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Noses in the duff: walking the route

Over 2018-19 we spent a lot of time with friends out in the woods hiking along the proposed Jordan Cove pipeline route. So far we’ve scouted most of the public route, from the high Cascades of Klamath and Jackson counties, across the Umpqua National Forest, and parts of the route in the Coast Range of Coos and western Douglas county. We’ve covered a lot of ground, and want to share a reportback of what we’ve seen out in woods with y’all.

Out of all this time on the ground comes ‘What’s at Stake: Mapping Jordan Cove & Pacific Connector‘, a StoryMap, which we’ve been working on for a while and really hope you will check out!

Through our countless day trips along the route, we’ve also been collecting ground-truthing data, taking pictures and documenting the places, plants and animals that are under threat from Jordan Cove. We’ve taken all this and put it into the form of a StoryMap, which takes you along the route and what’s at stake on the ground. The StoryMap uses pictures and on-the-ground data to help tell the story of the lands and ecosystems in the path of the Jordan Cove project.

Too many of us recognize how disastrous the project would be to our climate, waters, forests, salmon, etc–but haven’t spend hardly any time on the ground in the places that would come under the axe and dozer if Pembina gets their way. That’s part of what inspired us to get out onto the pipeline route and begin our scouting and ground-truthing work and to host hikes to bring others out to the magical and incredible places along the route. But still most people haven’t actually gotten out to the proposed route itself, and don’t know what it looks like, or what it feels like there–so we spent a (very) long time creating this StoryMap to “bring the land” to more people, knowing that not everyone is able to get out to the land.

We hope that this will be a resource useful to others resisting Jordan Cove. Please help us by sharing it on social media and forwarding this email to your friends! Check out the What’s at Stake: Mapping Jordan Cove StoryMap and continue reading below for the reportback from our scouting hikes.

Even while stalled out in the permitting process, Pembina has kept pushing on-the-ground preparation for the project. In spring 2019, we ran into several timber cruisers working for Jordan Cove while we were scouting outside of Shady Cove. They were out measuring and calculating the value of the timber that would be clear cut to build the pipeline.
We know that an intact forest, full of life, is more valuable than the board feet it contains. The two workers we met were nice enough; they didn’t seem particularly invested in Jordan Cove and for them, it’s just another job. But that’s also how bad, harmful, destructive, unjust ideas become reality–by people just doing their jobs.

In the areas that we’ve examined, most of the route has been surveyed and marked out by Jordan Cove. Pink, orange, blue and white flagging shows where the pipeline will be built and where construction equipment and felled trees will be stored.

In many places, it’s been easy to retrace the exact path the company’s surveyors walked, following the trail of cut & hacked brush they left behind. There have been surveys for Red Tree Voles, a species of vole that lives in old growth douglas fir trees and is a key food source for the endangered Northern Spotted Owl, and many of these surveys have found evidence of red tree voles and even active nests within the pipeline right of way.

Still, much work remains to be done before the company can break ground for the pipeline itself. Because of all the heavy equipment and large trucks to transport segments of pipe, there’s a lot of road improvements and new road construction to be done, and we haven’t seen many signs of surveying for that. Also, it seems like there are still portions of the public land that haven’t had timber cruises yet–in some national forests (including much of the Umpqua NF and the Fremont-Winema NF) all the trees to be cut to make room for the pipeline have been marked, but on other public lands this hasn’t happened yet. Of course, we’ve also seen so much beauty out there along the route; meadows bursting with wildflowers and birdsong, huge groves of old growth trees with entire worlds of animals and plants living in their bark and limbs, rocky windswept ridges with stunning vistas, cool shady streams filled with frogs and small fish, and so much more. We’re also not alone in loving these lands, as the mushroom hunters eagerly filling sacks with tasty morels we’ve run into while hiking the proposed route can attest. Or the hunters whose platforms and blinds (likely well guarded secret spots) we’ve stumbled upon. Or the bikers who’s trails we’ve encountered and explored crisscrossing the route.

