Thursday, May 16, 2013

Huge Victory in Oregon Builds Momentum Against Coal

Oregon 1Energycompany Kinder Morgan announced last week that it is ditching plans to export30 million tons of coal through the Port of St. Helens, Oregon -- a move thatfurther galvanizes the grassroots movement in the Pacific Northwest that iskeeping Big Coal out.

"Three down,three to go!" exclaimed Sierra Club Organizer Laura Stevens. "This proposalwould have meant a dozen mile-and-a-half-long, dirty, coal-dust spewing trainsthrough the Columbia River Gorge and dozens of other communities every day."

The three remainingsites coal companies have their eye on to build coal-export terminals are inBoardman, Oregon, and Longview and Cherry Point in Washington.

"The announcementcame just two days after we packed two hearing rooms in St. Helens to oppose are-zone that would facilitate coal exports, and the nearby city of Scappoose,where the council voted unanimously to pass a resolution expressing theirconcerns about the project," Stevens said.

Communities through Washingtonand Oregon continue to face the prospect of dealing with miles-long trains carryingtens of millions of tons of coal each year -- and bringing its harmful coal dustpollution with them. The coal would then be burned in energy-hungry East Asia,emitting carbon that would rival the infamous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The nightmarescenario has solidified communities across the Pacific Northwest, bringingtogether a coalition that includes environmental groups, hunters and anglers,farmers, business leaders, mayors and state leaders, faith leaders, and thehealth community.

"All of us locally involved in this love the Columbia River and ourenvironment here," Darrel Whipple, an organizer with the group Clean ColumbiaCounty, said in the Los Angeles Times."We have concerns about coal dust polluting the river, coal dust polluting theland. We have children and asthma patients who are at risk."


Activists in the Pacific Northwest have already won several battles.Just two months ago, Ambre Energy licked its wounds after the Oregon Departmentof State Lands tabled a decision on a dredging project for a planned facilityat Port of Morrow that would receive nearly 9 million tons of coal a year viatrain from the Powder River Basin. The state's decision to delay came two daysafter hundreds gathered at the state Capitol to demand that Big Coal stay out.

Congratulationsto everyone in the Pacific Northwest for this much-deserved victory!

-- Brian Foley


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