Natural Gas Pipeline Proposed through Southern Oregon

WARNING: Parts of your property have been identified for possible
condemnation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the purpose
of building a gas pipelilne...find out how you can say NO to the LNG Terminal & Pipeline..........


What is a Pipeline?
What is LNG?
Why should I care?
LNG Links

Your comments are important! Learn how to send them here.

 


The Pipeline Issue in Southern Oregon


In Southern Oregon, a new natural gas pipeline project has been proposed. It would travel underground through Coos and Douglas County 223 miles, to the California border south of Klamath Falls.

A corridor a minimum of 100' wide will have to be clearcut the entire 223 miles to accommodate the machinery necessary to bury a 36" natural gas pipeline. 153 miles of the pipeline corridor is planned on private land, going through and near the farms and yards of thousands of people. 70 miles will be on BLM and Forest Service lands. The pipeline will be operated by Williams Pacific Connector Gas Operator LLC.

After construction, the pipeline will be maintained with a permanent cleared land opening of 75' on private land and 50' on public land. The openings are larger on private lands because the pipeline road would be permanent, whereas on public land the road would be rebuilt when needed. This clearcut corridor will completely sever southern Oregon forests and wildlife - there will be no tree bridges allowed to cross the corridor.

Buried underground and under rivers with its 100' wide clearcut corridor, the pipeline will leave Coos Bay and go south east. It will be located north of Coquille, south of Dora and Sitkum, just north of Camas Valley, through Olalla, and south of Dillard. After it crosses the South Umpqua River, it will turn south and cross both forks of Myrtle Creek, travel east of Milo, cross the South Umpqua River again, go over Wildcat Ridge in the Umpqua National Forest, and south to Trail where it will cross the Rogue River. It will eventually make its way over the Pacific Crest Trail south of Lake of the Woods, and on to Klamath Falls to meet up with the California pipeline.

The plan is to ship Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from other countries into Coos Bay on huge tankers. The gas is "liquefied" because more gas can fit on a tanker in that form. A terminal, built on the North Spit of Coos Bay, would re-gasify the natural gas. The LNG terminal would be a closed loop system using natural gas to reaheat the LNG, this means additional CO2 emissions which contribute to the greenhouse gases. Natural gas will then be piped to California via a new pipeline that goes from Coos Bay to Malin, Oregon south of Klamath Falls, where it will join an existing natural gas pipeline that goes into California.

According to the Williams Pipeline Company, over 90% of the gas in this pipeline is slated for California. The graph at left illustrates natural gas consumption rates in December of 2005. During this time, energy rates in Oregon are very high due to cold weather, but as you can see, our energy needs still did not compare to those of California's. There is currently no unmet demand for natural gas in California.

Gas Storage Already Near Record Levels

A recent report published by the Midwest Attorneys General Natural Gas Working Group concludes that the run-up in price has very little to do with “declining supplies.” As the report details, supply and demand of natural gas through the 2005-2006 winter are about where they have been for the last two years, while gas in storage is at or near record levels. Even though the supply-demand ratios are similar to the ’04-’05 winter, the laws of supply and demand would indicate similar gas prices. Yet prices were up over 60 percent at the wellhead and in the spot market. The EIS should document that there is in fact a demand for more natural gas. (Cooper, Mark. The Role of Supply, Demand and Financial Commodity Markets in the Natural Gas Price Spiral. Prepared for Midwest Attorneys General Natural Gas Working Group. Washington, DC. Consumer Federation of America. March 2006. Page 4 – 6.)

Plan Thwarted in California

Why isn't the terminal for importing LNG built in California instead of in Coos Bay? Californians do not want this in their back yard. Several terminals have been proposed in California, but none have succeeded so far because of environmental and human safety issues. For instance, on June 5, 2006, the LA Times reported that a natural gas terminal proposed for the Port of Long Beach:

"... is a source of controversy because it would be built less than two miles from downtown Long Beach, which opponents fear would be vulnerable to a catastrophic fire in the event of an accident, earthquake or terrorist attack. Officials with the California Public Utilities Commission have opposed putting a terminal in such a densely populated area. "When human error alone makes this risk too large in light of how many people would be in harm's way, the added risks of earthquakes or terrorist attacks make this site one of the worst possible sites imaginable," the commission wrote.

Instead of potentially endangering millions of people in Long Beach, Williams feels that endangering a smaller population in Coos Bay is preferable, even though millions of dollars will likely have to be spent to pipe the gas to California. Of course, Oregon would receive some of the gas, but there is currently not a large unmet demand here.

It would be wonderful if natural gas could replace other, dirtier fossil fuels, but natural gas will simply add to fossil fuel burning. It could encourage industrial and residential growth without conservation. Often more expensive, conservation and renewable energy sources may be ruled out if abundant natural gas is available.

What is a Pipeline?

Pipelines are methods for transporting liquids--often different types of gas--to different areas through the use of underground pipes. These pipes can be anywhere from 10 inches to over 36 inches in diameter. They may transport materials just a few miles, or hundreds of miles. In Oregon alone, there are 15,000 miles of pipeline systems.

What is LNG?

LNG is the liquid form of natural gas. Natural gas, like the kind used for cooking and heating, is turned into a liquid by cooling it to -260°F. In liquid form, the gas takes up 1/600th of the space, making it easier to transport over long distances. Once the natural gas is turned to LNG it can be transported and stored in insulated tanks which act like thermos bottles. Giant ships, like the one shown at left, transport LNG.

LNG is produced in Australia, Alaska, Trinidad, Algeria, Malaysia, Nigeria, Oman, Abu Dhabi, Brunei and Qatar. New production plants are being developed today in Norway, Venezuela, Egypt, Bolivia, Peru, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Russia, among other places.

