All Charges Dropped Against “Salem 21” Pipeline Protestors

Nearly 1,000 people gathered in Salem on November 21 in opposition to the proposed Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas Export Facility that would be located in Coos Bay, and the proposed Pacific Connector Pipeline that would carry gas to the terminal from existing pipeline 229 miles from Malin, Oregon to Coos Bay. The proposed pipeline route crosses a great deal of forested land and its construction would entail clear-cutting a 95-foot buffer along its entire length as well as impacting hundreds of bodies of water including the Rogue, Klamath, and Umpqua rivers. The pipeline would cross the land of nearly 600 private landowners. Many landowners who oppose the pipeline face having the pipeline built across their land against their will via eminent domain.

The process of super-cooling gas to liquid form is highly energy intensive. Once operational the Jordan Cove LNG terminal would be the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the state of Oregon. Natural gas is highly volatile and flammable in both its gaseous and liquid states. The terminal would be seismically unstable and highly vulnerable to catastrophic failure in the event of the inevitable Cascadia subduction zone earthquake and associated tsunami. The blast zone for an explosion at the proposed Jordan Cove Facility would include much of Coos Bay and the surrounding area putting thousands of people at risk of injury and death.

Many people in Coos Bay and who live along the proposed route of the pipeline oppose this foolish and dangerous project. One of those people is Sandy Lyons. She lives on a 300 acre ranch in Days Creek Oregon. Both Days Creek and Fake Creek run across the property and both would be crossed by the pipeline. Over the past 30 years, Sandy, her husband Russ and their son, Chris, have done extensive restoration work to their land and these creeks. Their hard work has resulted in the return of spawning salmon on the property and a much healthier watershed. The pipeline would destroy much of this restoration work and require numerous trees on their property be cut down, including a large and stately Oak that the cows are fond of resting under on sunny days. An entire pasture would be seized for the duration of the construction as a staging area for equipment.

Activists from the Salem protest visit Sandy’s farm

On November 21st, during the rally, a dedicated group of people from Southern Oregon started a sit-in in Governor Kate Brown’s office, to encourage her to come out publicly against the pipeline, joining Senator Merkley and Representative DeFazio. Nine hours later, 21 of the people involved, including Sandy, were arrested for refusing to leave. They spent the night in the Marion County Jail and their charges were dropped on Dec 19. The Salem 21, as they have come to be known, demonstrated the kind of leadership and courage that seems to be lacking in various governmental agencies.

After 18 years of habitat restoration, salmon finally returned to spawn two years ago on Sandy’s property.

Going forward, the next step in the permitting process for the Jordan Cove LNG proposal is Department of State Lands’ decision on the removal-fill permit for the facility, port, and pipeline. The deadline for that decision is January 31, 2020. Without the state’s permission to disrupt the harbor of Coos Bay and hundreds of bodies of water, like Days and Fake Creeks on Sandy Lyon’s property, the entire Jordan Cove LNG project cannot be done. It’s time for Oregon to protect people and natural resources and stop this project once and for all.

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