Alliance for Democracy

Trackling Corporate Power | AfD in the news |SC Justices Ramble at Anti-War Rally

Posted in Alliance for Democracy, CELDF, Liquefied Natural Gas, Move to Amend, Water by Alliance for Democracy Portland OR on March 21, 2011

Below my signature is an article on Tackling Corporate Power, One Town at a Time by Mari Margil who works with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.  They are best known for working with Pennsylvanian towns to pass ordinances banning corporate farming.  Now they are working with  communities to ban corporations from drilling for natural gas in their communities using the fracking process. First the City of Pittsburg passed such an ordinance and now smaller communities in Maryland and New York are taking steps in the same direction – challenging corporate power in their communities and establishing the rights of local communities to establish health and safety standards for their people even in the face of state or federal regulations or laws designed to remove their power.  Note that one of the objectives of MOVE TO AMEND in eliminating corporate personhood is to allow local communities exactly this power.  (more…)

Water Spot, Cascade Locks and Nestle, Hanford etc.

Posted in Cascade Locks, Liquefied Natural Gas, Nestle, Oregon Working Families Party, The Water Spot by Alliance for Democracy Portland OR on March 31, 2010

This email has a variety of things of interest locally.
 
1.  Thursday evening I host The Water Spot cable tv program.  This is a monthly program hosted by either Nancy Matela or myself on water issues of importance to Portland and Oregon.  My guest will be Gerry Pollet, Executive Director of Heart of America which has worked for decades on the clean-up of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.  If you have not kept up with the US Department of Energy’s plans for Hanford, you need to watch this show.  In addition to providing details of US DOE’s most recent Environmental Impact Statement, we will also go into how what happens at Hanford effects all of us in Portland. The US DOE EIS’ comment period have been extended to May 3rd, so if after watching the show you want to comment, there will still be time to do that. 
 
Cable show is live starting at 8 PM on Channel 11 everywhere in the metro area.
 
Also, Gerry Pollet will be at the Gathering for Earth potluck on Friday evening starting at 7 PM at the Friends meeting house at 45th and Stark.  You are welcome to join the potluck and then hear Gerry talk more on Hanford.  I don’t think there is a charge for going other than bring some food to share.
 
2.  Earlier this week, Food and Water Watch, Alliance for Democracy, Columbia Riverkeepers and others delivered 4000 signatures of people opposed to the plan by Nestle to bottle creek water at Cascade Locks.  The signatures were delivered to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife which operates a fish hatchery in Cascade Locks. Nestle wants to do an exchange of creek water for the water from Cascade Locks for bottling and shipping at a huge mark-up over cost.  Watch the 15 video of the press conference which was held before the signatures were delivered. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0xAkUvjELU.   
 
3. Below my name is an email from the anti-LNG people.  Please read and take a few minutes to contact elected officials asking that the Oregon Department of Land not extend the lease on land that the LNG terminal would be built on.  
 
4.  Wednesday evening I went to the Oregon Workings Families Party party in which they kicked off several efforts to build the party and to promote sound progressive economic policies for Oregon.  Included in those efforts is forming a state bank for Oregon so that the money we pay in taxes will stay in Oregon instead of being invested with Banks Which Are Too Big to Fail.  They also talked about the attempts to privatize our higher education system, the need to have green green jobs (my phase, I forget what they called it).  Anywhere, the need to create new jobs in Oregon in renewable energy projects which pay family living wages. 
 
One important aspect of forming this party is that they need a large number of voters to register with the party.  So check out their website at http://oregonwfp.org/.  You might want to join the party and get counted but you don’t have to do it before the primary election.  Vote in the primary as a Democrat if you like and then make the switch after the election.   

David e. Delk, Alliance for Democracy – Portland Chapter, 503.232.5495


Hello Anti-LNGers —
Oregon LNG proposes to construct their destructive import terminal on state-owned land.  Land owned by you and me.  Tell the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) you don’t want an LNG terminal on state land!

In 2004, DSL granted a 5-year lease for the LNG terminal. That lease is now expired.  DSL will soon make a decision on whether to renew or reject a 60-year lease for the site of the Oregon LNG terminal.  Urge DSL to reject the lease today.  At the very least, DSL should make Oregon LNG reapply and conduct a fair and transparent public process.


Contact these decision makers today!

