Douglas County residents face the threat of eminent domain by a foreign corporate partnership. Canada’s Veresen, Inc., and Williams Companies strategized to construct the Pacific Connector Pipeline, a 36-inch high-pressure pipe carrying non-odorized fracked gas across rural properties.
If approved, that gas will be transported to the proposed Jordan Cove facility in Coos Bay, converted to LNG and exported to Asia for competing economic interests to the U.S. If built, Jordan Cove will become the top polluter in Oregon.
These companies know well the rural scenario: dangle the “job carrot” in front of vulnerable communities, promise politicians and the Chamber of Commerce streets paved in gold and <snap> they’re in! Private citizens and property owners speak against these projects and point to places like Malin, Oregon, where promised prosperity from construction of the Ruby Pipeline was, as we predict here, more boom and bust economics.
Boost Southwest Oregon organized as a nonprofit specifically to advocate for Jordan Cove and the pipeline projects. They are well funded. You see their ads and hear their commercials all the time now, likely underwritten by those who stand to benefit such as unionized labor and the companies themselves.
If they are willing to spend $7.2 billion dollars to maybe create 150 long-term family wage jobs, none of which will be in Douglas County, what’s a few thousand to buy friends through advertising and Chamber luncheons? Imagine the fair return and fat wallets of corporate shareholders on this investment. They do not do business for the fun of it; they do it to make money, lots and lots of money.
Douglas County landowners stand to lose what they have worked a lifetime for and were offered pennies on the dollar to construct the pipeline across their properties. Unlike the private corporations, it is not about money for landowners; it is having the right to say “No” to the pipeline and saving their homes.
It works like this: if Pacific Connector or Jordan Cove are approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a federal agency, supported by fees from the oil and gas industry, eminent domain is an automatic right for foreign corporations to take the land of your Douglas County neighbors. Landowners are prohibited from saying no.
Landowners followed the local regulatory route and contend Douglas County did not protect them through current zoning regulations. The County’s Coastal Zone Management Area is the one area where local government can trump Federal approvals on public and private lands. While shepherding the pipeline permit through with Williams’ attorneys, Douglas County’s Planning Director was adamant Commissioners’ only option was to approve the permit. The State Land Use Board of Appeals however, ruled Commissioners could indeed say no.
Where is the public good or public interest in these projects? They are not building a school or a hospital to benefit our community, it is a pipeline to benefit a private company. We wonder how the argument that those temporary paychecks for out-of-town workers, some from as far away as Oklahoma, outweighs the lifetime of work and sacrifice more than 600 tax-paying Oregonians stand to lose. Odds are not favorable. FERCs record to date: communities nothing, corporations everything.
We especially wonder about energy independence when officials are hell-bent on exporting our natural resources at the expense of thousands of Americans facing eminent domain and domestic job loss to make way for private corporate profits. We puzzle over the acceptance of the Pacific Connector Pipeline and its fracked gas by Senators Wyden and Merkley, and Congressman DeFazio, each outspokenly opposed to the Keystone XL. You cannot be for one and against the other. Governor Brown is quiet on this issue now, yet was adamantly against LNG when running for Secretary of State.
Abraham Lincoln counseled, “This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it.”
Yes, weary and seeing little choice but to heed Lincoln’s words, we exercised our right to amend our government and take back our community. We joined cities and counties across America and filed a Community Bill of Rights Initiative for a sustainable energy future with Douglas County’s Clerk.
A Portland law firm through an unknown benefactor has now sued her and the District Attorney. Through local petitioners they seek to prevent our constitutional right to amend our government. We are undeterred and remain vigorous in our goal to undo the stranglehold and end the rabid assault by corporations to rob us of our right to a sustainable energy future.
Our wish is simple: to offer our children and grandchildren a viable future and the right to protect our families and homes from those who seek to do us harm.
Stacey McLaughlin lives in Round Prairie where her family’s property will be threatened by eminent domain if the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline is constructed. Stacey joined with fellow petitioners Susan Applegate and Jim Dahlman in filing a Community Bill of Rights Initiative for a Sustainable Energy Future. Initiative petitioners have filed to intervene in the lawsuits against Douglas County.