Check out the STORYMAP to get a more in depth look at the proposed route of the pipeline and the impacts it would have on the land. The more of the land we get to know, the more certain we are that this project can’t be allowed to come to fruition. We’ve witnessed firsthand forests recovering from wildfires that bring much needed cleansing renewal, like the ridge top in the Umpqua National Forest we first visited last year (first picture below), and then again this year after it was burned through by the Snow Shoe wildfire last summer (second & third pictures below). Seeing the chaotic mosaic of fire’s work on the landscape, from fire-scarred-but-still-standing giant pines to new wildflowers bringing stunning color to the newly opened forest floor is a stark reminder that these lands aren’t static, but are filled with dynamic, constantly changing and adapting life.

But as anyone who’s spent time in the forests and mountains of Southern Oregon knows, a lot of damage has already been done (and continues to be done) to these places. Clearcuts that leave whole mountainsides muddied wastelands butt up against old growth forest groves, a stark reminder of how easily these magical places can be destroyed. More than one hundred years of extractive industry and the profit imperative of capitalism have turned countless acres of our forests into monocrops of single-aged timber stands, with diseased trees packed densely together in hot, dry, tinderbox conditions

Now, mature old growth trees only remain mostly in small patchwork stands that have managed to survive without being logged, slipping through the cracks of extractive forest policy. These small groves, surrounded by plantations and young regrowth, are all the more important for the ecological diversity and refuge they provide. It’s amazing how many of these small wonderlands Jordan Cove has managed to route their pipeline through, from the the Pacific Crest Trail to the headwaters of East Fork Cow Creek to riparian zones in the Coast Range.

We have loved getting to know these lands and also taking others out to get their feet on the ground in the places physically threatened by Jordan Cove, and seeing how the lands and these specific places change through the seasons. We’ll continue hiking, scouting, and monitoring the route this fall and through the winter to keep and eye on what’s happening and whether the company is making moves to start work on the ground along the route. Come out with us and fall in love with the forests, rivers, mountains and wildflowers!

OR Gov Kate Brown can stop Jordan Cove Pipeline

slb2.13.18Southern Oregon Rising Tide, with lovely help and support from new friends in other organizations, disrupted the February 13 State Land Board meeting in Salem to give Kate Brown some early Valentines love.

The meeting opened with excellent public comments urging the Land Board to be vigilant in the pipeline permitting process, and after the normal meeting agenda commenced people with our group stood up, unfurled a banner reading “Climate Leaders Don’t Build Pipelines,” and read a statement urging Kate Brown to take the decisive actions that are well within her power to shut down the Pipeline project.

We disrupted because the State Land Board meetings are one of the only times that regular people can get in the same room as Kate Brown.

We disrupted because Kate Brown has responded to polite requests only by claiming she’s just a ‘referee,’ but that is a totally inappropriate metaphor for her role and power in an era when the pipeline-happy trump administration is eager to bulldoze all normal checks and processes. DSC_0011

Statement

Hey Kate Brown, people who live in so-called Oregon have been fighting the Jordan Cove Pacific Connector Pipeline for almost 15 years. We are young adults starting businesses, starting families, coming into our political power.

You seem intent on avoiding the issue and refusing to listen to our communities, but we can’t afford your silence. We’re done waiting for the appropriate time to speak only to be ignored, so we’re interrupting your meeting for a few minutes to make sure you hear us.

You talk a lot about taking action on climate change. You say that future generations will judge us not on the fact of global climate change, but on what we do to tackle it. You went to the climate talks in Bonn, and declared that in the face of Trump’s climate denial Oregon must lead in the fight against climate change and fulfill the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Yet you still remain silent about Jordan Cove. You’ve seen the greenhouse gas report released last month, and you know that Jordan Cove would be one of the largest sources of climate pollution in the state. You know that it would make fulfilling Oregon’s climate goals and the Paris Agreement goals impossible. You can’t remain neutral or objective when we all know that under the Trump administration, this fracked gas pipeline will be built.  Empty statements do nothing but poorly obscure your comfortable hypocrisy.

