Dear Canadian carbon moguls,
We understand that you want to cut a 95-foot swath across southwestern Oregon and bury a pipeline so you can sell fracked natural gas to China. Now just hold on for a second. We have opinions about this.
We wear plaid shirts here in Oregon. We love ducks and beavers. We would rather be outdoors than pushing pencils but we can still do a bit of math. According to our calculations, you are going to make billions from this deal. As you are aware, a billion is a thousand millions so that would be a large amount of money.
So what’s our share of the booty? Well, first you are going to use the ‘eminent domain’ to force hundreds of landowners to sell you easements. The dictionary says that eminent domain is “the power to take private property for public use by a state, municipality, or private person or corporation authorized to exercise functions of public character.” One of the requirements for the exercise of public domain is that “the property taken be used to benefit the public rather than specific individuals.”
We know some of those landowners and we hear that you are offering them sums like $2,000 or $3,000 for a half mile of easement. Are you kidding? What is a nice piece of land going to be worth after you hack a 90-foot no-grow zone through it and bury a 36-inch diameter pipe full of flammable gas?
I guess we could stand having a 232-mile IED in our backyard if it is really benefits the public. But who, exactly, is the public here? Canadians? Chinese? Investors? Somehow Oregonians got left off this list, particularly the landowners whose properties will be devalued.
The rest of us aren’t much better off. We will get a big ugly scar on our beautiful landscape in return for ... what? We don’t need the gas. In fact, natural gas will get more expensive as you folks profit from exports.
What about property taxes? We understand that Jackson County can expect up to $3 million annually in tax revenues from your project. The statewide total will be about $11 million. For the county, this will amount to less than one tenth of one percent of our $306 million annual budget. If you will pardon the expression, woo hoo.
Then of course there is the matter of putting more carbon into the atmosphere. We have pretty much lost our winter in Southern Oregon over the past two years and more carbon from China will surely make matters worse. This does not sound like a public benefit to us.
Why don’t you invest your billions in carbon-free energy projects like wind, wave or solar systems? Well, we understand that you are looking for the highest possible returns with the lowest risk. But your risk calculations should include protests and resistance from Oregonians. We tend to get ornery when slick folks like you try to skin us.
The fact is that you can’t sell your pipeline scam in California, Washington or British Columbia. We don’t buy it either, and we are just getting started convincing our political leaders to call off this deal.
Save yourselves some money. Back off before we really get upset.
Cordially, for now,
— Citizens of Oregon
Diarmuid McGuire lives in Ashland.