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Two hundred people gathered to protest the Jordan Cove LNG Project in Medford, Oregon on March 23rd, 2017. Jordan Cove LNG(liquefied natural gas) is a 230 mile Liquefied Natural Gas pipeline designed to run under 400 streams and waterways including the Klamath River, Rogue River and Coos Bay, Oregon. Jordan Cove LNG is in the first stages of seeking approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission(FERC) to build the first LNG export terminal on the west coast. The Terminal would be the connection point for fracked(hydraulic fracturing) gas pipelines in multiple states and out of Canada. The terminal would serve as the fill up station for tankers caring the gas across the ocean to Asian markets.
The protest was led by Tribal members of the Yurok, Hoopa, Karuk, Modoc and Klamath Tribes of Northern California and Southern Oregon. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission(FERC) required the Jordan Cove LNG company to hold 4 open houses in Southern Oregon to take comments from citizens concerning the pipeline. The first open house was held in Coos Bay, Oregon, the second was held at the Seven Feathers Casino in Canyonville, the third was held at the Library in Medford and the final open house was held at the Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Large groups of people showed up to voice their disapproval of Jordan Cove LNG at each open house. Tribal members argued that the pipeline would run through Tribal lands, burial sites and water resources. Other citizens were concerned with land rights, the environmental impact and the lack of jobs associated with the pipeline.
Klamath Tribal Chairman Donald Gentry
Tribal Chairman Donald Gentry/Dici Gyank(Lives Good) of the Klamath Tribe was present at the Jordan Cove LNG Open House in Klamath Falls, Oregon. He gave a speech thanking the hundreds of protesters for supporting the Klamath Tribe and standing in solidarity with them against the Jordan Cove Project. “We(Klamath Tribe) have written a letter to Jordan Cove LNG and consulted our local politicians” he explained. “LNG is an unacceptable risk to our cultural sites, our burial sites and our rivers. We are concerned with sustainability. We’re seeing the impacts now, to our plants, our fish. We are seeing it with earthquakes from fracking(hydraulic fracturing). Our Native people have put up with a lot. Our environment and resources have suffered for other people’s benefit. It’s time to stand up and say enough. It’s time to stand globally. We need to support and stand with other tribes. We need to work together and walk the halls of congress.”
Each open house was attended by Tribal members of the Hoopa Nation Patty Joseph and Thomas Joseph II. The mother and son duo were involved with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Dakota Access Pipeline was built in North Dakota earlier this year on the 1851 treaty land of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The Joseph’s joined the Standing Rock Sioux in fighting against the Dakota Access Pipeline. They built a kitchen at Standing Rock in August of 2016 called California Kitchen. Over the course of several months the Josephs fed tens of thousands of people. I spoke with them in Klamath Falls, Oregon and asked them why they were attending the Jordan Cove LNG Open Houses.
Thomas Joseph II – “We live on 10,000 year old ancestral land along the Trinity River, which is a tributary of the Klamath River. What effects the Klamath effects us.”
Patty Joseph – “None of the 200 permanent jobs are going to be given to the people of Oregon. The gas is being sent to Japan so it’s not for American use. The company building the pipeline is from Canada and they plan to use Russian steal… not American.”
Thomas Joseph II – “LNG is one of many black snakes(pipelines). It’s a 7.4 billion dollar project so it’s twice the size of the DAPL(Dakota Access Pipeline). It’s the King Snake. The death of Jordan Cove LNG is the death of all the black snakes in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, California, Washington, Oregon and Canada. Unfortunately we don’t have the option of divesting from the pipeline like we did at Standing Rock. All of the banks involved with Jordan Cove LNG are based out of Canada, so we are relying on Canadians and investors outside of California and Oregon to divest for us.”
Klamath Tribal member Garin Riddle
Garin Riddle spoke at the Open House in Klamath Falls. Garin is a father, Modoc, Paiute and member of the Klamath Tribe. He thanked everyone for supporting the Klamath Tribe’s efforts to stop the pipeline and apologized for speaking in front of his elders.