The Oregon State Land Board – The Land Board oversees the Department of State Lands and makes decisions on important leases. The Land Board is made up of these three elected officials:


Governor Kulongoski
Phone: (503) 378-4582, click to email: http://www.oregon.gov/Gov/contact_us.shtml

160 State Capitol
900 Court Street
Salem, Oregon 97301-4047 


Secretary of State Kate Brown, oregon.sos@state.or.us, (503) 986-1523 


Treasurer Ted Wheeler, Oregon.Treasurer@state.or.us, (503) 378-4329

While the State Land Board did not make the original lease decision, they have the power and the responsibility to intervene on this lease.


 Also contact these important decision makers:

Michael Carrier, Natural Resources Policy Director

(503) 986-6525, Michael.carrier@state.or.us

255 Capitol Street NE, Suite 126
Salem, OR  97301    Envelope

 

 Louise Solliday, Department of State Lands Director  (DSL can deny the lease)
Email: louise.c.solliday@state.or.us (503) 986-5224

775 Summer St. NE, Suite 100
Salem, OR 97301

 

Tell them:

1) Require Oregon LNG to reapply for the lease

-In 2004, DSL entered into a lease that generates no public benefit.  At $38,000 per year, the current lease is a raw deal for Oregonians.  Now DSL gets a chance to correct its mistake.

-The circumstances of the original lease agreement are surrounded by controversy.  DSL did not tell the public that the lease was intended for an LNG terminal – DSL’s notice and appraisal was for a golf course, not an LNG facility.  The public deserves to be heard this time around with public hearings and true transparency.

– Demand transparency.  DSL should require Oregon LNG to reapply for the lease so Oregon’s citizens can comment on the appropriate use of our public land

 

2) The lease of the Skipanon Peninsula is grossly undervalued and is losing money for the state and our Common School Fund!

-The property was appraised as a golf course, not a deepwater industrial port.  Oregon LNG pays only $38,000 per year for its LNG terminal lease – a figure that is $1 million/year too low!  Since 2004, the State of Oregon has effectively subsidized the Oregon LNG project by depriving our common school fund of $1 million/year (already a total of $5 million).

-The State of Oregon should manage our public resources for the public benefit – not subsidize out-of-state energy speculators at a huge cost to Oregon taxpayers.

3) You oppose LNG development and the way the Oregon LNG Company does business!

– Oregon LNG is currently under investigation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for misconduct and abuse of landowners.

-In October 2009, the Oregon Department of Justice found “Official Misconduct” related to the original lease between the Port and Oregon LNG.

-According to the Oregon Dept. of Energy, LNG is not needed in Oregon and yet the citizens and tax-payers of Oregon are bearing the burden of that development with their tax dollars, private property and inability to develop their own lands during the permitting process         

-Oregon LNG poses a public safety and public health threat due to its proximity to Warrenton and Astoria, Oregon.

 

Oregon should stand up to Oregon LNG.  The State of Oregon owns the Skipanon Peninsula and leased the land to the Port of Astoria, which in turn subleased the state land to Oregon LNG.  Last week, the Port of Astoria was forced to renew its sublease for the Oregon LNG terminal.  But DSL can reject the master lease and kill the whole project.  The court’s order to the Port does not affect DSL. DSL still has the final say over this lease.


Sample Email:

To Director Solliday and Dept. of State Lands,

I am writing to ask that the State of Oregon terminate not renew the lease of the Skipanon Peninsula to Oregon LNG. The LNG terminal is not in the public interest.  DSL should reject the lease immediately.  

At the very least, DSL should require Oregon LNG to reapply for the lease.  DSL issued the original lease without adequate notice or public participation.  DSL should not be pressured into a 60-year lease without a thorough evaluation of whether the project is in the public interest.   

In addition, while I am personally opposed to this unnecessary, economically and environmentally damaging proposal, I am also deeply frustrated that the State of Oregon is effectively subsidizing this lease by agreeing to terms that come nowhere near the true value of the Skipanon Peninsula for this development. The undervalued lease pales in comparison to the potential value of the site for the local economy and Oregon’s taxpayers.  With each year that the lease continues, Oregon’s Common School Fund is deprived of an additional 1 million dollars.  The time has come for the State of Oregon to correct the obvious mistake it made by entering into a lease for the Oregon LNG project.

I ask that you please terminate the Port of Astoria’s lease for Oregon LNG, and at the very least, require Oregon LNG to reapply for the lease so there is an open and public process this time. 

