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Would-be fuel exporters offer annual payment that might fund transportation projects

Posted by on April 15th, 2015 at 9:22 am

Going bike boulevard at MLK Jr. Blvd-7

Brought to you by… Pembina?
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Though it’s not likely to appease many Portlanders fighting to block the deal, there’s a chance that the construction of a propane export terminal in Portland could result in money for local biking improvements.

The opportunity arises as part of an offer from Pembina, the Calgary-based extraction company that needs city approval to run its pipeline through an environmental preservation zone on the way to the Port. Pembina has agreed that if its facility is built, it will among other things pay $6.2 million annually into a new “Portland Carbon Fund.”

According to the city, “the fund will be used for projects that reduce energy consumption, generate renewable energy and sequester carbon.”

The issue was covered Tuesday by the Portland Business Journal, which quoted mayoral spokesman Dana Haynes as saying “we haven’t had an opportunity to completely analyze what the planning commission has set forward.”

For comparison’s sake, the most recent draft of the city’s proposed street fund would bring $20 million a year for assorted street safety projects.

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If the project were approved by city council at an expected hearing on April 30, there would surely be many hands reaching toward that new stream of money. The city is near the end of a six-year update to its Climate Action Plan, which calculates that transportation accounts for 37 percent of the region’s carbon emissions.

That makes transportation the largest single share of local carbon pollution, but that doesn’t mean that reducing transportation emissions would be seen as the highest-reward use of each Carbon Fund dollar.

Still, even $1 million of those $6.2 million would be enough for quite a bit of bike infrastructure. That’d be enough to fully restore the city’s defunct neighborhood greenway expansion program, for example, or to imitate Minneapolis’s new $750,000-a-year fund for protected bike lane construction, or to build 12 high-end signalized crosswalks each year, or to triple the number of regional Safe Routes to Schools programs from 40 to 130.

On the other hand, the propane export terminal would if built be responsible for shipping an estimated 0.01 percent of the planet’s annual carbon pollution.

In a closely watched vote last week, the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission voted 6-4 to recommend a change to city zoning laws that would allow the project to be built.

Chris Smith, a low-car transportation advocate who led opposition to the export terminal on the planning commission, downplayed the chances that it might result in better bike infrastructure if built.

“You’d have to make the case that the infrastructure was getting people out of cars,” Smith said in an email Wednesday. “That’s possible of course, but I would guess that programs that can show carbon reduction more directly, and with a stronger equity case (e.g., low-income weatherization) are going to compete more strongly.”

“I think most people will decide to support or oppose the terminal on more fundamental principles,” Smith concluded.

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SW
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SW

Isn’t that called a “bribe” ??

Spiffy
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Spiffy

Capitalism: Paying people off to get away with whatever they want.

J_R
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J_R

Maybe if they sponsor the bike share, too.

Terry D-M
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Terry D-M

This is a deal with the devil.

Portland sells it soul to tar sands and fracking in order for it’s residents to not pay for auto parking. If this gets approved, we will be an international leader in greenwashing.

9watts
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9watts

***comment deleted by moderators***

Rebecca
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Rebecca

So the City is cool with running an oil pipeline through an environmental preservation zone… thank god we draw the line at MTB trails or there would be a serious threat to our natural areas. *headdesk*

MaxD
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MaxD

Gross! This article implies that money from the pipeline is in line to pay for bike infrastructure bur does anyone actually believe that could ever happen! Total BS! We need to pay for transportation infrastructure, the biggest challenge with our transportation infrastructure is an over-reliance on Single-Occupancy-Vehicles. Instead of looking for for some “magic money” to fall out of the sky, or a filthy pipe, or from Salem, lets generate some revenue in a way that actually improves our infrastructure:
Raise more money from parking (more meters, paid permits, increased taxes on surface parking lots), increase gas taxes, collect a weight and mileage fee at DEQ check-ups to encourage lighter vehicles less driving, increase fees on the largest freight vehicles and offer breaks on the smallest freight vehicles, require an (expensive) sticker to use studded tires with City limits, lower speed limits, increase enforcement efforts for speeding, running red lights, distracted/impaired driving, use red light/speed cameras to generate income, increase towing for parking violations, etc. Pitching this pipeline as a revenue stream is shameful.

Todd Boulanger
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Todd Boulanger

I guess too bad the CRC was not built and the tolled bridge could have set up a benefit district for bike and led infrastructure in the impact zone, as some jurisdictions have done. Hmmm missed opportunity.

Adam H.
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Adam H.

No thanks.

dave
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dave

The gas will get exported somewhere, as long as there’s a demand. I’m fine with taking their money and putting it to positive use. NIMBYism isn’t going to solve the global warming problem.

Eric
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Eric

A “pipeline through an environmental preservation zone” isn’t a good idea for any amount of money, even if the money would make a real difference (which it won’t.)

Brian K Smith
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Brian K Smith

“Dad, why did you sell out our future?”

“Twelve high-end signalized crosswalks, kid. Per year!”

