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Two Oregon LNG Export Projects Draw Protest Rally

Shadowed by local opposition for nearly 10 years, two proponed Oregon liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects in the home stretch of the federal permitting process are the target of a rally set for later in May in the state capital at Salem. Opponents hope to get state officials to try to block the projects.

A coalition called "No LNG Exports" has scheduled an appearance at the May 26 rally by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Waterkeeper Alliance president, and has inundated social media in seeking a large turnout on the Capitol steps as a way to get help from recently installed Gov. Kate Brown.

The two pending projects -- Oregon LNG along the Columbia River near where it empties into the Pacific Ocean, and Jordan Cove LNG on the south-central Pacific Coast at Coos Bay, OR, along with respective connecting transmission pipelines -- are in the final stages of obtaining federal authority to build and export LNG to non-free trade agreement nations (see Daily GPI, Nov. 4, 2014).

Calling the proposals the largest fossil fuel export projects on the West Coast, Sarah Westover, LNG organizer for Rogue Riverkeeper, said "we are speaking out and asking Gov. Brown to help defend our state from exporting fracked gas as LNG.”

Brown's press secretary told NGI Friday that the governor has not taken a position or issued a statement regarding the upcoming rally, saying that during any given legislative session there are several rallies held at the Capitol. "Brown does encourage Oregonians to engage with their legislature on any issues of concern," he said.

Jordan Cove LNG Project Manager Bob Braddock said that although it is difficult to predict what any governor might do, "we have been told by this governor that our permits will be processed expeditiously, and if we meet the statutory requirements, we will get our permits." Braddock said there was no indication that state agencies involved were deviating from the governor's position.

Oregon LNG Project Manager Peter Hansen said he thinks the opposition is part of a "nationwide anti-natural gas campaign funded by certain East Coast law firms and West Coast hedge fund managers together with members of the Hollywood elite." Along with established environmental groups, the opposition has support from "anti-development groups," he said.

Both Hansen and Braddock have dealt with vocal local opposition to their respective projects, particularly the two connecting 36-inch diameter gas transmission pipelines (see Daily GPI, Dec. 24, 2014).

Rally sponsors hope to use the event to pressure state elected officials to oppose what are essentially two projects in which federal regulatory authority takes precedent.

Just two weeks ago, Clatsop County's denial of the Oregon LNG project's proposed 41-mile gas transmission pipeline, was upheld by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals, but that does not block the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and other federal agencies from moving the project ahead, Hansen said at the time (see Daily GPI, April 30). Oregon LNG is a unit of  New York City-based Leucadia National Corp.

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