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December 15, 1997

Opinion

Other gas pipelines options need to be explored

  Recently, I had the opportunity to tour the upper Snoqualmie Valley with a friend and long time resident. It was business and pleasure that brought us together on that lovely sunny day. Most valley residents know that the Olympic Pipeline Co. (Texaco, ARCO and GATX), want to put a pipeline from Woodinville, through the Snoqualmie Valley, the cities of North Bend and Snoqualmie and over the Cascade mountains to Pasco. I represent the Cascade Columbia Alliance who is opposing the construction of the proposed pipeline. Hundreds of valley citizens have become members of the CCA because they understand the unacceptable risks of transporting millions of gallons of gasoline, jet fuel and diesel over this precious land throughout the Snoqualmie Valley. Besides viewing the proposed pipeline route, I was able to meet city officials who were knowledgeable and up to date on pipeline dangers to the Tolt and Snoqualmie Rivers, the North Bend and Cross Valley sole Source aquifers and thousands of acres of productive farmland on both sides of the mountains.
  
   There are far better options for assuring an adequate fuel supply for Eastern Washington. Existing supply lines from refineries in Montana and Salt Lake City provide much of the fuel for Eastern WA today. Why not expand those lines or more fully utilize their existing capacity? Closer to home, the existing Texaco-run pipeline along the I-5 corridor could be upgraded to provide the additional needed capacity. (The I-5 pipeline connects to established transportation systems up the Columbia River to E, WA .) By upgrading the existing line, Texaco and its oil industry partners would not create new environmental risks by replacing a 30 year old leaking pipeline with a new one.
  
   Why isn't Texaco talking about this option? Is it because they are afraid of how many oil spills they will discover if they dig up their existing line? Or, do they simply want to monopolize the market for transporting oil products to E. WA, indifferent to the risks they create for the Snoqualmie Valley? Pipeline safety is uppermost in all citizen's minds as newspapers cover the continuing stories of pipeline leaks and spills. With the Snoqualmie Valley history of flooding and earthquakes how environmentally safe is a pipeline which crosses the Snoqualmie River four to five times? What about the pump station proposed near the U.S. Forest Service Building area? Texaco's Frank Hopf said this is a sensitive site for leaks because of pressure breaks. So why put a leak-prone pump station right there?!
  
   Again, I want to commend the mayors of Duvall, Carnation, Snoqualmie and North Bend for investigating and taking a stand on this important issue. I believe Mayor Jack Stein put it well when he said, "After studying the pros and cons of this operation, it is very obvious to me that this pipeline is nothing but a liability for the entire Valley...small leaks cannot be detected and would have a devastating effect on our ground water supply, our rivers and our environment as a whole. I have yet to see any benefit at all to supporting this project. I have talked to many members of the community and so far support has been less than positive. I hope all citizens of Carnation and the Valley join me in an effort to block this entire project from becoming a reality." Well said, and please do call me at (206) 621-8868 for all the latest information.
   Susan Harper
   Executive Director, Cascade Columbia Alliance