The Klamath Tribes,* the Yurok, Hoopa, Karuk, Round Valley Indians, and indigenous groups still denied recognition of their tribal status tell you how this pipeline will destroy parts of their history, lives and livelihoods. If you let it be built, you continue the centuries of colonial oppression. If you let it be built you are no better than the Trump administration and their blatant white supremacy.

This pipeline will be socially and environmentally unaffordable. If it moves forward, know that there will be huge and unrelenting resistance to construction. And it will be incredibly expensive for the State.

We all know you want to look like a climate leader. But climate leaders don’t build fossil fuel pipelines; they use their power to stop them. Symbolic words and gestures are nowhere near enough. If you want to claim to be a climate leader, you have to earn that title by standing up to the fossil fuel industry and Trump’s pipeline plans, regardless of whether it’s politically “safe” to do so.

Young people have to care about climate change. Young people care about environmental justice and indigenous sovereignty. Do you really think you are going to get young people to believe in you as a political leader, much less vote, knock doors, or make phone calls for you with your no-stance, no-opinion, no-action “leadership”? The status quo is to sell out our collective existence to corporate tyrants and put a nice political face on it.  This is your chance to prove you are a politician who cares about people and the land.

You can stop this fracked gas pipeline, the export terminal and the destruction it will bring on this land.  You and the State Land Board have the power to deny state permits and authorizations for this pipeline, and to challenge Federal permit authorizations.

You’ve said that you aren’t on either “side” and that your role is to be a “referee”. But in this age of the emerging climate crisis, you can’t be neutral. Referees aren’t passive spectators watching from the sidelines–they blow the whistle, call fouls, and declare when the game is over. Our communities have been fighting Jordan Cove for well over a decade. We’ve been in overtime for years. It’s time to make a call. It’s time for you to get off the fence. Make your words, your position, and your power as Governor mean something.

Stop the pipeline or you lose our votes, you side with racists, you lose the reputation you are trying to build yourself. The longer you remain silent and passive, the louder, more persistent, more disruptive, more obnoxious, more relentless pain in your ass we we will become.

*Original text was “the Klamath.” Edited to “the Klamath Tribes” at request of a friend who is part of the Tribes. This is the official and preferred way to refer to the Tribes which are a confederacy of the Klamath, Modoc, and Yahooskin Nations.

 

Sit in Happening Now at Department of State Lands Demanding an End to Gas Pipeline

IMG_6385People are now staging a sit in at the Oregon Department of State Lands demanding an end to the Pacific Connector gas pipeline proposal. They are refusing to leave unless the Department denies permits for the proposed Pacific Connector gas pipeline.

“ALL conversation around this project should have ended almost a year ago when the Feds denied it, says Sarah Westover. “Oregon political leaders need to stand up with us and stop giving out-of-state corporations special treatment with continued extensions. Enough is enough. Permits for the project can and should be denied now.”

For over ten years people in Oregon and indigenous people have been fighting the Canadian gas company Veresen and their evil scheme for the Jordan Cove Energy Project and the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline. So many rallies, so many hearings, so many demands for meetings, so many bureaucratic processes. Instead of denying permits, the Oregon Department of State Lands just delayed their decision for another nine months. We’re over it.

Today we held an action against the continued preferential treatment of the project’s Canadian proponent by the State of Oregon, and in solidarity with water protectors in North Dakota. People held a vibrant rally in support of the tribal representatives who entered the Capitol to demand a meeting with Governor Kate Brown. The indigenous people from the Klamath River asked her to follow through on her promises to the people of the Klamath and take action against the LNG pipeline that threatens their ancestral territories.

”Now is the time to say no. No to pipelines, no to fracking and no to international exportation of our natural resources,” says Molli Myers, Karuk Tribal Member.

Next, the crowd marched to the Department of State Lands (DSL) where they gathered around a tripod outfitted to look like a fracking rig and decked with banners. Inside people then engaged in a sit-in at DSL, refusing to leave until until the department makes a decision denying the pipeline.