Thank you,

YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS

____________________________________________________________

 

Background and News Stories about this recent Port Action

A clear view of the undervalued Skipanon Peninsula as compared with similar properties in Oregon:

Site Acres (uplands) Annual Lease Price per acre
Coos Bay LNG 147 $1,920,000 $13,061
North Tongue Point (Astoria) 30 $350,000 $11,666
Skipanon, Oregon LNG 92 $38,400 $418

 

The Daily Astorian coverage for the last-minute meeting with the Port. It should be noted that this paper was published on the Friday of this meeting and therefore did not constitute 24 hour notice for the meeting.

Port sets last-minute Friday meeting to vote on LNG lease
Oregon LNG attorney accuses Port leaders of “dilatory and contumacious conduct”

By CASSANDRA PROFITA
The Daily Astorian

The Port of Astoria Commission has scheduled a last-minute special meeting and executive session for Friday at 6 p.m. to vote on its next move in the Oregon LNG lawsuit.

The meeting was announced Thursday afternoon after a phone conference among the Port, Oregon LNG and Judge Michael Mosman. It will include a public discussion and comment session as well as an executive session and decision.

On Wednesday, Oregon LNG filed a motion asking federal Judge Michael Mosman to hold Port Commissioners in civil contempt of Oregon’s U.S. District Court for failing to follow the judge’s order. The company also asked the court to impose fines of $7,400 per day on top of Oregon LNG’s legal fees and related costs, as well as coercive sanctions to each commissioner of $1,000 a day and sanctions to the Port of $5,000 a day until the agency’s leaders act on the order.

Oregon LNG filed a breach of contract lawsuit against the Port of Astoria last year, attempting to force the agency to sign a 30-year renewal of the master lease at the LNG project site on Warrenton’s Skipanon Peninsula. The Port leases the land from the state and subleases it to Oregon LNG.

The suit – and the Port’s refusal to renew the lease – has generated concern and controversy on the North Coast as two judges have ruled in the company’s favor over the past several months.

Judge Mosman last week ordered the Port of Astoria to “take immediate steps to provide the additional 30-year term specified in the sublease, and to make the land subject to that sublease available to plaintiff LNG for its use.”

On Tuesday, the Port Commission met and discussed the order. Port Commissioner Dan Hess made a motion to renew the state lease for 30 years and Commissioner Larry Pfund backed him, but the motion was tabled for an executive session and later withdrawn. Commissioners said they were waiting to see the outcome of Thursday’s conference with the judge to decide on their next move.

As Oregon LNG grows impatient, the company’s lawyers are stepping up the pressure – and their lexicon.

In their latest filing with the court – a 15-page argument for why the Port leaders should be held in contempt – attorney Kelly Corr of the Seattle law firm Davis Wright Tremain accuses the commissioners of “dilatory and contumacious conduct” and goes on to describe in detail the sequence of events from Tuesday’s Commission meeting. Corr noted that nearly a year has passed since the company renewed its 30-year sublease with the Port, and the agency has resisted signing onto a parallel 30-year renewal of the underlying master lease with Oregon Department of State Lands.

“Just as the defendants have refused to comply with the Sublease despite the risk of a substantial damages award against the Port,” he argued, “they now obstinately refuse to comply with an order of the District Court.”

 

The Oregonian on the Port being forced to renew the terms of the lease

Judge orders Port of Astoria to renew Oregon LNG lease

By Ted Sickinger, The Oregonian

March 11, 2010, 4:34PM

A federal judge has ordered the Port of Astoria to renew a controversial 30-year lease with the state on a spit of land in Warrenton. The decision could boost efforts to build a proposed LNG import terminal there and a pipeline connecting it to customers in the Willamette Valley and beyond.

The Port leased 92 acres from the Oregon Department of State Lands for $38,400 annually in 2004 and subleased it to the developer of the terminal project, Oregon LNG, for the same amount. That price was based on an appraisal that assumed the land would be used for a golf course instead of a $1 billion LNG plant. Critics have long argued that the deal was too generous, and it became part of an investigation by the state attorney general into misconduct by the former port director.

When Oregon LNG went to renew its sublease on the land last year for a term of 30 years, the Port decided to extend its master lease with the state for only two years, with the option for subsequent 30-year extensions. Oregon LNG filed suit for breach of contract.

The decision by the U.S. District Court judge confirmed a November recommendation by a magistrate judge that Astoria’s Port should extend both Oregon LNG’s sublease and its lease with the Department of State Lands for three decades, despite the Port’s concerns about getting locked into a 30-year deal if the terminal isn’t built.The Port can appeal the decision to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court.

Oregon LNG is still seeking federal, state and local permits for the terminal, but it is celebrating the decision because the land issue has put its project in limbo with other regulators and industry partners, said Peter Hansen, the chief executive of Oregon LNG.

