Native America tribes and community members throughout Oregon have asserted a strong opposition to the fossil fuel industry’s attempt to expand railways, build pipelines, and construct refineries, holding facilities, and export terminals. Despite the limited presence of fossil fuel infrastructure in the state, however, the industry is actively pursuing permits for two highly controversial developments: The Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline and the Jordan Cove Export Terminal. The pipeline would connect with the existing Ruby Pipeline in Malin, Oregon, pass through 229-miles of southwestern Oregon’s tribal, forest, and agricultural lands while traversing over 400 streams and rivers, and terminate on the coast of Oregon in Coos Bay where the gas will be liquefied and refined prior to exportation to overseas markets. Over 600 private landowners are threatened with eminent domain, and the ancestral territories, cultural resources, and burial grounds of five Oregon and three northern California federally recognized tribes would also be impacted by this project.
The purpose of this master’s thesis research was three-fold: 1) to explore the negative impacts of the LNG supply chain; 2) to conduct an ethnographic study of communities and organizations within the affected zones of the LNG project in order to understand how they perceive the risks they face, and 3) to highlight how these same communities are forging intersectional alliances to assert their opposition to the development. This study identifies the environmental, cultural, and social threats of the pipeline and terminal using the conceptual frameworks of environmental justice, settler colonialism, and the anthropology of energy and extraction. Additionally, it explores the connection between human rights, environmental protection, and the conservation of cultural keystone species that are often threatened by large-scale fossil fuel development.