Monday, January 31, 2011

Fast Track Bills Introduced – Contact your legislator

The LNG fast-track bill has re-emerged in the Oregon legislature for the 2011 session. In the past two sessions, the LNG industry has pushed fast-track legislation that would allow private LNG speculators to seek and obtain permits on private lands without the landowners’ permission. We’ve defeated this bill twice, thanks to strong opposition from property rights advocates and LNG opponents.

If passed, the bill will:

  • Allow companies to apply for permits on your land without your knowledge or consent
  • Fast-track the permitting process for LNG-related pipelines in Oregon
  • Harm landowners and devalue property rights in our state
There are two versions of the bill:

In one version (HB 2589 in the House and SB 265 in the Senate), the bill would delete the definition of “applicant” for obtaining wetland removal/fill permits on private land. In essence, this version of the bill would allow any private company to obtain wetland removal/fill permits on private farm and forest lands without the landowner’s permission or knowledge.

In the second version of the fast-track bill (HB 2206 and SB 261), the legislation would “expand” the definition of an applicant to allow private companies proposing “linear projects” to apply for and receive permits on private lands without the landowner’s permission. This version of the bill contains provisions for landowner notification and appeals, but it also makes it easier for LNG companies to obtain permits for unneeded pipelines.

In essence, both versions of the bill are a give-away to the LNG industry. The bills could easily be amended to exempt LNG-related pipelines. As written, the bills would facilitate continued LNG speculation by Oregon LNG, Williams & PG&E (Pacific Connector Pipeline), and NW Natural gas.

Make Your Voice Heard Today! In southern Oregon join the Rally against the legislation and pipeline (learn more here). Learn how to contact your representative, and what to say, by reading more.

To obtain contact information for your state Senator and Representative, go to:

Tell Your Elected Leader:
  • You oppose SB 265 & HB 2589.
  • You also oppose SB 261 & HB 2206.
These bills undercut private property rights, allowing private companies to push unneeded projects at the expense of Oregon families and businesses.

These bills make it easier for LNG companies to continue to push forward speculative pipeline projects. These bills disrupt farms, forestry operations, and nurseries – all bedrock economic drivers of Oregon’s rural economy. The bills were originally proposed in 2008 by Bradwood LNG, a now bankrupt company that owed public agencies hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Oregon does not need LNG, and our legislature should not make it easier for unneeded LNG projects to disrupt the lives and businesses of hard-working Oregonians.
We will keep you posted when we find out if these bills are assigned to Committees.

For now, be sure to get on the record with your legislators that you oppose these controversial re-treads of bad, LNG & pipeline-friendly, legislation.

You can download a pdf of the bill here:
Contact us for more information:
In northern Oregon: Dan Serres – (503) 890-2441
In southern Oregon: Monica Vaughan (541) 521-1832

Saturday, January 8, 2011

John Kitzhaber praises Oregon's farmers, announces Katy Coba will keep her job

Good news for the farmers out there. . .

Governor-elect John Kitzhaber said Katy Coba will retain her job as director of the state Department of Agriculture when he takes office, prompting a burst of applause from farmers and industry representatives gathered for a meeting Friday.

Kitzhaber made the impromptu announcement during a talk at an annual agriculture and natural resource conference put on by the Portland law firm Dunn Carney. The governor-elect, who will be sworn in Monday, said in response to an audience question that he is "pretty comfortable" with the leadership of the state's natural resource departments.

Coba, who was among the panelists at the conference, said she was surprised and pleased by the announcement. Coba grew up on a Pendleton wheat ranch and was appointed agriculture department director by Gov. Ted Kulongoski in 2003.

In his prepared remarks, Kitzhaber said the economic impact of Oregon's nearly $5 billion annual agricultural production is often overlooked. Agricultural products -- ranging from Christmas trees and grass seed to wheat and blueberries -- are the state's second-leading traded sector after high-tech products. But 85 percent of the state's production is eaten or used elsewhere, and a majority of Oregonians have lost touch with farming, he said.

The state's "well-earned" reputation for producing safe, wholesome, high-quality farm products is an advantage Oregon can capitalize on in the national and international marketplace, Kitzhaber said. "There are few places like Oregon left on the planet," he said.

On other topics, Kitzhaber acknowledged that water quality and quantity, land-use pressure, environmental regulations and livestock damage from wolves, cougars and coyotes are all issues facing farmers. He and said he's open to discussion on those topics.

Topics at the conference, attended by about 120 people, included food safety, proposed water quality regulations and using alternative energy projects to generate income and cut farm costs.