As you may have already gleaned from the presidential primary, the Republican Party – like the oil & gas industry – is in shambles. That sense of disarray has trickled down to local party politics especially in the Garfield County Commissioners race. For the first time in 20 years, Republican incumbent John Martin faces opposition from within his own party as Aron Diaz is set to challenge Martin’s candidacy in the June 28 Republican primary.
Aron Diaz has been a Silt Trustee since 2014. Currently he works as a business strategy consultant. For nearly 5 years he was the Executive Director of Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado (AGNC). You can read more about this publicly funded, conservative lobbying organization here. On March 23, the AGNC Board of Directors held their monthly meeting at the Silt Town Hall. The AGNC Board of Directors include: Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson, Jeff Eskelson, Martin Chazen, Cari Hermacinski, Andy Key, Heather Sloop, Chuck Grobe, Frank Breslin, John Justman, and Ray Beck.
Diaz attended the meeting and reported back to the SiltBOTs at their March 28 meeting.
To begin, Diaz talked about the discussion regarding Amendment 69, ColoradoCare, which will be on the ballot this November. To summarize, AGNC and the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce oppose ColoradoCare. Coincidentally the Koch brothers also oppose ColoradoCare: Koch Brothers Attempt to Kill Single-Payer Health Care in Colorado.
No connection there, I’m sure.
Diaz spent most of the time spewing so much propaganda about the Jordan Cove Project that I am compelled to set the record straight. Apparently he’s not familiar with the google machine or maps and prefers to get his information from a lobbying group.
Below, in bold is my transcription of Diaz’s words from the video replay, which took several weeks to obtain and then transcribe. I edited out only the “ums” and “you knows.” This is the full transcript, not excerpts. His words were not taken out of context.
Diaz: There’s a pipeline that they’re trying to put in that would go from Colorado up to Jordan Cove which is Oregon – Portland area.
Not exactly. Jordan Cove is to the Portland area like Silt is to the Denver area — nowhere near it. The proposed Jordan Cove LNG facility would be located in Coos Bay, Oregon, which is located on the Pacific Coast, 200 miles southwest of Portland.
And the proposed pipeline, which is called the Pacific Connector Pipeline, does not “go from Colorado.” The 230-mile, 36-inch high pressured gas pipeline would originate in Oregon, at the proposed Jordan Cove LNG terminal in Coos Bay, and then cross through Coos, Douglas, Jackson and Klamath Counties, ending at Malin, Oregon. There it would connect with the existing Ruby Pipeline which already connects with the existing Rockies Express Pipeline in western Wyoming. Natural gas from the Piceance Basin in western Colorado follows a section of the Rockies Express Pipeline up to the Opal Hub.
Diaz: And be able to ship liquefied natural gas out to the Pacific Rim. FERC denied it in a political year and all that kind of stuff. They denied the application which was really odd in the way that they did because there’s a lot of bipartisan support. Senator Bennet’s all on board. Senator Gardner. Congressman Tipton. Governor Hickenlooper even signed on and said “hey, you know we gotta get this done.”
The other Senators from Oregon are on board trying to push it. It’s just FERC is really listening to some of the most ardent environmental opposition to it not wanting to let natural gas get a foothold.
Except for the fact that on September 30, 2015, when the FERC issued its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Jordan Cove LNG and Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline, the “environmental opposition” lost their bid to stop the project. If the FERC did in fact listen to anyone, they listened to the approximately 287 landowners along the 230-mile Pacific Connector Pipeline route who opposed the taking of their private property rights to benefit private companies.
If you want to listen to them, too, watch this short video.
Diaz: And the reason they denied it had to do something with the fact that they said that this pipeline wouldn’t have customers already on line. [Laughs] Everybody’s like, wait a second. That’s never been a reason to deny one of these to begin with.
Actually, the reason the FERC denied the Pacific Connector Pipeline was because the proponents of the project did not show that the public benefit of the pipeline outweighs the private property rights of the landowners. Citing the lack of customers was simply an example of the pipeline’s lack of viability.
Diaz: And on top of that I think something like 25% of it has already been said that I think the largest natural gas consumer in Japan has already said ‘hey, we’ll buy it.’ So there’s that. So we’re trying to work some other things. There’s an appeal that’s going on right now.
Okay, so at the end of March when he made these statements, Veresen (the company that would build the pipeline) said they had an agreement with the Japanese company JERA Co. As of now they’ve added “contractual agreements” with ITOCHU Corp., Macquerie Energy, and Avista Corp. for an estimated 70% of the LNG produced at the facility. However none of those companies have made any public announcements about any agreements with Veresen. All of the press releases have come from Veresen. No firm contracts have been signed.
But the proponents have decided to go all in on the customer angle for the appeal anyway. The problem with using these so-called agreements as the basis for their appeal is that these customer companies and all the companies that would supply natural gas to Jordan Cove are private companies. So they are asking the FERC to impose eminent domain on private landowners to take away their property rights to benefit a consortium of private companies.
Good luck with that.
Diaz: But that would mean a lot to the jobs in this area to have an actual market to get our west slope gas out to the world.
Forget the google machine. Apparently Diaz doesn’t read The Daily Sentinel either.
… David Ludlam, executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, estimated Wednesday that if all the plant’s gas came from the Piceance Basin, it could take roughly eight to 12 drilling rigs to supply the plant, which would have an initial capacity of about a billion cubic feet per day. Just two rigs are operating locally now …
It doesn’t take a mining engineer to tell you that 8 to 12 drilling rigs does not translate into a lot of jobs in western Colorado.
