Federal Judge Rules against Oregon LNG in Property Dispute over Proposed Terminal Site
July 31, 2015 (Portland, Oregon) – A federal judge handed Oregon LNG a significant setback today. Oregon LNG proposes building a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the East Skipanon Peninsula near Warrenton, Oregon, to export North American natural gas overseas. According to today’s ruling, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a valid legal right to use this property to deposit dredge spoils at the proposed terminal site. Unless the Army Corps is willing to forfeit the easement, Oregon LNG cannot build the proposed terminal.
“The Corps vigorously defended this lawsuit to protect a valuable public property right and the court got it right,” said Miles Johnson, Clean Water Attorney for Columbia Riverkeeper. “Today’s ruling could spell the end to Oregon LNG’s ten-year effort to site one of the most destructive, dangerous projects we’ve ever seen proposed on the Columbia River.”
Clatsop County gave the Army Corps an easement to place dredge spoils on the East Skipanon Peninsula in 1957. Since then, the Army Corps placed hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of dredge spoils there. Oregon LNG claimed that the easement was never valid. Citing the federal Quiet Title Act’s statute of limitations, the judge dismissed Oregon LNG’s suit and held that any challenge to the Army Corps’ easement should have been brought years ago.
“Without this easement, Oregon LNG cannot build their terminal in Warrenton. This news is a major victory for the estuary. We’ve been fighting over ten years to save our homes and community,” said Cheryl Johnson, a retired school librarian and local activist representing Columbia Pacific Common Sense.
Local residents and conservation groups have fought against Oregon LNG because the project threatens community safety, salmon habitat, farms and forestlands. According to a 2014 U.S. Department of Energy report, the climate change impacts of LNG export to Asia are worse than coal. Natural gas for LNG export comes from fracking in the western U.S. and Canada, and the long, energy-intensive supply chain of LNG exports releases enormous amounts of climate changing pollution. The project requires hundreds of miles of new gas pipelines to send the fracked gas overseas.
The Army Corps and Oregon LNG have tried unsuccessfully to resolve the property dispute since 2009. “If the Corps keeps its easement, Oregon LNG will not have a place to build,” said Dan Serres, Conservation Director for Columbia Riverkeeper. The court’s Order Granting Motion to Dismiss is available on Columbia Riverkeeper’s website.
Currently, there are two proposals to locate LNG facilities on the Oregon Coast and the Columbia River, coupled with associated proposals to construct hundreds of miles of new natural gas pipelines throughout Oregon and Washington. Oregon LNG has faced a rocky path over the last ten years since first leasing the property, including: Oregon LNG was the subject of a criminal investigation into its illegal action to obtain the lease; Oregon LNG sued the Port of Astoria when the Port wanted to get out of the questionable lease; and Oregon LNG sued Clatsop County after the County rejected the LNG pipeline application.
LNG Development Company v. Army Corps of Engineers, Case no.: 3:14-cv-1239-AC:
- Order Granting Motion to Dismiss 07/31/2015
- Complaint: Filed 08/01/14
- Motion to Dismiss: Filed 11/14/14:
- Amended Complaint: Filed 12/05/14
- Map of Proposed Oregon LNG terminal layout on the East Skipanon Peninsula
- Exhibit submitted by the Corps to the court showing the Corps’ 1957 easement in red over the Skipanon Peninsula
About Columbia Riverkeeper
Columbia Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean. Representing over 8,000 members and supporters, Columbia Riverkeeper works to restore a Columbia River where people can safely eat the fish they catch, and where children can swim without fear of toxic exposure. The organization is a member of Waterkeeper Alliance, the world’s fastest growing environmental movement, uniting more than 200 Waterkeeper organizations worldwide. For more information go to columbiariverkeeper.org.
About Columbia Pacific Common Sense
Columbia Pacific Common Sense was formed in 2009 to oppose the Oregon LNG and Bradwood Landing LNG projects planned for sites along the Columbia River.