Jon M
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Jon M

Dave
For some reason I can’t reply to your other comment where you actually linked the Forbes article. But it’s worth noting that survey the author is referring too is only a survey of 1077 engineers and geoscientists. Specifically from The Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta. This would hardly represent a crumbling of overall scientific consensus but merely that a specific group in on part of Canada.
Recommended 0

This isnt an appropriate forum to present a survey of research. So, of course, I presented one recent example of reporting re: the diminishing “consensus” on agw. OTOH, had you clicked into the subject study and read further, youd have seen:
“The proportion of papers found in the ISI Web of Science database that explicitly endorsed anthropogenic climate change has fallen from 75% (for the period between 1993 and 2003) as of 2004 to 45% from 2004 to 2008, while outright disagreement has risen from 0% to 6% (Oreskes, 2004; Schulte, 2008).” A 30-point drop is significant, no?

But, nonetheless, the point of my reply to that commenter was questioning the basis of this “consensus” as itself was derived from a faulty survey. Whether it was the one conducted by James Powell in 2014 or the 2011 PNAS study both of which generated a 97% “consensus” – they both also used a methodology designes to exclude studies that disagreed with agw in their pool of studies to survey for a rate of agreement or disagreement with agw.

The study the forbes article reviews is itself a survey of surveys that smooths out the surveyor’s biases. James Powell rightly acknowledges that his 2014 methodology was highly subjective and recognizing that his survey was not exhaustive.

Appeals to authority, which is what i was responding to, are illogical and invalid arguments. I illustrated that by presenting contrary info to question the appeal.

Jon M
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Jon M

John Lascurettes
It’s also written by a Forbes columnist that routinely writes, almost exclusively, articles on how there is no man-made crisis.
PS: the reason why you couldn’t respond is that the reply is too many layers deep. It’s part of the commenting plugin BP.org uses.
Recommended 3

So what if he routinely writes in one direction? I have to conclude then that writes of their opinion. People derive conclusions from their obervations and then publish their conclusions. Hence, youre saying that since they writr in favor of one conclusion or another that they are automatically suspect, ie, their integrity ought to be questioned.

Do you think the same way od Michael Mann or James Hansen? Their publishing runs 100% toward agw. You must also question their integrity, too, right?

Or, is what youre really saying is that if an author writes something you disagree with, then that author’s integrity must be questioned?

I am guessing thats what you’re really saying.

Jon M
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Jon M

Dave
And it’s a particularly hilarious example for two reasons:
One, it was specifically designed to test perceptions in a biased group, i.e. professionals within the oil & gas industry.
Two, even within what one would expect to be a group fairly hostile to climate science, the acknowledgement of anthropogenic climate change and support for regulation of carbon emissions was high – only 34% actually had a negative opinion. The majority agreed that AGW is real and will require real meaasures to solve.
So, he’s accusing climate scientists of cherry picking and misrepresenting data, and to prove his point he’s cherry picking and misrepresenting data showing that even petroleum engineers don’t believe this hogwash.
Recommended 4

Uh, why do you suspect that they were biased? You see, you start with an unfair presumption that they lack credibility and integrity simply based on your presumptions about employees of a certain industry. I do not share that unfair presumption.

Second, you’re misrepresenting the results. 36% agreed with agw. Thats the “majority” youre appealing to here. 36 is far less than 97, no? AGW consensus, what?

Further, the remaining 60% didn’t conclude that climate change was man made and a large number further concluded that man could do very little about it.

Hence, that 97% consensus = crumbled.

Jon M
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Jon M

dave
I suspect the respondents were biased because that was an explicit goal of the study.
From the study authors:
“Although our data set is large and diverse enough for our research questions, it cannot be used for generalizations such as “respondents believe …” or “scientists don’t believe …” Our research reconstructs the frames the members of a professional association hold about the issue and the argumentative patterns and legitimation strategies these professionals use when articulating their assumptions. …even within the confines of our non-representative data set, the interpretation that a majority of the respondents believe that nature is the primary cause of global warming is simply not correct. To the contrary: the majority believes that humans do have their hands in climate change, even if many of them believe that humans are not the only cause.”
The study itself found that 99.4% agreed that the climate is changing. 36% fell into what the authors called a “comply with Kyoto” frame. 5% fell into a “regulation activist” frame. 17% were fatalists, who spread the blame between humans and nature but felt taking action was pointless. 10% said it could be natural or human caused, but would be too economically disruptive to address either way. Only 24% took the “it’s entirely natural” tack.
Recommended 0

Wait… The respondents were biased because that was a goal of the study? How could a study make the respondents biased? Maybe you meant to say that the study was biased because of it’s methodology, but that doesnt hold because you were smearing the respondents despite not knowing anything about them individually and only because you disagree with their positions.

Further, that the climate is changing is self-evident. If there was anything less than 100% agreement with this then I’d be worried. But the point I was xhallenfing was the false assertion that scientific consensus is meaningful and that it was nearly universal re: agw. Note that agw is different than climate change.

Nonetheless, what is true is that despite the repeated falsehood of agw “consensus”, today, we see far less agreement with agw and we have witnessed a deceitful tranisition from agw to climate change.

It is one thing to present scientifically-derived facts and a wholly different thing to present policy prescriptions as scientific because you preface that preaxription with a scientific fact.