeds $200 million”, is all that is necessary to qualify if those 10 employees earn 150% of the local average wage or approximately $48K per year. That and the approval of the enterprise zone sponsors, namely the port, the county and the cities of North Bend and Coos Bay.

Should Jordan Cove acquire its LNG export license and various permits the terminal is characterized as the largest single project ever in Oregon. Taxed at the same rate as my property, the potential annual property tax revenue generated for both general government and education in Coos County alone would approach $60 and $30 million respectively. What company doing the type of volume projected for Jordan Cove wouldn’t be willing to pay an extra half-a-million a year in salaries to avoid $1.4 billion in taxes over 15 years? Conversely, how is subsidizing $500K in annual salary with a $90 million annual tax break ever possibly going to show a positive return to the taxpayer?

Community Enhancement Plan

The first thing to note about this new Community Enhancement Plan is that there is no plan. At least no plan beyond figuring out how to put a very small number of unelected, self appointed individuals in control of a very large amount of public money. Using Oregon’s statewide equalization method for capping school funding to a fixed amount per student as the excuse to justify asking Jordan Cove to apply for the long-term extension, Koch suggests that the zone sponsors would agree to a fifteen year exemption on the condition that Jordan Cove pay annual community service fees or payments-in-lieu of taxes into two endowments setup specifically for this purpose.

Screen shot 2014-01-12 at 3.25.04 PMUnder the proposal, Jordan Cove would see its cumulative tax burden reduced by 72% from $1.4 billion to $360 million distributed variously over the life of the agreement between the nine taxing districts based upon a formula determined by the four masterminds, Koch, Sweet, Craddock and O’Connor.

Former State Senator Joanne Verger, John Whitty and Bill Lansing incorporated the South Coast Community Foundation in October 2013 specifically to administer 50% of the fees paid by Jordan Cove to the benefit of education. Funds from this foundation may not be used for teacher salaries but may be distributed in the form of “grants” according to Koch’s presentation.

The affected taxing districts will receive proportionate shares of 25% and the remaining 25% or $90 million is slated to fund a new, as yet unformed Bayfront Investment Corporation.

The Bayfront Investment Corporation is proposed as a public sector partnership. The partners would create the corporate
entity to help fund infrastructure investment and support the enhancement and redevelopment of the Coos Bay harbor waterfronts.
• Not for profit corporation would be established as a 501(c)(3).
• Goal is focused economic development and a mutually beneficial partnership for the waterfront areas involving:
o Coos County;
o City of North Bend;
o City of Coos Bay; and
o Oregon International of Coos Bay.
• The service area would be the boundaries of the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan area.
• Approximately half of the annual payments initially would be set aside to build an endowment to fund bay front projects in perpetuity.
• The Bayfront Investment Corporation could provide funding for:
o Mitigation banking;
o Brownfield redevelopment
• Eradicate blight;
• Create shovel-ready sites;
• Improve access to multimodal transportation; and
• Create opportunities for expanded waterfront based tourism and recreation.
o Direct service projects
(i.e. waterfront walkway, shipyard work docks, water quality improvements, flood control, etc.); and
o Small business development and support

• Board of directors is proposed to include five members serving staggered terms, with one representative each appointed by:
o Coos County
o North Bend
o Coos Bay
o Port of Coos Bay
o Public at large from the service area (agreed upon by all entities)

hubris-titanic1According to Koch, this will keep tax dollars local and ensure a “more intelligent” use of public money, however thus far the public have not been invited to weigh in as all planning has occurred behind closed doors. Most importantly, the public have been given no say whatsoever in the selection of who will control these funds. The hubris of the local economic development evangelicals is astonishing. Koch also revealed during his presentation that the CCURA doesn’t have to take all the money and that building up the endowment in the Bayfront Investment Corporation would give “us more time to play with the money.”

Government sanctioned economic development, particularly projects administered by the Port of Coos Bay have a dismal record, at least in Coos County. (Read The JOB Messiahs). Heretofore, none of the usual players involved in past and recent boondoggles have ever been held accountable in the local media. At the recent Wyden town hall meeting, a promoter of the 12″ pipeline, Tim Bishop, stood up and accused Jody McCaffree and Citizens Against LNG of being “against everything, even the county pipeline.” Of course no one is against “everything” but in the matter of the pipeline its opponents were right, Bishop was wrong. The project failed to meet any of its promises and the environmental degradation is still being cleaned up at public expense to this day. There is a disconnect between supporting viable projects and chasing pipe dreams and unfortunately, those currently slated to administer these endowments are more famous for the latter.

