The Daily 750

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Liquid Gas

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

My hat's off to those who are dedicating large amounts of their time to fighting the siting of a liquified natural gas facility near their home towns. My own efforts don't merit the maintenance of a blog separate from this one (as I'd thought they might) -- so, from now on occasional essays will appear here. They'll be headed with LNG:, and then the title, so you know to skip it if it's not your issue.

Sometime this week I'll add links specific to LNG resources. Columbia River Vision maintains a terrific site with updated news, information, pictures and resources. You can find a running commentary, some of it quite informative, some of it not, on the home page and in the Community Forum section of the Astoria Citizens Journal. Additional sources remain as links on this page.

To readers who will never read an LNG post, wish us well. We are a small community and have only recently begun to climb out of a deep recession from the almost total loss of the fishing and logging jobs that once sustained our towns. We are left with the beauty of a nearly pristine landscape. It is all we have to offer and, as luck would have it, it's all many people want.

We don't live in M. Night Shyamalan's Village. The fight against Calpine, other LNG importers and the FERC isn't a rural drama that pits hapless villagers and their wounded leaders against an unknown and invincible beast. We are biologists, botanists, economists, journalists, fishers, loggers, medical professionals, doctors, lawyers, artists, cooks, writers, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters. We've done our research. We know what an LNG facility looks like and what it smells like. We know what energy companies promise and what they deliver. We know the terms they start up with and the terms cities are compelled to acceed to after the facility begins production.

Some claim the biggest danger of an LNG facility is the damage that would come from an accident or a deliberate attack, either involving the facility itself or its pipeline, or one of the large tankers that supply it. This argument isn't going to persuade anyone who isn't already emotionally opposed to the facility. Hey, the risk of choking on tonight's dinner roll is several orders of magnitude greater.

No, the greatest risk is the damage from the mere siting of the industrial facility. Name one industrial facility that stands alone, that isn't merely the first of a number of industrial facilities that sits on what was once a wetland or some other environmentally, if not sensitive, then at least pleasant sensory area. Name one industrial city that rises up today in greatness. Would you rather live on the New Haven, Connecticut waterfront or on Guilford's. Long Beach or Venice Beach, California. Near the bridge at Longview, Washington or at Astoria, Oregon. We know. We've already chosen.

The trick-or-treaters of last night are the workers of tomorrow. We can send the pink princesses, the white witches, the devils, the slashers and the blue bunnies off to college and have them return as night watchmen down at the plant, trained to call a particular number should an alarm go off. Sure, three or four of those kids will wind up being on the other end of the phone, a certified LNG technician. Or those kids can return as doctors, nurses and technicians in a growing medical community; as instructors in a renewed, and four-year, college; as curators and gallery owners; as entrepreneurs fulfilling an individual or collective dream.

All we have left is a view and clean air, and a community that values them. We can't give up any of that -- not the view, not the air, not the people.