Background:

Canadian gas company Veresen’s Jordan Cove Energy Project and Pacific Connector Pipeline have proposed a 230-mile long 36” pipeline through rural southern Oregon and occupied native lands to carry fracked gas to Coos Bay for super cooling into Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) for export overseas. The pipeline would cross hundreds of salmon bearing waterways in the Klamath, Rogue, Umpqua and Coos River watersheds, as well as a sensitive estuary in Coos Bay, and historically important tribal sites. A new power plant proposed on the north spit of Coos Bay and the export terminal would become the largest source of climate pollution in Oregon. Opponents are rightfully pissed off about impacts to watersheds, harming tribal cultural resources and territory, the use of eminent domain against private landowners, expanded fracking in the interior west, and the acceleration of climate change.

Southern Oregon landowners and allies declare eminent domain over Williams Company regional office in Eugene, demand halt to LNG Pipeline Project

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Southern Oregon community members impacted by the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export project demonstrated at the Eugene regional office of Williams Company, the Oklahoma-based corporation that would build the pipeline for the project. Landowners and allies declared “people’s eminent domain” on Williams, setting up a mock pipeline easement on the company property, “notifying the company that in the interest of the public good, they are denied the right to continue harming rural communities with their dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure projects.”

After 10 years of setbacks and permit denials against the project, affected landowners and community members express exhaustion by the stalling of their elected leaders, and continued refusal by the corporate backers of the project to listen to community concerns.

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“FERC [the Federal Energy Regulatory Commision] has denied permits for this project, for good reason. Why do will still have to live our lives under the threat of eminent domain and this pipeline?” says Francis Eatherington, a Douglas County resident whose property would be crossed by the pipeline. “Williams still doesn’t have any answers as to how they would protect our homes in the case of an accident. It’s time for them to abandon this project and let us get on with our lives.”

“I cannot begin to describe the torment and angst associated with the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline and the threat of eminent domain against my home” says Stacey McLaughlin, another affected Douglas County landowner participating in the action at the company office. “Williams is a predator company and they are feeding off of rural Oregonians just to fill their greedy pockets; they need to take notice that we will do whatever it takes to protect our home.”

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Opponents of the pipeline pointed out that Williams has a track record of deadly accidents at facilities across the country, including an explosion at a Louisiana plant in October 2015 that killed three workers.

“This pipeline would have lower safety standards because it crosses rural areas,” says Grace Warner of Southern Oregon Rising Tide. “Our communities should not have to handle of the burden of this company’s accidents.”

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#nolng #stopjordancove #keepitintheground

Tidings To All Ye Who Would Build Pipelines Here

Over the holidays, Southern Oregon Rising Tide mailed festive postcards to several of their fracking foes with a special message: Bring the pipeline, expect resistance. Donning elf hats and tree-climbing apparel, SORT members scaled a snow laden doug fir tree that stands in the path of the proposed Pacific Connector Pipeline near Ashland, OR.postcard_front

Pipeline construction still awaits final approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Department of State Lands, so trees on the 95-foot-wide, 232-mile-long pipeline easement are safe for now. But the message from the grassroots to the corporate world should be clear: this pipeline is a bad investment.

Veresen (VSN), the parent company of Jordan Cove, has continued to lose value in the stock market since 2014. This fall, the company revealed to FERC that they have yet to secure any buyers for the fracked gas they wish to export. Less than five percent of landowners on the proposed pipeline easement have signed contracts allowing work on their properties. Companies investing in the project will face financial challenges from environmental lawsuits, eminent domain proceedings—and also relentless work stoppages caused by tree sits and road blockades.

Postcard text here:

Dear Jordan Cove & Pacific Connector,
Happy fracking holidays! It’s a snowy December here in Southern Oregon and we hope everyone involved with the Pacific Connector Pipeline and Jordan Cove LNG export project is keeping us in your thoughts.

