On November 16, 2017, coincidently the same day as the largest Keystone oil spill to date in South Dakota, I attended the Water is Life: Youth Against Fracking Gas Export in Portland, OR. This event focused on the potentially damaging implications of the LNG pipeline from the perspective of youths from the Yurok, Karuk, and Hoopa tribes. These ambitious kids where making their way from Northern California, through Oregon to Washington, making stops the entire way to share their thought-provoking perspectives.
Just to offer a little background: The LNG Pipeline or Jordan Cove Fracked Gas Pipeline Proposal is a Pacific Connector pipeline that’s projected to transport 1.2 Billion cubic feet of fracked gas per year. The LNG Pipeline would stretch across public and private lands from Canada to Coos Bay. The following are a few of the most significant risks and impacts:
- The LNG Pipeline would violate land owner’s rights: If land owner’s do not accept a small one-time payment for land use the government will grant The power company eminent domain
- Threat to traditions and tribal territories: The pipeline poses a significant threat to resources such as fish, water, and cultural resources as well as territories and burial grounds.
- exacerbate the effects of global climate change: According to the S. Department of Energy, exporting natural gas from the US to Asia could end up being worse from a greenhouse gas perspective than if China simply built a new power plant and burned its own coal supplies.
- present a serious safety risk: LNG facilities and natural gas pipelines are highly explosive, and the Jordan Cove terminal would be built in a region susceptible to earth quacks and tsunamis.
The evening began with a prayer and song sung by one of the tribe members. The women explained that song was her sister’s. It was a song about coming of age. She went on to explain that in their culture when girls reach a certain age they are taught they have a purpose and how to be a contributing member of their community. I realized, I was never taught I had a purpose and when introductions began I realized the significance of that lesson. Most of the speakers were female tribe members and in high school. One young girl explained that after she began to see the environmental changes in her community she became an activist…in 8th grade. These poignant young women (and one charismatic young man), were doing the work of adults, and more than likely working harder for a cause in their community than most adults ever will.
Each speaker gave their testimonial. Each one stood alone on a stage in front of roughly 200+ people, holding a microphone and bravely stumbling over the words of the speeches they prepared. Their courage and dedication offered up a kind of hope that’s hard to find. I was so proud of each one of those young women (and one young man) that I did not know. Their messages were direct, engaging, and they all really drove home the message of how the pipeline will specifically impact their community and culture and how we can drive change in our communities.
Youtube: NO LNG Pipeline! Klamath Tribes
Sponsors: Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project , NO LNG Exports, Physicians for Social Responsibility, 350pdx, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Columbia River Keeper, Oregon Sierra Club , Greenpeace.