Victory over Perennial is an important step to meet Oregon’s climate goals.
Fracked Gas Power Plant Defeated
The victory over Perennial Wind Chaser’s proposal to construct a 415-megawatt fracked gas power plant near Hermiston, Oregon, is a huge win for our communities and the environment.
Perennial’s fracked gas plant would have been one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in Oregon. Once again, years of persistence from Columbia Riverkeeper’s team of community organizers and lawyers paid off. When we work with partners, concerned community members, and roll up our sleeves for the hard investigative and legal work, we win.
What does this mean?
Oregon officially terminated Perennial’s site certificate, the key state authorization to build and operate a power plant. You may remember that Perennial once said it was abandoning its plans to construct the fracked gas facility. But then the company changed course and tried selling the project. The good news: Not only did we stop a major climate-busting project, Oregon’s termination of the site certificate means Perennial no longer has the option to sell the project to another buyer.
What did it take to defeat a new gas power plant?
It took a lot to make this victory a reality:
- Smart legal strategy and investigative work
- Two lawsuits against Perennial
- Strong coalition partnerships
- Widespread community engagement
- Hundreds of petition signatures submitted in opposition to the project
- Years of persistence!
Why is this such a big deal?
Together, we defeated a massive fracked gas power plant in Oregon! This is a huge win for our climate. And the good news keeps coming! The 100% Clean Energy for All bill (HR 2021), passed by the Oregon State Legislature last year, prohibits the Energy Facility Siting Council from allowing any new generation facility that produces power from fossil fuels. But because Perennial received EFSC approval in 2015, we still had to fight to stop Perennial’s power plant through grassroots organizing and creative legal strategies. Fortunately, we can breathe a huge sigh of relief. We won!
There is still work to be done.
The end of Perennial means we have more time to focus on reducing other harms affecting the beautiful Columbia and communities that depend on the river. Feeling inspired? Check out our take action page and get involved today!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State of Oregon Terminates Gas-Fired Power Plant Proposal near Columbia River
Hermiston, Ore. (September 27, 2022)—Today, the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC) officially ended Perennial Power Holdings, Inc.’s efforts to build a 415-megawatt fracked gas power plant near the Columbia River in western Umatilla County. EFSC decided to terminate the company’s site certificate, an outcome championed by Oregonians concerned about local health impacts and climate pollution from the facility. Perennial would have been one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in Oregon; over its 30-year lifecycle, the plant would have emitted at least 30 million tons of greenhouse gas pollution.
“This is a huge win for Oregonians and the climate,” said Lauren Goldberg, executive director for Columbia Riverkeeper. “Perennial would have locked the state into at least thirty years of additional climate-destroying pollution. The message is clear: our future is in clean energy, not dirty fossil fuels.”
In 2015, EFSC issued a site certificate for the proposed gas power plant, but the company never secured a power buyer and faced strong public opposition and a series of lawsuits by environmental organizations. Last year, Perennial announced plans to abandon the gas facility. Shortly following the announcement, the company changed course and announced negotiations with a prospective buyer. The sale never transpired.
"Over the last six years, public opposition has prevailed in stopping several proposed fossil fuel plants that would have harmed air quality in the Columbia River Gorge and exacerbated climate change," said Nathan Baker, senior staff attorney for Friends of the Columbia Gorge. "Perennial was the last of these plants to be stopped. Oregon’s future begins today, free of new fossil fuel power plants, which are dirty dinosaurs of a bygone era.”
Over the last decade, fracking has led to a significant increase in the amount of methane released into the atmosphere. On a short-term basis, methane is over 80% more impactful than carbon dioxide in causing climate change. The Perennial project also would have emitted up to 59 tons of particulate matter, 19 tons of sulfur dioxide, 111 tons of nitrogen oxides, 213 tons of carbon monoxide, 34 tons of volatile organic compounds, and six tons of sulfuric acid mist per year.
In November 2020, Columbia Riverkeeper and Friends of the Columbia Gorge, represented by in-house counsel as well as Crag Law Center and the Law Office of Karl G. Anuta P.C., sued the Oregon Department of Energy and Perennial to challenge the agency's unlawful attempts to keep the Perennial project alive, after its site certificate by law expired and should have been void. This case is expected to be resolved soon, now that EFSC has decided to formally terminate the Perennial site certificate.
The Perennial project was the last of numerous proposals for new gas-fired power plants in Oregon to be abandoned over the past seven years, starting with the demise of the Troutdale Energy Center and South Dunes Power Plant in 2016, then PGE’s Carty Units 2 and 3 in 2018, and now Perennial. With the abandonment of Perennial, no proposals to build any new gas-fired power plants in Oregon remain pending with EFSC. A new Oregon law that took effect in September 2021 prohibits EFSC from approving construction of new and expanded power plants that would burn natural gas or other fossil fuels.
If you haven’t already, please consider joining Columbia Riverkeeper today. It is a great way to have your voice heard. Your contribution will go directly to fighting for clean water, challenging efforts to turn the Columbia River into a fossil fuel highway, and monitoring water quality up and down the river.