“I was taught not to speak in front of my elders, but to listen. For that I apologize. We have a choice. A choice to be informed about the land and environment we live in. We also have a choice to use our consciousness to fight against the things we don’t agree with. The days of bows and arrows are over. We can no longer fight our enemy in that manner. We have to fight them with the forums and processes we have available to us. These are the same processes that ultimately allow dams and pipelines to be built. Our opportunity is in the comments section of the FERC website. If we do not use this forum we are being silent to the government that allows these things to happen.”
he explained that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission(FERC) used the lack comments received on their official website as a reason for approving the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“We’re not going to let them use that excuse again.” – Garin Riddle
Klamath Tribal members Millie Wahl(leftt) and Ramona Mason(right)
Klamath Tribal members Ramona Mason and Millie Wahl spoke at the Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls.
“The water is part of our creation story, that’s our Jesus. That’s like bulldozing a pipeline through the Vatican?” – Ramona Mason
The two explained the process of building a pipeline. They described how worker camps are set up to house the men temporarily working on the pipeline during the construction phase. They also described the alarming rate at which Native American women are victims of sexual assault in America.
“1 in 3 Native American women are victims of a rape in their lifetime. The men working on these pipelines are brought in from out of state and if an assault takes place on a reservation there are conflicting jurisdictions that make it difficult to process these crimes.” – Millie Wahl
I spoke with representatives of the LIAUNA Labor Union in Medford, Oregon and I was told that 400-800 of the 3,500 temporary construction jobs are required to be given to citizens from Oregon via the LIAUNA Labor Union. That means that potentially 3,100 – 2,700 jobs will be given to male employees from out of state.
“…when the number of male pipeline employees outnumbers the amount of people living on the reservation, it is a threat to the safety of the women of our Tribe.” – Ramona Mason
Mahlija Florendo of the Hoopa Youth Council
Sammy Gensaw III(far right) of the Nature Rights Council, Marva Jones(right) of the Seventh Generation Fund
At each of the open houses there was large groups of young indigenous tribal members These groups were led by 19 year old Mahlija Florendo of the Hoopa Youth Council and 23 year old Sammy Gensaw III of the Nature Rights Council a youth group working in partnership with the Seventh Generation Fund out of Arcata, Ca. Mahlija led the crowd in chants of “No pipelines, through our lifelines!” I spoke with Mahlija Florendo before the open house at Seven Feathers Casino in Canyonville, Oregon.
“The Klamath(river) is our food source, our water source, it’s were we get our basket making materials, it’s where our salmon live.” Mahlija Florendo
She described the 2002 Fish Kill that was happened as a result of a dam being build on the Klamath River.
“34,000 fish died of gill rot and people were unable to swim in the Klamath River because of the toxic blue green algae that grew there.” Mahlija Florendo
“Our grandfathers and mothers have been fighting for our fishing rights and our water rights. The Klamath River has provided life for us and now it’s sick.” – Sammy Gensaw II
Marva Jones was with Sammy Gensaw and the Nature Rights Council. Marva is the Affiliate Program and Special Projects Officer for the Seventh Generation Fund. The Seventh Generation Fund is celebrating it’s 40th anniversary as a Native non-profit organization this year and has been instrumental fighting the Jordan Cove LNG project. A few weeks prior to the open houses in Oregon the Seventh Generation Fund put on the “Water Is Life” conference at Humboldt State University. The conference was centered around the Standing Rock – Klamath connection and it gave insight as to how Native Tribes from California have been involved with the fight for treaty and water rights throughout history.
Willard Carlson Jr. Wounded Knee Veteran and member of the Yurok Tribe
Yurok Tribal member Willard Carlson Jr. spoke at the “Water Is Life” conference put on by the Seventh Generation Fund at Humboldt State University. Willard was involved at Wounded Knee in 1973 on the Pine Ridge Reservation, he fought for Yurok fishing rights along the Klamath River during the 1978-79 Klamath Fish Wars and he went to North Dakota last year to support the Standing Rock Sioux against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Now he is fighting the construction of the Jordan Cove LNG pipeline and terminal.
“We need to stand up for the Klamath River the way we did for the Missouri at Standing Rock.” – Willard Carlson Jr.
Yurok Tribal Elder Jene McCovey(left) and Mescalero Apache Tribal member Maria Gerolaga(right)
I Mescalero Apache Maria Rainbow Gerolaga and Yurok Tribal Elder Jene L. McCovey spoke at the open house in Medford, Oregon. They explained that price of LNG gas is down in the markets and that the proposal to build the LNG Export Terminal has been denied numerous times because no international buyers had signed on to the project.
