Oregon a Battlefield Again for Fracked Gas Pipeline and Jordan Cove LNG Terminal
By Simon Davis-Cohen
When the incumbent Democratic Governor Kate Brown defeated Republican Knute Buehler in a contentious race for Oregon's governorship, many in the state's climate movement let out a momentary sigh of relief. Brown had promised to "lead on climate" while Buehler had pledged his support for new fossil fuel infrastructure.
Now, residents are working to hold Governor Brown to task over what they see as the most pressing climate issue facing the state: the proposed Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal and its Pacific Connector Gas pipeline. Backed by the Canadian company Pembina Pipeline Corporation, the project would transport natural gas extracted via hydraulic fracturing (fracking) from Colorado to Oregon's coast, where it would be super-cooled into liquid form and loaded on ships to international markets.
Thousands, Including Several Tribes, Voice Opposition
More than 1,500 people showed up at a hearing in Jackson County, Oregon, to oppose Jordan Cove LNG and the Pacific Connector pipeline. Allen Hallmark
Gov. Brown has remained neutral on Jordan Cove, prompting a range of efforts from activists to sway her against it. For example, Jordan Cove opponents interrupted her 2019 swearing in ceremony and took to the streets with protests. In addition, since the new year, thousands of residents have flooded Department of State Lands regulatory hearings to oppose the project, which they say would jeopardize major fresh waterways and marine areas in the state.
According to Rogue Climate, which has helped mobilize opposition to the project, more than 3,000 residents, including landowners, ranchers, tribal members, youth, local businesses and representatives of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, attended hearings in opposition.
Klamath Tribal Council Chairman Don Gentry told DeSmog that the tribal council believes "we need to exhaust every administrative opportunity that we have to express our opposition to the project and hopefully the permits and licensing will be denied."
The Tribe has participated in the regulatory process throughout, he says, and brought up a host of concerns at the most recent hearings. Those concerns include the pipeline's "potential to disturb human remains and cultural sites" (such as a historic village on the Klamath River), "risks to the [Klamath] River itself," the Tribe's effort to rehabilitate the river's salmon run, risks to wildlife and generally, the perils the pipeline in particular poses for tribal aboriginal territory, as protected by U.S. treaty.
Hannah Schroeder, chair of the Klamath Tribes Youth Council, speaking to Jordan Cove LNG and pipeline opponents the night of the Department of State Lands hearing in Klamath CountySherri Kies
Klamath Tribal Council is not alone. The Yurok and Karuk tribes in Northern California are staunchly opposed, while the Oregon-based Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians are neutral.
Jordan Cove's Many Ups and Downs
Map of the proposed Pacific Connector pipeline's path in Oregon, starting in Malin and ending at the Jordan Cove LNG terminal sited for Coos Bay
Since the $10 billion project was initially proposed in 2007, it has hit several obstacles which threatened to derail it. In 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied a permit, key politicians including U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley have come out against it, and in late 2018, the Oregon Department of Energy recommended against the export facility going forward as proposed. And just this week, a county judge in Oregon reversed a decision to extend a permit for the pipeline.
But the fight is far from over. In 2017, not long after FERC denied the project a permit the year prior, Don Althoff, then-CEO of the parent company Veresen (now Pembina), met with President Donald Trump and the founding director of Trump's National Economic Council, Gary Cohn, of Goldman Sachs.
Shortly thereafter, Cohn announced: "The first thing we're going to do is we're going to permit an LNG export facility in the Northwest."
Support from the fossil fuel industry spans the length of the pipeline, from Colorado to Oregon. Pac/West, a major pro-fracking lobbying and communications firm active in Colorado has also been operating in Oregon. The firm has gone so far as to have Oregon state legislation proposed officially on its behalf, which would have blocked local governments from interfering with fossil fuel infrastructure projects, such as Jordan Cove.
This legislation was in response to a 2017 county "Community Bill of Rights" ballot initiative in Coos County, Oregon, the site of the proposed Jordan Cove LNG terminal. If passed, the local law would have outlawed industrial fossil fuel projects and established legally enforceable rights for local ecosystems. Jordan Cove LNG spent an unprecedented $596,155 in cash and in-kind contributions to help defeat the measure, according to the Oregon Secretary of State website.
Jordan Cove LNG campaign contributions from 2015 to 2018Oregon Secretary of State website
Jordan Cove's contributions to a variety of political campaigns have continued to flow. In 2018, Jordan Cove LNG gave $216,500 to campaigns, according to the Oregon Secretary of State website. But it wasn't enough to stop the election of some politicians, like new state Senator Jeff Golden, from campaigning and winning on an explicit platform to oppose the project.
The current comment period for the Oregon Department of State Lands permitting process ends on Feb. 3. Allie Rosenbluth of Rogue Climate says the department may make a decision on whether to give its approval, as soon as March 5, but expects an extension.
Also on the horizon are the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Draft Environmental Impact Statement coming as soon as Feb. 15 and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality decision on whether to grant the project a Clean Water Act permit, expected Sept. 25.
Murals opposing the Jordan Cove LNG terminal and Pacific Connector pipeline hang near the site of the Jackson County Department of State Lands hearing. Allen Hallmark
And that means more hearings.
"The bottom line is we want to stop the project," said Klamath Tribal Council Chairman Gentry, "so whatever tools are available to do that—so I'm not ruling out anything."
“How We Fight to Protect the Columbia River From Fossil Fuel Pollution–and Win” via @EcoWatch https://t.co/dnrJigOdkJ #KeepItinTheGround— Columbia Riverkeeper (@Columbia Riverkeeper)1535206505.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate DeSmogBlog.
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Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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