Here is an update on Pembina Pipeline Corporation’s controversial proposal to build a propane terminal on land zoned for conservation across from West Hayden Island in North Portland.
Portland’s City Council will not vote on the proposal tomorrow, April 30th. Instead, councilors have scheduled a public hearing for Wednesday, June 10th. Short of vocal widespread opposition, the Council plans to turn its back on Portland’s pristine land-use guarantee for the property, thereby establishing Portland’s Terminal 6.
The proposal calls for 1½-mile-long trains to deliver an average of 1.6 million gallons a day where the highly volatile fracking-derived fuel from Alberta’s tar sands would be stored in refrigerated tanks holding a capacity of 34 million gallons. Huge tankers would then transport massive amounts of the propane down the Columbia River into the Pacific Ocean and on to Asia.
Let’s make something crystal clear: None of this propane is designated to go into gas tanks of cars, trucks or buses in America. The propane is for export only, designated for plastics manufactured in Asia. Ostensibly, these are the same plastics found in consumer-handy containers eventually dumped in landfills. If this area’s reputation is now green, hypocrisy will become Portland’s newfound legacy.
In my previous post, I gave the impression that Multnomah Friends (Quakers) opposes the zoning change. It is true that members of the Peace & Social Concerns Committee unequivocably oppose it, but Meeting Clerk Andy Cross cautions, “The question of the propane terminal has not come before the Meeting for Worship for Business.”
He adds, “Often, for issues that are short-term and need rapid response, it does not make sense to season the concern through the Meeting. It can be a time-consuming process that often does not make a big difference on short-term issues.”
Now that a public hearing will occur June 10th, it’s possible that Quakers will take a position. Certainly, an unchallenged announcement asking attendees to lobby City Councilors immediately after their Meeting for Worship suggested a position was taken already. A clarification will appear if and when one is offered.
Finally, here is my own opinion. It’s hard to believe such an environmentally unfriendly proposal could be proffered by Portland’s Mayor Charlie Hales unless the wheels of passage were already greased. In an earlier post headlined, “A Plan to Nationalize Oregon’s Waterways,” I warned this plan will limit residents’ use of its most visible natural resource. After all, with concerns about terrorists worldwide, how could Homeland Security allow pleasure craft to navigate the Columbia River unregulated?
I don’t believe Pembina’s proposal would have been bandied about as some sort of trial balloon. Such an idea must have the backing of our State Department with some sort of shaking of hands between the U.S. and China.
Some kind of tarnish to Portland’s environmental record must be regarded in Washington as a casualty of economic growth. Climate change be damned; the exploitation of fossil fuels is continuing. Nothing can stop this pipeline proposal, short of a minor miracle, from going forward.
Why the millennial generation is not swarming about in sheer opposition to further befouling our environment makes me want to throw up my hands and shout, “Hands up, don’t shoot!” But then again, maybe we’ve become too cynical to care any longer.