“All people unite and come join us. Stand up against all pipelines and corporations destroying mother earth.” – Maria Gerolaga
“I encourage the divestment of fossil fuels and to promote alternative energy. Clean air, water and fertile soil is a human right. It is the sacred trust of elected officials to protect these rights.” – Jene McCovey
Bill Gow landowner
Landowner and cattle rancher Bill Gow spoke in Canyonville, Oregon. He said he was offered $14,000 by Jordan Cove LNG to allow the pipeline to run through his cattle fields. Bill said that if he doesn’t take the offer, Jordan Cove LNG is going to use eminent domain to take 26 acres of his ranch to build the pipeline.
“How would you like it if I came into your house and took your things. Can I do that? Can I walk into your house and take whatever I want? Then why can you do that to me?” – Bill Gow
There are over 300 landowners whose property is in the path of the Jordan Cove LNG Project. I spoke with Timber Farmer John Clark from Winston, Oregon and Clarence Adams of Ten Mile, Oregon who were both in attendance at the open house in Medford, Oregon. Clarence Adams explained that fracked gas has to be cooled down to -260 degrees to keep the gas in liquid form. Because of this the pipeline has to be pressurized to move the gas.
“LNG pipelines don’t leak… they explode. The blast radius of an LNG pipeline is 600ft… my house is 200ft from the pipeline.” – Clarence Adams
John Clark is 82 years old and owns 160 acres where his family business is growing trees for Timber. He said that the pipeline would run through about 40% of his property including underneath the only access road to his timber farm. He said that if the pipe were to explode under his road it would shut down his business or worse burn his timber farm down. He also said he would have to ask permission to use his road in the future because of eminent domain.
“They want to run the pipeline under my road. I shouldn’t have to ask permission to use my own road.” he said.
Francis Eatherington of the Oregon Women’s Land Trust
“80 miles of old growth forest would have to be clear cut to make way for the pipeline. The Oregon Women’s Land Trust owns a 147 acre property that is home to the Spotted Owl a threatened species according to the Endangered Species Act. 8 acres of our land would be taken by eminent domain. This land is the Spotted Owl’s home and they are going to clear cut it. 50 feet on both sides of the pipeline would have to be clear cut to ensure that the pipeline wouldn’t be at risk during a wildfire. Jordan Cove LNG has designed the pipeline to run through recent wildfire area. The location for the export terminal in Coos Bay is on a fault line susceptible to earthquakes and is a known tsunami flood zone. The tankers would be coming Japan twice a week through the migration path of up to 7 species of endangered whales, including the Grey Whale. The Grey Whale is categorized as “Critically Endangered” under the Endangered Species Act with as few as 150 in existence. These tankers would spike the level of ship strikes. Ship strikes are whales that are killed by industrial tankers. These ships are just too large of vessels to be able to avoid a pack of whales. LNG tankers are considered a terrorist risk because technically a tanker full of LNG carries the same amount of energy as 40 nuclear bombs. Because of this LNG tankers have to be escorted by security boats shutting down all other vessels from passing through Coos Bay. There will be up to 2 tankers a week passing through Coos Bay and each fill up could take as long as 3 days. This could shut down fishing in Coos Bay for 6 days out of the week. Coos Bay is home to large oyster beds and a large fishing industry. If the pipeline ever exploded under the bay it would destroy these oyster beds and ruin the oyster industry. We may lose more jobs than we create by allowing Jordan Cove LNG to build their export terminal..” – Francis Eatherington
The Oregon Corps of Engineers have had many letters of concern regarding the danger of LNG pipelines and facilities. One of them coming from U.S. Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Chair, Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee
“LNG fires burn hotter than regular gas fires and may emit thermal radiation that could burn even people near the vicinity of the fire. There is no reason to place these facilities In any location that could expose nearby residents to such risks.” – U.S. Representative Elijah E. Cummings
Another letter came from Fire Chief Ted Ames, Warrenton, OR
“I’m very concerned about our ability to do anything In case of a tanker mishap …. If we put in a product that is as potentially flammable as an LNG facility, we’ve increased the probability to do harm to the public.” – Fire Chief Ted Ames
Hannah Sohl of Rogue Climate
