COOS COUNTY — Opponents to a proposed ballot measure that threatens the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline and Jordan Cove projects are funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into Coos County to ensure that the ordinance fails at the polls next month.
To date, The Save Coos Jobs Committee — the opposition group to Measure 6-162, which its petitioners call “The Coos County Right to a Sustainable Energy Future Ordinance” — has received $358,500 in campaign contributions, more than 30 times the amount the Yes on Measure 6-162 committee has received.
The contributions includes $331,000 in cash donations from the Jordan Cove Energy Project, the Veresen Inc. owned, Calgary, Alberta-based company behind the proposed pipeline and liquid natural gas terminal.
Jordan Cove has also given The Save Coos Jobs Committee in-kind contributions to the tune of $27,500.
The influx of cash has allowed the committee to spend more than $110,000 on its campaign, ten times the amount measure backers have been able to raise.
Save Coos Jobs paid $55,000 to Direct Action Partners Inc., a Portland-based, national marketing firm that specializes in canvassing and signature gathering.
The committee also spent $48,000 for advertising and "management services" with ProspectPDX, a Portland-based marketing firm.
It has spent nearly $7,000 in print and promotional advertising with Morel Ink, another Portland company.
By comparison, Yes on Measure 6-162 has spent just over $1,000 on advertising and printing with three companies: South Coast Shopper, The World Newspaper and Staples.
The Yes Committee's financial contributions have come largely in the form of small, county-based donations.
The controversial measure on the May 16 ballot would prohibit the transportation of fossil fuels within the county as well as the development of any non-sustainable energy systems, particularly hydraulic and pneumatic fracturing.
Exceptions to the transportation ban include fossil fuels intended for residential, commercial, or industrial use for on-site power, heat consumption and vehicle refueling.
Jordan Cove spokesman Michael Hinrichs told The World in February that Veresen was against the measure after it was placed on the May ballot.
“We think that it would have negative consequences toward the resource industry in the county,” he said at the time. “It certainly goes against the spirit and intents of Jordan Cove.”
Mary Geddry, a co-sponsor of the measure, said the disparity between the nearly $10,000 her committee has received compared to its rival committee illustrated the insidious nature of the backers behind Jordan Cove.
“Clearly Jordan Cove doesn’t care what the people of Coos County want,” she said on Tuesday. “They are stealing our democracy and attempting to buy our election."
Hinrichs said in an email that Jordan Cove stands by its support for the Save Coos Jobs Committee.
"City council members, mayors and county commissioners have voiced their opposition against Measure 6-162 and we stand aligned with them and the thousands of community leaders, business owners and neighbors who want to see Measure 6-162 defeated this May," he said.
According to Geddry, the only response to the oppositional spending is increased activism and education.
She said she hoped the effort would be enough to guide supportive voters to the polls.
“The only thing we can do is just have as many boots on the ground and do our best to dispel the lies that they are spreading,” she added. “I don’t know if this is the biggest David and Goliath fight I’ve ever been in but this is the biggest Goliath I’ve ever been up against."