Republicans should support private property rights

    I own a 2,500-acre ranch outside of Roseburg, where I’ve made a living running cows since 1991. It’s not easy, but I chose this life because I love it, and it was a good place to instill good values in my son and daughter. Both of my kids were raised in rural Oregon, went to college, came back to the ranch and are doing very well.

    About 12 years ago, a company told me they wanted to run a natural gas pipeline right through the middle of my land, as part of a project that would take natural gas to a liquid natural gas terminal in Coos Bay. I said no, and I’ve been saying no ever since. The Jordan Cove LNG terminal and Pacific Connector Pipeline project has been knocked down twice. The last time the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rejected the permit application. Basically, they said the negative impacts outweighed the positive benefits that the project would bring. Now they’re back for a third try.

    FERC was right. The negative impacts far outweigh the positive benefits, especially for the hundreds of landowners in Southern Oregon facing the possible use of eminent domain. What I can’t get my head around is why our Republican leaders can’t see that.

    Take Knute Buehler, the doctor from Bend who’s taking on Kate Brown for governor of Oregon. He recently promised that, if elected, he’ll do what he can to fast-track the permits for Jordan Cove. He obviously doesn’t understand what it’s like to live off the land and depend on natural resources. Why don’t we put that pipeline or LNG terminal in his backyard and see what he says about it then? How can someone who calls himself a conservative say he’ll push those permits through without even considering the issue of eminent domain and violation of property rights? How can someone who calls himself a “Lover of Oregon” be willing to ruin part of this beautiful state for a few temporary jobs?

    This is a foreign company that wants to take Canadian gas through Oregon and send it to Asian countries. And they want to use my land to do it. They already tried to put their pipeline through Canada, Washington and California. I guess they figured the people of Southern Oregon are dumb enough to sell their souls for 50 cents.

    They’re wrong.

    If Knute Buehler and other Republicans think this issue is yet another case of Portland liberals versus rural America, he’s mistaken, because rural people don’t want this project.

    The thing I value most about my ranch is the quality of life, and passing that legacy on to my grandkids. If I let them build their pipeline, all of that is threatened.

    I have been a Republican for 45 years; I’m as conservative as they come. And the part that really bothers me is that the people who are on my side are the liberals. Sen. Jeff Merkley has even finally come out against the project because he couldn’t justify the use of eminent domain. Why don’t the Republicans have my back?

    The Republican Party was built on private property rights and Second Amendment rights. And now they want to throw us under the bus for a few temporary jobs. What’s really stupid is that the people who are going to get the construction jobs are Democratic labor union members in Portland. So are those union people going to support ol’ Knute because he’s for the project, and will liberals not vote for Kate Brown because she won’t come out against it?

    Jordan Cove cannot be built without eminent domain. I’ve endured 12 years of living hell fighting this thing, and all I’m trying to do is protect what I already have. And I’ll keep fighting, because I don’t put a price on my family, and I don’t put a price on my land or my health. Republicans should understand that.

    — Bill Gow lives in Douglas County.

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