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A Big, Long Protest of a Big, Long Pipeline

Hikers are dividing the proposed LNG pipeline route into five sections so people can join the hike as their schedules and hiking abilities allow from Aug. 22 to Sept. 26. Credit: Hike the Pipe.
Hikers are dividing the proposed LNG pipeline route into five sections so people can join the hike as their schedules and hiking abilities allow from Aug. 22 to Sept. 26. Credit: Hike the Pipe.
August 20, 2015

MALIN, Ore. - A 230-mile gas pipeline means a 230-mile protest for those who oppose the Pacific Connector liquefied natural gas export line that could be built through southern Oregon.

The protest starts Saturday. The route for the pipeline between Malin and Coos Bay hasn't quite been finalized, so planning the one-month "Hike the Pipe" trek has been challenging. Coordinator Alex Harris says the group started with the 5,000-page environmental impact statement full of maps of small sections of the route.

"From each map we picked landmarks, anything we could grab from these maps," says Harris. "We stacked up hundreds of little landmarks onto a larger map. That's how we generated a line and essentially, connected the dots."

He says up to two dozen hikers will be on the route at any given time. It's been split into five sections to accommodate people's schedules and hiking ability. Three have committed to covering the entire route.

It's all to raise awareness of the environmental and economic consequences of shipping liquefied natural gas through Oregon and overseas.

Harris says they've been careful to ask permission of private landowners to cross their property. He notes many have shared their own concerns about the pipeline project.

"I've spoken to dozens of landowners who have received letters from the main corporation that's in charge of building the pipeline," Harris says. "Quotes for how much their land is deemed to be worth, and information about how eminent domain works."

The two energy companies are Oklahoma-based Williams and Veresen of Canada. Williams operates the 3,900-mile Northwest Pipeline system that crosses Oregon and five other states.

Harris hopes Oregon's congressional delegation and Gov. Kate Brown will take notice. Brown in particular has taken heat from both sides for not taking a stand on this issue.

"As an Oregonian, I can't accept that response," says Harris. "I've seen governors in California and in Washington come out publicly against liquefied natural-gas exports, and it's made a palpable difference."

Hike the Pipe events are planned in communities along the way, and the hikers will update their progress on social media.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR