The Southern Oregon landscape is rich in forest reserves, rivers and rolling hills of green Douglas Fir trees–characteristic of the state. Ashland resident Ron Schaaf owns 160 acres of rural timber land covered with many such trees in the western portion of the small Oregon town.
His property is bordered by a small creek and National Forest lands, kept quiet by intentionally developing the property without power lines or utilities along the main road. But the quiet nature of Schaaf’s remote property may soon cease to exist, as plans to build a 232-mile-long liquified natural gas (LNG) pipeline that would travel through part of his property are currently being assessed by federal and state governments.
“It makes me sick,” Schaaf, 60, says.
The Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline would transport natural gas produced in western Canada and the Rocky Mountains to the export terminal at Coos Bay, where it would then be shipped and sold throughout the Asian Pacific, South America, Hawaii and Alaska.
The pipeline would travel diagonally from the southeast town of Malin, crossing sections of Klamath, Jackson, Douglas and Coos Counties, to an export terminal and power plant to be built in Coos Bay. If built, this terminal would make Coos Bay the first LNG exporter on the West Coast. The project would emit 2.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, making it Oregon’s largest emitter of greenhouse gas after Portland’s General Electric Coal Plant closes in 2020, according to federal data.
The proposed underground pipeline would affect the lands of about 700 private landowners, and around 400 bodies of water, nature reserves, and endangered species areas, according to the government’s environmental impact statement. Although the pipeline is only 36 inches in diameter, between 80 and 150 feet will need to be clearcut in order for it to be constructed and maintained.
Schaaf, like many southern Oregon property owners, was contacted a few months ago by an agent representing Versen*, a Canadian pipeline transportation company, to discuss compensation for taking portions of his land for the pipeline’s construction.