E-News: Opinion Piece – If you live in Oregon/Klamath County and care about clean air & water, you should read May 15

Sally Wells’ opinion piece in Klamath’s Herald and News is one of the most convincing commentaries we have seen in opposition to the Jordan Cove/Pipeline project.

Take a closer look at Jordan Cove project | Guest Commentary | heraldandnews.com


Sally Wells


“So if the project limits its liability, whose liability is it? And who gets the taxes on the anticipated billions of dollars in revenue?”

We lived in Indonesia in 1982 when Mobil Oil had a blow-out of one of its gas wells in the Arun Gas Field in Sumatra. For four months the out-of-control well flared 100 million cubic feet of methane a day into the tropical atmosphere. It was finally plugged and shut down, at a cost of $64 million dollars.

Quoting “scholar” Mark J. Perry in his recent H&N Guest Opinion, “While methane doesn’t stay in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide, it is initially far more of a problem. In the first two decades (emphasis is mine) after its release, methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide.”

So I guess the potency of the 1982 Arun Field blow-out is reduced by now. Isn’t that reassuring?

In a recent meeting with Bob Reinbold, Pembina’s community affairs consultant, and Joe Spendolini, also a consultant to Pembina, Bob made a careful point of telling us that arguments on the basis of carbon or other atmospheric pollution would not be considered in the permitting of the Jordan Cove LNG project.

Another point he particularly stressed was that Pembina was “only the conduit”, and bore no responsibility for the environmental damage done by either the fracking for natural gas (its product) or the burning of the gas in Asia (its market). They don’t look up, or down, or out… Pembina’s vision seems to be 36” wide and 234 miles long.

If Oregon is going to take all the risk and environmental damage from this corporate venture, doesn’t it seem reasonable that the operating entities be Oregon corporations, subject to Oregon corporate taxes? The lower-level folks at the Klamath Falls office didn’t seem to know much about these bigger picture corporate questions.

Limited liability

In trying to research this, I found in the Secretary of State’s Business Registry a total of six separate entities, both partnerships (LPs) and corporations (LLCs) that are registered to do business in Oregon.

The names registered are Jordan Cove Energy Project and Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline. Two of the entities noted they were formed in Delaware, a common corporate haven. Nowhere did I see the name Pembina. The initial “L” in both partnerships and corporations stands for “Limited”. The second “L” in the corporation designation stands for “Liability”. So if the project limits its liability, whose liability is it? And who gets the taxes on the anticipated billions of dollars in revenue?

A news item in an industry paper back in December 2018 reported that Pembina wanted to sell 40 percent to 50 percent of its ownership in Jordan Cove LNG “to spread the risk and to help finance the project.” This strikes me as information that is very pertinent to permitting this reckless venture.

The ability and stability of the company proposing to dig a trench across southern Oregon and fill it with natural gas, build a huge liquification plant and tanker terminal in Coos Bay, and maintain and operate them for 40 years ought to be a big part of Oregon’s consideration.

Adequate markets

It was “market forces” that stopped the last pipeline and LNG plant effort. FERC denied the export facility in March of 2016 because it had not identified adequate markets for its product.

In that regard, we noted in a March 31, 2019, Herald and News article that the price of natural gas was down 44 percent in the first quarter, worst quarter in a decade; and that gas futures were down more than 8 percent, the worst quarterly loss in two years. This, too, strikes me as pertinent information to the permitting of the project.

Given that Oregon has a reputation…and a deserved one…as a green state, and that our stated goals are to move to renewable energy and to address the causes of climate change as quickly as possible, how does a huge fossil fuel infrastructure project like the Jordan Cove LNG plant and pipeline square with that?

Jobs but not destructive jobs

Union representatives brought in for the DSL hearing in Klamath Falls spoke in support of the project. I strongly support unions and am very aware of the need for jobs, but not destructive jobs. Not at any cost. The potential for good and long lasting jobs lies with developing renewable energy sources and in job training to fill the many types of needs our current demographics require.

All the brave children who spoke out at the Department of State Lands hearing in Klamath Falls, all the brave children in Oregon who are suing the government for not protecting their future against climate change, are being betrayed by this project, by this corporation, and by all who are not standing up and speaking out against it. This includes our commissioners, one of our senators and our governor.

We have a very limited amount of time to move to a way of human thinking and living that will continue to allow us to live on this planet. Imagine if the effort and the dollars that would go into the Jordan Cove project were instead put into efforts to move us to a sustainable way of living and a renewable-fueled future…

Please think about this project in the bigger context, do your own research, and let your representatives…commissioners, governor, senators…know your concerns.

— Sally Wells has been active in support of issues important to her for most of her 85 years. She is a 40 year resident of Klamath County, and has a deep love for our environment, our people and for all things Klamath.

*Signal Fire along with Klamath Tribes Youth Council will co-host the Comment Writing Workshop with Rogue Climate