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Feb 15, 22

The Fight Against the Jordan Cove Pipeline and Corporate Counter-Insurgency

In this episode, we spoke with someone in Siskiyou Rising Tide, about the long-term struggle which defeated the Jordan Cove Pipeline, a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in the Pacific Northwest which was declared dead in the water several months ago, when the Calgary based company Pembina pulled out of the project.

According to OPB:

Pembina’s plan called for a 229-mile-long natural gas pipeline that would have run from Malin, Oregon, on the California border, over the Coast Range to Coos Bay. The gas would then have been super-cooled into a liquified form (LNG), loaded onto ships and exported to Asia.

The proposal raised concerns about environmental impacts to waterways and wildlife habitat. It was also expected to become the largest single emitter of greenhouse gasses in Oregon.

The fight against the Jordan Cove Pipeline last over 15 years and included Indigenous Nations, rural land owners, environmental groups, and anarchists. The struggle utilized a diversity of tactics and also went up against a massive counter-insurgency operation which sought to turn the local population against the campaign. The operation was financed by Pembina, the Canadian energy corporation behind the pipeline, which paid local law enforcement to conduct surveillance against anti-pipeline activists and also organize an AstroTurf campaign in support of the project.

According to the Intercept:

In addition to hosting the law enforcement training, the unit used Pembina’s funds to purchase riot control equipment, monitor the activities of Jordan Cove opponents, and coordinate intelligence-gathering operations with private security companies that also worked for Pembina…Law enforcement agencies often receive funding for equipment via corporate-backed professional associations and private foundations — a practice that civil liberties groups have criticized as enabling private influence with little oversight. The arrangement between Pembina and the Coos County Sheriff’s Office was unusual, however, given the department’s scrutiny of activists engaged in First Amendment-protected speech in opposition to its corporate benefactor.

The Coos County partnership is an extreme example of a trend in policing that has gained momentum across the United States — particularly since thousands of protesters from around the world gathered at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota in 2016 and 2017 in an effort to halt construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. Corporations are developing creative means to funnel millions of dollars to local law enforcement groups, and this funding has often been paired with increasingly elaborate private security and propaganda operations.

Another was led by former consultants for TigerSwan, the defense firm hired to oversee security of the Dakota Access pipeline that came under fire for its militaristic approach to protesters. The two former consultants enlisted to train Oregon law enforcement had previously attempted to organize pro-pipeline counterprotests, according to leaked audio recordings, encouraging dangerous tactics and at one point dangling the prospect of anonymous donations from oil companies.

Further investigations showed the degree in which the State was mobilizing to oppose local activists:

During the years-long confrontation over the project, allegations that law enforcement entities were spying on, and even attempting to intimidate, Jordan Cove opponents have surfaced multiple times. In August 2019, the U.K. newspaper The Guardian revealed that via Oregon public records requests, it had received emails from the Southwest Oregon Joint Task Force that “included addressees in the FBI, the Bureau of Land Management, the Department of Justice (DoJ), the National Forest Service (NFS), Oregon state police (OSP), and various Oregon municipal police and sheriffs departments.” In February 2020, The Intercept obtained records showing that Pembina had for almost four years been “the sole funding source of a unit in the [Coos County] sheriff’s office dedicated to handling security concerns related to Jordan Cove — despite the fact that there is not yet any physical infrastructure in place to keep secure.”

The fight against the Jordan Cove Pipeline is important not only because it represents a successful campaign that went up against a massive energy corporation which was backed by the State, but also because it showed that people across lines of race and geography could come together and fight a common enemy.

More Info: Rising Tide, Paid by the Pipeline: A Canadian Energy Company Bought an Oregon Sheriff’s Unit from The Intercept, and Jordan Cove Pipeline Protests: Is the FBI Still Spying on Activists? from Rights and Dissent.

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