This last year was a big one for Southern Oregon Rising Tide. Grassroots resistance to the pipeline and export project is stronger than ever. We have hiked the pipeline route, rallied at the capital, and shut down your offices. It’s also been a busy year for our extended family across the Northwest. Communities have been fighting and shutting down fossil fuel export projects across the region, blockading oil trains, dangling from bridges, disrupting meetings—you get the picture. Here is Oregon, the Portland City Council banned all new fossil fuel infrastructure projects in the city.

We hear it’s been a rough year for Veresen. Despite your nagging and pleading, less than five percent of landowners on the pipeline have signed. Your stock value is at an all time low and even FERC is questioning your lack of export contracts. Meanwhile, natural gas prices continue to plummet.

Do you know what you’re up against in Southern Oregon? We are part of the “thin green line”: a fierce network of resistance that will shut down anyone who tries to exploit our region. If you attempt to complete the Jordan Cove LNG terminal and pipeline, a diverse coalition in opposition to your projects will fight you every step of the way. We will fight your permits, we will fight you in the courtrooms, we will fight you in the media, and we will fight you in the backwoods. We know these forests and rivers better than you do. Southern Oregon Rising Tide and friends are ready to put our bodies on the line to stop you—whether that means blocking construction crews, treesitting along the pipeline corridor, or stopping the day’s work at your offices. Every delay and disruption will cost you time and money.

We wish you a 2016 of low stock, delayed an denied permits, rowdy resistance at every turn, and eventual miserable defeat.
Your stocks are falling, we are rising, and these forests are still standing. Happy fracking holidays.

Warmly yours,
Southern Oregon Rising Tide

To Our Esteemed Senators

This letter was written by Southern Oregon Rising Tide to Senator Wyden and Senator Merkley, who were disrupted by SORT activists when they spoke at a Climate Summit on October 14. This letter, written to clarify and underscore our message, was delivered to the Senators’ offices on October 30.

Dear Senators Wyden & Merkley,

On Wednesday, October 14 you both briefly took the stage at the Our Critical Climate summit in Medford. The two day summit, organized by Southern Oregon Climate Action Now, brought speakers, elected officials, scientists, and others to talk about the impacts of climate change and ways to begin addressing the issue. That Wednesday morning when you both came to address the crowd you were silently disrupted by activists with Southern Oregon Rising Tide. We stood with signs and banners between the stage and crowd, calling on you to ‘walk your climate talk’ and oppose the LNG pipeline. We write you this letter now to clarify that it was SORT (and not SOCAN or others) who interrupted you, and to underscore our intentions and the message we sought to send to you.

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In your comments at the summit and elsewhere, you both have acknowledged that the damage of climate change is real and immediate, that we need to stop continuing to extract & burn fossil fuels, and that we must turn back the tide against the corporations extracting and burning fossil fuels will not willingly participate in such a change. We agree, and that means leaving fossil fuels in the ground.

You acknowledged this yourselves in your remarks: Senator Merkley talked about opposing both the Keystone XL pipeline and Arctic drilling for oil, saying we need to “keep fossil fuels in the ground.” Senator Wyden talked about introducing legislation to close tax loopholes for fossil fuel corporations. However, your staunch unwillingness to publicly stand with the communities you’re supposed to represent in opposing the Pacific Connector LNG Pipeline project makes such a commitment ring hollow.

You left the climate summit without speaking to any constituents or members of the public, nor taking a single question from the assembled audience. Our question to you is, why are you only willing to fight fossil fuel projects in the Midwest and the Arctic? Fossil fuels need to stay in the ground, whether oil from under the Arctic sea, bitumen from the Tar Sands, or fracked gas piped through Oregon.

For a decade, the threat of a climate-devastating fracked gas export pipeline has hung over communities in Southern Oregon. Landowners, residents, conservation & climate organizations, and others have come together to protect our communities, rivers, climate, and forests. You’ve received countless questions and pleas to stand with Oregonians against this fracked-gas project that will be the largest of climate pollution in the state. And yet you have consistently chosen to avoid speaking out against it at all, much less take the sort of strong stances you have against other projects like the Keystone XL.

