Candidates Flyers Eschew Responsible Leadership

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Flyer Scare Tactic

This flyer is being distributed through the mail. Can you find all of the mistakes on it?

DID you recently get a flyer like this in your mail?  Be very skeptical of it – and those behind it.  It shows both ignorance of scientific facts and – even more important – ignorance of what’s required of a county commissioner.

In fact, if you vote for a candidate named in this mailer because you think you’re voting “against LNG,” you may actually be wasting your vote.  That’s because the county commission is a quasi-judicial court elected in part to judge land use matters dispassionately, without prejudice.

Just as a judge will remove a prospective juror from a case if that juror admits to having made up his or her mind in advance, regardless of the actual facts, so too can county commissioners be challenged when there is evidence they’ve prejudged a case.  These flyers are strong evidence that the candidates named in them have already done that.  Given that some current commissioners are under legal challenge for similar prejudgments, it’s just reckless for these candidates to potentially compromise their ability to vote even before they’re elected.

The flyers are identical for different candidates.  Do they all believe exactly the same thing, or is someone pulling their strings from behind the scenes? The committee that says it paid for the flyer?  According to Oregon Election’s Database, ORESTAR, on the date when the flyers first started appearing in mailboxes, the committee called “Clatsop Citizens for Good Governance” didn’t exist!  Who are these people?

Whoever they are, they have their facts wrong, and the candidates seem to be parroting them.

First off, none of the opponents of these candidates say they support an LNG terminal.  In fact, a couple of them say they would have to weigh the facts if and when the matter actually comes before the commission – exactly what they should say, given the commission’s role in land use decisions.

Second, the candidates are – either from ignorance or deliberately — confusing the properties of natural gas with those of LNG.

The committee Clatsop Citizens for Good Governance doesn't exist, according to Oregon's Election Office database, ORESTAR.

The committee Clatsop Citizens for Good Governance doesn’t exist, according to Oregon’s Election Office database, ORESTAR.

Scientifically, LNG is natural gas chilled so much it becomes a liquid.  In that form, it simply cannot explode.  That’s why, in the recent incident in Plymouth, where natural gas, likely leaking from a faulty valve near an LNG tank, the LNG tank did NOT explode.  So the flyer’s claim that the proposed Warrenton facility is “six times larger” than Plymouth is irrelevant.

There was no damage of any kind outside the Plymouth plant’s boundaries, and the Warrenton facility would have far stronger buffers and tank protections than Plymouth does.  The two injuries at Plymouth were to workers who were very close to the incident; neither was deemed serious.

Showing intellectual dishonesty (at least), the “blast zone” shown on the flyer is entirely made up.  It was not produced nor examined nor approved by any expert in hazardous material management or any official.  Equally dishonest is the scare-mongering photo of the San Bruno (CA) natural gas explosion of 2010.  That pipeline was more than 50 years old, and the utility involved has acknowledged design and maintenance failures.

Clatsop County already has underground natural gas pipes, as does every county in the country.  When incidents have occurred with these around the world, it is with old, poorly maintained pipelines, improperly installed pipelines, or human error due in part to poor set safety standards.  The Warrenton plant would be supplied by a brand new pipeline, engineered to the highest safety standards and subject to stringent government oversight.

LNG is not a new, untried technology.  It has been commercially produced for 97 years and has an excellent safety record.  LNG tankers have sailed over 100 million miles without a shipboard death or even a major accident. In the 2011 Japanese dual catastrophe of a magnitude-9 earthquake followed by tsunamis with waves reaching 128 feet high and flooding 217 sq miles, not a single one of the country’s 79 LNG holding tanks broke or malfunctioned.

Of course, we want any new industrial facility in our county to be safe, and the true track record of LNG facilities around the world is extremely good.  What would also be good for Clatsop County is the $50+ million in annual new tax revenues the LNG facility would bring, along with hundreds of new jobs.  The flyer doesn’t talk about that, of course.  It would detract from the falsehoods and scare tactics that their candidates have bought into.

Clatsop County should have commissioners who are willing to take the time to learn the facts and carefully weigh arguments on both sides of issues, not ones who rush to judgment. The former commissioners took three years to say, “Yes.” The current commissioners took two hours to say, “No.” If you want responsible commissioners, vote for those who are approaching this election responsibly. Think about this: What if they have already made up their mind on something you want to do with your property? Is that who you want judging your application for land use? This election is NOT about LNG. This election IS about responsible leadership. Don’t let anyone confuse you.