DeFazio opposes eminent domain in pipeline construction: Roseburg OR News-Review, 8/18/06

By Adam pearson

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio has expressed opposition to the proposed route of a gas pipeline across Douglas County.

In a letter he sent Thursday, DeFazio, D-Ore., urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reroute the proposed 225-mile Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline away from private property and onto existing transmission right-of-ways.

Its builder, Williams - a pipeline engineering and construction firm whose Pacific Connector office is in Salt Lake City - insists the proposed route avoids heavily populated areas. The route crosses private and federally owned land.

DeFazio wrote he is opposed to the company using eminent domain to seize private property to facilitate construction of the pipeline.

"I don't think it's right that a company has such extraordinary power," DeFazio said in a phone interview.

In his letter to FERC Chairman Joseph Kelliher, DeFazio said he opposes the Energy Policy Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2005, which by-passes the jurisdiction of state and local governments for utility right-of-ways.

"Given that residents and state and local officials have a better understanding of the economic, environmental, safety, and security concerns that exist in affected communities, I believe it was a mistake to concentrate this sitting power with the federal government," he wrote.

The proposed 36-inch pipeline would stretch across southwest Oregon from a liquefied natural gas terminal in Coos Bay and connect to a main natural gas transmission line in Malin, crossing approximately 55 miles of Douglas County in between. It would be capable of transmitting 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.

The Pacific Connector is in FERC's pre-filing status.

DeFazio said that by routing the pipeline to existing right-of-ways, less impact would made to natural resources and private property. He said that should be the greater factor for Williams consider.

"Their job should be more than just minimizing costs," DeFazio said

Roseburg OR News-Review: http://www.oregonnews.com