In early April, Columbia Riverkeeper and our partner organizations in the Power Past Coal Campaign have stepped up efforts to stop dirty coal exports on the Lower Columbia River. Ambre Energy, an Australian-owned company with backing from coal giant Arch Coal, is seeking to build coal terminals in Longview, Washington and Port Westward, Oregon. Yet another company, Kinder Morgan Terminals, is hoping to build a massive coal export terminal next to Ambre’s Port Westward proposal in Oregon. The combined capacity of these Columbia River coal export proposals is 82 million tons of coal per year, a staggering volume of coal – over 25 times Oregon’s total usage of coal each year.
Riverkeeper is working with a broad range of conservation, health, faith, business, and climate groups to call on the states of Oregon and Washington as well as key federal agencies to reject coal exports. As a first step, we are calling on decision-makers such as the Army Corps of Engineers and Oregon Department of State lands to conduct a thorough, tranparent review and stop coal export terminals from being built “in the dead of night,” to quote Governor Kitzhaber.
On April 9th, over 100 Oregonians traveled to a Monday morning rally in Salem. Activists from Corvallis, Coos Bay, Salem, Eugene, Portland, the Dalles, Rainier, Clatskanie, Albany, and Hood River called on Governor Kitzhaber to use his power to stop coal exports. In particular, we are urging the Governor to halt the haphazard review process for the proposed Ambre coal export terminal at the Port of Morrow and Port Westward. An exuberant, well-informed, and dedicated crowd made a clear statement to the Governor, the State Land Board, and the Department of State Lands: we can do better than dirty coal exports.
A week earlier, on the North side of the Columbia in Longview, almost 100 people came out to get re-engaged and informed about Ambre’s new proposal to ship 44 million tons to Asia. Residents from both sides of the Columbia attended the meeting, connecting their experience and contrasting Ambre’s two proposals for coal exports. Speakers Gayle Kiser from Longview, Dan Serres from Columbia Riverkeeper, and Reverend Kathleen Patton from Longview urged residents to talk to their friends and neighbors, and provided the latest details about the massive coal proposal in Longview. At 44 million tons, at least 16 coal trains each day would block each major intersection in Longview, and a massive, dusty coal pile would foul Longview’s already compromised airshed. Already, over 40,000 Washingtonians have called on Washington State Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark to reject coal exports.
In coming months, we will continue to build pressure on key officials to stop coal exports and to protect the Columbia River from the toxic, climate-changing pollution that comes with big coal. Already, we are making progress. The U.S. EPA recently urged the Army Corps of Engineers to do a complete environmental impact statement for all of the six coal proposals that would send trains and barges through the Columbia River Gorge.
To get involved, contact Dan Serres, Columbia Riverkeeper’s conservation director: email@example.com.
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