Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Every now and then I hear someone accused of "having an agenda." This is odd, as I usually think of agendas as way to keep on task during meetings. Okay, I understand that the accusation is really sloppy English for "hidden agenda," which is certainly a difficult charge to defend, at the same time being impossible to prove, being hidden and all...

I suspect that those who suggest that others have hidden agendas are suspicious or afraid that there is some sort of deeper conspiracy at play, such as: "The environmentalists say that they want marine reserves around the rocks where we don't fish, but their real agenda is to take away our clam guns."

This business about agendas is both paranoia and bad grammar. The same abusers of language also believe that there are armies of high paid progressive peace-pushing tree-hugging coral-loving lobbyists.

I'll let you in on a secret. If you're against conservation, don't worry about agendas or lobbyists. Your worry would be much better directed at the committed volunteers and citizen advocates that organize around issues that raise their passion. Give these firebrands a bit of training in campaign tactics and strategic planning and they are formidable.

The tools of conservation go far deeper than "having an agenda." When citizens believe their cause from the heart and intelligently organize, you just might be better off stepping aside.

Observe as an example the anti-LNG movement. Observe and recall the stages of development of an effective grassroots campaign that grew into a powerful political force that is a major driver in our local cultural shift. This movement will succeed, not because of agendas but because righteous indignation was focused and directed. The development and outcomes of this movement may end up in a textbook.

Hmm, perhaps the fear of hidden agendas stems from the personal experience of those anti-conservation individuals. They themselves probably plot in secret about how they are going to scorch and burn the earth and destroy the environmentalists that stand in the way. Yes, that's how it is. Ah, the sweet adrenalin of paranoia mingles with the urge to fight or flee. And now I begin to understand...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Governor Kulongoski turns the corner on LNG


Governor Kulongoski has appropriately asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to stop processing all LNG and associated pipeline applications in Oregon. It sure took some time and effort to get to this point. I am very proud of the citizen activists that have persisted in educating our political leaders. Please keep it up for awhile longer. And don't be surprised or discouraged if the FERC approves Bradwood in the next month or two. In the end, as Riverkeeper Brent Foster said, "Every one of these projects will be stopped." There's a new sheriff in town, and this tough cop wears the face of all who care about the environmental, economic and cultural future of Oregon. Display your badge with pride!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

NMFS to Corps: Never mind

If you haven't heard, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) no longer is asking the US Army Corps of Engineers to send Northern Star's dredging application back, along with an initial denial based on incomplete information and and numerous substantive concerns for the salmon of the Columbia River drainage.

NMFS has both its scientific and political side. In Seattle NMFS has separate facilities for the Northwest Fisheries Science Center and the Northwest Regional Headquarters. But Bob Lohn is the appointed overall boss. Mr. Lohn explained the dramatic reversal of the fisheries service position:

"Our recommendation that the permit pending before you be denied was a procedural step and should not, in any way, be understood as a final determination by this agency regarding the possible effects of the project or what our view might be after additional, updated information is added to the application."

That is beautiful. Huh?

NMFS will still, I believe, be required to provide a Biological Opinion on whether the Bradwood project would jeopardize the continued existence of salmon runs that are listed as threatened or endangered. The scientists have already scoped the adverse impacts that should demand a ruling of jeopardy, and a stop to the project.

If in the end NMFS ignores its own scientists, that attitude would not go un-noticed if a citizen suit become necessary. The earlier NMFS document should be useful for state agencies reviewing water quality issues. Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) must consider whether "beneficial uses" of the Columbia River are protected from harm if this project were built and operated. Propagation of salmon and steelhead on State or Federal endangered species lists is arguably the most sensitive of beneficial uses.

The harm to salmon is so obvious that we shouldn't even be having to rely on DEQ, Washington's Department of Ecology, or NMFS to protect salmon. The Clatsop County Commission had an important opportunity to protect salmon by refusing to agree to land use changes unless Northern Star could prove that no harm would befall the fish.. But, hey, I was foolish to believe that any of the four (Commissioner Sam Patrick bucked the trend) who passed on putting the brakes on Bradwood, were taking stewardship of salmon.

Those four commissioners have evidenced by their votes disregard for survival of the salmon, the fish upon which much of our community history is built. With the same vote they failed to protect the health, safety and security of their constituents. To top it off the vote leaves the fiscal future of the County with uncertainty and risk.

I'm actually angry enough about this land use decision to allow the Bradwood LNG important terminal siting decision to move further into federal hands, that I think this is grounds for a recall. It's a harsh step that sure must not feel good to the person being recalled. I think that incompetence and a bonehead vote should be enough to throw the bums out, especially a generational blunder like this one. This area could suffer a long time unless this project is stopped in another jurisdiction.

Richard Lee was a good choice as the focus of a district commissioner recall, as he comes with baggage and problems far beyond LNG. (Sorry, Richard, it's not personal and I certainly have no vendetta. You know that I've always been respectful and cordial to you. But this is politics. To me it's the politics that defines the future of our area - my future, your future and the quality of life for us and our families. I'm willing to gamble that the fundamental values of District Three have shifted have shifted to demand more professional, transparent and representative government. Recent events and revelations compel citizen action by recall. It would be both dangerous and irresponsible of an informed electorate not to seek your recall. As a District Three voter I would prefer that you resign and get on with your life. But if you decide to fight the recall and you lose, please don't take it too hard. It's not like you were imprisoned for illegal campaign finance practices or some disgraceful misuse of office. Besides, I'm sure that you can contribute to society as a private citizen, as a businessman. Take the easy way out, leave the Commission, and may peace be with you.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

NMFS to Corps: Deny Bradwood LNG Permits

This may the most significant document yet filed with the FERC regarding environmental impacts of the Bradwood project. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) appropriately recommends that the US Army Corps of Engineers deny Northern Star's application. NMFS describes likely adverse impacts on page four which include "extensive dredging, filling of off-channel aquatic habitat and the 100-year floodplain, modification and chronic disturbance of nearshore habitat, and alteration of riparian and estuarine habitat."

