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Oregon rancher refuses to allow natural gas pipeline on property

Bill Gow is a retired iron worker who began buying land in Douglas County near Coos Bay for Gow Ranch in the late 1980s.

Today, he raises beef as well as timber on a 2,000-acre ranch that supports both he and his family.

But Gow feels under siege.

His picturesque ranch lies in the path of a pipeline needed to carry natural gas from Malin on the east side of the Cascades to Coos Bay, where Veresen Inc. (TSX: VSN) is attempting to build the Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas export terminal. Veresen is a partner in the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline through a subsidiary.

For seven years, the pipeline developer has been in near-constant contact seeking an easement. For seven years, Gow has said no.

“I feel like a girl getting stalked by a guy she’s trying to get rid of,” he said.

Gow said he’s been offered $14,000 in exchange for granting a 100-foot by two-mile easement that will affect 26 acres.

He has a myriad of reasons for refusing the offer. He says a pipeline is potentially unsafe, will devalue his ranch and bring unwelcome workers and equipment to the property.

“I worked day and night to put all this together,” he said. “This is something that’s going to be in the family forever. I hope my great grandkids are on this place.”

Gow will join Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in Salem Tuesday for a “No LNG” rally aimed at building statewide opposition to two multi-billion dollar LNG export terminals, one for Coos Bay and one for Warrenton.

For his part, Gow calls himself a conservative Republican with realistic views about fossil fuels and climate change.

“I’m not quite there on save the world from fossil fuels. I’m more conservative. I think there’s a place for fossil fuels. I’d love to see us move in a new direction. I’d love to see us invest in more renewable energy. But we can’t just as a state say we’re going to cut off fossil fuels,” he said.

Kennedy is joining the rally in his role as president of the National Waterkeeper Alliance, which promotes river health. The rally is from noon to 3 p.m. on the steps of the Oregon State Capital, 900 Court St. N.E.

A final Environmental Impact Statement for the Jordan Cove project is expected June 12. At $7.5 billion, Jordan Cove LNG would be the largest private investment in Oregon history.

Separately, Oregon LNG is pursuing development of a $6.3 billion export terminal at Warrenton. The Clatsop County Commission refused to permit the 41-mile high-pressure natural gas pipeline to the proposed plant in 2013. That decision was upheld in April by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals.

Peter Hansen, CEO of Oregon LNG, said the county’s actions should have little bearing on its application to Oregon’s Land Conservation Division for certification.

“We are absolutely certain we do meet all the county and state requirements,” he said.

The No LNG Exports Coalition formed to fight the Jordan Cove and Warrenton projects. Members include a wide range of environmental groups, including 350PDX and related chapters from Eugene, Corvallis and Salem, as well as the Columbia Riverkeeper, Northwest Environmental Defense Center, Raging Grannies Oregon, Rogue Riverkeeper, the Sierra Club and Waterkeeper Alliance.

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