Campaign begins to put pipeline to vote in Clatsop County

Contact: Brent Foster, (541) 380- 1334
Marc Auerbach (503) 755-2415
Don West (503) 298-9937

Astoria, OR- Three community groups have said they will file a ballot referendum in Clatsop County to overturn the County Commissioners’ decision to change county law in order to allow NorthernStar’s proposed Liquefied Natural Gas(LNG) terminal and pipelines at Bradwood, OR. Referendum backers Columbia River Business Alliance, NW Property Rights Coalition and Columbia Riverkeeper say County Commissioners are out of sync with voters and that they are confident the referendum, which only requires 607 signatures to place on the ballot, will be successful. The referendum will challenge the County’s decision to abandon existing County law, which prohibits major pipelines from being built across lands zoned for parks, open space and recreation, in favor of a new rule that will allow major pipelines as a conditional uses in these areas. The Commissioners changed the law because NorthernStar’s pipeline route would cross through land zoned under the Parks, Recreation and Open Space designation. The referendum will not be voted on until a special election seven months from now on September 16, 2008. As a result, a final decision on whether NorthernStar will receive even the first of many local, state and federal permits is still months away. Groups also plan a legal challenge to the County’s decision.

“Regardless of whether people support or oppose the planned LNG terminals, the idea that our County Commissioners would change county law to open up our parks and open spaces to high-risk gas pipelines is really an egregious breach of the public trust,” says Don West, with the Columbia River Business Alliance. “Richard Lee and the other Commissioners are not in line with County residents and businesses and we are very confident the public will reject this change in County law.”

Marc Auerbach, with the NW Property Rights Coalition agrees. “The energy speculators that want to take our land via eminent domain should not be above County law. When County residents understand that the Commissioners are basically changing county law to fit the needs of these out-of-state LNG companies people will be upset.”

“When you have businesses, private property advocates and conservationists agreeing that opening up parks across the County for major gas pipeline projects is a bad idea it is a pretty good sign that this is not something the public will support,” adds Brent Foster, Executive Director for Columbia Riverkeeper. “If you ask the average person if they want to open up their parks to gas pipeline development I think you are going to hear a resounding “no.” That is why we are very confident about putting this question to the voters.”

Facts: The required 607 signatures to qualify the referendum under Oregon law represents 4% of the 15,181 voters who voted in the last Governor’s election. The Sept. 16, 2008 election date is per the State of Oregon’s existing schedule of potential election dates.