 

The Daily Astorian Article from just days before the last-minute meeting was set to push the extended lease through

Port takes wait and see stance on LNG lease
Port leaders worry about personal liability for LNG lease argument
By CASSANDRA PROFITA
The Daily Astorian

Port of Astoria Commissioner Dan Hess told his fellow board members Tuesday that he received an unpleasant surprise at his doorstep last week.

“I’m sure we all did,” he said.

 The five Port commissioners have been individually served with notices from the liquefied natural gas developer Oregon LNG that they could be held liable for around $500,000 in legal fees racked up by the company in its breach of contract lawsuit against the Port.

“My share of that is about $120,000,” Hess said. “That will knock-down, flat-ass break me.”

Hess made a motion at the Tuesday meeting “to sign the damn lease so we can move on.”

Port Commissioner Larry Pfund seconded the motion, triggering a debate on the floor over how the Port got itself in such hot water.

The motion was tabled while the board held an executive session with its attorney on the case, Thane Tienson of the Portland law firm Landye Bennett Blumstein.

Tienson assured commissioners the company’s attorneys can’t charge the Port any money. Only a judge can impose damages and legal fees upon the Port, and the judge has not done that, he said.

After the executive session, Hess and Pfund withdrew the motion and agreed to wait to see the outcome of Thursday’s meeting with the judge and Oregon LNG.

A federal judge sided with Oregon LNG last week and ordered the Port to take steps immediately to correct the problem in the Port’s sublease of land in Warrenton for a proposed $1 billion LNG import terminal.

Oregon LNG instantly threatened to ask the court to make the Port pay millions in damages in addition to the legal fees. The company’s attorney sent notices to Port commissioners promising daily penalties if the board didn’t heed the judge’s order to repair the breach of contract.

But it’s not a simple fix.

The Port leases the 92 acres on Warrenton’s Skipanon Peninsula from Oregon Department of State Lands and subleases it to Oregon LNG in a “pass-through” deal that doesn’t yield any profit for the Port. In 2004, the tandem leases were signed by the Port Commission on short notice with scant public input. Only recently, as the initial five-year term expired last year, have the documents’ flaws been scrutinized publicly by Port leaders.

Oregon LNG renewed its sublease for a 30-year term last year, but the Port didn’t renew its master lease with the state for a parallel 30 years, in part because of a state investigation into official misconduct by former Port director Peter Gearin leading up to the lease deal. Instead, the Port signed a two-year extension of the initial five-year lease term with the state. Oregon LNG proceeded to sue the Port for a breach of contract because the master lease wasn’t renewed for a 30-year term.

Last year, Port commissioners realized that the Port might actually own the land at the Skipanon site and that the language in the master lease and sublease could create some major problems for the agency long-term – especially if Oregon LNG doesn’t get the permits to build an LNG facility in Warrenton.

If the Port agrees to a 30-year renewal of the state lease, it would be responsible for making the $38,400 annual payment on the land even if the company bails on its project.

What’s worse, some commissioners say, is the language in the sublease that allows the company to build a “marine-related facility” at the Skipanon site. Because it doesn’t specifically require an LNGterminal, Port leaders fear the company could build a facility that would compete with the Port.
“I’m struggling with this for several reasons,” said Port Commissioner Floyd Holcom. “We didn’t file a lawsuit against Oregon LNG. It wasn’t our intent to stop them from doing what they’re doing.”

At the Port meeting last week, former Clatsop County commissioner Tim Gannaway warned Port leaders, drawing from his own experience as a public official, about the dangers of the legal fight they’re in.
“What we’re dealing with is gorillas wrestling with men,”Bland said. “This is not going to go well for the Port.”
Port Commissioner Jack Bland told Gannaway the Port is facing $1 million liability for the rent to the state if it agrees to renew the 30-year lease with the state without the proper assurances from Oregon LNG.

 “A million dollars is cheap compared with what they could potentially sue you for,” Gannaway said.

 Bland, who was appointed to the Port Commission last year, said it’s “a no-win situation”for the Port.
“How could you negotiate an agreement like that?” he said. “I don’t have an answer for that.”

Copenhagen failure and the Columbia River Crossing‏

Posted in Columbia River Crossing, Corporate Globalization, Liquefied Natural Gas by Alliance for Democracy Portland OR on December 20, 2009

The cause of the failure in Copenhagen results from the same failure in discussions about the Columbia River Crossing – the role of corporate globalization. (more…)