You can’t position yourselves as climate champions if you won’t oppose such a blatantly climate polluting project as the Pacific Connector pipeline. Your constituents are losing their patience with empty words and hypocrisy from elected officials, especially on an issue as urgent & important as taking action against the causes of climate change. This is precisely what motivated Southern Oregon Rising Tide to disrupt your address on Oct. 14, as well as what motivated the positive responses we’ve received from the broader community for doing so.

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As long as there are schemes to build new fossil fuel export infrastructure through our homes to trash our climate, our communities will continue standing up and take action to turn them back, just as the communities at the center of the struggles like those against the Keystone XL pipeline and Arctic drilling have done. Southern Oregon Rising Tide and all those opposing LNG exports in Oregon are part of that broad and growing movement against LNG & new fossil fuel infrastructure, and we look forward to you joining us and speaking out publicly against the Pacific Connector Pipeline and Jordan Cove LNG Export Project.

Sincerely,

SORT logo

Raging Grandmothers & Youth Hold Intergenerational Protest Against Jordan Cove LNG at Capitol

CRsvEPGUcAANiTnCalling on Governor Kate Brown to oppose the Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export facility and Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline, a group of ‘raging grandmothers’ and youth activists held an intergenerational sit-in protest inside the Governor’s office in Salem on Monday, October 19. Members of the Raging Grannies of Oregon, Southern Oregon Rising Tide, 350.org Eugene, and Cascadia Forest Defenders came together at the Oregon state capitol building with songs and art urging Brown to speak out against the project. Continue reading Raging Grandmothers & Youth Hold Intergenerational Protest Against Jordan Cove LNG at Capitol

Rising Tide Activists Urge Oregon Officials to Oppose LNG Exports in Day of Action

Activists with Rising Tide participated in a day of action across the state of Oregon, urging the state’s highest ranking elected officials to oppose natural gas exports in Oregon.

In Medford, members of Southern Oregon Rising Tide interrupted an address by Senators Wyden and Merkley at a climate change conference this morning. Activists and community members called on the Senators to “walk their talk” on climate change and to take a public stance against the Jordan Cove LNG export project.

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Continue reading Rising Tide Activists Urge Oregon Officials to Oppose LNG Exports in Day of Action

Residents Call Foul on FERC Analysis, Shut Down Pipeline Office!

Yesterday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Jordan Cove gas export project and Pacific Connector gas pipeline. Local residents wasted no time in light of FERC’s ongoing support for the project, putting Pacific Connector on notice that they refuse to allow the company to take advantage of rural Oregonians and ruin our environment.

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Protesters went to the Pacific Connector offices in Medford to highlight the people and places that are threatened by Jordan Cove and Pacific Connector, closing down the office by putting up art and banners at the pipeline office and highlighting the power that Governor Brown has to stop this disastrous project.

Continue reading Residents Call Foul on FERC Analysis, Shut Down Pipeline Office!

Stop the Pipe! A Weekend of Direct Action Against LNG Exports

SAVE THE DATE!
Stop the Pipe! A Weekend of Direct Action Against LNG Exports
Friday-Monday, October 16-19

Across Oregon, fossil fuel and pipeline corporations are trying to sell us on their plans to export fracked gas through our communities, forests, and rivers. This fall, we’re turning up the heat and taking direct action to send the message that we won’t allow our communities to be sacrificed for fossil fuels!

Join 350 Eugene, Southern Oregon Rising Tide, and Cascadia Forest Defenders for a weekend of direct action to stop LNG exports October 16-19 in Eugene. We’re gathering for three days of direct action trainings, workshops, panels and more Friday-Sunday. We will learn, share ideas, and prepare to defend the communities, lands and waters where we live. We’ll learn how to plan our own actions, and will participate in an action to oppose LNG exports on Monday, October 19th.

We’ll have an official public announcement and RSVP link that we’ll send out soon, but mark your calendars now! We’ll also have more promotional materials to help get the word out, and we’ll pass those along as soon as they’re available. We’ll be providing food and lining up housing for those who need it. If you have any questions, please contact us at sorisingtide@gmail.com and we’ll do our best to answer them.