Environmentally Destructive Pipeline Could Be Built in Southern Oregon

- By Dain Helmers 

Most of us remember the protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, where the Tribe fought the construction of a natural gas pipeline that runs under and nearby their local water resources.  As that battle has quieted in the news cycle, and an environmental impact report is being compiled, construction of the pipeline continues.  Meanwhile, in rural Southern Oregon, another pipeline is slated to be built.

The Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline (PCGP) is a 229-mile, 36-inch diameter pipeline slated to be constructed between Malin, a small community near Klamath Falls, and Coos Bay.  The pipeline would serve as an extension of the Ruby Pipeline, which starts in Wyoming, and at its terminus in Coos Bay, would be a large planned storage and export facility, where the gas would be sold to various countries in the Pacific Rim.  Near the start of the PCGP, the pipeline would cross underneath the Klamath River, and would desecrate tribal grave sites and further damage important ancestral lands.

The Klamath River has long been the subject of local water rights battles between the Klamath Tribes, other local farmers, dam owners, environmental groups, and others.  One huge accomplishment that has come of the 20+ years of negotiations is the upcoming removal of 4 dams on the Klamath River, which will be the largest river restoration project in U.S. history.  Once the dams are all removed, the Klamath River will finally once again (hopefully) allow salmon to travel to their old spawning grounds, which have been blocked by the dams since 1912.  But the long battle to restore the Klamath river, as well as the general environmental health of the area, may be endangered by the pipeline.  There is the risk of water and ground contamination from the pipeline itself, and there is also the problem of pollution caused by the conversion station that would be built in Malin (There would be several others along the pipeline as well, but the Klamath Basin is a geographical location that is prone to inversion layers, and that frequently does not meet federal air quality guidelines as is).  The construction itself will be damaging as well, as shade is removed from streams and pollute them with sediment, further harming fish important to the Klamath way of life.  Not only this, many landowners, including some people of the Klamath Tribes, are facing the dispossession of their land due to eminent domain.  

However, for the project to proceed, it needs to be determined by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that that the project is in the public interest.  It has already been twice decided in 2016 that it is not, due to there being insufficient evidence that points to the project being more beneficial than detrimental, but the Pembina Pipeline Corporation is still attempting to get clearance to begin construction.  The project has majority support from the Klamath County government, but not popular support from the people.  The project is also strongly supported by President Trump, and 4 of the 5 seats on FERC are Trump appointees, so there is a chance that this may happen if there is not enough public awareness and opposition.

Important contacts regarding this project for you to write to let your voice be heard:

Klamath County Governing Bodies:
Klamath County Economic Development Association
Klamath County Chamber of Commerce

Oregon Congressional Representatives:
Greg Walden (R) 2nd District (Represents Eastern Oregon, including Klamath County)
Peter Defazio (D) 4th District (Represents two counties along the pipeline's path)
Oregon Senators:
Senator Ron Wyden (D)
Senator Jeff Merkley (D)
President Donald Trump
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Read more about this story:
The Next Standing Rock? A Pipeline Battle Looms in Oregon
Klamath Basin Residents Intervene Against LNG Pipeline

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