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Guest Opinion: No thank-you yet

I recently received a mailer from The Wilderness Society encouraging me to join. The envelope had an eye-catching red stripe and a "Time-Sensitive Materials" header along with “Status-Urgent” printed under the return address. I am receiving more and more mail from conservation and wildlife groups urging me to join them now.

This membership mailer caught my attention because I was also asked to sign and return a "Thank You" applauding Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley for voting against the Murkowski Amendment sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. This amendment also has the backing of Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, and would allow the sale, transfer or exchange of wild public lands including wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, national forests and BLM lands to state and local governments. Bishop is reportedly working with anti-conservationists whose aim is to identify ways to hand over public lands to states and special interests.

The thank you request to our two Oregon senators had a headline THANK YOU FOR STANDING UP FOR OUR PUBLIC LANDS, and went on to say, "Thank you for voting against the Murkowski Amendment that proposed the sale of public lands for private use by oil, gas, mining and lobbying interests … Please do whatever you can to convince your fellow senators who supported this outrageous land grab that our children and grandchildren deserve to experience America's forests, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas. I'm counting on you!"

My questions for Senators Wyden and Merkley — and I would like to ask the same questions to Gov. Kate Brown — are simple: Why not speak out and stand up for Oregonians when it comes to the Pacific Connector pipeline proposed by a Canadian firm that would send liquified natural gas (LNG) to overseas markets from Coos Bay, stretches 235 miles, has a 90-foot clearcut corridor, crosses five major Oregon rivers, impacts 400 waterways and puts up to 32 threatened or endangered species of wildlife and plants at risk? Why not take a stand for Oregon against a project that would degrade clean water and clean air, could affect 700 landowners, cut down forests and fragment or destroy critical habitats in southwest Oregon? Why allow Coos Bay's processing and export terminal — Jordan Cove — to be built on an earthquake and tsunami zone with the capability to discharge up to 2.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually making it Oregon’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter?”

I believe Oregon is cherished by residents and visitors alike for its scenic beauty, recreational opportunities and environment. Answering these questions is important to me because the proposed LNG pipeline and Jordan Cove pose a real and significant threat to Oregon's private landowners, communities, wildlife and natural resources.

Before a “Thank You” is forwarded to Wyden and Merkley for defending public lands and wilderness from special interests in Washington, D.C., these questions need to be answered for concerned Oregonians.

I'm counting on you!

Vince Zauskey lives in Ashland.