An investigation by the Associated Press into pipeline crisis plans ("Natural gas pipeline crisis plans kept from public," Oct. 6) has found that the federal government has withheld access from local first responders.
If Clatsop County fails to require detailed emergency response plans, including a funding plan, before approval, the first responders of all the jurisdictions affected will not be able to review or even maintain copies of the plan. In addition, local jurisdictions will be stuck with absorbing the cost of providing services to protect our communities. This is clearly unacceptable.
The Oregon Department of Forestry has reported there are insufficient funds for fighting forest fires in Oregon, yet Oregon liquefied natural gas proposals have not addressed the concerns of ODF or provided for financing the costs of forest fire prevention and suppression.
Oregon LNG is requesting a land use compatibility statement without responding to information and review requests from the ODF. In a letter included in the record of Oregon LNG hearings, ODF has specifically requested that approval be withheld or conditioned until the applicant responded to its requests.
Oregon LNG has failed to provide the ODF with the information requested so the state can review their plans for forest related fire prevention and control. Oregon LNG has not committed itself to abide by the Oregon Forest Practices Act. Oregon LNG is not a regulated utility with substantial tangible assets. In the event of a pipeline accident triggering a forest fire, Oregon LNG, as a limited liability company, would have few assets and very limited legal liability to cover the costs of public and private land affected.
As a former heli-attack hotshot forest fire fighter, I can assure you that if a pipeline accident were to occur during periods of high fire danger in August or September, another great Tillamook Burn would be inevitable.
Can Oregon and Clatsop County afford to lose the Clatsop and Tillamook forests without compensation? Can the Clatsop County Commissioners in good faith send in first responders without training, equipment and detailed plans of dealing with a pipeline related crisis? Can private timberland owners and other industrial users of the forests be expected to pay for costs associated with the increased fire danger from the proposed pipeline, or limit their activities according to the Oregon Forest Practices Act when Oregon LNG is refusing to do so?
Clatsop County would never approve a residential subdivision or commercial development without similar commitments and assurances. Why should Oregon LNG be treated differently? Please do not approve or award a land use compatibility statement for this project until it is truly found to be compatible.