The Thin Green Line

By an act of geography, the Pacific Northwest finds itself in the crosshairs of becoming a major fossil fuel export hub. One day, while giving a lecture, Eric de Place, with Sightline Institute, coined the term “The Thin Green Line” to describe the predicament this region finds itself in, as well as the opportunities it provides.

Here’s what Eric has to say about the Thin Green Line:

“The Pacific Northwest stands squarely between the most voracious energy markets in the world and huge fossil fuel deposits in the interior of North America—Powder River Basin coal, Bakken shale oil, Alberta tar sands, and remote natural gas fields. Big energy companies plan to unearth these vast reserves of carbon-intense fuels and put them up for sale in Asia.

If they are successful, these energy firms will unleash the carbon equivalent of roughly five Keystone XL Pipelines. But to get their products to market, energy companies first have to build new terminals and pipelines to move all that fuel. They need destinations for the scores of oil and coal trains that they plan to run across the Northwest, and they need right-of-ways to lay new pipelines

In short, they need our permission.”

So, what we’re doing here in the Northwest as we fight off coal, oil and gas projects of many varieties, is holding the thin green line.

Hundreds of opponents of Jordan Cove LNG gathered together for a rally in Salem, Oregon on November 21st to tell Governor Kate Brown that the time is now to stop the Jordan Cove project.  At the end of the rally, the protesters, from all over Oregon, entered the Capitol singing “We have got the power” in multi-part harmonies, filling the rotunda with echoing song. While protesters continued to sing, about 75 people, led by impacted landowners and tribal members, entered the governor’s office. After a nine-hour peaceful sit-in and two informal meetings with Governor Brown, 21 Oregonians were arrested in her office after the Governor refused to take a public stance against the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and fracked gas pipeline. Despite heartfelt testimony from impacted landowners, tribal members, youth, and dozens of others, the Governor twice refused to take a public stance against what would become the largest climate polluter in the state.

Inside the sit-in people sang songs, shared stories from over 15 years of fighting the Jordan Cove LNG project, and connected over community solutions to the climate crisis. People inside the room applauded the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for their denial of the 401 Clean Water Act permit in May and acknowledged Governor Brown’s pushback against the Trump administration’s attack of that law.

However, community members participating in the sit-in reiterated many times throughout the day that real climate leadership means standing up against the fossil fuel industry and that they would stay until Governor Brown publicly opposed Jordan Cove LNG. This comes at an especially critical moment with the Federal Government making a decision on the project this February. 

“If Governor Brown cares about climate change as much as she claims to, there’s no reason she shouldn’t oppose Jordan Cove LNG today. Governors in New York and Washington have come out publicly against similar fracked gas projects this year,” said Owen Walker with Southern Oregon Rising Tide. “It’s time for Governor Brown to be a climate leader by opposing this project.”

Photos & Video by Judy Fiestal (outside rally & rotunda) and Emma Jones (sit in)

On January 21, 2020, the Oregon Department of State Lands denied Jordan Cove LNG’s request for an extension on their interminably extended application for a removal/fill permit. Without that permit they cannot proceed with the project. Two days later Pembina (the company that owns Jordan Cove LNG) withdrew their permit application.

While this is great news for the people of Southern Oregon who have been fighting this project for 15 years, the struggle is not over yet. But it is a good sign that the State of Oregon has taken this step to uphold state laws that protect Oregonians and their land from being violated by a foreign corporation.

On February 4 Jordan Cove LNG opponents held a press conference in front of the Department of State Lands to thank DSL for upholding Oregon environmental protections.

Watch a video of the press conference here:

Here’s the story of one of the landowners impacted by the pipeline who was arrested in Governor Brown’s office on November 21.