Update on the proposed Pipeline for Owl Farm

 

Oregon Women’s Land Trust received great news this past March. The federal government (FERC) denied the pipeline that was threatening our forest with a 100’-wide clearcut.

The Pacific Connector Pipeline had been proposed, first a decade ago to import gas from Russia to deliver to power-hungry California, and then in 2012 to export Canadian gas to Asia. Owl Farm has been a little pawn in the middle, being batted around by global energy companies wanting to make a quick buck with no regard to how methane impacts our climate (it is 86 times more damaging than coal when released unburned into the atmosphere). In 2013 the company offered OWLT a one-time payment of $2,292 to ruin 8 acres of our land, along with the climate.

But recently, something has changed. The global price of fossil fuels has crashed and the money-hungrey climate destroyers have taken a financial beating. When FERC denied our pipeline, they found that Veresen (the Canadian company who would own the project) has not pre-sold any of the gas because of the market glut. That, along with the strong resistance of landowners to having their lands condemned with eminent domain, FERC said the pipeline was not in the public interest.

Veresen can only get permission to wield eminent domain on landowners if there is a public need for their product. Clearly, there is no public need for a foreign corporation to ruin our lands and the climate.  But FERC bases “public need” on the evidence that someone wants to buy the product. If no one wants to buy the natural gas, there is no “public need”. Whatever twisted logic it takes, the pipeline was denied.

In their ruling denying the pipeline, FERC referred to Oregon Women’s Land Trust and 3 other landowners who wrote to FERC in December, reminding them of their definition of Public Need.

While this is a significant victory for all 300+ landowners along the pipeline route and for our climate, it is not the end of the story. It is not our final victory. Veresen appealed the ruling. This May, FERC ruled that they might consider that appeal, which puts their final decision in limbo. There is no deadline for FERC to give the final deathblow, denying Veresen’s appeal. On the bright side, FERC did not stay their decision, which means the pipeline is still denied, and has been removed from all FERC maps of pending projects.

If this pipeline had been approved, our most beautiful forests, our “memorial walk” with ashes and mementoes of our passed sisters would be threatened. This is immediately adjacent to an old growth national forest with a spotted owl nesting site. Owl Farm contributes to the protected nesting habitat of that endangered species. This is an incredibly beautiful and remarkable place. We’ll be leading a hike to enjoy this place during the Owl 40th gathering.