Oregon Women’s Land Trust Meeting, 1970s, © Ruth Mountaingrove
From OWL (Oregon Women’s Land) Farm:
Pipeline update: As you all recall, an energy company has stated their intentions of burying a 3-foot diameter pipeline through Owl Farm. They would need to clearcut a 100′ to 150′ wide corridor, 1/2 mile through our forest to make room for the equipment and roads needed to install the pipeline (about a seven acre clearcut). The proposed route would travel down the ridge west of the main house, and then straight down the steep hill above the Coop, through the parking lot and over the creek.
We are in shock and denial that this could ever happen to us. We are still one or two years away from having our land condemned, and many things can happen in that time to stop it.
We are in shock and denial that this could ever happen to us. We are still one or two years away from having our land condemned, and many things can happen in that time to stop it. But then again, the energy company has already spent millions to make this happen, and the more money they spend, the harder it is to stop.
Many women on this list wrote letters to the federal government earlier this year when we asked. Thank you. It made an impact. The government noted the large amount of letters concerning “Owl Ranch”. In 2008, when the government issues an Environmental Impact Statement for public comments, we will again ask you to write to the government. In the meantime, we need a different kind of letter from any women who has ever visited Owl – more on that later.
First, some more information on potential environmental and social effects to one of the oldest women’s lands in the country, as well as effects to our world.
The purpose of the pipeline is to transport natural gas from Coos Bay, at the Pacific Ocean, 230 miles to California. The gas actually originates on the other side of the world, in countries like Russia or Iran. There it is super cooled so it can be compressed (liquefied, aka Liquefied Natural Gas, or LNG), and put on huge tankers to be brought across the ocean to Coos Bay. Near the coast, these LNG takers, the size of several football fields, will have to cross a busy grey whale migration route. In Coos Bay the energy companies plan to dredge and widen the bay, and build a terminal to push the gas 230 miles through the new pipeline, eventually going through Owl Farm, and on to the California market.
Nobody is happy about this – not our right-wing county commissioners (it hurts private property rights), the managers of the National Forests (it hurts endangered species like the spotted owl and coho salmon), the citizens of Coos Bay (one mistake and their town blows up), or the people on the pipeline route, like us.
In a recent women’s news story, it was reported that our county commissioners opposed the pipeline, and we soon started receiving congratulations from some of you on our victory. Sorry for the misunderstanding, but we didn’t win anything. The Bush administration’s 2005 energy bill took local control away from deciding where to site energy projects. Now, only the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) can decide our fate. The energy company filed with FERC on September 4 for a “certificate of public necessity and need”, asking for permission to take other’s private land by eminent domain, if necessary for their gas project.
Looking through the thousands of documents that were filed, we discovered some amazing plans the energy company has for Owl Farm. For instance, they had originally told us they would need to clearcut a 100-foot wide route, 1/2 mile route through Owl Farm’s forests. But the plans they filed with FERC show they want to clearcut 150′ wide in many places, and some places, 200′ wide. It needs to be wider because the slope is so steep down the hill toward the Coop, and, they need plenty of extra space to park their earth-destroying equipment, right in front of the Coop
The Coop (known to FERC as the “guest house”) is the real main house we use, and about 100′ away from proposed pipeline route. The Coop is one of only seven houses on the 230-mile pipeline route that could be affected by blasting. Apparently, Owl Farm has high-surface rock, so the energy company thinks they will have to blast open the ridgetop and the slope down to the Coop, in order to burry the pipeline. They promised FERC they would put padded blankets on the side of the Coop to protect it from flying rock and other blasting impacts. The blasting map we discovered actually has a bulls-eye circle drawn around the Coop.
We called the energy company and asked if they would also have to blast through the wetlands next to the Coop. They assured us that if they degrade our wetlands, they would enhance other wetlands — on someone else’s property. But it’s not “someone else’s property” they reminded me – it will all belong to them anyway.
We noticed that the general route of the proposed pipeline stays on the ridgetop for many miles, EXCEPT, it takes a U-turn to come through Owl Farm. We asked the energy company why they didn’t just stay on the ridgetop. The answer is that on the BLM land next to Owl Farm (an old growth forest) has a spotted owl’s nest, and the energy company cannot violate the Endangered Species Act, so they swung it through Owl Farm instead.
Another impact of this pipeline on Owl Farm is not only our loss of a beautiful view, but also our loss of privacy. The energy company would fly planes over their right-of-way often, send out maintenance men without warning, and herbicide spray the corridor to keep anything from growing into the pipeline. After all, the gas will not be odorized, so if there were a leak, we wouldn’t know until it’s too late. They can also sell the right-of-way so other people could start coming through for different reasons in the future.
Perhaps the worst impact to all of us is that Liquefied Natural Gas contributes to global climate change. It has a carbon footprint almost as dirty as some forms of coal. Unlike domestic natural gas (one of America’s most abundant energy sources, with pipelines across the nation already in place), Liquefied Natural Gas is dirtier because of minute leakages of methane that is cumulatively significant, and the added energy cost to liquefy, ship, regasify, and pipe it to California. While it will make the energy companies rich, it will retard our conversion to renewable energy sources like solar, wind and wave power
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Women of the World – We need your help, to save Owl Farm and to save humankind. We need three things: women, letters and financial assistance.
Women: Come to Owl Farm. The more women-energy we have on the land, the more we can displace the energy of those who wish to destroy it. There are some indoor places to sleep, lots of tent spaces, and a few car-camping spaces. Call first so we can tell you about the farm and what to bring. We are sponsoring an Owl-Farm hike in early May, so come before then to help plant the garden. The hike will focus on protecting the native ecology of Pacific Northwest forests and meadows. Other projects to plug into are organizing against the LNG terminal and pipeline, protecting old growth forests (there is one in danger bordering Owl Farm), or organizing the “greening of women’s lands” project. We are looking for women who can write grants to help fund this last project.
Letters: If Oregon Women’s Land Trust has to go to court to defend Owl Farm, we need testimony of how Owl Farm has benefited women over the years. If you have ever been to Owl Farm, consider sending us a letter telling us of your experience. Feel free to mention anything you remember about the land as beautiful, private, safe, restful, healing, beneficial, spiritual, uplifting, etc
Financial: In order to organize against the LNG pipeline, for renewable energy, for our mission and for protecting the natural wonders at Owl Farm, we would love to have your financial assistance.
Our address is OWLT, P.O. Box 1692, Roseburg, OR 97470. E-mail us at email@example.com. Ask to be put on our mailing list to receive our quarterly newsletters.
Thank you to everyone for all your help, including your magic, to hold Owl Farm and all our lands safe for future women of the world.
Resident, Rainbow’s End
Board Member, Oregon Women’s Land Trust