Dear Northern Star Natural Gas: Go FERC Yourselves!
For those of you who have not been following along, the bones of a backstory:
Northern Star Natural Gas was formed for the purpose of trying to build a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in a fairly remote spot on the Oregon side of the lower Columbia River. The closest thing? Just a couple of miles away sits Puget Island and Wahkaikum county. My county. Which has little say because the project is in Oregon.The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is in control of siting these little nightmares. This process has been going on for what seems like forever, but is actually only 5 years or so during which it's been a serious fight. How did it go? Let's just say that when a small town in Washington goes up against energy speculators and George Bush's energy agency makes the call...it's been tough.
You came here for food, so why should you care about this bit of self-indulgence? Well, the LNG site is in a fragile estuary that is the nursery of the wee little salmon babies that eventually grow into that amazing Columbia River Spring Chinook that's hitting the market about now and we...well, read the letter.
I like to think that the residents of evenTinierTown and environs are open, welcoming, friendly people.
Seriously, have you met these folks? They wave when they drive by, they say "hi" to people they pass on the street -- one day an old guy sighed and thanked me because my long, loose hair reminded him of his youthful first love. How sweet is that? -- and I swear I can't get through a trip to the grocery store without hugging someone I haven't seen in a while.
You came to town right around the same time we did, so I sort of feel like we're newcomers together. I know you had a hard time fitting in; it's easy to make missteps in a small county like this. But it was also pretty darned easy for me to make friends and lord knows I am not the most diplomatic person you've met so it can't be all that hard, now can it? There are lots of good folks here, you just have to let them warm up to you.
When you first showed up in town, we -- see? I am a 'we' even though we have been here similar lengths of time. Are you a 'we'? -- were willing to give you a fair hearing. Even the dread red-shirts would often tell you that if you just built off-shore, we just might be fine with that.
Did you listen? No way!
No, you showed up talking smack about eminent domain and bypassing state controls on other people's land. Refused to answer our questions under some guise of 'national security' without noting that, for us, this was local security. (I remember talking to a NS guy who explained that a leak would disperse on the river unless it met with a source of combustion. He assured me there were no such things for miles. I told him he was mistaken, I had friends a mile or so away. He changed the subject.) What the hell?
Those closed door meetings with politicians and people who pretended to be important. Not cool. Extremely not cool.
You totally blew off our little county because, even though we are closest to the estuary you want to industrialize, we aren't in Oregon. Even though the little charts of where the pool fire would go included our friend's houses. Houses you put numbers on and then refused to tell the residents what they meant because nothing could go wrong. (See also, Deepwater Horizon)
"Oh no," you said, "that part of the river belongs to Oregon!" You weren't going to listen to us no matter what.
We tried to tell you. Tried to talk to you. Tried to find middle ground. Hell, we said "offshore it!" We almost never say that! But you didn't listen, and you missed your chance.
Here's another things you missed about local folk. They love their river. That river does not divide Washington from Oregon, it unites us into one thing: the people of the river. Denizens of the lower Columbia.
The cute little ferry that runs across within range of your proposed LNG site, is a critical bit of what makes this area special. People traverse the river for work, family, entertainment, or simply to enjoy a beautiful day on the river. I think you missed that.
Then again, you missed many things.
We, on the other hand, don't miss much.
One of my new friends, a quiet, unassuming older guy who shares a wicked sense of humor with his charming wife, sent me mail recently asking why he couldn't get to your web site. I poked around and noticed that the site was pretty much gone, links to nowhere, nothing but a splashy splash page. I replied that it looked like you might be on your way out.
See? We pay attention.
I believe I even said, "Let the mocking begin." My friend, who is more polite than I, has refrained. Lucky for you. I have heard his mockage and would hate to be on the wrong side of his tongue.
Now today brings news. You're leaving town.
Wish I could say I was sorry to see you go but really I am just thrilled to see your carpetbagging, good old boy schmoozing, estuary-trashing, salmonid-killing, river-dredging, industrial polluting, environment destroying, whining to the government, pipeline-dragging, story-changing, sorry asses getting the fuc...er, FERC off of our river.
But before you go, I have one more thing to say...