Why Should I Care?


To begin, there have been instances of pipelines rupturing. You can view a video of the 36" Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation Natural Gas Pipeline in Edison, New Jersey explosion here. A fire of this magnitude could destroy homes and would most likely set forests aflame.

Environmental Effects
There are numerous environmental problems with this proposal. To begin, a 100 foot wide permanent clearcut will increase risks of erosion. This is exactly what happened with the 2003 Roseburg-to-Coos-Bay pipeline right-of-way after it rained (left). Despite the flimsy erosion control barriers, mud slid down into Tenmile Creek. This in turn affected people's and other animals' drinking water, as well as degraded fish habitat. Fish were further harmed when pipe lubricant leaked into the creek and virtually solidified salmon spawning beds.

The pipeline right-of-way clearcut corridor will be clearcut. Any wildlife that cannot travel over the corridor, like red tree voles who travel by tree canopies, will be severed from the rest of their population.

Social Effects
If someone is adversed to having the pipeline built into their property, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will issue a "Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity" which will allow Williams to acquire the land through eminent domain. If a private property owner does not want to sell, the corporation will be able to seize the land anyway. Such actions are made legal through eminent domain.

About the issue of eminent domain, the Williams Pipeline website says:

Do we have the right to condemn for an easement? Generally, once the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for a project, the company may, by virtue of the authority franted in the Natural Gas Act, seek authority from the court to obtain the limited rights necessary to contstruct, operate, and maintain a pipeline.

What is living with a pipeline like? To begin, the pipeline right-of-way will remain in perpetuity. Structures like fences and swimming pools usually will be prohibited. Glenn Archambault and Terri Magruder, whose land the pipeline was built into, offer this insight in their article "Living on the Pipeline":

The pipe is located next to our home, barn and machine shed. We are always next to it and you don’t forget about it. No one from the Office of Pipeline Safety, P G & E, or our local government checks the pipeline or talks with us. Not once have we been asked ‘What’s not safe?'

Protestors in Coos Bay, where the LNG terminal is proposed to be built.

 


If the pipeline project is adopted, 225 miles of land will have a permanent 75 foot-wide clearcut. The clearcut strip will carry the same effects as any other clearcut--risks of erosion and subsequent herbicide spraying. The pipeline could rupture, spur fires and even kill humans, as pipelines have been known to do in the past. Are all of these concerns valid? Do we need more miles of pipelines, especially since this particular line will send the majority of its gas to California?

 

 

 

 

How to Comment

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the government agency overseeing this project, is asking for your opinion on what alternatives to consider. They will be considered when the agency writes an Environmental Impact Statement. Comments must be postmarked by July 24.

There are four ways you can submit comments.

1. Postal mail three copies of your letter to:

Magalie R. Salas, Secretary FERC
888 First St., NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426

At the top of the letters, reference Docket Nos. PF06-25-000 and PF06-26-000. Label one for the attention of DG2E/G3.

2. Go to the FERC website to upload a document: http://www.ferc.gov

You have to create an account and follow about 20 steps. If it gets too complicated, they have a toll free number you can call for help.... OR

3. Email FERC your comments through us:

Email your comments to:  gas_comments@ftml.net
We will upload them to the FERC site for you.

4. Attend a Public Meeting - we will let you know as these arise.

Please tell FERC to consider the following alternatives in the EIS:

*Alternative Energy - Ask FERC to increase our energy dependence on renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind or waves. The government can play a big role in fostering research and tax incentives to help eliminate the need to increase foreign sources of natural gas.

*Conservation - The U.S. is home to 5% of the world's population, yet consumes 26% of the world's energy. 90% of the energy we use in this country comes from fossil fuels. Conservation of our energy needs could eliminate the need to increase our dependence on foreign fossil flues. Ask FERC to consider an alternative that encourages and legislates sensible conservation. Not only could it eliminate the need for more fossil fuels, it will also save Americans money.

*Not in our Backyard - Ask FERC to consider an alternative that puts the LNG terminal in California instead of Coos Bay. Though this alternative does not reduce our dependence on foreign fossil fuels, it does eliminate the need for the 230-mile pipeline to bring gas to California.

In your comments, remind the federal government of what President Bush said:

“For the sake of our economic and national security, we must reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy – including on the natural gas that is a source of electricity for many American homes...”

MORE INFORMATION: Follow these links for more LNG information:

Pacific Environment - http://www.pacificenvironment.org

- group from San Francisco who has been instrumental in bringing forth information about LNG

Citizens Against LNG - http://citizensagainstlng.googlepages.com/ or www.citizensagainstlng.com

- citizens group from the Coos Bay against the LNG terminal and pipeline

Federal Energy Regulatory Commision - http://www.ferc.gov

- government agency overseeing the LNG proposal

Ratepayers For Afforadable Clean Energy - http://lngwatch.com

- a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals concerned with the State of California’s rush to sign the state up to long-term contracts for Liquefied Natural Gas

No California Pipeline - www.nocaliforniapipeline.com

- You can now make donations to the Southern Oregon Pipeline Information Project (SOPIP) directly on-line. Donations to SOPIP will be going towards our legal fund and fight and are unfortunately not tax deductible.  We are gearing up for a fundraising effort so be sure to stay tuned and check both sites from time to time. 
(Please note: If you wish to make a tax deductible donation you can do so by making a donation to Dan's group - FLOW (Friends of Living Oregon Waters) earmarked for the Southern Oregon LNG/Pipeline fight. Details on how to do this will be forthcoming soon.)

"Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky.  They are people who say, ' This is my community, and it's my responsibility to make it better.' "      -- Governor Tom McCall