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Your View: Don't let Jordan Cove risk Oregon's assets

Editor’s Note: This is another take on our editorial published Friday, Jan. 11.

Oregon Department of State Land’s (DSL) decision requires they “ensure the collective rights of the public,” including activities such as fishing and boating, but also “other public trust values.” Their “paramount policy” is to deny any use “inconsistent with the protection, preservation and best use of the water resources of this state.”

DSL must recognize the high value we place on our natural resources and outdoor lifestyles. It will make a risk-benefit analysis, asking if the project is a “best use,” worth the risk to valuable assets.

FERC estimates natural gas will last over 90 years at 2012 consumption levels. Seven years on, and with export needs to be met by increased fracking, the life of this resource compared to Coos Bay and the Rogue River is brief. Fracking was claimed to be transitional, from coal to clean energy, and preferred to building new nuclear power plants. Those are opportunities lost to export.

Suppose fracking is not able to increase to meet export demand. The fracking boom was fueled by ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policy) junk loans. Rates are rising and those loans need to be rolled over, yet companies are still not profitable. Fracked gas may not be available in the quality or price needed. Will Jordan Cove post a performance bond after clear cutting rights-of-way for their 36 inch pipelines? If our waterways or Coos Bay estuary is polluted after an accident, could they just walk away, leaving the state and taxpayers to clean up?

DSL’s standard is “reasonably expected adverse effect” in weighing risk. Oregon assures us we will have an earthquake. What is the risk-benefit ratio of Jordan Cove then? What is the risk of a pipeline break during drought or fire season? What is the risk to the Rogue Valley’s drinking water?

Reasonably, there are risks. What are the benefits that make them worthwhile? FERC says the “likely net economic benefits” “outweigh the potential negative impacts,” and is in “the public interest.” They hope you don’t catch the wiggle-word: “net.”

FERC admits this project will harm most Oregonians. The “net” benefit is that more jobs will be created in Asia, and they might buy goods produced here, except fewer goods will be. Foreign factories will buy more LNG exports, which benefits the hidden owners of Jordan Cove. Possibly some will trickle down into a pension, but likely in Canada. Net benefit job creation is from more fracking, pipelines and LNG terminals.

In FERC’s own words:

“Overall, both total labor compensation and income from investment are projected to decline, and income to owners of natural gas resources will increase”, and “LNG exports would have two major effects on income: it raises energy costs and, in the process, depresses both real wages and the return on capital in all other industries.”

Do not let Jordan Cove risk our natural assets for no benefit to ordinary Oregonians, those for whom Oregon’s Department of State Lands works. Deny Jordan Cove its permit.

Peggy Hirsch lives near Ashland.