NMFS provides numerous reasons for the Corps to deny the permits needed to construct the terminal and pipelines. For example, on page seven the fisheries service notes that "recent consultations have been founded on improvement of estuary habitat and stated that remaining salmonid habitat should be protected and enhanced. This includes the very habitat proposed for loss or modification by the subject project."

These findings support the testimony that I gave to the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners on behalf of Pacific Marine Conservation Council, as well as statements by others including Columbia Riverkeeper and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. This is yet another example of the myopic manner in which four of the commissioners disregarded significant public testimony, and failed to dig deeper into the harm that this project would bring to the salmon of the Columbia River and the businesses that depend on these fish.

NMFS connects the interdependent actions such as the pipelines (including Palomar) and moorage of tugs. NMFS also understates the fact that "The need for this volume of natural gas to service the Pacific Northwest has not been convincingly demonstrated."

This is a good read and a useful document. Perhaps in the end it will be a federal agency that acts to protect the environment and sustainable economic development of the estuary. Four of five Clatsop County Commissioners sure showed no inclination to serve their constituents. Instead they showed reckless disregard for our safety, our jobs and the quality of our life. I know that I'm being harsh, but these people have earned our disrespect.

Bravo NMFS!

Eventually during the federal permitting process NMFS would be consulted concerning the endangered species under the agency jurisdiction, including 16 threatened or endangered species for which the area Northern Star would degrade is considered critical habitat. If NMFS stays the course they could well declare that this action would jeopardize the continued existence of one or more of these species, stopping the project.

My guess is that NoStar will call this a technical matter and then proceed to paper over the substantive concerns of the fishery service.

Peter Huhtala

(posted on Friday)

Subject: Government Agency Submittal submitted in FERC CP06-365-000,et al. by NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE

On 1/18/2008, the following Filing was submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Washington D.C.:


Docket(s): CP06-365-000
Filing Type: Government Agency Submittal
Comment on Filing
Description: National Marine Fisheries Service comments on the public notice dated 10/18/07 re an application by Bradwood Landing LLC to constsruct a liquefied natural gas import terminal etc under CP06-365 et al.

To view the document for this Filing, click here

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Clatsop County Democrats resolve against LNG

Resolution from the Clatsop County Democratic Central Committee

Whereas, Northern Star, LLC has proposed a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal and pipeline at Bradwood Landing, 35 miles up the Columbia River;

Whereas, six Oregon state agencies have reviewed the draft environmental impact statement prepared by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regarding the Bradwood Landing project and have articulated the following major problems with the proposal:
• The FERC has not provided any independent assessment of the demand for LNG to justify the need for the project.
• The terminal project would conflict with regional and national efforts to restore the Columbia River and its estuary.
• Proposed dredging for the terminal, turning berth and pipeline would significantly damage the watershed, water quality, and sensitive species and habitat.
• No commitment has been made for emergency-response resources to operate Bradwood Landing; nor were safety and security implications for the local community adequately assessed.
• Significant fish habitat would be lost, and proposed remedies are inadequate.
• LNG ships would be very disruptive to commercial and recreational fishing boats.
• Air pollution emissions from LNG ships would pose a significant risk to residents of the lower Columbia River area.
• The Bradwood Landing site would present severe natural hazards from landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis and flooding.
Whereas, most of these major problems would apply to any LNG import terminal that might be proposed to be located on the Columbia River; and

Whereas, importing LNG, a foreign fossil fuel, would not contribute to Oregon’s goal of 25% renewable energy by 2012.

Therefore, we, the Clatsop County Democratic Central Committee, call upon Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, United States Senators Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith, United States Representative David Wu, Oregon State Senator Betsy Johnson and Oregon State Representatives Debbie Boone and Brad Witt, to do everything in their power to stop all LNG import terminal development on the Columbia River.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"Oasis" appears to be popular...

First these at garageband.com:

Best Male Vocals in Folk, week of 17Sep2007
Best Guitars in Folk, week of 17Sep2007
Best Production in Folk, week of 17Sep2007
Best Melody in Folk, week of 17Sep2007


Technically, the song is just vocals plus four acoustic guitar tracks, some with effects added.

The new CD, "Mischief" should be available in November.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


This is fun for me. I participate in this international music contest at www.garageband.com. I've actually received quite a few awards over the past year. I appreciate that my musical colleagues occasionally throw accolades at my guitar playing or arranging or producing.

The latest award is for "It's a Shame." I wrote this song in 1979, nursing a hangover in an empty (except for my fellow itinerate musician, Tim Kohler) sports stadium in Flagstaff.

A couple months ago I was in my makeshift studio working on a song that had me rather frustrated. I decided to take a break and blow off some steam. Within about a half an hour I had recorded all the parts to "It's a Shame" and mixed the darn thing. I was going for the original garage band jam sound. I fully expected to delete the result.

On a whim I submitted an MP3 of the song to Garageband.com. As I expected, the guitar hero wannabes dissed my unschooled licks. A few reviewers caught the feeling, but nobody seemed to catch the parody that I intended. Apparently "Garageband" is now a program for Apple computers rather than a way of life.

Imagine my surprise when "It's a Shame" was named Track of the Day in the hotly contested category of Blues Rock. Makes me want to jump on the hood of the Rambler, wailing on my Flying V!