Douglas county impasse, import only pipeline condition stands

Douglas County Planning commissioners deadlocked three to three in a vote to do away with Condition No. 12 of the PCGP (Pacific Gas Connector Pipeline) export permit that limits the direction of flow of gas to import only and the realignment of Weaver’s Ridge. The deadlock means the new export application is deemed not approved so the import only condition of approval remains with the matter expected to be turned over to the Douglas County commissioners for a final decision. The PCGP would connect fracked natural gas with the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal.

pipeline2Coos County Commissioners, however, accepted hearings officer Andrew Stamps recommendations. Both John Sweet and Melissa Cribbins expressed support for the Jordan Cove LNG project during their campaigns and Sweet has been recorded doing the same since he was elected. Additionally, Sweet was observed late last year holding a lengthy meeting with representatives of Jordan Cove at the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport belying his claim yesterday of no ex parte contact.

Oregonian finally notices Southern Oregon, but do we want their attention?

An editorial in The Oregonian today is written in much the same style that, at least until recently, The World all too often employed. The piece is filled with empty declarative statements and almost entirely devoid of supporting argument or useful information. The paper tosses out assumptions like Wyden’s “slow, let’s-get-this-right approach underscores an acceptance, finally, that Jordan Cove could be good for Oregon’s South Coast and, perhaps, of minimal risk to the nation’s energy security” and that “the time seems right for this $7.5 billion project to move decisively forward.” It’s almost like the authors were too busy to actually consider how a project like this would affect a rural county almost five hours south.

Screen shot 2013-12-08 at 9.17.28 PMEven the title, “After 10 years of trying, Jordan Cove LNG should the get the OK“, seems to imply that time alone is a solid enough reason to approve the project. How about an OP-ED entitled “We have been fighting it for 10 years, Jordan Cove LNG should just go away.”

The editorial fails to demonstrate to the reader how the conclusion was reached and probably the best line that sums up how poorly written and reasoned this entire piece is is a quote from David Koch of the Port of Coos Bay. “This community has been kicked in the teeth. I grew up in Portland, and folks have no idea of how bad it is.” Yes, well, that was very informative… thanks so much.

Perhaps, if I have the time, I will submit an opposing viewpoint but mostly the next time The Oregonian wants to discuss Coos County it might be better if they just don’t.

Wyden townhall: "We can have it all". Forest bill due tomorrow and busload of pro-LNG

BS Oregon cannot get locals to come out in mass to support LNG so they bussed some union members in from Portland and Vancouver. Dressed in their chartreuse BS Oregon t-shirts they came well coached and spread out through the auditorium to show support for the Jordan Cove LNG project.

IMG_5331The group also took up many of the tickets used to pick questioners from the audience and when their number was called by the emcee, Commissioner Melissa Cribbins, gave their turn to their union reps. Wyden, ever the politician, tells the crowd “if we do this right, we can have it all.” Then receives cheers from the chartreuse rent-a-supporters when he claims that natural gas produces half the emissions of coal. (The good news, evidently, is that all these guys do believe in global warming). However, according to the “Cornell Study” Wyden is wrong.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, with a global warming potential that is far greater than that of carbon dioxide, particularly over the time horizon of the first few decades following emission. Methane contributes substantially to the greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas on shorter time scales, dominating it on a 20-year time horizon. The footprint for shale gas is greater than that for conventional gas or oil when viewed on any time horizon, but particularly so over 20 years. Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20% greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years.

One of the most powerful statements of the evening came from Douglas County rancher, Bill Gow. Gow, a former iron worker and still a union member described how he had worked hard to acquire his ranch and timber property so that his family could make a living off the land for generations to come. The proposed Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline will cut a wide swatch through two miles of his land which he may lose to eminent domain. There were gasps from the chartreuse crowd when Gow said he had been offered only $14,000 by the pipeline company and afterwards many of them approached him to say they had no idea this project would impact people in this way.

Things got really ugly when Tim Bishop, who curiously still likes to take credit for instigating the environmental and economic disaster known as the county owned gas pipeline, made a personal attack on Jody McCaffree, director of Citizens Against LNG and all “those people against everything.” It was ugly and inappropriate and Cribbins did nothing to stop him and once I get the video I will write more about this.

Wyden says his long awaited forest resources bill will be announced in the company of Governor Kitzhaber and members of the timber industry on Tuesday. Once again, “we can have it all” and increase the cutting of federal timber and still keep the environmentalists happy. “We can end these forest wars for good”!, he says. If his bill means to privatize more of the commons, particularly in a state where the timber industry doesn’t pay its fair share in property taxes on its own land, then the forest wars will have only just begun.

Wyden did say that he had voted to eliminate tax breaks given to companies using foreign labor for manufacturing.