Stop Liquefied Natural Gas
What is Liquefied Natural Gas?
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is a foreign fossil fuel that begins as natural gas and is super-cooled to -261° F. At this temperature, natural gas liquefies and condenses to 1/600th its volume, making it easier to ship. The LNG is shipped overseas in very large tankers and delivered to an LNG import terminal. At that point it is re-gasified and piped into high-pressure natural gas pipelines.
This process of cooling, shipping and re-gasifying causes LNG to be 30% more carbon intensive than domestic and Canadian gas that we currently use in the Pacific NW. LNG is produced in the same geo-political regions as petroleum and carries with it many of the same political, environmental and social maladies that are associated with oil.
What is proposed for Oregon?
Over the past five years, the Sierra Club and our allies have been fighting three proposals for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) import terminals in Oregon. In early 2010, the parent company of one of the major import terminals on the Columbia River at Bradwood Landing declared bankruptcy, marking a major turning point in our efforts. Two other proposals are still in play – one on state land near As to ria and another in South ern Ore gon at Coos Bay. In addition to the terminals, hundreds of miles of gas pipelines are also proposed, presenting a significant threat to farms, forests, streams and public lands.
Oregon LNG is proposed to be built on the Skipanon Peninsula, a sand bar surrounded by fault lines in a Tsunami inundation zone within the city limits of Warrenton at the mouth of the Columbia River. Two proposed pipelines are associated with Oregon LNG: the proposed 117 mile Oregon Pipeline, which would also connect to the eastern half of the Palomar Pipeline.Oregon LNG Fact Sheet
Jordan Cove LNG
Jordan Cove LNG is proposed to be built on the North Spit of Coos Bay in a unique bay that provides critical habitat for marine life. The North Spit of Coos Bay is also located in a Tsunami Inundation Zone in addition to being within the flight path of an active airport runway. Jordan Cove LNG is associated with the proposed 220 mile Pacific Connector Pipeline that would connect the LNG-sourced gas from that terminal directly to the California border at Malin, OR.Jordan Cove LNG Fact Sheet
Bradwood Landing LNG and the Palomar Pipeline
In May 2010, NorthernStar Natural Gas, the company proposing the Bradwood Landing LNG terminal 20 miles east of Astoria on the Columbia River declared bankruptcy. Further, the related 217 mile Palomar Pipeline was recently suspended.
LNG Terminal Impacts
Each of these terminals carry with them a unique set of impacts based on the specific habitats that would be destroyed by the construction and operation of these terminals. While the impacts are unique, they are similar in many ways. The five major impacts of each terminal include:
- Dredging – impact to aquatic life: each of these terminals will require massive amounts of dredging in the area where they plan to dock their ships. Bradwood Landing LNG would require 700,000 cubic yards of material to be dredged from the Columbia River over 55 acres of critical salmon habitat. At the Jordan Cove site, they intend to excavate 4.25 million cubic yards from the North Spit for the purpose of building a dock for LNG tankers. Oregon LNG would similarly impact the mouth of the Columbia River with massive dredging.
- Water usage – impact to aquatic life: each of these terminals would require the use of water at the site where they would operate. Bradwood Landing is requesting the right to use 15 Billion Gallons of Columbia River water for each year of operation. This water would be used to reheat the LNG into a gaseous state, re-fill the ballast of ships after off-loading their LNG cargo and cool LNG tanker engines. The National Marine Fisheries Service and State agencies have expressed grave concern over this intake of water and the likely entrainment of various aquatic species including endangered salmon.
- Water Quality – impact to aquatic life: The process by which the LNG tankers and re-gasification facilities would process the water they need for cooling their engines and reheating their LNG to gaseous state would have a devastating impact to water quality. By expelling hot water from their tanker engines and expelling cold, chemically treated water from their re-gasification terminals, the LNG facilities would gravely impact the temperature of the water in their vicinity. Stable water temperatures are key to the health of salmon in the Columbia River estuary.
