I have a suggestion for residents of the Astoria-Warrenton area who support the proposed Calpine natural gas terminal. Take your next vacation in Linden, N.J. There you'll see the gas and oil industry at its finest scenic grandeur, with tank farms and petroleum pipelines almost as far as the eye can see.
In our case, the argument will be that the plans are for only one or two tanks and only one or two pipelines. Most problems start small. Do we need to allow an industrial blight to get a start in this area in exchange for a few jobs for people who probably won't be residents? Do you think that building a tank farm and putting in a large pipeline to Longview, Wash., will add anything to the natural beauty of our area?
Tourism has become a major industry in Clatsop County. The building and renovation of many hotels and motels, parks and beaches, the proposed convention center, boating and fishing, visits from cruise liners and many other things attest to that fact. Tourists come here because of the natural beauty and recreational opportunities. They also come to get a respite from the traffic and industrial pollution that characterizes the environment of our urban centers. Do you think that putting in a liquefied natural gas terminal will attract tourists and tourism dollars? Tourism in the future will probably add more to the local economy than the LNG terminal.
I would be among the first to agree that the Astoria-Warrenton area needs jobs and a larger tax base. I was born and raised in Astoria. After graduating from Astoria High School, I left because there were few job opportunities, especially for young people. That was also true for many of my classmates. I ended up working in the pharmaceutical industry in central New Jersey for 35 years. There were a lot of good jobs there, but they came with a heavy price such as air, water and noise pollution, heavy traffic, high population, long commutes to find a decent place to raise a family and other urban problems. I retired and came back to Astoria because I missed the fresh air, scenery and relaxed life style of my youth.
Our area has been discovered by the tourist industry and now it appears that we are about to be discovered by heavy industry. We need jobs in this area, but be careful. We want the right kind of jobs. Don't accept the jobs with undesirable strings attached. It's a lot easier to prevent a problem than it is to correct it.
Denis D. Soderman