In Klamath Falls I spoke with Hannah Sohl of Rogue Climate an environmental organization that have been fighting LNG export terminal proposals. “Hundreds of people turned out the last time they tried to build an LNG export terminal was in Northern Oregon. We were able to stop the Oregon LNG project in Astoria. We were coordinating and grassroots organizing around the pipeline. A LNG export terminal would be the largest polluter and source of climate change on the west coast. Aside from all the dangerous risks posed around explosions and water contamination, that the plant would have to burn 15% of the LNG sent to the station to keep the gas in liquid form. Burning LNG produces methane emissions which trap heat in the atmosphere at a rate 86 times greater than carbon dioxide. The company pulled out of the Oregon LNG export terminal in Astoria in April 2016 over concerns with Tribal fishing rights in the Columbia River. They also didn’t have any buyers for the gas internationally. Ultimately they decided that it was to big of risk and they may not get a return on their investment.” – Hannah Sohl
Konrad Fisher of The Klamath River Keepers
Konrad Fisher of The Klamath River Keepers was present at the Klamath Falls open house. The Klamath River Keepers have been fighting for the removal of the Dam that caused the 2002 Fish Kill and they are opposed to the LNG export terminal in Coos Bay.
“This is the only proposed LNG export station on the west coast and that nobody wants it here. We’ve received over 8,000 signatures on our petition to block the LNG pipeline under the Klamath River.” – Konrad Fisher
These are many of the concerns of the citizens and tribal members of Northern California and Southern Oregon. But what is even more interesting is the concerns expressed by the Federal Government itself. The Jordan Cove Project was denied by the federal government twice in 2016, once in March and again in December. The denial was based on the lack of jobs available to Oregon citizens, the encroachment of over 300 private landowner’s properties and the inability to find a international buyers for LNG gas. Previous fossil fuel companies have abandoned past projects because the the expense of the project compared to the potential profit. The price of gas has dropped and the lack of international buyers make the 7.4 Billion dollar project economically risky. Less than a third of the 3,500 temporary jobs will be filled by Oregon residents and none of the 200 permanent jobs are required to be filled by Oregonians. Since the 2 denials in 2016 a new administration has taken the executive branch of the United States Government and is committed to pushing through all fossil fuel infrastructure. The Jordan Cove Project has been rerouted and increased in size by 25% including 230 miles of pipeline proposed to run underneath 400 waterways including the Klamath River, the Rogue River and Coos Bay in Southern Oregon. Many attending the Jordan Cove LNG open houses considered this a last desperate attempt by fossil fuel investors to capitalize on fracking before it becomes economically irrelevant.
There is currently only one operational fracked gas export terminal in existence and it is in Freeport, Texas. The parent company of the Jordan Cove Project is Canada’s Veresen Inc. Their chief executive officer Don Althoff is betting the fate of his $5 billion company on the natural gas export project.
“It’s a high-risk game, I have got a $5 billion market cap and I am looking at a $7 billion capital project,” Althoff said in an interview. “I am going to spend a lot of money to get this project to final investment decision and its high risk dollars. And when I do, people will pay me a premium for an investment in the project.” – Don Althoff
The Trump administration recently named Robert Powelson the President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners(NARUC) as a considered appointee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission(FERC). Powell recently voiced his opinion of American Citizens and Native Americans who stand up to fossil fuel interests when he said “…people opposing pipeline projects are engaged in a “jihad” to keep natural gas from reaching new markets.” Robert Powelson
Help stop the Jordan Cove LNG project.
Go to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission(FERC) website and comment on the Jordan Cove LNG Project.
Jordan Cove LNG docket numbers are:
CP13-483-000(Pipeline) and CP13-492-000(Export Terminal) Comment on both dockets.
Please sign the Klamath River Keepers Petition to block the pipeline under the Klamath River:
Help support The Seventh Generation Fund:
Help support Rogue Climate:
Thank you for your support!
Jene McCovey(left) Yurok Tribe and Erik Rydberg(right) Kashia band Pomo Indians
Erik Rydberg is a Spokesperson of the Green Party of California and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org