Besides, we don’t really need more oil & gas industry jobs in Colorado. In spite of the decrease in oil & gas production, Colorado has the 3rd lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. Over the past year, mining (oil & gas) and logging combined are down by 6,800 jobs. But those losses were more than made up for with the addition of 10,900 new construction jobs, 24,200 new leisure and hospitality jobs, and 11,000 new educational and health services jobs.
As a politician, Diaz has every right to promote his stand on the issues. However on the matter of Jordan Cove he simply parroted AGNC’s talking points and catapulted the oil & gas industry propaganda. That’s offensive. The least he could do is learn the facts. Evidently that’s too much to expect from our trustees and candidates these days.
Trustee TJ Tucker (and ExxonMobil employee) also chimed in on the Jordan Cove discussion:
Tucker: My company which is just one of many, we all have the same amount of downturn. Reduction enforcement by 60%, that’s in house and contractors – mostly on the contractors’ side. But to see something like that go through would be an instant boon for everybody – all of the contractor business, everything else. Because not only would we ramp back up to full speed as we were three years ago, we would even go more. You’d see drilling again out here. That’s a plus or minus for everybody but just to let you know it was a 60 to 67% reduction of force. And to see that go through, I mean we’d instantaneously see that turn around. We’d start doing it before the pipeline was even finished.
Sorry to be the one to break it to Tucker and the folks at ExxonMobil but even if Jordan Cove is somehow resurrected from the ash bin of eternity, it’s not going to do anything to alter their “reduction of force” or their bottom line anytime soon. Oh sure, the pipeline would only take about 3 months to build. But the Jordan Cove LNG facility and the South Dunes Power Plant could take anywhere from 5 to 10 years to build. You see, the liquefaction process requires such massive amounts of energy they would have to build a power plant to handle the supply.
So there’s that.
But the voices keep getting louder and the excuses keep getting dumber. Somebody has to expose this bullshit. So it might as well be me.
An editorial in today’s Daily Sentinel (Jordan Cove’s local PR machine) gives us a glimpse into the lengths the fracking fanatics will go to in order to stretch the notion of public benefit. Seeing the handwriting on the wall that the FERC is not going to go for imposing eminent domain on landowners and seizing their private property rights for the benefit of private companies, Jordan Cove proponents are playing the carbon-emissions-reduction card. Because heaven knows the oil & gas industry and their minions are falling over themselves to reduce carbon emissions. These are the same hypocrites involved in a lawsuit against Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
… John Harpole, founder and owner of Mercator Energy and an architect of the plan to export Piceance gas to the Pacific Rim, said LNG exports are the key to reducing carbon emissions among countries currently dependent on coal for electrical generation.
Blindly targeting U.S. carbon emissions undercuts the impact that U.S. natural gas exports could have on converting China’s electricity generation industry from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas. China is by far the earth’s biggest carbon-polluting nation, so anyone truly interested in combating global climate change should take a global strategy and work to facilitate LNG exports to the Pacific Rim, not block them …
For one thing, no Chinese companies have signed up for LNG exports from Jordan Cove, or indicated any interest in LNG exports from Jordan Cove. Furthermore, natural gas consumption has declined in China.
And while replacing coal with natural gas in other countries might reduce their carbon emissions, that doesn’t take into account the carbon emissions that would occur during the construction of the Pacific Connector Pipeline, the Jordan Cove LNG facility, and the South Dunes Power Plant. Not to mention the carbon emissions that would occur during increased drilling and fracking, transporting the NG to the Jordan Cove facility, and carbon emissions from the massive amounts of energy required during the liquefaction process, plus the power plant emissions — the list goes on and on.
Clearly, any reduction in global carbon emissions from replacing coal with LNG would be offset during the construction, supply chain, and operations phases of the Jordan Cove Project on this side of the Pacific.
While the fracking fanatics may have succeeded in bamboozling the Silt Town Board, the rest of us are not so easily fooled.
Opposition to Jordan Cove also figures prominently in a lawsuit against the federal government over its inaction in fighting climate change, which has been brought forward by 21 young people from across the nation: Gas plant proposal subject of novel suit.
Click here to listen to my interview about the Jordan Cove Project with KDNK’s Amy Hadden Marsh, which aired on April 29.
Jordan Cove’s fracking fanatics —
U.S. Senators: John Barrasso, Cory Gardner, Mike Enzi, Orrin Hatch, Mike Lee, Michael Bennet
U.S. House of Representatives: Cynthia Lummis, Scott Tipton, Doug Lamborn, Mike Coffman, Rob Bishop, Chris Stewart, Jason Chaffetz, Ken Buck, Mia Love
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper
Colorado Senators: Ray Scott, Randy Baumgardner
Colorado Representatives: Yeullin Willett, Dan Thurlow, Bob Rankin
Garfield County Commissioners: John Martin, Tom Jankovsky, Mike Samson
Mesa County Commissioners: Scott McInnis, John Justman, Rose Pugliese
Rio Blanco County Commissioners: Jeff Eskelson, Shawn Bolton, Jon Hill
Aron Diaz, Town of Silt Trustee and Republican candidate for Garfield County Commissioner
TJ Tucker, Town of Silt Trustee
Phyllis Norris, Mayor of Grand Junction
AGNC – Associated Governments of Northwestern Colorado
WSCOGA – West Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association
Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce
Grand Junction Economic Partnership
Coldwell Banker Commercial Prime Properties
The Daily Sentinel — Grand Junction
Oil & gas operators: FRAM, Caerus, Encana, Genesis Gas and Oil, Gunnison Energy, Laramie Energy, SG Interests, Shear Inc., Ursa