The May 16th Coos County ballot will include measure 6-162, introduced by Mary Geddry and Patricia Gouveia. Measure 6-162 is vague and extremist in its nature, and if passed will have many direct and indirect negative impacts on the economy of Coos County and surrounding regions. The measure is aimed to prevent the transportation of fossil fuels into or through Coos County unless the intended use is for onsite residential, commercial, or industrial power. This measure seeks to prohibit any freight truck, rail car, or pipeline from carrying a fossil fuel product through the county. Passage of measure 6-162 would also make it unlawful for a company or governmental agency in Coos County to seek to acquire land to construct an energy related facility (including hydroelectric and industrial wind energy).
There is significant question as to the legality of measure 6-162 as it seeks to supersede existing governmental organizations within the county, as well as calling for an amendment to both the Oregon and federal Constitutions. Although it is likely that this measure would be deemed unconstitutional in a court of law, the legal process required to do so would be costly and time consuming for Coos County.
The key impacts this measure will have if passed are:
- This measure labels the Coos County governmental structure as ‘illegitimate’ and would seek to replace it with a ‘self-governing’ authority. The language in the measure is unclear as to how much authority and power this new entity would hold, or how it would act on those powers.
- 6-162 will ban the transport of fossil fuels through Coos County unless they are being used for onsite heat or power.
- This will require taxpayers to fund the creation of a completely new and complex system of county government check points and policing
- Existing traffic will avoid Coos County, which will cause a significant loss of revenue for local businesses
- This ban jeopardizes our existing industries and could result in their need to relocate from the area
- This measure seeks to block the Jordan Cove Energy Project, which jeopardizes a $10 billion-dollar investment in our community that will provide over 2,000 construction jobs and over 200 permanent family-wage jobs in Coos County. This also jeopardizes the Community Enhancement Plan that would be funded through Jordan Cove, resulting in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars that would support our schools and economic development.
- Measure 6-162 creates new legal powers for ‘natural communities’, which will make it easier for environmentalist groups to bring suit against entities seeking to construct or site new projects
- It sends a message that Coos County is not welcoming to new business opportunities.
- Overturning this measure will be costly and time consuming, which could slow economic development opportunities in our County, as well as cause the County government to experience even greater economic hardship.
It is also important to note that informational voter pamphlets will not be mailed out during this election period. This measure will only require a simple majority in order to pass. The Port of Coos Bay is opposed to this measure. Measure 6-162 will have far reaching negative impacts on the regional economy if it passes and is in direct conflict with the Port’s mission to promote sustainable development that enhances the economy of southwest Oregon and the State.
In short, passage of this bill has the potential to kill current business opportunities, endanger existing businesses, cost taxpayers an exorbitant amount of money in its implementation, and result in diversion of tax dollars from education, public safety, and infrastructure maintenance.