Klamath Falls, Ore. – A crowd of over 300 people was on hand Monday night for a hearing in Klamath Falls to discuss the proposed Pacific Connector Pipeline and Jordan Cove project.
The proposed pipeline through much of southern Oregon is strongly opposed by the Klamath Tribes.
“We’ve got a number of concerns.” Notes Klamath Tribal Chairman Don Gentry. “Concerns for protecting the cultural resources that we really expect to be exposed, maybe even human remains.”
The pipeline would stretch nearly 229 miles from Coos Bay to a pipeline hub just north of Malin.
The project has the support of the City of Malin, and the Klamath County Commissioners.
“It’s good for Klamath County because of the short term jobs, there are long term jobs that are good paying jobs.” Says Klamath County Commissioner Derrick DeGroot. “And taxes that will help fill at least half of the deficit that we run for the Sheriff’s department every year.”
Monday’s hearing didn’t focus directly on the pipeline, but on the impact to public lands.
Ali Ryan Hansen of the Oregon Department of State Lands explains: “To protect Oregon’s water resources, state law requires any removal of materials from waters and wetlands to get a permit, and any fill of materials from waters and wetlands to get a permit.”
Those potential risks to nature are of big concern to Tribal Chairman Don Gentry. “We’re also concerned about the other risks to the human environment, to humans, the risk to the resources that are important to us – risks to the water, and the fisheries, and the plants, the forests.”
County Commissioner Derrick DeGroot counters that the Pacific Connector Pipeline would have better safeguards than pipelines already in place in Klamath County. “This pipeline is going to be done with better technology, better surveillance, better monitoring, and it’s going to produce a fire break through the woods, that as you know, we could really use.”
The Department of State Lands permit is one of many which would be required for the project.
Ali Ryan Hansen notes that there is a timeline to issue that permit. “Unless an extension is granted, we have until March 5th to make a permit decision.”
Monday’s hearing in Klamath Falls was the first in a series of five.
Meetings will follow in Central Point, Canyonville, North Bend, and Salem.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970’s. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.Lyle’s job history is quite colorful.
He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90’s as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.
“The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story”.
When he’s not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.