- Air quality – impact to surrounding communities and climate change: The re-gasification terminals would emit greenhouse gases from the operation of re-gasifying the LNG. In addition to that, the tankers and security vessels that accompany them are required to run their engines during the entire 24-hour cargo off-loading cycle. This will produce a greatly increased amount of exhaust and air pollutants that will impact surrounding communities. Lastly, LNG is commonly not pure methane; increased amounts of heavier hydrocarbons – such as ethane, butane and propane – can cause increased emissions from combustion of LNG-sourced gas.
- Public Safety – impact to surrounding communities & use of waterways: If just 3 million gallons of LNG (less than 10% of one ship cargo) were to escape and reach an ignition source, the resulting fire could reach 3 miles from the source. That puts communities at risk that live near the terminals and along the tanker routes. Because of this serious threat, there is a strictly enforced security zone accompanied with each tanker and LNG terminal. This would require lighted 24 hour surveillance at each terminal, two gunboats accompanying each shipment and express permission by the Coast Guard for any vessel to pass within 1,500 feet of the ships. This could adversely impact commercial shipping on the Columbia River and Coos Bay, and could severely disrupt sport/commercial fishers and the public in using of these waterways.
LNG Pipeline Impacts
With more than 500 miles of newly proposed pipelines proposed in relation to LNG facilities, there is a massive amount of potential impact to Oregon’s forests, farms and waterways. All of these LNG-related pipelines would be 3 feet in diameter and would carry non-odorized gas at a very high pressure (up to 1,400psi). In most areas, the pipelines are proposed to be buried just 3-5 feet below topsoil.
- Construction and Permanent Right-of-Way (ROW): Each pipeline would require a 100’ to 120’ construction ROW. In some areas that ROW would extend as far as 300’ due to steep or difficult terrain. That Construction ROW represents the area that the Pipeline companies would use to build the pipeline, park their construction vehicles and store equipment and excavated dirt. After construction, the permanent ROW would revert to 50 feet and would carry with it stringent restrictions on what can be planted within that corridor. In areas like the Mt. Hood National Forest, Clatsop State Forest, Umpqua National Forest, Rogue River National Forest or the Klamath National Forest (to name a few) this would require massive clear-cuts and numerous stream crossings.
- Crop Restrictions Over Permanent ROW: Because the pipelines are non-odorized and running at high-pressure, there are severe restrictions for what can be grown or built over the permanent ROW. Therefore, deep-rooted crops and permanent structures would be restricted within the 50’ ROW. This represents a serious problem for farmers, foresters and vintners whose property is threatened with eminent domain for the purpose of these projects. In addition, ranchers or residential landowners would be restricting in building fences or digging wells within that ROW. In National and State forests the permanent ROW would be a visible scar on the landscape and would require heavy maintenance to manage invasive species. Chemical spraying has been proposd to control invasive species in some areas.
- Waterways: Hundreds of waterways in Oregon would be crossed by these pipelines representing a serious threat to fish habitat and watersheds on which we rely for drinking water throughout the state. The history of pipeline development has shown that waterways are frequently devastated by pipeline construction and the erosion caused by digging pipeline trenches near waterways. A few major waterways proposed to be crossed by these pipelines include; Columbia River, Rogue River, Willamette River, Clackamas River, and Umpqua River.
- Hazard zone: There is a 700’ hazard zone on either side of the pipeline that could be acutely impacted in the event of a pipeline rupture or leak. These leaks and ruptures may be caused by human error, corrosion of the pipeline, or by natural geologic movement. Because these pipelines cross dozens of active landslides and various fault lines, there is serious concern about the possibility of a pipeline leak. This represents a serious public safety threat for landowners and communities along the proposed routes, and indicates a potentially more serious threat of forest fire in areas where the pipeline corridor would build up fine fuels and act as a conduit for forest fire.
What you can do
There is an active and diverse coalition fighting LNG and Pipeline development in the Pacific NW. Sierra Club is an important part of that coalition and facilitates a working group on LNG. If you are interested in getting involved as a member of that working group, or if you would like to receive email updates related to the fight against LNG and related Pipelines, contact:
Oregon Chapter Sierra Club or (503) 238-0442 ext 300.